Archive for December 2010
Yes, almost a month after the movie came out in the UK and in the US, I finally saw it myself while in HK on my Winter Break. After all, Warner Bros only released it in HK just in time for the Christmas holiday season. Despite the lengthy delay, having paid the equivalent of just under £3.5, I”d say it was well worth the extra wait.
After all, as a movie, HP7/1 wasn’t exactly of Oscar Material. The only thing that allowed it to stand at all was the intricate pot written by JK Rowling. Nevertheless, there were some interesting moments.
Firstly, I am almost sure I saw a glimpse of Wales, if only for a split second. One of the many shots of the trio moving around on foot due to Ron’s injury featured them walking under a massive bridge. I am almost certain that it was filmed at the Severn Bridge connecting England and Wales.
Secondly, I have to admit that the animation of ‘The Tale of The Three Brothers’ was spectacular, almost better than the film itself. Very nicely transitioned with Xenophilius Lovegood looking out the window. Even on it’s own, the animation was very well done.
A rather trivial point, but it appears to me that Harry’s scar had moved from the position it was in since the first film. Then, it was placed squarely in the center of the forehead. In the 7th, the scar seems to have moved to just above his right eye.
I’ve also heard some people call the movie a cliff-hanger. But in my personal opinion, the ending was so disconnected from large parts of the film, it didn’t really make sense, much less create enigma. It wasn’t a bad ending, certainly emphatic, but just not a cliff-hanger.
Finally, I know I originally felt quite strongly that a 2 part movie was a purely commercial decision. I still don’t know if it was, but regardless of how the idea originated, I’ll admit that the idea is quite reasonable. In fact, from a purely artistic point of view, I feel that splitting HP7 into 2 was a good move. While it can’t be said without seeing the second part, the decision to split it up might yet turn out to be a good decision after all.
So now the long wait till summer begins…
Given hindsight, I’d have to say that my own Christmas travels weren’t that bad. True, Megabus too nearly 2:40 just to reach the outskirts of London before we got bogged down in 30 minutes of traffic, but I did manage to finish Vantage Point and see the real M4 as opposed to the AC M4. Vantage Point was an interesting movie from a media perspective, especially in the way it used rewinding. But, the £1 bus ride did mean the start of a lot of sitting in a cramped seat, although being my size did help to relieve the burden.
Once we got to Victoria in London, I enjoyed a Chicken Tikka sub-of-the-day before embarking on an hour tube ride. Having only 1 luggage certainly helped, I can’t imagine going to AC on my own with 2 or 3 suitcase in tow! I still had 2 and a half hour to wait after I passed security at Heathrow at around 6, but thankfully, I found a charging point at a Boingo hotspot and was able to watch Salt before lining up for a 12 hour plane ride.
During those 5983 miles of flying, I watched ‘The Taker’ over dinner, finally enjoyed ‘Toy Story 3′ and saw ‘Despicable Me’ (meh). I was feeling sleepy so I had a nap and then played Golf, Tennis and watched Hannah Montana just to wake myself up. I still only managed to watch a fourth movie in 1 flight, finishing off with ‘The Expendables’. We landed earlier than expected, at 4:42, but my very early check-in meant I had to wait 25 minutes before my luggage came out.
Hopefully, on my return trip to the UK, I’ll be able to fit in 5 movies. After all, it is a 14 hour flight.
I’d heard, or at least known about, ‘Kill Bill’ for a good six years. But inline with my general lack of movie watching, I’d never bothered to watch it myself. Thankfully, I got my chance on my flight to the UK and watched Kill Bill Vol 1. For some strange reason, Cathay Pacific’s In-flight Entertainment System didn’t have Kill Bill Vol 2. So once I got back to Hong Kong, I googled on youtube for the movie and finally located it, enjoying the joy of finally completing the legendary Quentin Tarantino movie.
On youtube, you can review Kill Bill Vol 1 at http://www.youtube.com/user/HazelTee97#g/c/1D3CC63E9FDCFF53 and once you’re done, watch Kill Bill Vol 2 at http://www.youtube.com/user/HazelTee97#g/c/1748B2EF2DB45B68.
Firstly, the first WSDC 2011 Newsletter 1 was released but it doesn’t seem to have been emailed to the WSDC community nor has it been publicized. To read or download the WSDC 2011 Newsletter 1, click here. Alternative, you can read the embedded newsletter below.
Some key points from the Newsletter are:
- The CAs are Beth James and Andrew Marshall
- The CAP will include Taimur Bandey (Pakistan), Dan De Kadt (South Africa), Hayah Eichler (Israel), Eirianna Kouri (Greece) and Malcolm Smart (Scotland)
- Cultural events will likely included a practice dance session, a barbecue at the University of Dundee and participation at an Ifthar
- An Edinburgh Day will most likely be held on the Saturday, coinciding with the Edinburgh Festival
- Team Cap of 44
- Bursarial Aid available to cover registration fees of debaters only
- Registration fee at £480
Secondly, When visiting http://www.dundeeandanguschamber.co.uk/uploads/documents/The_Business_September_2010.pdf, I came across the following statement on WSDC 2011.
The World Schools Debating Championship is coming to Dundee in 2011. This prestigious event, which was inaugurated in 1988, is the premier international event for schools debating, and was last hosted by Scotland in 1991. It is taking place from 16th to 26th August and will bring 350 debaters, adjudicators and coaches to the city. Teams from 40 countries will participate in eight preliminary rounds, all to be held before audiences of pupils in Dundee secondary schools. The event has already attracted support from the City of Dundee Development Department, the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee. As the pinnacle of achievement for young debaters, the tournament is covered by national and local media outlets around the world. To find out more about the event and how your organisation can support it, visit http://www.wsdcdundee.com
A few things caught my eye
- While the bid document indicated 320 spots open for registration, it seems as early as September, there was talk of bringing “350 debaters, adjudicators and coaches to the city.”
- No previous indication was given as to the team cap, but this statement indicates that “teams from 40 countries will participate in eight preliminary rounds”.
- However, the first newsletter seems to top even 40, announcing a 44 team cap.
- It also invites individuals to “visit http://www.wsdcdundee.com”. The site, despite being owned by the Dundee City Council, does not seem to load any content no-matter how hard I try. In reality, the majority of the content is at http://wsdctournament.wordpress.com/.
- While nothing on the site can be viewed currently, the site’s URL is used for emails. For example, emails regarding the registration process are directed to email@example.com while the Chief Adjudicators can be reached at CAs@wsdcdundee.com
By most counts, I would have read the title, stored it under ‘nerd’, ‘geek’ and ‘computer wiz’ before closing the window. But something about the competition piqued my interest, and so I ended up spending 5 minutes reading through today’s Wired feature ‘Teen Mathletes Do Battle at Algorithm Olympics’ and reading about a whole load of stuff that I could do for my life.
I may consider myself operational on a computer, but in no way an advanced user. I can do all the basic computer functions that would be required of me in day-to-day life… but anything more technical and even I have to admit I go to sleep.
Which is why the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) amazed me so much. It wasn’t like I didn’t know people did this kind of thing, it was how complex and skilled they needed to be.
You might be bored out of your mind by this article, but I know some of you will enjoy the thrill of reading about this competition.
Also, while you’re at it… note the large number of Chinese programmers! Whoo!
Neal Wu’s last chance for international glory, and maybe America’s, too, begins with a sound like a hippo crunching through a field of dry leaves—the sound of 315 computer prodigies at 315 workstations ripping into 315 gray envelopes in unison. “You have five hours,” a voice booms across the packed gymnasium. “Good luck.”
Children should be seen but not heard
– 15th Century English Proverb
The old English proverb may have been around since the 15th Century, but just because it’s ‘tradition’ – a word whose meaning is itself unclear – doesn’t mean it’s a ‘tradition’ that should be upheld. Rather, like all other practices, it is something the each and every one of us should consider for ourselves. It essentially calls for children to make themselves presentable, but to keep quiet about their thoughts and opinions. For a lack of a better term, I would say this way of thinking is bollocks; or for our American friends, bullocks. The clearest case-study is the place where we spend almost a quarter of our day; or in the case of UWC AC which is a boarding school, all day; the school.
During my twelve years of education in four separate schools, I have seen a range of different approaches to student inputs in the way the school operates. True enough, student involvement at a primary level has little if any significance or effect. I would be the first to admit that I can’t even remember the issues that were brought up at Student Council while I was in primary school, despite me having represented my class for three of my four years there. Quite simply, the vast majority of students do not have the knowledge and ability to contribute meaningfully to the school’s operation when they are barely eleven. Certainly, having structures such as a Student Council is a hugely beneficial learning experience for students, but the reality of it is that there is little that they can contribute.
The thing that scares me is when this approach is extended into secondary schools. It’s easy to say that we are only one year older, twelve instead of eleven. But that creates a paradox where we will always be only one year older and never reach the imaginary level of mental capacity to take an active part in the school’s decision making process. No transition is ever smooth, and the process of growing up will take time, maturity will certainly not be ascertained overnight, but NONE of that means that we won’t reach the level needed to contribute meaningfully to the school management.
Student Councils are the most commonly cited avenues for student voice, but it isn’t and shouldn’t be the only forum. During my time at SIS, I was invited to interview potential new staff members for the posts as head of section, vice-principal and principal. That a student interview panel was even created is a commendable act that is testimony to how much further SIS has gone compared to other educational institutions. Whether our written comments were actually seriously considered is another question. On most occasions, the final decision was in line with our comments. However, I vividly recall one time when we voted heavily against a vice-principal candidate only to find out a few weeks later than he had been selected.
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This is part of the WSDC 2011 series as I recount and report on the World School Debating Championship 2011 in Dundee, Scotland as a debater, blogger and Wales national team member.
With the 2011 World Schools Debating Championships in Dundee, Scotland fast approaching, countries have begun to make preparations and have begun selecting national teams. In Wales, a ‘Team Wales Selection Day’ was held for debaters recognized as ‘Outstanding Individual Debaters’ in regional rounds, quarter finals and semi-finals of the 2010 Wales Schools Debating Championship. The runner-ups and the champions of the 2010 Wales Schools Debating Championship also participated although the champions were assured progression to the next round of selections.
In order to get to Cardiff from UWC AC on time, I woke up around 6:30 and endured a lonely, 30 minute walk in the cold, slippery Welsh environment to get into Llantwit. There were few people around, unsurprisingly given the time of day, but a large number of cars. It took me a while before I realized they were all heading to their SAT exams. I caught the X45 to Llantwit on time and had about an hour to spare which I spent shopping and walking around.
Finally, around 10:15, I walked to the Temple of Peace in Cardiff where the selections were to be held. I was only the 3rd or 4th to arrive, but the lobby quickly filled up with lots of debaters, all chatting away amicably. There were some notable faces in the room, particularly Sarah Roberts, Wales Schools Debating Championships 2010 Champion and a member of Team Wales 2010, and Josephine Maidment & David Wigley, both members of Team Wales 2010.
In total, 18 debaters took part out of an eligible 20. These were:
- Josephine Maidment
- Anna Cornish
- James Davies
- James Watt
- Georgia Power
- Siobbhan Brennan
- Sarah Roberts
- Cai Gwyn Wilshaw
- Branwen Miles
- Piers Digby
- Ryan Hopkins
- Matthew Bold
- David Wigley
- Nia Bethan Nevill
- Nathan Jones
- Catrin Davies
- Huw Jones
- Paul Lau
The selection day itself consisted of three parts. The first was a 45 minute quiz where participants answer questions to show their knowledge, logical thinking, augmentation and analytical skills. Next came a 45 minute discussion on international and local UK issues ranging for North Korea, China to the UN, military intervention and the overall concept of democracy. Finally, there was a mock-debate with three 7 minute speeches. In my particular case, we debated the motion that ‘THW Ban Alcohol’.
Following all three sections, the facilitators, Ellen Robertson, Jonathan Leader-Maynard, Martin Pollard and Naomi Blight, retired to select 10 individuals to go forward for the Training Weekend. With Sara Morgan and Sarah Roberts, the 2010 Wales Schools Debating Championship champions already destined to progress, there were just 8 spots up for grabs.
In the end, after length deliberations, the 10 individuals chosen to take part in the Training Weekend were
- Sara Morgan
- Sarah Roberts
- Josephine Maidment
- James Watt
- Piers Digby
- Ryan Hopkins
- David Wigley
- Nathan Jones
- Catrin Davies
- Paul Lau
- Reserve: James Davies
The Training Weekend took place on the 11th and 12th of December 2010, also at the Temple of Peace.
Despite the difference in education system, Chinese students are highly respected in United World Colleges.
In Shanghai and Beijing, an information session and Q&A session regarding applying for United World Colleges will be held on Saturday, 18th December 2010.
Prospective Chinese students should refer to http://www.uwcchina.com/ for more information and to sign up.
No, this isn’t about the World Schools Debating Championships on which I have admittedly devoted a large number of blogposts towards. Rather, I am referring to the 2010 Welsh Schools Debating Championships which concluded on the 29th November 2010 at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff. I arrived just in time after an hour long bus trip to see ‘Cwmcarn High School, Crosskeys’ battle against ‘Caerleon Comprehensive School, Newport’ on the motion that ‘THW further restrict civil liberties to protect the UK from terrorism’. The Grand Final was held in the Temple of Peace’s Council Chambers with a five adjudicator panel judging. The adjudication panel consisted of
- Naomi Blight – Programme Co-ordinator of CEWC-Cymru
- James Brimble – Trustee of the Welsh Center for International Affairs
- Peter Sutch – Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at Cardiff University
- Mike Douse – Chair of the Brecon Speakers’ Club
- Vicky Jones – Chair of the Cardiff University Debating Society
The proposition team from Cwmcarn High School, Crosskeys consisted of Sara Morgan and Sarah Roberts (a current member of Team Wales) and was coached by Dean Regulski.
The opposition team from Caerleon Comprehensive School, Newport consisted of Ryan Hopkins and James Davies and was coached by Jodi Roberts.
With Cwmcarn High School restricting their model to just longer detention periods without trial and permitting previously inadmissible evidence, Caerleon Comprehensive largely imploded on their own. From the start, they took a more negative and scatter gun approach, arguing the ideas of democracy and slippery slope. These were mostly based on assertions, particularly when it came to the slippery slope argument when they could only draw on imagery and predictions.
Overall however, the debate was surprisingly low on evidence. As a prepared debate, I would have expected more case-studies or research on the success or failures of the existing system
Despite this, the opposition suffered in it’s lack of an adequate response to the propositions case. Rather unexpected however, the adjudicators saw the debate as a “extremely close” debate, splitting the votes 3 to 2 for Cwmcarn High School, Crosskeys before an audience that included David Wigley, another member of team Wales 2010.
Sara and Sarah helped Cwmcarn High School win the Welsh Schools Debating Championships for the first time in the schools history and now progress to the third stage of selections for Team Wales 2010. Ryan and James will have to proceed through Round 2 which consisted of a selection day for all Outstanding Individual Debaters of all WSDC rounds. The Selection Day was held on the 4th December 2010.
It won’t ever happen, but whether you just want a laugh or actually contemplate whether this might happen, its a good read.
In Oslo’s city hall the peace prize was yesterday plonked on an empty chair, a bizarre but moving gesture which – as the Nobel committee’s chairman explained – reinforced the case for honouring the absent laureate Liu Xiaobo. Locked up in his country, the Chinese democracy activist is one of several winners to have been barred from claiming the prize in person, but this was the first award since Carl von Ossietzky’s where it was not possible for a relation to do the honours instead, a shaming comparison for Beijing, since he was up against Nazi Germany.
The first thought is that this will make the Chinese sit up and think; the second, sadly, is that the news will be distorted by the media of the People’s Republic, which are so censored that Liu’s name is hardly known. Through the prize, the world has found a means of telling China to change; the more demanding next step is to find a way of making it listen, and so here is an idea. China does not exist in splendid isolation, but prospers by engaging globally – trade figures only yesterday showed exports rocketing by 35% over the past year. With all this commerce comes correspondence, and foreign currency that builds up in Beijing’s bank-vault-busting reserves.
If all those nations that weren’t bullied into boycotting the ceremony agreed to put Liu on their notes and stamps, then the Chinese people would grow curious to find out more about him. As for the authorities, they would face a choice – between refusing the world’s message and refusing its money.