Implications of Anti-Japan fury in China – Wallace & Kempton English Talk

Wednesday, 3 October, 2012

Implications of Anti-Japan fury in China – Wallace & Kempton English Talk


NAB 2012 – Newsight Japan Glasses-Free 3D TV President & CEO Kiyoto Kanda interview

Monday, 30 April, 2012

Newsight Japan's President & CEO Kiyoto Kanda - NAB 2012 interview

At NAB Show 2012, I had the pleasure to meet Newsight Japan‘s President & CEO Kiyoto Kanda. I was at Sony’s NAB Show booth checking out Sony’s latest prototype not-for-sale Glasses-Free 3D TV to see for myself the pros and cons. And then Kiyoto came up and we started talking. Kiyoto mentioned that his company is also working on Glasses-Free 3D TV. While I have not seen what Newsight Japan‘s Glasses-Free 3D TV actually look like (and the look and image quality is one of the most important thing), Kiyoto seems to be quite knowledgable and I like his talking of applying a Glasses-Free 3D filter on top of a traditional LCD/LED set and partnering with Chinese TV manufacturers. Here is my video interview with Kiyoto at NAB Show 2012.


Asahi Weekly interview with award-winning doc filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda about “Peace”

Sunday, 17 July, 2011

Have a read of an insightful Asahi Weekly interview with award-winning doc filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda about “Peace” where he talked about how he views even his own film “Peace” in a different light, in terms of before and after the March 11 disaster.

Soda tweets here.


Calgary Go Club – 2011 CGA Open Tournament report – Go is easy to learn and fun to play (takes time to master)

Sunday, 3 July, 2011

Calgary Go Club - CGA Open 2011 - Pix 07

I played Go (a board game) almost every day for four of my high school years and often skipping lunch to play! The rules of Go are easy to learn and the game is enjoyable even for young kids (some as young as 6 years old can pick it up quickly). Despite Go‘s seeming simplicity, I think Go takes longer (or is harder) to master than Chess (more on this later). Yesterday (July 2nd), I had the pleasure to visit the Calgary Go Club in Chinatown and attended part of the 2011 CGA Open Go Tournament.

Have a watch of the following highlight video. You will also find a series of interviews I conducted with Calgary Go Club Chair Vincent, a Go instructor (Cathy Li), two advanced Go players (Ryan and Jing Yang), and father of the 10 years old advanced Go player Wanshan Gu (Qiang Gu).

Note: If and when I receive the official results of the CGA Open 2011 from Calgary Go Club Chair Vincent as promised, I will post it here.

Update: I searched and found the CGA Open 2011 results on the Calgary Go Club home page so I’m reposting the results (unofficially here),
2011-07-05
The results are in for the 2011 Canadian Open Go Tournament:

Division (!) First Place (2) Second Place
Group A (1) Jing Yang (2) Ryan Li
Group B (1) Zu Bai (2) Shan Lu
Group C (1)Miki Ishikawa (2) Tony Adria

Irene Sha and Bill Lin won the pairs tournament.

2011 Calgary Go Club – 2011 CGA Open Highlight

Interview with Vincent Van der Ploeg (Chair of Calgary Go Club)

Interview with Cathy Li (Go instructor)

(note: Here are some info I Googled and found about Cathy (Chen Shuo) Li 李晨硕 online. I don’t know if it is accurate or not.)

Interview with Ryan (an advanced Go player) (Update: Group A Division, Second Place)

Interview with Jing Yang (an advanced Go player) (Update: Group A Division, First Place)

Interview with Qiang Gu (dad of advanced Go player Wanshan) (English subtitles to be added soon)

Complexity/difficulty of Go compare to chess

In 1997, the chess computer Deep Blue won a six-game match against world champion Garry Kasparov. As far as I know, Computer Go is still very far from able to win against even mid-level professionals and let alone Go champions. Have a read of the Wikipedia “Computer Go” page as it is pretty informative.

Some photos from the 2011 CGA Open

Calgary Go Club - CGA Open 2011 - Pix 01

Calgary Go Club - CGA Open 2011 - Pix 03 Read the rest of this entry »


200 years old Soy sauce company symbolises Japan’s determination after the tsunami

Sunday, 17 April, 2011

A highly recommended Guardian story with short video documentary about the 200 years old Yagisawa Shoten , “Soy sauce company symbolises Japan’s determination after the tsunami – Michihiro Kono has taken over a company destroyed by the disaster, and is determined to reopen its doors”

“In less tumultuous times, Michihiro Kono could have expected a seamless transition as the new head of the soy sauce company he took over from his father at the start of the month. But in post-tsunami Japan, Kono is the president of a company that, by any conventional measure, no longer exists. Read the rest of this entry »


PEACE won Best Documentary Award at the Hong Kong Int. Film Fest

Wednesday, 30 March, 2011

Peace - Pix 01 - cats_confrontation

PEACE has just won Best Documentary Award at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. Congrats to the wonderful documentary filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda!

Here are the HKIFF Jury’s comment:

Peace is a quiet film with an unusual power to move. By following the ordinary lives of people and cats, the camera leads the audience to discover the concept of peace in its most fundamental sense, not as a state of negotiated, reluctant coexistence, but as an idea that lies at the core of our humanity. The film reveals the sublime through the mundane.

I was touched by what Soda wrote on Facebook,

What I said at the Award Ceremony: I’m from Japan. I’ve been so overwhelmed by the tragedy my country is experiencing that I almost cancelled the trip to Hong Kong. But I’m a filmmaker. It’s my job to make movies and to show them to people. So I changed my mind to come here. I’m now confident that I made a right decision. I’ll continue to make movies.

Here is a film trailer

The film has won audience award at Tokyo Filmex and screened at MoMa. You can see my film review and interview with Soda.

Personal note: Since watching Soda’s films for the first time and interviewing him over the years for a few times, Soda has been a true inspiring documentary filmmaker for me. I try to find my own path in documentary filmmaking and it is nice to be inspired by filmmakers like Soda.


PEACE @ HKIFF March 28 & 31 (w Filmmaker Soda Q&A)

Saturday, 26 March, 2011

Peace - Pix 01 - cats_confrontation

The wonderful documentary filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda is screening his award winning new documentary PEACE at the 2011 The 35th Hong Kong International Film Festival on March 28th and March 31st and doing Q&As afterward! Check out the film if you have time. Highly recommended.

Here is a film trailer

The film has won audience award at Tokyo Filmex and screened at MoMa. You can see my film review and interview with Soda.

Film synopsis (emphasis added)

What is peace? What is coexistence? And what are the bases for them?

PEACE is a visual-essay-like observational documentary, which contemplates these questions by observing the daily lives of people and cats in Okayama city, Japan, where life and death, acceptance and rejection are intermingled.

Three people and stray cats are the main characters. Read the rest of this entry »


Documentary “Nuclear Ginza” by Channel 4, Great Britain, 1995

Thursday, 24 March, 2011

A Japanese documentarian friend recommend checking out the insightful and timely documentary “Nuclear Ginza” (with English subtitles) by Channel 4, Great Britain, 1995. [HT Soda]


The 5th & 6th interviews – Nuclear engineer father explains Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accidents to daughter

Wednesday, 16 March, 2011

March 16th, 2011 UpdateThe 6th interview

***

Have a listen to the 5th daily interview (with transcript) of nuclear engineer Mark Mervine by Evelyn Mervine about Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accidents. Here is an excerpt from the transcript (emphasis added),

“Q: Thank you, Dad. Moving on to another question. I do like this question. “So
imagine if your dad were to interview the top TEPCO officials, or could be a reporter
at a TEPCO press conference. What would his top ten questions be? Or put it
another way, what significant data would most clarify the reactors and the extent of
the damage?”

A: I would- well, first off, I would have more than 10 questions. But I think the
important thing that I would ask to receive is that they need to assume that
the general public is intelligent and they need to provide them with as much
information as possible. I think there’s, at times, a tendency when things happen,
whether it be nuclear or some other event, to filter the information, because we’re
afraid of the reaction, or we’re afraid of panic. But in this case, they’re at the
opposite end of the spectrum, where they’re providing not enough information, and
very little information, that people are starting to get very upset and panic, because
they feel like they’re not being provided with enough information. And I would
agree with those people – not enough information is being provided and y’know,
I would need more than- I’d need more than 10 questions for them, but the main
question I would have would be, “Please tell us exactly what is happening and treat
us as if we’re intelligent and give us as much information as possible.”

For links and some info of the first four daily interviews, see “Nuclear engineer father explains Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accidents to daughter“.


Nuclear engineer father explains Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accidents to daughter

Tuesday, 15 March, 2011

Have you ever wished you had an expert (in this case, a nuclear engineer) in the family to help explain Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accidents?

In the last few days, on top of reading/watching the regular media reports, I felt like I had a closed relative/trusted friend explaining the nuclear accidents at the Fukushima I and Fukushima II nuclear power plants to me. I really appreciate Mark Mervine, a nuclear engineer/expert with extensive real world nuclear power plant experiences (see below for his background), taking time to chat with his daughter Evelyn Mervine (currently a 5th-year PhD student in the MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program) to shine light on the Fukushima nuclear accidents.

***

The following is a list of links to the interviews. (9:52am MST Update: The Tuesday March 15th interview has now been posted.)

March 12, 2011: “A Conversation with My Dad, a Nuclear Engineer, about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster in Japan” - (part 1)

March 13: “Follow-Up Interview with my Dad, a Nuclear Engineer, about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster in Japan” – (part 2)

March 14: “Second Follow-Up Interview with my Dad, a Nuclear Engineer, about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster in Japan” – (part 3)

March 15: “Third Follow-Up Interview with my Dad, a Nuclear Engineer, about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster in Japan” – (Part 4)

P.S. On a personal note, I want to say I love what Evelyn and Mark have done here. Evelyn knows her dad is an nuclear expert, and Mark, as an expert, is willing to share his insight and time. As a result, I think we are all better off being more informed.

***

Here is Mark’s background as discussed in the first Conversation.

Q: Alright. I was hoping that we could start out, I know who you are, since you’re my dad, but if you could just introduce yourself quickly and describe some of your background in nuclear power.

A: Sure, my name is Mark Mervine. I graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1981, and went into the Navy nuclear power program. I was in submarines, and while I was in the Navy I qualified on two different types of Navy nuclear power plants and served as an instructor in the Navy nuclear power program.

Q: OK, and then after you got out of the Navy?

A: After seven years of active duty, I went into the Reserves, and I stayed in the Reserves and I retired as a commander in the Navy Reserves. I went to work, initially, for Wisconsin Electric, which at that time had a 2-unit Westinghouse pressurized-water reactor in Turbridge, Wisconsin. While I was there, I completed my SRO certification, which allowed me to do senior review and oversight, as a member of the plant management staff. And I also qualified and served as a shift technical advisor, which is a position that was added in the nuclear power industry, after Three Mile Island, that is a degreed engineer position, that’s available to the on-shift crew on a 24-hour basis. Some plants do it on an 8 hour watch, at that time, Wisconsin Electric did it on a 24 hour watch, so I would actually stay at the plant for 24 hours; we had a place where we could sleep, and my job was to advise the crew whenever they needed advice on what was happening with the plant.

After a few years at Wisconsin Electric, I went to work for Vermont Yankee, where I also completed the SRO certification, Senior Reactor Certification, which allowed me to do senior level reviews as a member of the plant management staff, and I also served on the Outside Review Committee, which is a very high-level committee for the main Yankee nuclear plant, until it closed, and also Vermont Yankee.

Q: Excellent. So, you’re qualified to talk a little bit about nuclear power, it sounds like.

A: I can talk a little about nuclear power, yes.


What the Media Doesn’t Get About Meltdowns

Sunday, 13 March, 2011

I found an insightful report from Cristine Russell, The Atlantic”What the Media Doesn’t Get About Meltdowns. Cristine is a senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Here is an excerpt,

“Of immediate concern is the prospect of a so-called “meltdown” at one or more of the Japanese reactors. But part of the problem in understanding the potential dangers is continued indiscriminate use, by experts and the media, of this inherently frightening term without explanation or perspective. There are varying degrees of melting or meltdown of the nuclear fuel rods in a given reactor; but there are also multiple safety systems, or containment barriers, in a given plant’s design that are intended to keep radioactive materials from escaping into the general environment in the event of a partial or complete meltdown of the reactor core. Finally, there are the steps taken by a plant’s operators to try to bring the nuclear emergency under control before these containment barriers are breached. Read the rest of this entry »


NYT Satellite Photos of Japan, Before and After the Quake and Tsunami

Sunday, 13 March, 2011

I turned the NYT Satellite Photos of Japan, Before and After the Quake and Tsunami (from GeoEye) into a screen captured moving images. Very sad.


NHK Live Ustream on earthquake

Friday, 11 March, 2011

You can watch NHK Live Ustream on earthquake (in Japanese). [HT Soda]


8.9 quake hits Japan

Friday, 11 March, 2011

I am deeply and terribly saddened and my heart is with the people of Japan.

* UK Guardian, “Japan earthquake – live updates” (video clip)

* CBC News, “Major damage in Japan after 8.9 quake – Tsunami warnings issued for Hawaii, Russia, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines

* Wikipedia, “2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami

* MarketWatch, “Powerful earthquake shakes Japan – Tsunami hits Miyagi prefecture; Buildings shake in Tokyo

* BBC News, “Quake was big even for Japan

P.S. I remember Sendai from years ago because of it fuzzy system controlled train.

P.P.S. While it is probably completely illogical for me to think like this but I can’t help it. I am a bit worry of friends and loved ones living in the greater Vancouver area because earthquake isn’t predictable.


PEACE at MoMa this week

Monday, 14 February, 2011

Peace - Pix 01 - cats_confrontation

The wonderful documentary filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda is screening his award winning new doc PEACE at MoMa this week (Thursday, February 17, 2011, 8:00 p.m.) and next week (Monday, February 21, 2011, 4:00 p.m.)! Check out the film if you have time. Highly recommended. Have a read of my film review and interview with Soda.

Here is a trailer and a brief synopsis of the film at MoMa.

Peace
2010. Japan/USA/South Korea. Directed by Kazuhiro Soda. Toshio Kashiwagi drives disabled and elderly people to appointments with his affordable taxi service. His wife, Hiroko Kashiwagi, is a professional caregiver who also runs a nonprofit home-helper agency for the elderly and disabled. While Hiroko visits 91-year-old cancer patient Shiro Hashimoto to help in his daily routines, her husband returns home to feed the hungry stray cats outside their door. As government funding for these services dwindle, the hungry stray cats encounter a “thief” and the elderly man recalls being drafted into WWII for the price of a postcard.”


Always With Me – Spirited Away

Tuesday, 21 December, 2010

Here is “Always With Me” (いつも何度でも Itsumo Nando Demo) sang beautifully by Youmi Kimura (木村 弓), a song in the popular 2001 anime film Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki, a film that I watched again recently thanks to the Calgary Public Library 2-disc DVD version with additional bonus features.


Kazuhiro Soda’s PEACE won audience award at Tokyo Filmex

Monday, 29 November, 2010

Peace - Pix 01 - cats_confrontation

I am happy to report Kazuhiro Soda’s PEACE won the audience award at Tokyo Filmex. Here is a link to my review of documentary PEACE plus interview with director Kazuhiro Soda.


Review of documentary PEACE plus interview with director Kazuhiro Soda

Friday, 22 October, 2010

Peace - Pix 01 - cats_confrontation

Since last year, I’ve grown to enjoy and admire Kazuhiro Soda’s observational documentaries very much (love Campaign & Mental). In the summer of 2009, DMZ Korean International Documentary Festival in the border city of Paju, South Korea, commissioned Soda to make a 20 minute-short documentary about peace and coexistence which has now grown into a full length documentary.

Background and serendipity of PEACE

Soda originally wasn’t too keen on the idea of making a film on a board topic like “peace and coexistence“. But while shooting footage of his father-in-law and mother-in-law because Soda has always been interested in their work (respectively running an affordable taxi service for the elderly and disabled, and running an non-profit organization that sends home helpers to houses of the elderly and the disabled), Soda got the idea of making the feature-length documentary PEACE. Soda’s observational documentary style was key because he prohibited himself from doing any research or meeting prior to shooting to avoid having preconceptions.

The film was partly financed by DMZ KIDF and it was scheduled as the opening film for DMZ KIDF.

Film trailer

Film synopsis (emphasis added)

What is peace? What is coexistence? And what are the bases for them?

PEACE is a visual-essay-like observational documentary, which contemplates these questions by observing the daily lives of people and cats in Okayama city, Japan, where life and death, acceptance and rejection are intermingled.

Three people and stray cats are the main characters.

Toshio Kashiwagi runs an affordable taxi service for the disabled and the elderly, having retired as a principal at a special school. Meanwhile, he feeds a group of stray cats everyday. However, there is a growing tension in the cats’ peaceful community because a male “thief cat,” an outsider, is trying to invade it.

Toshio’s wife, Hiroko Kashiwagi, runs a non-profit organization, which sends home helpers to houses of the elderly and the disabled. But, her organization is facing financial difficulties because of budget cuts from the government. At home, she has been grumbling about the way Toshio feeds his cats.

As a professional caregiver herself, Hiroko regularly visits 91-year-old Shiro Hashimoto to help his daily routines. Living in a mice and tick infected small apartment, Hashimoto is spending his final days thinking about his own death. His memories of being drafted to World War II come back to him while dealing with Hiroko.

Film review + interview with director Kazuhiro Soda

Peace and coexistence are big and abstract ideas that are difficult to turn into a documentary without being too semental and corny. I think Soda’s observational documentary style worked well in dealing with the theme without making it a hard sell. The audience was able to experience the theme through the daily lives of three main characters and a group of revolving stray cats that Toshio feeds.

Peace - Pix 02 - toshio holding_chiro

Peace - Pix 05 - hiroko_kashiwagi1

To my surprise, I found out during my interview with Soda that Toshio and Hiroko are actually Soda’s father-in-law and mother-in-law! Both Toshio and Hiroko were totally natural and engaging on screen. Soda “kinda forgot that they are the in-laws”, and in turn, the in-laws forgot that he is their son-in-law for the most part. [note: By the way, Toshio and Hiroko also played an important role in connecting Soda with Dr. Yamamoto, the doctor in Mental.]

Through the eyes of Toshio and Hiroko, we got to also see how the elderly and disabled in Japan are being treated and the challenges they face.

The stray cats

 

Peace - Pix 04 - thief_cat3

Toshio’s stray cats kind of started this film as Soda has always been interested in Toshio’s feeding of the stray cats. And as the serendipity of documentary making will have it, Soda noticed the new cat (the “thief cat”) had conflicts with the existing cats. Read the rest of this entry »


Studio Ghibli: The Borrower Arrietty

Friday, 15 October, 2010

The Borrower Arrietty (借りぐらしのアリエッティ Karigurashi no Arietti) is a 2010 Japanese anime film produced by Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli, based on the fantasy novel The Borrowers by Mary Norton.”

Studio Ghibli has done so many great films over the year,  looks like another great film. Here are some trailers which look wonderful even I don’t know what they are saying in Japanese.

Trailer

1:56 trailer.


Soda’s new documentary – PEACE

Tuesday, 14 September, 2010

Kazuhiro Soda (everyone calls him Soda) is one of my favourite documentarians. Here is the director’s statement of his new documentary – PEACE. And here is a trailer.


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