Pictures worth 1000 words, thus save my energy in describing the enigmatic love story between the two giants.
Ugly rumor: Chinese companies are making use of extensive labor force (often with low pay and pot-luck safety guarantees) in Democratic Republic of Congo. Don’t say that’s another conspiracy theory formulated by the Americans.
Unsatisfied? Click this link (and the last reference to satisfy your information thirst).
Hong Kong is Home.
I remember when I first arrived in Hong Kong almost a decade ago, I felt like I had walked into an actual movie set. It was a place that I had only seen on TV as a kid, with its strange red taxi’s, odd stop lights and driving on the other side of the road.
My intent with this project was to illustrate the grandeur of Hong Kong that most people would never get to see. When I had recently watched the movie Oblivion, it had somehow starkly reminded me of Hong Kong, with the feeling of being so insignificantly small — almost irrelevant to my surroundings. Hong Kong is an unbelievably dense city, where much of the world can be accessed at your fingertips. But in a city where you can access the material world in a matter of seconds, it also has the ability to isolate you from the 8 million people around you as well.
With this piece, I hope that you are able to engage in this contradiction. – Javin Lau, creator of this video.
Well done, Javin! I can’t help describe more about my fondness of your breath-taking, hyper-realistic depiction of the world’s most vertical metropolis. I am sure everybody will love peeping into these microcosms that you piece, that make this place a vibrantly living ‘organism’.
Please visit his website for more over-the-edge, picturesque depictions of skyline over the world’s metropolises.
Bookstores are never devoid of self-help books. Piled up in racks, with these self-titled ‘inspirational speakers’ portraying the so-called three-finger smile, with jargons typed in eye-catching font size, with edgy messages, and their invigorating might to make laconic people look sprightly, all-do-well again, these books have never ceased to enrapture our eyes, and enigmatically magnetize our attention to these contents. Flipping the books pages through pages, you feel as though you had found the ‘genuine’ medication for your ailing soul, as though it were an elixir even more sacrosanct than the mercury meccas of the kings and potentates in the past had ever drinken were of null-and-void advantages. Life starts to be so beautiful. The usual wallowing of toddlers is conceived ‘just another variety of soundscape’. The daily dishes either your mom or your wife cooks sounds to taste like as though they had been possessed by Alain Ducasse, or Ferran Adria. One then has a greatly, pushy urge to encourage his or her fellows, the ones having the same mindset as he or she used to be, to ‘make them envision their greatest dreams, take whatever risks, to achieve goals no matter how preposterous they sound to others (being richer than Rockefeller in 10 years, perhaps?), and to leave your own ordinary, Euclidean-box life what these motivators call ‘tedious’.
Up to this point, the eulogy we pay to motivational speakers (attending a Jack Canfield training program, for instance, costs one, suppose a premium, nearly 30,000 US$, similar to paying for TED Conference for 5 years) has somewhat turned into a deep devotion. We feel it keen that they are some kind of messengers, like they have the providence the so-called ‘Divine Creator’ has assigned them in this planet, and like all their advice should be thoroughly followed and savored utterly contemplatively.
I need to be honest about such happening. Having read such books, our existence becomes so highly enlightened, we cherish the fact that everybody of all those 7 billion spectres in this planet, whether it is United States or Indonesia or even Malawi, can be one, to an extent, as splendid as Bill Gates, or as investment-savvy as Warren Buffett, or even as relentless as Mother Theresa. Everybody strives to become the best individual he or she has sought to be.
A conclusion is drawn: like economic textbooks, these motivational books also present ceteris paribus cases. Assume there is no luck, no divine intervention, no geographical, political, economic, social boundaries, nor even social stratification and segregation, and only failures as the main variable needed to be tackled, success is a stone’s throw away from our toe-nails.
Success turns out to be even more complicating than it seems.
Imagine these questions: how many million people in Nigeria do have the same talents as Bill Gates does, while regimes, despite multitudes of coup d’etats and uneasy elections, largely overlook the country’s decrepit infrastructure? How many thousands of Albanians have the same IQ (and logical conscience) as Warren Buffett possesses when an MLM fiasco in 1997 almost sparked a civil war? What ‘loopholes’ can only some of the world’s richest persons access while those readers think they themselves can even surpass these individuals? What, in addition to one visioner’s grandiose dreams, that propels him or her into an ‘outlier’? Do even motivational speakers themselves probe deeper to such inquiries?
Briefly to say, they are no more than your next-door neighbors, having the same humanly sensitive traits like I and you possess. They may be at times depressed. Or get knocked down by something they can no bearably imagine in the sweet-talk seminars they usually host. Or become rambunctiously ill-defined to mark a meaning of life. You think they may always begin their day quotidian, readily charged with full-power, turbo-charged ‘positive thinking’, and chant ‘my dearest, god-blessed wife, I am gratuitously thankful for having such a cute sweetheart’, while at times you feel a bit humiliated, thinking she’s way towards obesity?
Still, despite our uneasiness with motivators, it’s wisest that we do not ridicule them for the job they are doing. Motivating people, say the least, is the ‘right’ thing they ought to do, instead of promising them blessed heavens after committing suicide. What they are doing is no different from what an MLM agent does, or what a company advertises. They market the ideas of success like the agent (a very alternative naming for their obnoxious job) promotes the wellness of the products they purchase without further consideration regarding the contents. Or like how a company, capitalist alike, markets the definition of ‘dream lives’. Luxurious cars, two-storey minimalist-design mansion, once-in-a-year globe-trotting takeaway to exotic beach resorts, million-dollar businesses, and grandiose paychecks made to charity trusts per annum. Life must be luxurious and do-gooder, mustn’t it? I have such dreams, you have such dreams, too, and I even dare to bet that in minimum half the worldlings must have dreamt such enormous expectations. That’s very ‘normal’ once we get seduced by the motivators’ wordings.
But wait. Is the definition of success constricted to sports cars, mansions, holiday trips in resorts, and big donation? That’s all?
Turns out motivators have paradoxically attempted to ‘square’ the audiences’ minds regarding the notion of success, while they repeatedly ‘force’ us to get all the hell out of our self-made boxes.
Warren Buffett remains modest with a 50s-type two-storey home (though he owns multiple construction and real-estate businesses, and he could make a great, hellish chunk of capitalist fantasyland based on his own imagination), boards an economic-class airplane (though he controls the world’s largest private jet maker), drinks Coke and eats sweets (though he can afford caviar three times a day), and builds a hundred-million-dollar skyscraper rivalling Donald Trump’s.
Even with 60 billion US$ in hand (most people dream of being like him when they are, instead, becoming his Doppelganger), he could afford many more impossibilities else, once in a century’s lifetime. He could have bought nation-states, built a starship, and set up a skyline-tinted metropolis the life size of Doha or Dubai, but he realizes squandering way too much money only generates more waste. He doesn’t seem so much affected by the ten-digits he has accumulated, up to his octogenarian period. He’s even never aimed to have had so abundant amount of money like now he’s attained during his childhood. “I was plain fortunate that I was born in America. Had I been born somewhere else, I could have not been the man I am today.” He said in an interview. It’s reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘outliers’ theory’.
There is nothing wrong with dreaming up the impossible, but it is often – either motivators or the audiences listening to their preaches – that irrational expectations come out. I vividly recalled the moment I read ‘The Secret’, in which one of the chapters suggested that the readers make ‘highly classified personal dream notes’, keep them somewhere in any boxes except Pandora’s, then repeat and reiterate their dreams, making a subconscious recital over and over, and our dreams would ‘definitely’ come true. The book even emphasized in this form (I had bequeathed it to our home’s ex-servant, however, so I could not quote it here, but say the least I still remembered, quite much, about the wordings): you do not have to think too much about your dreams. Your mind is all-connected with the universe, that is bound for life, that amplifies the subconscious waves of all your deepest, childish dreams. You do not have to attempt too much; all you need to do is ‘believe’.
So just close your eyes, lo and behold, believe that 2 trillion dollars could appear in your banknotes in 15 seconds, and all of a sudden, Japan has lost 40% of its GDP.
I read The Secret when I was a first-grader in Junior High School. The time when I did not recognize the word ‘lacklustre’ in dictionary, when every additional book that I brought to school was always related to motivation and inspiration, when I thought that disseminating ‘positive thinking’ could make this world a better place, when I absolutely remained confident I could be in the school’s top 10 parallel ranks and got a full-year scholarship, and when I kept on taking chances to speak in front of the class to provide them ‘role models’ they could use to make our lives more successful.
I only came to realization that I still saved my ‘personal dream notes’ I had long concealed somewhere else that was instead placed in one of my flash disk’s folders, which I had never read for the last 6 years.
At first, I thought such dreams were ‘exhilarating’. Now, 6 years later, they sounded ‘way too humiliating’.
1.At age 40, my net worth is 1,000,000,000,000 £
At age 55, my net worth is 100,000,000,000,000 £
At age 75, my net worth is 10,000,000,000,000,000 £
At age105,my net worth is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 £
2.I wish to marry a beautiful blonde-haired girl, 7 years younger than me, when I reach my age 30.
3. I wish to learn more about computer system and creating the biggest “search-engine robot” in the world, so it will produce “instant-money” for me.
4. I wish to have 7 handsome, pretty, smart, helpful, and ambitious children.
5. I wish to live in Monaco, forever.
6. I wish to create the greatest business empire, from my own computer.
7. I wish to change my name, to William K.Chang.
Nothing is impossible.
I will be legend in everything.
Rockefeller’s Oil Business Producing 1,000,000,000,000 US$ for him and his family. As rich as Rockefeller, must be possible to change the world.
Having read this testimony (with hell so many grammatical typos), I bet my bottom dollars that I am ready to vomit up if I have to. Unless I live in a parallel world.
I was highly misunderstood to think that John D. Rockefeller had persevered all by his own to reach the undefeated status even the richest men today could hardly outperform him. I even thought he had 1 trillion dollars in his personal cash, when historians and economists instead came to a consensus that his 1-billion-dollar opulence he obtained in 1911 is now, adjusted to inflation, valued at approximately 375 billion US$ in 2011. In my point of view, this remains dubious, especially after I realize that bulk of the businesspeople around the world, and throughout modern history, had never remained ‘honest’ about their actual size of wealth. I am still used to believing that his wealth may have actually surpassed 12-digit marks (that’s my own instinct), but I absolutely believe that my personal claim is too lackadaisical of concrete evidence. That’s for sure.
However, what does ‘a paramount of wealth and Midas-esque overabundance of gold’ translate when he used unscrupulous strategies to acquire oil companies operating in United States, mostly by coercive forces? What does such digits mean when many of the people employed in his business empire, Standard Oil Group, now dissolved into ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhilips, were living a destitute life?
Life changes every often, and so do I. As time goes by, I became increasingly fed up with all these Baedeker. If the universe were finely tuned for life, would the NASA astronomers keep patrolling everyday to watch out for asteroids? Would there by countries, nations, military forces? Would there even be mass media? The world envisioned in The Secret were way beyond utopian, briefly speaking.
In the final year of Junior High School, I ceased hinging on motivational books. That was when I barely made my name among the parallel-rank list. I realized my dreams were too innavigable, and life burdens all of a sudden seemed like peaking up exponentially. Freeing myself off these stuff, at first that was uneasy, because people addicted to ‘motivitamins’ were as likely to reiterate ‘have you achieved your great dreams today? If not, shame on you!’ mantra on people everyday as drug addicts might possibly dream the dreams of their own imaginings. I became easily skeptical, and at times, cynical about the whole world. That was also the juncture where I abandoned my dream of obtaining 2 trillion dollars (rather than crucify Japan’s GDP), of writing larger-than-universe fantasy book I aimed could surmount Harry Potter’s 1-billion-mark record (I still keep one in my flash disk, though, as a memento), and of surpassing Rockefeller’s record. Opulence, wealth, and towering affluence seemed no longer efficacious for me. At that moment, I had a reversed mindset about motivators, switching it so rapidly that as though it were just so langsyne. Their words were applesauces, their books fiddlesticks, and their appearance superbly artificial. Their messages did seem contradicting with the chaotic reality of this world, the inapprehensible nature of the universe, and the fragile traits of human nature. Are we programmed only to smile and say ‘I’m so happy today’? Can’t we learn to cry, to express sorrow, to feel wrath, to get our hearts beat, and to live the way we are humanly are? What is the meaning of life? Everyone figures out one by his or her own. From that question, my mindset gradually changed.
After the disappointment, there came a moment of self-reconciliation, exactly on the first year of Senior High School. After further thought experiments, I concluded that it was my fault that I firstly believed, and disgusted, those motivators too deeply. Motivators are not cherubs sent from heaven; they are only doing the job they are supposed to do, nothing else. They know sweet-tongued words translate as higher pay, and higher sales in seminars and book quantity. Who can resist that offer? And who makes the fault when one takes their words overtly funereal? Ah, I just made a huge mistake I thought I had been correct.
Now I do not have to be so namby-pamby about them. It’s nicest to remain neutral regarding all the self-dubbed spirit-inducing wordings they utter. You still listen to the talks, but you know which ones are relevant and which ones are castles in Spain. Motivators are still ordinary human beings. Even spreading out positive thoughts does not make a better world today; skepticism is always the beginning of knowledge. What you see, on a subatomic level, as particles, others may perceive as waves. Changes are imminent, mostly beyond our predilection. And for that thought, we need to watch our minds very closely.
View the original article here.
CANNES POSTMORTEM. IS THAT THE WRONG WORD?
by Roger Ebert
May 24, 2010
Everyone seems to believe that Tim Burton and his festival jury did the best they could with slim pickings. The 2010 winners at Cannes were for the most part fair, well-distributed, uncontroversial and safe. You could say the same about the films in the festival.
Last year I left Cannes having seen “Up,” “Precious,” “Antichrist,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Broken Embraces,” “A Prophet,” “The White Ribbon,” “Police, Adjective,” “Thirst,” and many other good films. Of the first “Antichrist” screening, I wrote: “There’s electricity in the air. Every seat is filled, even the little fold-down seats at the end of every row.”
This year, I saw some good films, but felt little electricity. The opening night fun of “Up” was replaced by the drudgery of “Robin Hood.” I was in awe of Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” and the the South African “Life Above All,” but not much else. I didn’t see some of the winners, including “Of Gods and Men” and Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy,” for boring reasons having nothing to do with my desire to see them. Of the other films I saw, the only real enthusiasm I felt was for the Inarritu’s “Biutiful,” Bertrand Tavernier’s “The Princess of Montpensier,” the first Chad feature “A Screaming Man,” the South Korean “Poetry” and the out-of competition documentary “Inside Job.”
I await a second viewing of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s winner of the Palme d’Or, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.” I felt affection and respect for it, but no passion. But reflect that when you see a subdued and challenging film late in the festival, you come to it dazed with movie overload. I know myself well enough to suspect it will play much better first thing on a Monday morning at a press screening here in Chicago.
Weerasethakul, who says we can call him Joe, has made a film about a man who moves through planes of existence that involve humans, animals, spirits, memories, dreams and fantasies. The man is in the last stages of kidney failure, being cared for by a male nurse in an unexplained house that seems to be surrounded by jungle. His dead wife and son come to visit. Mystical characters materialize and interact with nature. The voices are mostly muted. The forest is enveloping.
There are many theories about the film. I have one that may be completely off the wall. If the dying man is on pain medication, this may be a literal transcription of his hallucinatory dreams. At stages of my own surgeries, I was on a good deal of pain med, and had dreams or fantasies that remain, to this moment, more vivid than many of my actual memories. Even without drugs, he could be moving toward a mental reconciliation of death and nature. Then nothing needs to be explained, not even when his son appears as an ape with glowing red eyes. It is all his mind sorting through available images. The key, I think, is to declare the film to be entirely from his point of view, and not an objective one.
Of other winners, all are honorable except one, which is inexplicable. The jury awarded the best director award to Mathieu Amalric for “Tournee” (“On Tour”), the story of a failed TV producer touring France with a troupe of American burlesque performers not in the first bloom of youth.
I like the situation. The women are road warriors, experienced performers who work hard, party a little, laugh a lot and like each other most of the time. They look like the real thing because they are; they’ve performed in revivals of old-time burlesque. They’re deliberate parodies of the bump-and-grind artistes who used to parade at houses like the old Follies on South State Street. They trowel on so much makeup they would make drag queens look fresh-scrubbed.
They’re natural and convincing, and the footage involving them feels like it belongs in a documentary. Nothing feels very scripted, and there’s a lot of spontaneity. The problem is with the surrounding plot involving the tour manager, played by Amalric himself. The development and resolution of issues in his own life makes an awkward fit with the strippers, who are so defiantly real they resist standing in for any needs or deprivations of his own. The two threads of the film never come together, and that’s why it’s strange that the jury should have chosen it for Best Direction.
The jury prize went to “A Screaming Man,” a film from Chad by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun that I greatly admired. In a way, it was Murnau’s “The Last Laugh” transplanted to an African nation in recent times, torn by civil war. I respond warmly to films that closely observe a few people and how they work and live, and this one supplied a human context for year after year of news about war and unease in remote places.
Adam was the swimming champ of central Africa years ago and now rules in his handsome uniform over the swimming pool of a luxury hotel. As perilous times come, he is demoted to the post of guarding the hotel gate. “But the pool is my life,” he cries. The unique quality of the movie is to look at Adam’s life, the way he values his job almost more than his son, and the way status conferred by a Western hotel has bewitched him. The film is well-made, but that isn’t the point: It has a world to tell us about, it opens our lives, and for some it will be the first experience of Chad they have ever had.
Apart from the films themselves, a general cloud of gloom and doubt seemed to hang over the Croisette. The films that Cannes favors are hard to finance this year. Serious directors find themselves frustrated. Everything is falling apart. Manohla Dargis wrote of her complex feelings upon discovering that Cannes, even Cannes, seems ready to abandon film for video.
While the festivals was underway, the announcement came that some studios want to release their big first-run films to On Demand TV within a month of their theatrical openings. This is bad news for theaters, bad news for what seeing a movie has traditionally meant, and bad news for adults, because that distribution pattern will lend itself to easily-promoted “high concept” trivia.
I’ve been to 35 festivals in Cannes. I’ll tell you the truth. I doubt if there will even be a Cannes Film Festival in another 35 years. If there is, it will have little to do with the kinds of films and audiences we grew up treasuring. More and more, I’m feeling it’s goodbye to all that.
Question: is Roger Ebert responding too cynically, or is it that the world’s most prestigious film festival has gradually deteriorated in terms of quality? In the long run, this all depends on our personal opinions. Do not get opinionated.
Additional information: With Ebert passing away, his wife, Chaz, and a team of far-flung, globe-trotting correspondents, now pass along his annual tradition of attending the grandiose, star-shudded annual festivity. A special section is even included in Ebert’s official website. Check it out here.
To be honest, the decision that I joined Canon Young Photographers Award competition was partly accidental. As I saw that a friend of mine had uploaded her picture, I was – okay, using a motivator’s vernacular should be no problem – highly motivated to submit some pictures I took as well. Well, I didn’t use paraphernalia like DSLR or EOS; I was only equipped with a ten-year-old Canon camera that my mom had just recently given to me. I don’t want to be trapped in the vicious cycle of ‘wishful thinking’, but regarding winning competition and getting an all-expenses-paid trip to US to attend National Geographic’s photography workshop – one of my lifelong dreams is to, at least, be able to join a Nat Geo project – who would dare enough to refuse these efficacious offers?
Therefore, do please vote for my pictures by clicking these links I provide below (I submit 2 pictures, in fact):
I will really, really thank you very much if you either vote or like my pictures. I wish you countless blessings!
As an indirect reciprocation, to thank my friend, Adriana Salim, for indirectly, and unconsciously, ‘alerting’ me to join this competition, I’ll also enclose another link for you to vote for her picture as well: