2019 Reith Lectures by Jonathan Sumption

Wednesday, 22 May, 2019

2019 Reith Lectures by Jonathan Sumption - Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 10.41.25 AM

I’ve been looking forward to listen to the 2019 Reith Lectures by Jonathan Sumption who recently retired from the UK Supreme Court. Lord Sumption “argues that a decline in the willingness of politics to engage with divisive subjects has been accompanied by an unwelcome rise in the power of the courts.”

BBC is putting up the 2019 Reith Lectures by Lord Sumption up one lecture a week, here is the list of lecture(s) already posted:

(21 May, 2019) 1/5. Law’s Expanding Empire

(more to come)


#GameOfThrones series finale was aweful (Veep, Big Bang Theory, Sopranos ended things much better!)

Tuesday, 21 May, 2019

Major Spoilers Warning!

20190521 Dragon can understand symbolism now?

Game Of Thrones TV series created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss (D&D) for HBO was well loved by millions (me included) for 7 seasons. Sadly the show fell apart on its final season 8 with the series finale (s8.6) being an epic cluster beep!

How bad was GoT series finale (s8.6)? We went grocery shopping, ate dinner while watching other TV shows before we actually watched the finale at 11pm EST (2 hours after the show started) before we just had no expectation left. And the finale did turn out to be a #ShitShow in my eyes. A cancelled S8 would have been better for fans. 

Just as comparisons, Veep and The Big Bang Theory also had their series finales and they generally garnered praises! Witness:

IndieWire, 13 May, 2019 “‘Veep’ Review: The Series Finale Is a Terrific Ending America Better Hope Doesn’t Come True
IndieWire, 17 May, 2019, “‘The Big Bang Theory’ Review: Series Finale Delivers an Ending True To Itself

From Vice, “‘Game of Thrones’ Ended in the Worst Way Possible In ‘The Iron Throne,’ the final episode of ‘Game of Thrones,’ nearly every decision was the wrong one.

Inexplicably, Bran is King

It’s hard to justify this one. GoT has a penchant for twists and all that—this is Benioff and Weiss material after all—but only the Three-eyed Raven saw this one coming. We’re supposed to believe that it would only take a well-placed suggestion by Tyrion, man who all parties distrust, to suddenly place Bran as the best choice to rule? We’re supposed to buy that a series that spent entire seasons reveling in political tug-of-wars and in-fighting about governance, just determined it all from Tyrion’s elevator pitch about folks with the best stories?

Even if you forgive all of this, there is nothing gratifying about Bran’s story. For the entirety of season five, he played hooky as a visible player. In season six, he was that Westeros guy nibbling on psychedelic weirwood bark, mumbling endlessly about being “the Three-Eyed Raven” and not “wanting” anything. And now that the Night King is defeated, this series has done nothing to lay the groundwork for the new leader, Bran the Broken, who’s apparently ready and willing to take the throne.

So it’s the ultimate finesse: that Bran who truly knew of the past, present, and future, spent whole seasons silently staring down other characters, with the knowledge that he was destined to be king. Forget the thousands burned by a dragon. Forget the countless innocents who could have been saved from his foresight. Self-servingly, Bran knew this would happen all along. That doesn’t feel right.

Daenerys deserved more

After a heated conversation with Tyrion—because he’s what passes for reason in this episode—a battered Jon Snow confronts aunty Daenerys about her roast of King’s Landing. One thing leads to another, and Jon hugs Dany, proclaiming her his queen before kissing her. Then he kills her.

It is so cold and out of character for a protagonist known as being stupidly loyal and honourable to side-step Dany’s advances for three episodes, only to slide his tongue down her throat as he stabs her. It took her mad queen transformation one episode to reach an extreme, and this kill had the same energy. It was the cheapest and quickest way to rid Thrones of a huge problem it wrote into existence, regardless of believability. […]

Drogon can understand symbolism now?

What’s Drogon’s deal? In one episode, he can’t take on a fleet of ships led by a deranged pirate. In the very next one, he not only destroys those ships, but takes down King’s Landing, too. And now, when he finds his mother dead by Jon’s hands, he reacts by melting down the Iron Throne with unrelenting fire. It’s a little too on the nose.

Dragons were once thought to be unstoppable weapons, but in the show’s final season their abilities were inconsistent. An indestructible weapon would pose issues from a storytelling perspective, so the thought of a dragon being important enough to kill a certain god-tier character wouldn’t exactly work. But it’s hard not to wonder why Drogon didn’t turn his wrath toward Jon Snow, who just knifed his mother. Instead, the dragon turned the Iron Throne to lava, destroying a symbol that has caused plenty of destruction of its own. Satisfying? Yes. Cheesy? Very.”

This VOX article has made some good points that are fairly close to how I feel. [HT Yvonne] “The Game of Thrones finale had a chance to break the wheel. It upheld the status quo. – The long-awaited series finale, “The Iron Throne,” proves Game of Thrones was never interested in breaking cycles of power.Read the rest of this entry »


I. M. Pei – Great minds of our time

Friday, 17 May, 2019

I M Pei - Pix 01.jpg

RIP I. M. Pei 貝聿銘 (2017 – 2019). I picked up my copy of “I.M. Pei: A Profile in American Architecture” in the early 90s as I began my lifelong love of beautiful architectures. So thanks to Mr. Pei for your inspirations.

I like to remember the recently passed with their own words if I can, here he talked about the various challenges and ideas in redoing the Louvre.

I. M. Pei at MIT – Tech Day 1994

American Architecture Now: I.M. Pei, 1980

I. M. Pei: A Centennial Celebration – Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD)

Video description: //The GSD is proud to celebrate the 100th birthday of Ieoh Ming Pei, MArch ’46. Both I. M. and his wife Eileen Pei GSD ’44 studied at the GSD, as did their sons Chien Chung (Didi) Pei, MArch ’72, and Li Chung (Sandi) Pei, MArch ’76. Pei was also an assistant professor of architecture at the GSD. This event, with guests including Harry Cobb AB ’47 MArch ’49, moderated by Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of Harvard GSD and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design, will focus on the formative years of I. M. Pei’s career as well as some of his special friendships, influences, and projects.//

P.S. There are some archival news footage of the building of Louvre in this clip.

(Hopefully more to be added later.)


Good read – 20190322

Friday, 22 March, 2019

20190322 The New Yorker, Masha GessenJacinda Ardern Has Rewritten the Script for How a Nation Grieves After a Terrorist Attack“,

“Ardern, on the other hand, immediately showed that she had no time for the perpetrator of the mosque shootings.“Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand; they may even be refugees here,” she said. “They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence.”

These phrases are remarkable for what they do not contain: a promise to find the perpetrator and bring him to justice; any attempt to degrade him; any recognition of his desire to be seen, recognized, and fought. The opposite of terror is not courage, victory, or even justice, and it is certainly not “war on terror.” The opposite of terror is disregard for the terrorist.

In a later statement, Ardern made her policy of disregard explicit. Speaking to Parliament four days after the attacks, she said, “He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety. And that is why you will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless. And, to others, I implore you: speak the names of those who were lost, rather than the name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing. Not even his name.”

[…] In a nuanced response to a BBC interviewer, who asked if she was concerned about a rise in white nationalism in New Zealand, she said, “My call would be a global one. I’m very clear here to make the distinction that yes, this was an Australian citizen, but that is not to say that we do not have ideology in New Zealand that would be an affront to the majority of New Zealanders, that would be utterly rejected by the majority, the vast majority of New Zealanders. But we still have a responsibility to weed it out where it exists and make sure that we never create an environment where it can flourish. But I would make that a global call.”

[…] The most effective way to fight violence is to make the violence less efficient. Less than a week after the attacks, Ardern’s government announced a ban on military-style weapons. Even before the terms of the ban were worked out, Ardern encouraged people to begin surrendering weapons to the police, and at least several dozen people did. The gun ban thus became, at least to a degree, a matter of political agreement, rather than an emergency measure or a restriction imposed by the government.

This is what political leaders do in the face of a senseless tragedy: they grieve with their people, they think with their people, and they act together with their people. None of those tasks requires a declaration of war.”

xxx


Life and times via Valedictory Remarks

Tuesday, 19 March, 2019

Biography and auto-biography are types of non-fiction books that I enjoy a lot in reading as I get to learn from the life and times of interesting people. I recently discovered and learned to love Valedictory Remarks from the UKSupremeCourt YouTube channel. Here are two video remarks I enjoy (Lord Sumption, Lord Neuberger, Lord Clarke) and I hope you will too.

Lord Sumption’s Valedictory Remarks

Lord Neuberger and Lord Clarke Valedictory Remarks


China’s War on the Internet

Tuesday, 19 March, 2019

Author James Griffiths @jgriffiths gave an insightful talk “China’s War on the Internet: How the West Lost the Web” at Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong @fcchk talking about his new book, The Great Firewall of China: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet. Have a watch.

“China’s War on the Internet: How the West Lost the Web”

 


Designing the Canadian Flag

Wednesday, 13 March, 2019

I recently watched the documentary “Design Canada – The History of Graphic Design in Canada” via online streaming service Kanopy (free thanks Calgary Public Library) and LOVE it! Especially loving the segment about the design history of the Canadian flag! I love that Canadian flag segment so much that I looked up more online and found some extra cool info produced by CBC News in 2015 to celebrate the 50th birthday of our lovely flag!

CBC News, Feb 16, 2015, “The real story behind the Canadian Flag

Have a read of the lovely historical and insightful four-page document “Dr. George F.G. Stanley’s Flag Memorandum – “the genesis of the Canadian flag”” as shown in the above CBC News report.

Here is a trailer of “Design Canada – The History of Graphic Design in Canada

P.S. I love Canada and the Canadian flag and I’ve requested a Peace Tower flag that has flown on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and hoping to receive it around the year 2060, hopefully I’ll still be alive to receive it!

I like the Greek proverb (?), “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” In requesting the Peace Tower flag that had a waiting list of 46 years at the time, I made myself a commitment/promise of sort to love, cherish, and to try to make Canada a little bit better than I found her!


%d bloggers like this: