D-Day

Hope it’s not an empty can, or worse, a can of worms.

Today, Singapore goes to the polls.

All 93 seats at stake.

From Nikkei: “A total of 192 candidates are competing for 93 seats, with most constituencies being two-way fights between the PAP and one of 10 opposition groups, including the Workers’ Party – the biggest opposition player – and the new Progress Singapore Party, to which the prime minister’s estranged brother, Lee Hsien Yang, belongs. With the PAP widely expected to win, a key focus will be on its overall share of the vote, which will be seen as an indicator of support for the current government.”

It’s going to be a long night staring at the idiot box as results come in.

In the past, we used to chuckle seeing election officer Yam Ah Mee, and talking heads Eugene Tan and Gillian Koh wilting with fatigue as the night dragged on.

Arming myself with ample supplies of snacks.

I will raise a glass and bend an elbow to the victors.

Posted in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly | Comments Off on D-Day

PhDs in Political Science

I realized that ever since the prime minister announced on June 23rd that the general election will be called soon, the number of messages I’ve been receiving on my phone has shot up exponentially.

I also realized that a lot of people, especially, the retired and the jobless, as well as the self-employed, all have PhD degrees in Political Science from WhatsApp University.

Not only that, quite a number of them even hold post-doctoral degrees.

It’s remarkable how much crap can be generated by people who have never had any experience with politics – let alone hold public office – commenting like real, well-schooled experts and gurus.

They make me cringe.

Posted in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly | Comments Off on PhDs in Political Science

Another Pair of Balls Lost

“Until last year, I mostly avoided speaking out against the climate scare. Partly that’s because I was embarrassed. After all, I am as guilty of alarmism as any other environmentalist. For years, I referred to climate change as an ‘existential’ threat to human civilization, and called it a ‘crisis.’ But mostly I was scared. I remained quiet about the climate disinformation campaign because I was afraid of losing friends and funding. The few times I summoned the courage to defend climate science from those who misrepresent it I suffered harsh consequences. And so I mostly stood by and did next to nothing as my fellow environmentalists terrified the public.”

The person who said that is Michael Shellenberger, an excruciatingly woke environmentalist and progressive. By his own account “At 17, I lived in Nicaragua to show solidarity with the Sandinista socialist revolution. At 23 I raised money for Guatemalan women’s co-operatives. In my early 20s I lived in the semi-Amazon doing research with small farmers fighting land invasions. At 26 I helped expose poor conditions at Nike factories in Asia.” His environmentalist credentials are equally solid beginning with raising money for Rainforest Action Network at 16.

Then he wrote his apology saying “On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.”

It was published in Forbes.

Then Forbes succumbed to cancel culture and erased Shellenberger’s mea culpa.

But all is not lost, except the testicles of those retards behind Forbes. If you try a bit harder, the article is available on the Internet, plus Shellenberger’s new book, Apocalypse Never, is always available; in fact, it is Amazon’s “#1 Best Seller in Climatology.”

Posted in The Reader | Comments Off on Another Pair of Balls Lost

Getting Ridiculous

Endangered.

CBS News reported on June 29th that The Houston Association of Realtors will no longer use the term “master” to describe the primary bedroom of a home on their housing listings because the term “master” has roots in slavery.

Now, the Multiple Listing Service platform that HAR uses for listings, will use “primary bedroom” and “primary bath,” HAR said in a statement to CBS News. The Association noted that some members viewed the word “master” as sexist as well.

Just as well, being a Chinaman whose accent is weird and whose English pronunciation sucks, I’ve always struggled with saying “master bedroom” (especially when I say it fast) as it always sounds like I’m describing a room in what Onan was doing what he was doing in Genesis 38:9.

Meanwhile, The Court of Master Sommeliers said they would change the use of the term “master,” which is used to address those who have attained the “ultimate title” of sommeliers, according to  New York Times.

What will follow next? No more Master Chefs?

How ridiculous can this get?

Aunt Jemima is already gone…

And chess is also racist because white always start first and half the pieces are black.

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Be Slow to Anger

I had a fiery temper when I was younger. I lost my cool with my children a couple of times. I remember giving my younger son a couple of tight slaps when he was in secondary school. Till today I cannot forgive myself. I hope he will find it in his heart to forgive me. I pray that he will remember me for my merits and not allow that one incident to negate everything else I have done for him as a father. They say parents can only be as happy as their unhappiest child.

When faced with someone’s words or behavior that we dislike, we’re inclined to fly off the handle. I have since learned how to control my emotions but we live in a socially polarized time and our “righteous indignation” can easily cause us to flare up. But “righteous indignation” is often an excuse we give ourselves to power our sanctimony. I am sure those people who tore down statues believed they were morally superior to those whose statues they vehemently wrenched off pedestals. I’m sure those keyboard warriors who recently “outed” some election candidates causing others to question the character of those candidates truly believed in the rightness of their actions. Others, many of whom without exercising discernment, swallowed everything they encountered on social media, so they happily joined the lynch mob. The problem with mud-slinging is that once it gets started, it takes on a life of its own and it snowballs. Indeed no one with an unsavory background or less than sterling reputation should hold public office but the court of public opinion often passes judgment on people before any investigation can be launched.

I have never been a physical person, I wouldn’t even harm a fly, yet I am ashamed to say that I have lost my composure before. Today I believe that the word “rod” in that adage “spare the rod and spoil the child” doesn’t have to mean resorting to actually wielding a rod and whacking someone with it or delivering slaps. Wrath very easily escalates to physical acts of violence and more people than you can imagine can get hurt. Some hurts never heal.

Chastisement, when necessary, can be accomplished through non-violent means. Gentleness and civility are more humane. We must not forget Marcus Aurelius’ observation “how much more harmful are the consequences of anger than the circumstances that aroused them in us.” Every situation can be made better by a cool head. I believe that we can often weaken the hold anger has over our minds by thinking about what it will cost us: the negative consequences of indulging in it. Seneca believed that anger is a temporary madness, and that even when justified, we should never act on the basis of it.

I don’t know what really triggered or provoked a doctor to beat up his girlfriend recently. In this supposedly civilized day and age, there is simply no excuse to lay your hands on another person, least of all your girlfriend. What kind of a man is that?! The news reported that on August 26th 2017 his girlfriend refused to have sex with him, so he bashed her face in. He rained blows on her face repeatedly, even as she screamed for help while begging him to stop. He grabbed her hair when she tried to escape, locked the door, and smashed her phone when she scrambled for it. Police officers and medics arrived on the scene after the doctor’s own father called the police. The victim spent 21 days in hospital. Her face was swollen and bloodied, with multiple facial fractures making it hard for her to even open her eyes.

That was the third time she was assaulted. On March 12th 2017, after a tiff, he punched her in the face, but she decided to give him another chance.

The relationship was a volatile one: He peppered his descriptions of her with derogatory expletives, and would call and text her close to 100 times when she failed to reply him within half an hour.

He hit her again over two weeks later, on March 30th, after accosting her on her way to work.

Obviously, the doctor had anger management issues.

But, again, she took him back, despite being advised to leave him.

Then came the final straw – the attack on August 26th.

Well, the doctor had his comeuppance – on June 24th 2020 he was sentenced to three years, six months and two weeks’ jail and four strokes of the cane after pleading guilty to assault charges. He was also fined $4,000/-.

This is hardly the first time we hear of doctors misbehaving.

I know someone who was once married to a doctor. He used to hit her. He would say “I am a doctor; I know where to hit.” She has since divorced him.

And a psychiatrist was recently found guilty of not only having sex with a patient, but also encouraging another doctor to have sex with the same woman.

When the woman reported him, he sued her for defamation. WTF, right?

No, he didn’t bash her face in but I can only imagine the pain that must be felt by the poor woman.

Posted in Unforgiven | Comments Off on Be Slow to Anger

Responses to Yanked from their Plinths

Received lots of responses to my last post. Examples:

From a reader in Australia

Read your thoughtful piece on statues. You are spot on in posing the question what, if anything, is achieved by yanking statues? (Vandalism clothed in idealism if you ask me). To repeat Mandela: ‘You can’t escape your history’. Far better then that you learn from it, admit to its failures and shortcomings while noting its many successes. Sure, history may not repeat itself but it does rhyme (Mark Twain). And as sure as night follows day, burying history, is one way of making the future rhyme with the crimes of the past.

I liked this: but we in Singapore zealously preserve our multi-ethnic and multi-religious heritage through laws that explicitly ban discrimination and prescribe penalties for hate speech and acts that sow communal discord. LKY understood the need for a Singaporean identity and he set off to create one as only he could. Contrast that success with the identity politics sweeping the overfed, over-indulged and under-educated West and you can understand why tearing down statues is another example of identity politics.

From a reader in Germany

Thx for sharing. Please allow to add a few thought.

Real history cannot be changed, no matter what mankind tries. Only the point of view, possible analyses and views corresponding to the respective spirit of the age are subject to alteration or amendments. History – as long as it is regarded as a report on scientific foundations – can only alterate or improve its statement through new scientific findings or other imponderables (e.g. new discoveries in archaeology, in physics and astrophysics. to mention but a few).

The destruction of monuments and other memorabilia of historical actors for reasons of supposed political correctness or, if there are base motives or those for revenge, is never appropriate. In my opinion, it is even an outrage. And wouldn´t it be not much wiser to confront the story of these people with the actions of their time with our current perspectives and views instead of destroying monuments? Very often it is this situation: if they are out of sight, they are out of our minds. This applies at least to the majority of people who (cannot) deal with theoretical history.

Certainly it is impossible to explain memories of such terrible dictators, e.g. Hitler and his henchmen or Pol Pot, posted in public places in an exclusively historical and political context. That would then almost be tantamount to legitimization, which probably nobody wants and which is characteristic of the idiots of neo-fascism and all the other right winged stupids.

But take Stalin, for example, who is responsible for millions of murders of his own people and who has almost become socially acceptable again in Russia today. New “Father Stalin” sculptures everywhere in Russia.

Of course, from today’s point of view, the so-called “colonialists” e.g. Cecil Rhodes and also many German “conquerors” were criminals against humanity, but in their time they were partly heroes. A really great statesman like Winston Churchill – in the holistic view of today – was a terrible racist and also often anti-Semitic.

There is no recipe for how former “heroes” should be treated publicly if, according to today’s understanding, they have turned them into inhumans. The point of view might even change in a decade or more.

We have learnt to condemn the deeds of characteres like Julius Cesar, Caligula, Nero, Caraccalla, Charlemagne, Genghis Khan,Salah ad-Din and others, but still see them in the right historical context. We find pictorial and figurative representations everywhere and yet we are not able to break out in fanatical enthusiasm, but see them in all their cruelty and oppressive governance. We must see them as a part of our history, without which there would be no development up to our present state, and we must evaluate them according to their own merits, as long as it is scientifically proven.

From a reader in Mexico

I read your last post with great interest, wanting to get an educated ‘Asian’ perspective on the current crisis in the US. My thoughts are that the present problems stem from a lack of education and the need for many who want/need to believe that oppression is primarily white on black.

The reality is, oppression and slavery are not just historical, but are also in all probability prehistorical as well; going back to the fertile crescent.

By the 5th century BC, Greeks (eastern Med.) practiced a mostly benign slavery. Get captured in a pirate raid (or army action) and if you weren’t killed, you’d most certainly be enslaved (no matter your color or status). If you were rich, you could negotiate a ransom. If not, you could work or fight for a given set of time to earn your freedom (and possible new citizenship).

Concerning African slavery. When the Romans vacated north Africa (4th century AD) the continent’s slave trade was eventually taken over by the Arabs (from the Arabian Penninsula) who had turned into big big business by the 7th century AD. And it’s worth noting that big (big) business would never have scaled without the complicity of competing black tribal groups.

The same is true for when the Europeans got involved in African slavery. Without the aid of rival black African ethnic groups, the slave trade could never have scaled into the hundreds of thousands.

And another fun fact is one of technology. Historically those who were defeated, murdered and enslaved possessed inferior technology.

So modern day activists tearing down a bunch of statues belies an enormous level – breadth and depth – of ignorance.

Posted in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly | Comments Off on Responses to Yanked from their Plinths

Yanked from their Plinths

“We’re not going anywhere!”

Indro Montanelli, who died in 2001 at the age of 92, was a famous Italian journalist. He bought a 12-year-old Eritrean girl and turned her into his sex slave after he volunteered for Fascist leader Benito Mussolini’s colonial invasion of Ethiopia in 1935.

Edward Colston endowed charities that have lifted innumerable impoverished Bristolians out of poverty. He acquired his wealth through the Royal African Company, which shipped slaves from Africa to the West Indies.

Oliver Cromwell, known for the massacre at Drogheda in 1649, caused terrible suffering in Ireland.

Throughout his life, Winston Churchill made numerous explicit statements on race and his views on race contributed to his decisions and actions in British politics. He called Mahatma Gandhi a “half-naked fakir.”

Gandhi the “Mahatma” (a South Asian term meaning a revered person regarded with love and respect; a holy person or sage) liked to sleep in the nude with naked underaged girls. He described black Africans  as “savage,” “raw” and living a life of “indolence and nakedness,” and he campaigned relentlessly to prove to the British rulers that the Indian community in South Africa was superior to native black Africans.

Cecil Rhodes drove many indigenous people off their land. He was an imperialist and supremacist whose views contributed heavily to apartheid. Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe – was named after him.

Jan Pieterszoon Coen massacred thousands of Indonesians when he was an officer of the Dutch East India Company in the early 17th century. He also served two terms as Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.

Stepan Bandera, Ukrainian radical politician, participated in The Holocaust of Ukraine, in which more than a million Jews died.

Joseph Stalin killed at least 20 million people.

Mao Zedong caused the deaths of 20 to 46 million people between 1958 and 1962.

The reign of Belgium’s Leopold II in Congo saw the rape, mutilation and genocide of 10 to 15 million Africans. The idea that one group of people whose color of their skin gives them the right to slaughter others was an idea considered acceptable in many places for a long time. There are some three to four hundred of his statues around.

In New Zealand, the statue of John Hamilton, British naval officer, “was a stark reminder of the devastating actions of the colonial powers in the 1800s that resulted not just in the confiscation of our land, but the impact that it had on us as a people, which has flowed through to today,” said Rukumoana Schaafhausen, chair of The Waikato-Tainui iwi.

In Australia, Captain Cook’s statue looms over Australian colonial history furor as critics accuse white Australians of ignoring the suffering of indigenous people.

In the US, Christopher Columbus is being accused of abusive treatment of indigenous people and blamed for the violent colonization at their expense.

“Pitchfork” Ben Tillman, governor of South Carolina was an unabashed and self-proclaimed “white supremacist” who led South Carolina’s notorious Red Shirts, a paramilitary gang that murdered black people

George Washington, a Founding Father of the United States, was a slaveowner.

Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate general, was a slave trader and first grand wizard of the original Ku Klux Klan.

In America, the Southern Poverty Law Center estimates there are still 1,747 Confederate symbols standing as of 2019.

All the statues related to those names above have either been vandalized or forcibly wrenched off their pedestals by angry mobs. A few were quietly taken down by the authorities.

Popular Mechanics magazine even published a detailed guide on toppling monuments.

Even Abraham Lincoln, the man who abolished slavery, was not spared. There is a statue of him with a freed slave and some wanted that destroyed.

The statue of another US president, Theodore Roosevelt, will also be removed because it depicts him with a native American and an African.

Meantime, a couple of companies have announced that they would recruit more black and Asian employees to make amends for their participation in the salve trade during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Darkie Toothpaste has changed its name to Darlie Toothpaste – although the Chinese name “Black Man Toothpaste” remains unchanged – and Quaker Oats declared that the origins of the “Aunt Jemima” brand were based on racial stereotypes and will drop the name and change the packaging. The ice cream brand “Eskimo Pie” is changing its name to support racial equality. The “Uncle Ben’s” brand promised to “evolve.”

Even the US state of Rhode Island is trying to change its name due to its connections to slavery.

A chart-topping US pop group has changed its name because it sounded like a reference to the antebellum South. Another group, “Dixie Chicks” felt compelled to change its name too.

“Discriminatory” TV shows and “copaganda” ones were pulled or may be taken off, and the movie Gone with the Wind is at risk of being destroyed, and will be gone forever, because it is thought to be racist.

I seriously wonder if any of that is helping anything.

Personally, my very uneducated view is that if a historical person was outright and clearly an egregious abuser of minorities or indigenous people, launching pogroms to massacre and exterminate them, with the intent to wipe them off the surface of the earth, then honoring them with statues and monuments is definitely a straightforward no-no. No argument there.

Others, while though not saintly in their regard and treatment of the original dwellers of territories might also be people who contributed to the betterment of society. Everyone has a dark side, right? More serious thoughts should be given to what to do with their statues. Of course, it depends a lot on whose side you think history is on. Everyone claims history is on their side, which is impossible as history is never settled and it is never objective. Missionaries in China of yore forced conversions because they claimed they wanted the Chinese to be “saved” and to go to heaven. Many Chinese, on the other hand packed the churches because they could receive free grocery. Later, many historians referred to these poverty-stricken peasants as “rice Christians.” The missionaries didn’t think they had done anything wrong: they had their KPIs met, the impoverished masses thought they did the right thing: they got their tummies filled and their starving families fed. Everyone was happy. Who was right and who was wrong? Whose side is history on?

What’s right or wrong at any given time is determined by popular consensus, which changes, often radically, over time. I believe that some historical characters now seen as wrongdoers did not consider themselves as such, but felt they were doing what was best for their countries or companies or themselves, even for others, at that point in time.

History can, and is, being constantly manipulated to suit a particular narrative. Tearing down statues, or erecting statues is just manipulation of history.

So, what’s the answer?

Perhaps if the existence of certain statues causes so much discomfort to people, then maybe have, at the foot of each of these statues, a plaque describing in full the lives of the statued, in a transparent, uncensored manner, warts and all, and let people judge for themselves.

Alternatively house those statues in museums.

Or how about just leaving statues where they are, unmolested.

Erasing the past is an act of historical denial. Let things stay put, leave them where they are as a reminder of how shitty things were! Educate children and adults about the history of their countries.

Indonesia and Malaysia have renamed roads originally named after their colonial masters to names reflecting local luminaries. But that of course, does not erase their colonial past.

I suspect Singapore have anticipated this and has taken some appropriate actions. I’m not saying what our government has done is right but it is a workable compromise, I think.

Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore was no angel, it is rumored that he even had a Chinese mistress.

Instead of removing all traces of Raffles, Singapore, last year, as part of Singapore Bicentennial, actually added four statues of other historical figures: Sang Nila Utama, Tan Tock Seng, Munshi Abdullah and Naraina Pillai.

Personally, I don’t see why we should go overboard to honor Raffles – come on, the Brits robbed us blind – but not removing him from public eye, is, I feel, not due to nostalgia for the empire or our inability to deal with past historical wrongs. Instead, it suggests our country’s ability to be magnanimous and to look at history and recast it for today’s generations and for our grandchildren and those who come after them. It’s part of our history and heritage that there was a person named Raffles way back then.

I’m not saying we Singaporeans have the answers but the fact of the matter is that we don’t have the kind of troubles seen in other countries, though I admit, we do have a troll who recently called for the removal of Raffles’ statue; but this is from a retard whose credibility has always been in question and whose maturity, or lack of it, is never in question. From 1962 to 1964, the law school at the National University of Singapore had an African American dean. He was Prof Harry Groves. (This, to me, is colorblindness; the good kind, which we demonstrated back in the early 60’s when Americans of different skin pigmentation were still afraid to drink from the same water fountain!) In contrast to Singapore, no major American law school has ever appointed a black man as its dean until this year. The Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary, based in Williamsburg, Virginia, is home to the oldest law school in the US. Its first African American dean, Prof A Benjamin Spencer will begin his term next week, on July 1st.

It may not work for other countries, but we in Singapore zealously preserve our multi-ethnic and multi-religious heritage through laws that explicitly ban discrimination and prescribe penalties for hate speech and acts that sow communal discord. Additionally, affordable housing and minority quotas ensure that well-integrated communities, not racial enclaves, are formed.

At times like this, cooler heads should prevail. We must be wary of troublemakers who cause more mayhem than good. Acts of vandalism is like burning your house down just because you detest your landlord.

Posted in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly | Comments Off on Yanked from their Plinths

It’s Showtime! (At Home)

Wife-approved Netflix snacks.

I didn’t venture out of the house much since the April 7th lockdown. I’ve been binging on books, music, cigars, pipe tobacco and movies. (And not one drop of alcohol. Pat me on the back!) Netflix is always a rich source of movies but the more cerebral, artsy movies I enjoy – movies that make me think – can never be found on Netflix, so I order lots of blu-rays. My collection easily runs into hundreds. But during the lockdown, I switched on the TV and tune to Netflix. Guilty pleasure! Here are some Netflix movies I’ve watched recently that are still in my memory. Don’t worry, no spoilers here:

Doc Martin series – filmed in Cornwall, a cranky but very talented English doctor, a great diagnostic clinician, in a picturesque seaside village, nine surprisingly easy seasons – 70 episodes in all – full of interesting, endearing characters, portrayed by some real talented actors, including Dame Eileen Atkins, no less. I won’t consider it a comedy series but in 2004, Doc Martin won the British Comedy Award for “Best TV Comedy Drama.” It was also nominated for “Best New TV Comedy.” In the same year, the star of the series Martin Clunes won the “Best TV Comedy Actor” award, primarily for his portrayal of Doc Martin. Seven countries – including Czech Republic, Germany, Greece and Russia – liked the series so much, they copied and made their own versions. (No, Dr Zhivago is not one of them, you idiot!) The series started televising back in 2004 and season nine ended in 2019; a season ten is said to be in the works. I watched about three episodes a night and marveled at how Martin Clunes aged from 2004 to 2019. The series was so well received, that the royal parasite Prince Charles actually visited the set with his horse, er, I mean Camilla Parker.

La Grande Chaumière Violette – a Netflix original and for once, a quality Taiwanese serial that is highly watchable. It gives a glimpse of historical Taiwan in the turbulent 20’s. Definitely a world of a difference from the typical Taiwanese trash with hundreds of draggy episodes they still show on Singapore’s Channel 8. The Hokkien, or Taiwanese Minnan, spoken in each episode of La Grande Chaumière Violette is my dialect, and I recognized those Hokkien phrases used by my grandparents, making the serial rather fun to watch. Also, it’s refreshing to see the enthusiasm, and gung-ho spirit of the community of young artists in Taiwan in a by-gone era of innocence. The serial, filmed in several countries including Japan and the US, makes references to real life personalities including the famous Taiwanese artist Lee Shih-chiao, plus several others. Some sceneries and paintings featured are breathtaking! I try not to get sucked into multi-episode serials as they eat into my reading time. I remember watching the 54-episode Dae Jang Geum and the 70-episode Yanxi Palace and somewhat regretted all those hours spent in front of the idiot box, although they were extremely well-produced serials, with outstanding acting and superlative cinematography. However, I was happy to swap some of my Kindle time with La Grande Chaumière Violette and its 22 episodes. For the linguistically-challenged, English, Japanese as well as Mandarin is spoken in the serial, plus, there’s always subtitles.

A Perfect Day – about aid workers in Bosnia and what staff at NGOs had to deal with. Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins star, some funny dialogs and magnificent sceneries make this movie exceptional.

Leave No Trace – dad, suffering from PTSD, living in the woods with teenage daughter. Talk about social distancing! The second-most reviewed movie to hold an approval rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Thomasin McKenzie and Ben Foster put up some engaging acting here. McKenzie is the same actress in Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, unfortunately not yet on Netflix.

Chinese movie Finding Mr Right – starring Tang Wei, who’s real bitchy in the beginning and a pain to stomach, but the understated, low profile male lead is really an extraordinary actor. It’s a pleasure watching him. This movie is about mainland Chinese women trying to deliver their babies in the US, in the hope of acquiring residence status.

Chinese movie Coming Home – a Zhang Yimou masterpiece, starring Gong Li; China during cultural revolution, it will tug your heartstrings. On Rotten Tomatoes, this gritty movie has a rating of 92% based on 63 reviews. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 81 out of 100.

Extraction – mercenary hired to rescue hostage in Bangladesh, very rare to have a movie set in Bangladesh, probably the only one of its kind I have watched. That alone makes this a “must” in addition to spectacular stunt work and an electric performance from Chris Hemsworth (Thor).

Damascus Cover – Israeli spy in Syria, totally farfetched and incredulous story, plus the emotionless and deadpan star (Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers) doesn’t do the movie any good. A block of wood has a wider range of emotions. Still, if you have a bit of time to kill, go for it. John Hurt is in the movie. To some, that’s good enough reason to tune in.

Operation Finale – the tedious hunt for Adolf Eichmann, Hitler’s henchman, “the banality of evil” well portrayed; Ben Kingsley looks like shit here. He looks like superglue was poured on his face, and then blow-dried with a hairdryer, and voilà, Eichmann emerges! Guatemalan American actor Oscar Isaac stars.

The Half of It – Chinese American teenage lesbian girl helping to write love letters for male schoolmate, but basically, it’s another American coming-of-age comedy-drama. This one, directed by a Taiwanese female director though, also a lesbian. The movie starts slowly at first, but picks up soon enough. It’s a delight to watch. The girl’s father is a hilarious character. Plus, I get a kick out of watching ethnic Chinese girls speaking English with an American accent, though I’m surprised that the teenage star in this movie has such an alto voice for someone so young.

Spanish movie Invisible Guardian – featuring a female detective. The first instalment in The Baztan Trilogy, which has sold over 1,200,000 copies in Spain only and one of the most – if not the most – successful crime series in the Spanish language.

Spanish movie The Legacy of Bones – features the same heroine in Invisible Guardian; this the second movie in The Baztan Trilogy. The third movie’s release is on hold due to COVID-19.

The Platform – disturbing Spanish movie set in a large, tower-style “Vertical Self-Management Center” which is a fancy name for a prison. Its residents, who are switched every 30 days between its many floors, are fed via a platform which, initially filled with food at the top floor, gradually descends through the tower’s levels, each level getting only the leftovers from the previous ones. Premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Movie Festival, where it won the People’s Choice Award for Midnight Madness. Lots of buzz among critics about this movie, especially over how to interpret and relate it to the world today.

Argentine movie Intuition (La Corazonada) – another female detective. This movie is the prequel to the movie Perdida. A good change to see cops and villains who are not American or English. Man, how many times do they want to remake Charlie’s Angels or Sherlock Holmes?!

Argentine movie Perdida – features the same heroine in Intuition. It’s based on Argentinian journalist Florence Etcheves’s novel Cornelia. Refreshing!

Da 5 Bloods – action-packed movie by Spike Lee, about five black ex-GIs revisiting Vietnam, highly appropriate for our times but very political. Interspersed with real footages from past events, including that famous and extremely gory footage of Saigon police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan shooting dead a Vietcong point blank. I’ve seen photos of that killing countless times but this is the first time I’ve seen the video. Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) is in it, as well as a very bloated Jean Reno.

Love Story – for a bit of nostalgia, this very simple, straightforward movie came out when I was about 13 I think, and we young teenage boys those days enjoyed going around saying that famous line from the movie: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” like a mantra, which is not true of course, because for the last 30-over years, I’ve been apologizing to my wife for things I did not do wrong.

Last Flight to Abuja – there’s Hollywood, and there’s Bollywood, but have you heard of Nollywood? It refers to the Nigerian film industry and Last Flight to Abuja is a Nigerian movie in English language, and has received five nominations at the 2013 African Movie Academy Awards. A most gripping movie, based on a true story. Highly watchable.

Silverado – good, old-fashioned cowboy flick. I really miss cowboy movies! Nominated for Best Sound and Best Original Score at the 58th Academy Awards. Nothing much can do wrong with Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover and Kevin Costner in a movie, although in this one, Costner acts like an irritating clown.

Highway Men – starring two seasoned actors: Woody Harrison and Kevin Costner. This time, Costner is older – more than 30 years older – and more melancholic, and thicker round the waist. This is a grisly movie about the hunt for the notorious couple Bonnie & Clyde who went on a killing spree. For those who like bullet holes and for those who are enthralled by watching Woody Harrison, whom I think is the better actor of the two in this wonderful slug fest.

Marriage Story – A 2019 movie starring Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson and Laura Dern. Superb acting; makes me wonder how actors in one continuous take can memorize all that dialog and go through several emotional transformations and facial expressions, complete with tears and all. It reminded me of the quarrel scene between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road, which to my mind, is one of the best “fight” scenes ever filmed. Marriage Story was chosen by the American Movie Institute, the National Board of Review, and Time magazine as one of the ten best movies of the year. The movie received a leading six nominations at the 77th Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture – Drama, winning one award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture. It received eight nominations at the 25th Critics’ Choice Awards, three nominations at the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards for the performances of Driver, Johansson, and Dern, five nominations at the 73rd British Academy Movie Awards, one nomination by Cinema for Peace for the most Valuable Movie of 2020 and six nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards. Time magazine’s annual best performances of the year listed Driver as the third best movie acting performance of 2019. Dern won the Best Supporting Actress Award at the 92nd Academy Awards.

The Irishman – three-hour long epic by Martin Scorsese, I actually grew older watching famous old actors in this movie, namely stars like Robert De Niro (old), Joe Pesci (older) Al Pacino (very old), etc. At the 92nd Academy Awards, the movie received 10 nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Pacino and Pesci, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Movie Editing, and Best Visual Effects, but it was snubbed by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the movie failed to win any Oscar. It was also nominated for five awards at the 77th Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture – Drama. In this movie, old guys were digitally altered to look they way they were supposed to look in their younger days; interesting, as I saw a documentary on how they had to change their gait, etc to inject some authenticity in those flashback scenes when they appeared as younger men.

The President’s Barber – Korean historical show, starring Song Kang-ho, the same Korean flat-face actor who starred in the Oscar-winning Parasite. Jo Yeong-jin’s portrayal of president Park Chung-hee is amazing; looks like the real guy. Korean flat-face as well. Excellent acting, all round.

Breaking In – what a mother would do to protect her kids. On Rotten Tomatoes, an approval rating of only 26% (based on 103 reviews), but it helped with my digestion after a heavy Indian curry meal and all those accompanying rich butter naans.

A Quiet Place – post-apocalyptic science fiction horror movie about a world inhabited by blind extraterrestrial creatures with an acute sense of hearing. This movie received several award nominations, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture, Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for Emily Blunt, which she later won. It was also nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Sound – how ironic! – at the 72nd BAFTA Awards as well for an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing at the 91st Academy Awards. A movie about quietness winning sound awards, yup!

World War Z – Brad Pitt stars in this apocalyptic action horror movie. Perfect for this day and age.

Don’t Breathe – three teenagers broke into a visually-impaired man’s house to rob him, but the blind old man was a veteran who served in Afghanistan, or one of those shit holes, and things went pear-shaped very quickly. Dylan Minnette (13 Reasons Why) and Stephen Lang (the badass in Avatar) are the stars. Keep your eyes peeled for the turkey baster.

Hush – this time it’s about a writer who is deaf. Kate Siegel puts up some impressive acting in this slasher flick. She moved to a remote location to concentrate on her writing but, predictably, all hell broke loose, but it ended unpredictably, predictably.

Cuba and the Cameraman – this is not a movie but a documentary detailing a cameraman’s 45-year coverage of three families in Cuba. Eye-opening!

Many other movies I’ve watched previously – some good, some bad, and some excellent ones, especially the Indian ones, like 3 Idiots  – are also now on Netflix, so, not mentioning them here.

Our tastes in movies may not be the same, all the same, I hope you’ll check out some of those I mentioned above.

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So, Blame Your Mother, Instead?

Yesterday was Father’s Day.

Fathers play an important role in a person’s life.

I’m a firm believer of that. Then, I came across this, from a Milly Gomez of Latibule Counseling.

Make of it what you will.

Here it is:

Up to 14 generations. What were your ancestors doing? What violence were they being subjected to – or inflicting? What are the implications for your own life? How are you working to commune with your family and ancestors, to find possible answers to these questions, to interrupt these patterns of violence and terror?

In your earliest biological form, as a non-fertilized egg, you already share a cellular environment with your mother and your grandmother.

At some point, there were three generations sharing the same biological environment. Humans are born with all the eggs they will ever have in their lifetime.

From many studies, we know now, that if a mother experience chronic stress during her pregnancy the child will have a higher risk of being premature, have lower birth weight, be hyperactive, irritable, and colicky.

it’s difficult to do long-term studies. To understand this better, scientists study animals especially animals that have a short lifespan. When doing these studies, scientists have found that trauma may be traced back up to 14 generations!

So, when you don’t understand why you feel a certain way or react in a certain way, it might be intergenerational trauma.

People are left to heal the trauma that came from the stolen land, slavery, genocide, rapes, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and the emotional abuse that their families suffered.

When you think “those things didn’t happen to me” or you say to someone “those events didn’t happen to you,” think about this. We are connected to our past…to those that were victims or to those that were perpetrators.

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Today’s the Day!

Nope, the new normal or new abnormal is not here yet; but it’s a start!


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