Monday, December 29, 2014

The Imitation Game

A burglary at Professor Alan Turing's house reported by one of his neighbours prompts the Scotland Yard to dig deeper into his life.  The inspector becomes suspicious of the victim instead of the suspect; he forges a signature to obtain military records of Alan Turing, but to his astonishment there is none, the envelope is empty.  The irony is that the movie about Alan Turing's life is as empty as that envelope appearing in the movie.

The let down of this movie, for me, was its glossing over the Turing the inventor and his invention*.  It lacked knowledge and substance.  Instead of celebrating the life of a man who invented the first machine that can "think", the audience left the theatre feeling sad and sorry for him.  Thank you very much Black Bear and Weinstein company for taking the life of a 20th century inventor and turning it into nothing but a sorrowful story. Now we all feel sorry for Alan Turing; he was chemically castrated to avoid prison and took his own life with cyanide at the age of 41 because he was a homosexual.  

The movie did have a climax, however, and that was when the team realized they can't use the decrypted Enigma code. I could hardly breath at that moment.  These men had just solved the biggest problem of the 20th century, yet they could not use their findings to save lives, because it meant turning the clock back to the beginning; more mathematics and statistics were needed to determine how the information should be used.

The movie benefits immensely from brilliant, talented cast.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Alan Turing
Alex Lawther, Young Alan Turing

Keira Knightly: Joan Clark, Matthew Goode: Hugh Alexander, Allen Leech: John Cairncross, 

  1. *A Turing machine is a hypothetical device that manipulates symbols on a strip of tape according to a table of rules. Despite its simplicity, a Turing machine can be adapted to simulate the logic of any computer algorithm, and is particularly useful in explaining the functions of a CPU inside a computer.

Should speaking the official language in public places become law?

These days the streets, trains, malls, shops, grocery stores, coffee shops, banks, in short all public places are so crowded.  Looks like the entire inhabitants of the city are making an attempt to be out and about.  There is so much noise, people in groups speaking loudly on the train, in the street, and pretty much everywhere. In midst of the hustle and bustle it's hard not to notice the variety of languages,other than one of the two official languages, French, or English, spoken.

Perhaps it is the convenience, and/or the peace of mind that prompts the choice of language.  Convenience that the language equips with all that is necessary to impress, express all the details of a narrative, and peace of mind that the words spoken is privy only to the individuals it is intended for.  If English or French are not spoken as widely as one would expect, it is perhaps because they cannot satisfy these needs.

 But what is the implication of such a choice?  On the surface it doesn't seem to have any [implication].  After all a conversation in a public place should be worthy only to its participants, and noise to the rest; the expressionless faces of non-participants is evidence of their indifference.  Even businesses hire people from many different ethnic backgrounds to be able to claim we-speak-your-language to encourage doing business with them.  Another variation of the same topic is the store signage printed in languages other than the two official languages, implicitly employing and serving a select ethnic group.

Toronto remains a mosaic of many languages. In 2006, forty-seven percent of the population had a mother tongue in a language other than English or French.

If we encourage, or ignore this trend, Toronto will not be one city, instead it will be hundred different cities within one city.  There won't be one Toronto, but a Chinese Toronto, an Italian Toronto, a Portuguese Toronto, a Russian Toronto, in short a Toronto divided amongst many visible minorities.  As a government thrives on having a majority, Toronto will also benefit from having a majority of its residents speaking either English or French fluently.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed

It's nice to hear someone else tells a story you can so identify with, because of the state of mind you are in, or life experiences you have had. That's how I felt, at times, reading this book; at other times I felt encouraged.
With so little preparation and know-how, her decision to walk the Pacific Crest Trail is as rash, and reckless as her turning to heroine. But this time she is earnest to find a way out of the pain she has been carrying for four years, since she lost her mother. She was 22, and her mother 45 then.
Hiking through wilderness alone is no joke, and Cheryl details the seriousness and intensity of doing such a thing well. Plus, having an untrained body, shoes that don't fit properly, and a huge pack, a.k.a Monster, makes her survival through the journey and arrival at her destination, Oregon, incredulous. From black bears, fox, and humans she has encounters with all species and as significant as it may sound, they are amazingly non-life threatening.
She neither philosophize, nor dramatize; she chronicles her journey the way it happened. This, I appreciated very much.

Awards: Goodreads Choice Aware Memoirs and Autobiography
Published: March 2012
Adaptation: 2014