Sigh of relief...

Someone asked me why I have "sigh of relief" in my status on Facebook, MSN, and GTalk... let's see:
  • The summer program ended well despite the typhoon
  • I finally got the vacation I wanted (yeah, only 2 days to Thailand, but I'll take anything)... see this piece on what counts as vacation
  • The Beijing Olympics seems to have ended without any major problems (!!!)
By the way, I really like Jim Caple's coverage of the game. Here's one on the Chinese gymnist age scandal. Here's one on Beijing's final grade. I'll share with you the last sentence:
  • "Sometimes, especially at the Olympics, it's best to suspend the cynicism."



I have to say, their commercials during the Olympics are really really well made.

This is a commercial from Hong Kong that features some of Hong Kong athletes (yeah, we import them from China in case you wonder) and some Chinese athletes. Here's a similar one from China.

The commercials actually really remind me of Nike commercials that were showed by JWT's Tom Doctoroff while I was still in business school (god I miss school). Family. Group. Nobody is more special than others. We're all in this together.

Good job, Adidas.


Talk about pressure...

Some serious business before the good stuff. Roland Martin articles have always impressed me. This one is no different.

Go-Karting is about the only I did that is ever so slightly related to the Olympics in the last few weeks... twas fun.

In my last post, I sort of mentioned the stress I was under... well, talking about pressure: how about the pressure Chinese 110M hurdler Liu Xiang was under? Dude couldn't even walk straight and he still wanted to participate in the games! Unfortunately, you still have some ultra conservative nationalists (i.e. "internet forums" where you can be anonymous and speak irresponsibly) in China who have self righteously claim that Liu has betrayed the country by not running until his legs break in half.

Although... if Liu insisted on running and limped the last 80 meters before collapsing when he crosses the finish line... he would ironically become the BIGGEST sports icon in this Olympics, going way beyond Phelps (Wow, did you see that guy swim). Imagine the headline: "Defending 110M hurdler champion Liu limps to finish line on half a leg for his country and 1.3 billion Chinese; career in doubt". Okay, so that's a long and stupid headline... but just imagine.

I love controversies. Poor girl whose missing front teeth landed her on the sidelines so prettier girl can be shown to the world. Underaged gymnists? And I'm not sure if this story was being funny or being critical?

Go China! Am looking forward to the Closing Ceremony already. I hope no adult diapers were involved (read my links!).


Detox in Shanghai

Normally, you wouldn't associated detox with Shanghai... Yet, that's what happened in my last training session with my class of consultants.

Until now (on KA802, a.k.a. The best timed flight from Shanghai to HK... Yet I digress), I still haven't quite figured it out. Part of it was our bosses "coming clean" and telling us what I've suspected all along: consulting is a tough business that's not cut out for everyone. Part of it was knowing that I wasn't alone. Part of it was the one day trip to a place that woulc cut me off from work entirely.

And then I listened to Queen's Under Pressure: Its a terror of knowing what this world is about. Watching some good friend screaming LET ME OUT.

How fitting. And I figured it out. I think.

Oh, by the way, the essentials of a detox session is quite simple. Food. Friends. Buddha. Here goes:

And of course this an interesting scene during our retreat in Hangzhou (not posed)... that's 2 people on Texas Holdem and 1 on Brick Breaker:


Get Smart Movie Review!

Talk about a brainless and funny movie. I present to you Get Smart. That guy from 40 year old virgin has really made it big. He's really hilarious. He's not the Jim Carrie type of exaggerating facial expressions and forced humor; it's much more subtle. In fact, it's almost as if he were trying to be intentionally not funny, only everything turns out to be unintentionally funny. I'm not sure if I make sense at all.

Anyway, a good 1.5 hours of good hard laughs. Particularly funny was the dialog on "are you from control." I couldn't stop laughing at his expression. PNGF likes the staple scene. She's kind of juvi like that.

Highly recommended especially for a night where you want to completely shut down common sense and just laugh your ass off.



Well well well... I'd say there were four moments in my life where I remember watching non-stop TV coverage of an event: the June 4th incident at Tiananmen Square, the 911 attach on WTC, the 512 earthquake in China, and then the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Great blog post from Salgar, by the way. Bob Costas, I don't know if it's you, but it certainly sounds like you. You suck.

Interesting input from the Freakonomics blog on the gold medal situation. (Shame on the slight on Chinese and their anti-doping tactics... how about looking in the mirror and inspect American sprinters?) Go China!

On to the mania:
  • I'm not ashamed to admit that I watched the Cycling roadrace. Do you know what a pelaton is? (Also, I don't want to see another slow-mo cycle crash.)
  • Congrats to the Chinese lady who won gold in women's air pistol. But what about the Russian and Georgian runner-ups? Stop war!
  • You could really be injured in badminton...
  • Michael Phelps cannot be stopped... 5 races, 5 gold, 5 world records
  • Speaking of world records, have you read about the technology doping? Apparently the pool is deeper and the lanes are wider to reduce water drag... and of course the now famous "shark swim suit"...
  • Whoa, the Chinese men's basketball team is leading the Dream Team for half the first quarter... they were happy to lose by 31.
  • Diving is fun... cus I feel like I can be judge
  • Are those gymnasts 18 or 12? I can't tell...
  • My colleague, upon walking into the cafeteria playing a weightlifting competition: which country is that guy from? Me respond: I think this is a women's event... Colleague: Oh......


Olympic Ceremony

Wow. I watched the opening ceremonies of Atlanta (I covered it as a reporter!), Sydney, Athens, and now Beijing. The Beijing one tops them all by far, and, frankly, may never be topped given how expensive it is rumored to be (USD $40B!? Really!? Sometimes you just have to laugh at the media...) and how little economic benefit there is from hosting the Olympics (all rent extracted, low overall long term returns).

Anyway, what a spectacular way to start! Also, huge huge huge props to Zhang Yimou, architect of the ceremonies, whom I dismissed as one who can handle the big scene and big screen. My bad. You did well. Pad on the back. You make me proud to be Chinese.

On to the games... (Two golds so far for China, plus a bronze for Tai... um... Chinese Taipei)


Need better logic

On the eve of the Olympics... by the way, I'm so excite about the whole event. I'm feeling extremely patriotic right now. I'm bleeding red. And, uh, I just hope nothing is fucked up.

Reporting from Beijing, CNN has this breaking news: "U.S. President George W. Bush cut the ribbon Friday on the massive new U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China, and said societies that allow free expression tend to be more prosperous."

"Tend to be!?"

The logic used here doesn't dictate the consequences of "societies that don't allow free expression." You know, like Brunei, Saudi Arabia, UAE (Dubai), Singapore, and, uh, Sudan, etc. And you could probably argue the Chinese (both govt and people) would say, well, we've achieved prosperity without your American cowboy democracy slogan.

In other words, have a backbone and speak louder, GW!

By the way, I was trying to re-trace some old links that might have measured prosperity and freedom of expression. No such thing, but it got me back to all time great "super time-suck" sites: Freakonomics (Hey, it was posted on my birthday, great present!), Baby Name Wizard, and the mind bottling Gapminder.


Did The Joker Win?

Well, apparently, the Chinese government is going to play some Lucius Fox.

There was some debate on my last post as to who was the victor in The Dark Knight. I still contend that it is The Joker. Let's evaluate from his major victims:
  • Bank robbers: Listening to The Joker's instructions to kill each other off, all were motivated by greed. Score one for The Joker.
  • Black mob boss: Token black guy had to die somehow. One of his cronies probably killed his buddies to work for The Joker. Fear ruled. Score another for The Joker.
  • Judge and Police Commissioner: They were unafraid of The Joker and die for it. Lady Justice stood up despite not prevailing. Score one for Batman.
  • Edison Chan: Just kidding. He's the security guard in Hong Kong (1 second cameo with Morgan Freeman) who once broke all hell loose. The Joker would have scored here.
  • SWOT team transporting Harvey: "This is not what I signed up for" sums up their cowardice... though they did try to complete the mission. No winner here.
  • Rachel: Sweet girl working as prosecutor sacrificed because Batman thought Harvey, the righteous prosecutor, was worth saving more. Never gave in though. Score one for Batman
  • Lau: money laundering business man gets burned alive on a pile of money. How's that for irony. No winner here since Batman would have done the same.
  • Harvey Dent/Two-face: Poor Harvey was so betrayed by his so-called colleagues that he turned the other cheek and ignored the law and order that he fiercely defended some 30 minutes ago in the movie. Score one for The Joker.
  • Batman, Alfred, Lucius: Score three for Batman.
So if you're keeping score, it's The Joker 4, Batman 4! It's a tied game (with some Jokerish rigging)!

Which brings me to... dun dun dun dun

Ferry of good people: the good citizens of Gothem voted ~400 to ~100 to blow up the criminals and save themselves. Score one for The Joker.

Oh, only they didn't pull the trigger! Why not, you ask? Because they were too hypocritical to do so. Their image of "good citizens of Gothem" would be tarnished. When it was an anonymous vote, good man wasn't afraid to show some evil (to save self, nonetheless, and I do have some sympathy here). When it was public display of evil, the good man was too hypocritical to actually do it (no sympathy here, sorry). You can't do it in public but you can vote behind a mask? Score two for The Joker.

And that is why The Joker won: 7 to 4...


Red Sox fans...

I wonder about oversea Red Sox fans... a similar study on HK people when Man U and Liverpool play would be quite interesting.

It's typhoon day in Hong Kong and we're all "working from home." Whatever that means. Anyway, me being me, I of course was quite oblivious to the typhoon fact. Out on the streets, the buses have stopped and there was very little transportation around. Taxis were the only ones. $200, said one, for my usual $35 trip. I was so amused that I swore at the driver! Eventually I was able to get another cab for $55, of which Bain is paying for anyway.

I hate it when free market works.


Red Cliff vs. Batman & Joker

Before I go into the biggest Chinese and English movies of the summer, let me just say that Sunday is not a good day for sushi. Of course I know this already, yet I still did it. Inagiku, only known as one of the best in town, was disappointing. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt due to the day for now.

On to the movies.

Red Cliff - I know its difficult to put spectacular history onto the movie screen, so John Woo has indeed done an admirable job. Nonetheless, it didn't satisfy me. Too much dialog that's more cheesy than insightful. The battles were spectacular but cliche. Way too long for its own good. The last 30 minutes were just too much of a drag to keep the movie crisp and efficient. Oh, and there's a part II to this part I, where the main battle is going to take place. I'm still looking forward to it. Final score: slightly recommended only because I love the history too much.

Batman - wow. Where do I even start. It's been a while since Hollywood came out with a Blockbuster that actually stimulated thinking (No Country for Old Men and Michael Clayton don't count as a Blockbuster; Juno and Little Miss Sunshine were indies)... anyway, I suspect you all know which part of Dark Knight I want to highlight.That's right, Prisoner's Dilemma! the Joker puts normal good citizens on one ship and criminals on the other. They are each given a bomb trigger to blow up the other ship. If neither pulls the trigger, the Joker pulls both. While our friend Batman determines that people are good when neither ship pulls the trigger... it is actually the exact opposite. Both wanted to pull the trigger: the good guys didn't because none of them wanted to bear the reputation of the person pulling the trigger; the bad guys just knew that the Joker wouldn't spare either ship so pulling the trigger had no point. Couple that with the depressing end for Harvey two face, The Dark Knight is an intense and dark and slightly depressing movie.

The morale of the movie is that you need Batman, an outlaw who performs justice while disregarding rules and laws, and that the Harvey Dents of the world, those who insist on doing everything the right way while performing justice, cannot persist. And the movie might be right. How's that for depressing.

Highly highly recommended. Oh, and I haven't even talked about the possibility of a postmortem Oscar award for the great performance of Heath Ledger as The Joker. Oh, and don't forget Christopher Nolan, the director who was also behind the great Momento. You know what, I'm going to watch it on Imax...