Tag Archives: jason li

Get Smoking Signals

Letter to the editor I wrote last year. This was published in the ‘Comment’ section of The Age- October 12, 2015

Some background context – There was another letter sent by someone else blaming our past for glorifying smoking. This is in response to it.

I saw a woman aged no more than 30 outside South Yarra railway station blow the kindness and generosity of others on a packet of cigarettes. Television ads show graphic images of the effects of smoking, such as tar-infected lungs. Cigarette packets also add to this with gruesome images of cancer and death. Smokers are shied away from and treated as outcasts. And with the price of cigarettes higher than ever, why do our youth still take up smoking? We must stop looking at our past glorification of smoking (Letters, 9/10), a slow suicide, and develop more effective ways of discouragement and help people to quit.

Jason Li MHS 11N

Letter to the editor(continuation of Jason Li’s post)

The photos below are what was posted on MHS class of 2017 Facebook page. This is also what @jasonli was talking about in a previous post. I don’t think many people other than the 2016 yr 11 cohort have seen this so I’m posting this so people have a better idea of what Jason’s post is talking about.


Letter to the editor

Forgot to post this on the blog last semester.
Some background information- one member of the public had a letter published in The Age about students apparently not giving seats to elderly people on public transport so I sent one in which got published. This was on June 7 2016.

Standing up

As a  high school student, I  take the train to school each day.  On the rare occasions that I  occupy a seat, I always offer it to someone as soon as there are no longer seats available, as do most of my cohort.  Perhaps the problem lies  not with students but with “full fare paying adults” believing that they are as equally entitled to a seat as all other adults. Maybe we need larger signs or auditory aids to emphasise that some seats are to be vacated for those who need them more.


“Logicomix warns against the pursuit of order in a disordered world.” – Jason L.

An essay I wrote for the Logicomix sac in mainstream english. Not perfect but could be useful for others studying the graphic novel in the future. -Jason Li


Albert Einstein stated that “As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.” In the graphic novel Logicomix Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou explore the life of Bertrand Russell’s “epic search for truth” and its effects. In many ways the novel tells the dangers of chasing logic in a chaotic and inexplicable world. Many individuals who continue down this difficult path surrender to mental illness. Furthermore, by committing their lives to hard work, they not only expose themselves to disappointment but also then find it hard to maintain close relationships. However, Logicomix also suggests that the pursuit of logic is not necessarily perilous as fame and satisfaction can be gained. Therefore, while the authors clearly warn against the dangers of devotion to the pursuit of order, they also suggest that there are certainly hidden benefits.

One of Logicomix’s main themes is the dangers of being involved in the quest for logic. Those who are involved in this pursuit are obviously deep thinkers who question “even what every child knows.” This different view of the world and constant questioning can lead to madness. Cantor is one such victim. He is depicted in a, presumably mental hospital with the frames featuring dark colours and strong contrast creating a sense of gloom. The rain during the scene also foreshadows Cantor’s madness as it represents the countless thoughts pounding constantly in his brain. Cantor’s work with infinity, something “you cannot count” seems to be the direct cause of his mental state, as his brain cannot cope with trying to use logic to explain everything about such a complicated subject. Frege is similarly damaged. His “rigour” and intense constant concentration on logic leads him to believe that Jews are “undermining the nation’s foundations.” The colouring of the frames is also very dark. Moreover, the fact that the window frames of his study are highlighted suggests he is imprisoned by his own obsession. The large bold font in phrases such as “THE DANGER IS TOO GREAT!” and “THE JEWISH ONE OF COURSE!!!” as he frowns angrily through gritted teeth and thumps the desk, seems to suggest that he has lost his senses and that his obsession is totally illogical. He is also depicted as obsessed by his wife, as shown by the fact that he is scribbling busily and surrounded by piles of paper. Looking Russell observes “logic is a tool…you can use it to cut bread with – or kill” it is clear that the novel is suggesting that mentally disturbed academics can actually be dangerous for society as a whole, since Frege seems to be supporting the eventual genocide of Jews in the Holocaust. In this way, Logicomix shows the dangers of pursuing logic for society as a whole.

There also seems to be dangers in becoming so obsessed with pursuing logic that relationships suffer. In order to achieve goals, hard work is necessary, but people must also face competition and devastating failures. During Russell’s career, he is constantly aware of competitors. When he attends a talk in Paris with “everybody who was anybody in mathematics” his entire competition is laid out in front of him, placing him under intense pressure. At this point, he feels it is necessary to work harder as he sets out with “fiery, though rather misjudged, optimism, to write” a book following his return from Paris. The detrimental effects of pursuing logic can be clearly seen when Russell decides to write the “Principia Mathematica” with Alfred Whitehead. Believing that “hard work was all” that was needed, they take “ten years to complete the first three volumes.” They even live together “to gain more time for work.” Yet, despite all these efforts, their work is a failure. The publishers could not “find a single reader to evaluate the manuscript” and leaves the two with an ultimatum to either publish if they “pay for the printing” or not publish. The rain and grey colour of the outside world represents the disappointment and sadness of the two men which the artists also show through their slouched bodies with shabby clothes, silence and emotionless faces. Russell’s time and effort into building “foundations for logic” is also challenged and dismantled by his student, Wittgenstein who writes a book contradicting his teacher. This event leaves Russell terrified at the possibility of “total annihilation of his life’s work” as Wittgenstein’s work gains influence. Wittgenstein’s decimation of Russell’s work echoes the way Russell himself took apart Cantor’s set theory with one paradox showing that however successful an academic is, he can still be challenged. Thus, Logicomix warns about the hard work and commitment required to work towards an intangible result, and the failures along the way.

Additionally, Doxiadis and Papadimitriou suggest that chasing logic obsessively can destroy relationships. When men devote their every living moment to their quests, they inevitably have no time for their wives. Women are depicted as secondary to their husbands, with no real input or thoughts of their own. They are just left alone, and seemingly regarded as a mere inconvenience. Frau Frege is clearly frustrated with her situation as seen by her tired facial expressions and having to tell Frege when he has enough flowers, living with a man whose rigour and absent-mindedness strains their relationship. A concerned Alys witnesses Frege’s eccentricity and later remarks that she “wouldn’t want to be the great man’s wife.” Although Frege’s marriage stays intact the same cannot be said for the Russells. His decision to “uncover the treasures of logic came at a price.” Russell’s obsession with logic has visible impacts on his relationship with Alys. One such occasion is when she kindly asks Russell if he would “require anything” and he snaps back with “peace from further interruptions.” She is diminished in the background and seen with back turned symbolising how unimportant she has become to her husband. When the stress finally boils over at Whitehead’s house, Russell releases his rage against the long-suffering Alys, insulting her as “a total ass” and claiming that he is “sick and tired” of her. The red walls in this scene represent Russell’s anger and the abruptness of the fight that separates the two forever. After this divorce, his marriage to Dora also fails as he moves “out of Beacon Hill and his marriage with Dora.” A result of a fight which was because of his obsession with trying to give his “own children an ideal education” and selfishness seen when he doesn’t care about his baby’s crying and leaves Dora to check.He later concedes that his quest deprived his children of both “home and parents.” By focusing on these marriages Logicomix highlights the danger that relationships face when a man commits to logic.

On the other hand, the text also suggests that minds can never stop enquiring and the pursuit of logic can achieve fame and satisfaction. Even as a child Russell has an inquisitive mind. From just one “unearthly moan” Russell’s “eagerness to know” drives him to investigate. This curiosity extends into his adolescence as he challenges a professor at Cambridge University on the definition of “infinitesimal”. His “thirst for knowledge did not diminish” and is one of the main driving factors in his quest. Russell’s discovery of a paradox existing in the idea of sets is portrayed in five frames showing his deep thoughts and shock when he makes the discovery which “made him an overnight celebrity mathematical circles.” The wall in the background changes in turn with his surprise showing his sense of satisfaction in the discovery. His holiday in Wales shows what the pursuit of reason gives him. Rather than be worried about his dark past, he is ready to battle against his “old enemy irrationality” and pursue the “natural harmony of Reason.” This section of the novel is filled with greenery, flowers and birds and an entire page devoted to Russell standing arms outstretched and shouting at the beauty. He describes himself “strong enough to cry out” as he could he could finally “turn [his] back on [his] dark legacy. Here the authors show that the pursuit of reason allows Russell to move forward in life. Furthermore, despite his failures he becomes a highly respected “philosopher, mathematician and above all, great logician.” The audience’s clapping indicates how respected he is, something he may not have achieved had he not pursued his quest. Therefore, the novel suggests that although that pursuing logic can have rewards.

Clearly, Logicomix offers a variety of messages about the effects of pursuing logic. Extensive thinking can lead to madness, no guarantee of results from hard work and difficulty in maintaining a close relationship. Despite the dangers, fame and satisfaction can be gained and minds cannot stop enquiring. The dangers of pursuing logic in a chaotic world is clear but there are benefits which come out of the inevitable chase.

Australia’s gun laws have failed speech

A rough speech outlining why stricter gun laws will not work in USA


The main reason that Australia’s gun laws have failed is that the number of violent acts have not decreased and Australia is not a much safer place to live with the gun laws as it was before. Violence is not determined by what weapons are available but if the person has serious intent to kill or maim somebody. In 2011 when another of the many gun control arguments was happening in America an article was published called “America, don’t repeat Australia’s gun-control mistake.” This is aptly titled as statistics show that although the number of suicides done with a firearm decreased after the tighter laws the total number of suicides stayed around the same and even increased in the three years after the new laws in 1996. Australia has also not seen dramatic improvements in safety. Opponents claim that the gun laws have reduced deaths by firearm in Australia but this is not a valid argument. Although the number of suicides by firearm decreased total suicides stayed the same and even worse, by 2008 there was a decrease of 9% in homicides but an increase of 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults. Australia’s gun laws have clearly failed and introduction of similar restrictions in the USA may have many negative implications.

Furthermore, gun laws only take guns out of the law abiding citizen’s hands and leave them defenceless to criminals who have guns. Currently in America to buy a gun you need to register your personal details and have a background check to buy and own a gun. Not allowing citizens to buy guns only leaves those who have always obtained guns illegally. In 1999 there were 117 homicides which involved use of a firearm and of these only 9.4% or 11 were with a registered gun. All other homicides were carried out with an unregistered firearm. A more recent set of statistics from 2002 to 2003 over 85% homicides were with the use of an unregistered firearm and from 2006-2007 this figure had gone up to 93%. If stricter gun laws such as a ban were to be implemented in America guns may become even more out of control and result in more murders with no registered evidence of who carried it out. It is also claimed that strict gun laws reduce the number of terrorist attacks. Just look at the Sydney Siege a couple of years ago. Guns obtained illegally. Look at Paris! Gunmen armed with ak-47 automatic rifles, all illegal. The only way to stop black market trade is make regulate the sale and importation of the item, in this case guns. If all ports are regulated by the government black market trade would be significantly reduced.

Australia’s gun laws have clearly failed and not done what was intended. Now you might be wondering how this ties back to America. Implementation of stricter gun laws will increase violence and crime rates in USA. That is, if they even get implemented. Prime minister at the time John Howard got all 6 states (6 not including ACT and TAS) to agree to stricter gun laws in only 12 days. If a president in America tried to reform gun laws it would be unlikely. For one there are 50 states in the USA, more than 8 times the number in Australia.
Another reason as to why even if steps were taken to reform gun laws is that with the Australian situation there was a massacre, The Port Arthur massacre where 35 people were gunned down by a single person. This was such a shock that the nation was in overwhelming support of stricter gun laws. In America however, the gun debate has been argued many times and no major reform has happened. In 2007 there were 2 large massed shootings, one which killed 32 and another which killed 27. It is morbid to say so but with them occurring every other day massed shootings have become almost normal. Only a mass shooting with several hundreds or thousands may sway the opinion on guns. Other mass shootings are simply not big enough of a shock and do not have such an impact that the nation will have strict gun laws sweep across it like australia decades ago.

Jason Li

Boxing Should be Banned

Boxing has been a sport even since the ancient Olympics. However, boxing directly promotes sexism and is the only sport which promotes violence and thus with one of the highest death rates. This sport is detrimental to the participants, the families and modern society. Boxing should be permanently banned as it is no longer the era of the Ancient Greeks where physical prowess is admired.

The sport of boxing is a direct promotion of sexism; a notion which was highly prominent in the time of the sport’s origin of the ancient Olympics. Boxing is among the most sexist sports which are legal and publically broadcasted. It is a sport which claims that women spectators are attracted to the men showing off their physicality. This stereotype may have been accurate in the sport’s invention; ancient Romans with their colosseums. It is now the twenty-first century and modern day women who are much better educated would want to not be involved with those who take part in the barbaric sport. This so called sport has no place in modern society and should be banned.

Boxing promotes and requires one side to deliberately attack and brutally maim the opposition. Boxing is the single sport where two people fight in a ring and are paid money for how much they can maim and knock their opponent out unconscious. Unlike other sports such as soccer where a red card may be given and the player suspended for violence; boxers are paid even more for more brutal acts of violence and knocking out the other person. Australian society is trying to remove violence and if they hope to succeed paying people to attack each other needs to be banned.

With a consistently high mortality rate boxing rips many families apart. Every time a boxer steps into a ring he will exit with brain damage. Every hit taken to the head damages the brain slightly and this damage builds up until the effects are felt suddenly. Injuries can also occur instantly; one example is the “knockout punch” which is the goal of the sport. This is a hit that aims to knock the other competitor unconscious. Studies have shown that boxing leads to long term brain damage and can increase risk of illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease.  In another study there were three hundred and thirty nine mortalities between 1950 and 2007. This number is only the deaths of professional boxers and does not count the grief of their families. Banning this brutal sport would equal the end of all the needless suffering and death.

Although the disadvantages of boxing are obvious it may be argued that boxing is an honoured and ancient sport. Many argue that boxing was even an Olympic sport when the Olympics first stared in ancient Greece. However, as stated before boxing was created by ancient Romans who used slaves as boxers and masses of people watched the slaves fight for entertainment. Boxing is merely reminding the world of the now illegal practise of slaving. In ancient Greece many wars were occurring and times were unstable. Now is an age of prosperity and there is no need to prove physical prowess through being paid to attack another person in a ring. It is no longer ancient Greece where boxing was widely practised. Boxing needs to be banned in our sophisticated society.

Any sport which is a direct promotion of sexism and unnecessary violence has been banned or simply does not exist other than boxing. Boxing is the cause of hundreds of deaths annually and although was once honoured in ancient Greece; it is the twenty-first century and it is time for this barbaric sport to be banned in our contemporary society.

A series of letters between Elia Kazan and William Tennessee – Jason Li 10L

Elia Kazan
New York
October 19, 1950

William Tennessee
235 E. 56th Street
New York, NY

Dear William Tennessee,

I just wanted to thank you for granting me permission to adapt your masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire into film. I have decided to cast the original cast of the play for my film except I will replace Jessica Tandy with Vivien Leigh for Blanche Dubois. I think she will be more suited for the role owing to her acting experience.

I am writing to inform you on the changes to the original script I am forced to make. As you may know the Hays Code confines what I am allowed to show on film so several changes will have to be made. The most obvious changes that will have to be made are Allan’s mental state, the ending and the rape of Blanche.

My film will have Stella leave Stanley and never return as punishment for Stanley’s actions which should be accepted by the Christian community. Allan will no longer be what he is in your play but Vivien will say that she found him disgusting because he wrote poems and causing his suicide. Blanche will also never be raped by Stanley but he will still have her sent to a mental institution.

I regret having to make these changes to the script but they are necessary. Without them the movie will never be approved and the Catholic Legion of Decency would definitely condemn the film and I may lose money.

Yours Sincerely,
Elia Kazan

Tennessee Williams
235 E. 56th Street
New York, NY
October 26, 1950

Elia Kazan
New York

Dear Elia Kazan,

Thank you for informing me about the changes you intend to make to my original play. The changes you propose are
absurd. None of your changes can make it into your film. I wrote this play to raise questions about society and should have a large impact. It can’t be reduced to a soap opera.

Stella returning to Stanley even after he rapes and has Blanche sent to a mental institution is meant to highlight her dependence on him. This is intended to ask the audience if women in our society really depend on the men and also raise awareness to unpunished crime. Your proposal to make Stella leave Stanley forever in the film is out of the question. An ending like that would render the story meaningless. I am also aware that Allan may not be accepted by the public because of his desires but to have him suicide for writing poems is nonsense. What could Blanche find disgusting about poetry? If anything she would be impressed.

A Streetcar Named Desire cannot have a different storyline and Blanche being raped is especially important. It is one of the events in the play that absolutely has to happen for the story to make any sense. I wanted to reveal that the forces behind our society are complicated and it is frightening how much the women seem to depend on the men. It seems as if what motivates our society is money or sexual satisfaction when it should be compassion or something less selfish. I spent countless hours writing a play with deep concepts and you want to reduce it to a something without any meaning?

Mr. Kazan my play cannot possibly have a different narrative. I implore you, create a film based on my original play and give audiences a strong message. Don’t reduce my play to just another movie held back by production codes and the audiences.

Yours Sincerely,
William Tennessee

Elia Kazan
New York
February 12, 1951

William Tennessee
235 E. 56th Street
New York, NY

Dear William Tennessee,

Thank you for your previous letter. I read it before filming the movie and I am sorry but I could not film the original script. Your suggestion that I do not change anything would have caused me to lose my career and likely be in debt for the rest of my life.

The film is now in the editing process and I have gone ahead with Stella leaving her husband forever and not mentioning Allan true nature but rather have Blanche find him disgusting for writing poems. You may be glad to hear that I have not removed the rape of Blanche but it will be suggested with Stanley carrying her off into another room.

I hope that you understand that I had no choice other than to go ahead with the changes. If I had filmed your original play the Legion of Decency would definitely give it a ‘C’ rating so no Christian will ever watch the film. Then how would I have fed my children let alone continue making films if I go bankrupt.

Yours Sincerely,
Elia Kazan

The Legion of Decency Must Go- Jason Li 10L

An opinion piece for the New York Times set in 1951 and shortly after the release of A Streetcar Named Desire.

SEP. 27. 1951

The film adaptation of William Tennessee’s A Streetcar Named Desire has recently come out and is nothing short of disappointing. Anybody who has ever seen William Tennessee’s play will notice differences between the two versions. I too along with almost everybody in the theatre was surprised at how much was changed. As a film director it was glaringly obvious as to how the film was heavily cut. Dialogue felt out of place and it didn’t even feel like the same play. Censorship is dangerous and can destroy creativity and art.

The censorship of A Streetcar Named Desire was obviously due to The Catholic Legion of Decency. People go unpunished for crime all the time and yet The Catholic Legion of Decency attempts to censor films which go against their own narrow beliefs such as unpunished crime and threaten movie producers with condemnation of their films. Not only is censorship unnecessary it is only used for personal gain and is highly exploitable. The Catholic Legion of Decency believe that many great films such as The Dolly Sisters, West of the Divide and now A Streetcar Named Desire are unacceptable  and are either condemned or forced to make heavy cuts.

The Hays Code and Catholic Legion of Decency forced A Streetcar Named Desire into completely changing the ending and cutting out many lines of dialogue. This destroyed all the impact and creative ideas of the original play. Instead of Stella returning to her husband Stanley and raising questions about if we are so dependent on males in our society Stella leaves him never to return and the ending becomes cliché and ordinary. Music played when Stella walks down a staircase was also changed from sensuous to mournful. This is a shocking change as the meaning of the scene becomes completely different. Stella being portrayed as strongly attracted to Stanley in the original now makes her appear sad which is wrong. Instead of respecting the creative thoughts, ideas and music behind the original play they paid no respect to the creator’s thoughts and simply forced producers to censor the film heavily against their free will; something that Christians believe to be of utmost importance. I wonder why their God does not interfere with a criminal’s free will but can’t allow film directors to film what they want.

Censorship is another way for people such as the Catholic Legion of Decency to achieve their goals of spreading their beliefs. Much of the censorship of A Streetcar Named Desire was because of contradictions between themes of the play and Christian beliefs. They foolishly believe that unpunished crimes are unacceptable disregarding the fact that these are present in our everyday lives. Much like in many totalitarian regimes the Catholics are using the method of censoring texts and films in an attempt to control what we think. By burning books in Hitler’s Nazi Germany the public were only able to access a limited amount of information. This is a repeat of the same situation. By censoring what they disapprove of the public can slowly be turned to believe their gospel.

The films that we make are being torn apart by people who know nothing of film. Are we really going to sit back, relax and let our precious work be destroyed? Censorship can remove all meaning from our films and we are allowing it.  We are not prisoners and this is not our imprisonment. We are the directors and this is our freedom. The Legion of Decency does not control what we film. We control what we film. We can’t allow the Legion of Decency to sit back and command us. The Legion of Decency must go.

-Jason Li

A Poison Tree by William Blake written analysis

This a short written analysis of “A Poison Tree”

I would like some feedback before the 12th of June (this Friday) which is when my english exam is on.

Thanks, Jason Li 10L

“A Poison Tree” by William Blake is a relatively short but interesting poem. The poem is the narrator telling the story of two scenarios. The first and also shorter scenario is the narrator being angry with his friend and telling the friend about the anger which has no consequences. The second scenario is the narrator being angry with his enemy. He doesn’t tell the anger and it grows stronger. The narrator’s foe is eventually poisoned and killed by an apple that the tree bore. This explains the satisfied tone of the poem as it written in the past tense. By the end of the poem his revenge is complete so he is satisfied.

The narrator has already experienced both scenarios and the purpose of the poem is to teach others and for them to not repeat the same mistake. This can be seen clearly through the title of the poem. The use of the word “A” instead of “The” is significant. The tree can only refer to one tree and cannot be any other tree but a tree can be any tree. This is to imply that what happened to the narrator can happen to anybody and is not just his own experience.

The poem has quite a simple structure. The poem is comprised of four quatrains each one with the rhyme scheme of AABB. This means that for each stanza the first two lines rhyme and the last two lines rhyme. This links up the two lines and better expresses the meaning. The story of the narrator is also told mainly in two line blocks such as the first two; “I was angry with my friend; / I told my wrath, my wrath did end.” The second line explains the first and is rhymed. The poem is also written in iambic tetrameter which means that each line has four feet of an unstressed and stressed syllable making eight syllables in total (4 stressed and 4 unstressed). An example would be the second line;

“I told my wrath, my wrath did end” As shown, every second syllable is stressed which adds a certain flow to it and is easier to read and understand.

The most notable techniques used are metaphors and personification. The poison tree is the central metaphor as it is not actually referring to a tree but the narrator’s anger which can “grow day and night”. This is a personification as although a tree can grow anger cannot. This just refers to the narrator’s anger becoming stronger. This metaphor continues throughout the entire poem and there are many references to it such as the narrator watering the tree in fears. A tree can be “waterd” to help it grow but this refers to the reader helping his fear to grow stronger.

William Blake has effectively used the central metaphor of a tree being his anger for an enemy to convey his past experiences. Through this poem he warns us about keeping a grudge.