Director Zhang Yimou’s The Flowers of War is at times an incredibly poignant and starkly brutal look at one of the 20th Century’s biggest human disasters in the Rape of Nanking that ultimately suffers from being much too manipulative as well as being unwisely geared to two distinctly different markets. Mainland Chinese will undoubtedly know every minute detail of this tragedy but for those in the West it can best be described with the eerie and downright bone chilling analogy that this is essentially the Chinese version of the Holocaust. Suffice it to say, this is not one of humanity’s greatest moments and is a massive open wound to the Chinese psyche so it is no surprise that the mere mention of it will probably illicit a strong emotional response.
Space the Final Frontier,
These are the voyages of the starship Shenzhou 15,
As I sit here at my computer reminiscing about my most memorable events of the past twelve months my thoughts, as they so often want, turn to Star Trek but this time not so much centered on Kirk and co warping to distant stars to seek out new civilizations but instead much closer to home, namely the Earth and its moon.
During the first week of August 2008 the world was glued to their TV sets not because of the economic turmoil that was about to descend like some petulant alien invasion but rather all eyes were on Beijing for the start of the summer Olympics. This was a grand spectacle like no other, probably never to be rivaled at least in the short term. Just how many countries could mount such a lavish production and spend upwards for $40 billion dollars on staging the games and the related infrastructure needed to accommodate them. To put that into perspective that’s the entire yearly nominal GDP of the Dominican Republic or Oman or Syria. That’s about 1/3 the nominal GDP of Egypt and a staggering amount of investment by any measuring yardstick.