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.

imageimage

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.