The good will always win

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At least that is what the winners will tell us

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 17, 2014

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, or whomever he originally heard it from, “History is written by the victors.” Regardless of who said it first, the idea is probably as old as history itself—and still the statement is ever so true. We just need to look at contemporary situations to understand that we are in a constant flux for power, and there is no simple, peaceful solution in sight; examples could be found on every continent (omitting Antarctica, of course). But should we, as outside observers, acknowledge that whether the result may be good or bad for us, the winners are still winners and should therefore be respected?

We all want to change history for the better, but what might be better for us may be worse for someone else. Let’s look back to the birth of our nation—the genocide of aboriginals. We are of course now living in a society that is the consequence of that act. For us, it no longer feels like that big of a deal, because we weren’t there suffering or struggling through the backlash of the incident.

The same goes with the Chinese head tax, which was a fee introduced in 1885 to discourage Chinese immigration. Although, I’m of Chinese descent and feel the redress offered in 2006 was a small step in the right direction, it was far from resolution. But I also feel slight passivity to fight for that cause, knowing the struggle it takes to get any recognition from the government, let alone an apology.

The people in power today are ploughing forward without taking a look back at the mess they’ve made. We are not learning from our history, but not only are we not learning from it, we are using the history itself to intimidate. The winners of the past have become bullies of the present and that is evident in the Crimean crisis in Eastern Europe.

With so many diverse groups living together and such rich history on all sides, no one is willing to back down. Will there ever be harmony in that small patch of the world? Perhaps. But if we just glance slightly to the south and a smidgen to the east and see the endless dispute in the Middle East, we can say that resolution may never happen, because a victor is never crowned. Peaceful solution simply doesn’t exist, it cannot exist. I’m not just saying this because I’m pessimistic about the human race, but because history is not built upon handshakes and compromises—it’s built upon winners and losers.

The downfalls of Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Fulgencio Batista, and Saddam Hussein, to name a few, are all examples of how the losers have paved the way for the winners. There were no handshakes—there were only executions and suicides. Ask yourself, is it likely that Kim Jong-Un and the North Korean dictatorship will simply wake up one morning and submit to Western democracy? That’s unlikely. If we want people to behave a certain way, we can rather ask or we can force. One is of course more effective than the other.

We North Americans are lucky to be living in the aftermath, as we clean up our own country and observe the destruction of others. The destruction, as our history has shown, is inevitable. We must also remember that the problems of others are not our fight. We have fought our battle and now they must fight theirs. They must, in a sense, establish their own winners and losers—and it won’t be pretty.

The Origin of Five World-Class Car Manufacturers

Posted by  | November 06, 2013 | 
Ghostwritten by Elliot Chan. Formerly published in Unhaggle.com
Ferruccio-at-Tractor-Factory-1968The automotive origin can be traced back to the 18th century, so is it fair that we now treat it like ancient history? Modern ingenuity has changed the way we perceive the world—what was once considered revolutionary; today it’s just the norm. Cars, vehicles, horseless carriages or whatever else you called it were one of those groundbreaking leaps that people today take for granted. But the dawn of automobiles is a story worth revisiting. How did these big car manufacturers come to be? What can the history of our cars tell us about the history of the world at large?

Honda

Since arriving to Canada in 1969, Honda had been one of the leading choices for Canadian commuters, with the Civic being one of the best selling cars for 15 years.

Soichiro Honda, an automotive enthusiast, founded the automobile and motorcycle company in 1948, but that was not how he started out. Honda initially founded Tokai Seiki, a machine company, that eventually helped produce piston rings for Toyota. In 1944 during WWII, US B-29 bomber destroyed Tokai Seiki’s Yamashita plant and in 1945 the plant in Itawa fell due to an earthquake—Honda decided to sell the remains to Toyota for 450,000 yen and developed the Honda Technical Research Institution in 1946.

From there, with only 12 staff members, Honda began to attract customers by enabling them to attach an engine onto their bikes, thus creating their first motorbike model, the Honda Model A—also known as the Bata Bata. In years to come, Honda will increase their production line by hundredfolds.

Saab

In Sweden, Saab is not only a car manufacturer, but they are also the aerospace and defence company—Svenska Aeroplane Aktiebolaget, which means Swedish Aeroplane Corporation.

For a while Saab was flourishing in Canada peaking in 2006 with 2,640 sold. Although Saab had recent turmoil due to General Motor’s financial state, the brand will return to European owners, a Swedish sports car company named Koenigsegg Group.

The Scandinavian automobile company has gone through many identities since it was established in 1937. Built initially to design aircrafts for the Swedish Air Force during WWII—the company found that due to the country’s neutral stance, automotive was a better alterative than fighter planes.

In 1947, the first commercial automobile model, Ursaab, hit the road. From there Saab was fueled by their unconventional way of developing products.

Ford

01 FORD 8x10 1Ford remains one of the top choices for Canadians selling 275,953 in 2012. But they weren’t always recognized for their rugged reliable machines—in July 1903, Dr. Ernst Pfenning, a dentist, boughtthe first Ford Model A. It was vehicle far from tough Ford image; after all, it only reached maximum speeds of 30 miles per hour. And for $850 it was considered very affordable.

The Ford Motor Company went through many different orientations before becoming the well-known motor company it is today. In 1901 it was known as the Henry Ford Company, in 1902 it changed its name to Cadillac Motor Company and finally in 1903 it settled as The Ford Motor Company.

Henry Ford became the founder of one of the largest family-controlled companies in the world and the tradition continues to this day. While many large companies folded during the Great Depression, Ford powered through, proving that although they didn’t start with a rugged exterior and a powerful engine, they were destined for toughness.

Lamborghini

Ferruccio Lamborghini was always a fan of Ferraris, but always considered them too loud and aggressive to be a conventional car on the road.

After serving in WWII as a mechanic, Lamborghini went on to start a business building tractors. That was the initial start of his sports car business, but it wasn’t until 1963, did Lamborghini Automobiliwas officially established.

Because of Lamborghini’s fortune, he was able to cultivate many luxury vehicles during his life, even if he was just a tractor manufacturer. During the mid 50s, he found that the clutch to his Ferrari was broken; he decided to replace it with one from his tractor and discovered that it was the same. When he approached Enzo Ferrari—Ferrari told him he knew nothing about sports cars, perhaps that sparked a new pursuit and a rivalry.

Lamborghini still remains an extravagant form of transportation for Canadians today. With so many models noted as the most expensive vehicles in the world—what began, as a dream of tractor company owner is now a highly touted pristine automobile.

Mercedes-Benz

hitler-mercedesWar had been a common theme for automobile innovation and most of us already know the history of Mercedes-Benz. Often considered to be a trophy for Adolf Hitler, Mercedes-Benz has survived the dark history to become a prestigious vehicle of choice for many.

In Canada, Mercedes-Benz is one of the most revered automobiles on the road. With 35,503 units sold in 2012 the manufacturer is reaching many milestones.

The first milestone for Mercedes-Benz and automobile in general, began with Karl Benz and his first petrol-powered car in 1886. It was named the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Although there have been attempts at automobiles before, Benz’s creation is commonly referred to as the first automobile ever.

Even though the brand is associated with a dark moment in history, Mercedes-Benz did introduced many technological and safety innovation and is continuing to create trends both in popular culture, fashion and of course automotives.

The German car company has been around for over a hundred years will still be around for many more—and only time will tell what will happen to all the other automobile manufacturers as they compete for a spot in our garage and on the road.

Art attack

 Bad-Artist

Judge the art, not the artist

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Formerly published in the Other Press. Oct. 2013

I always wonder what Hitler would have created if he had made it into that art school.

All throughout history, bad people have created brilliant artwork. There doesn’t seem to be a correlation between artistic ability and common courtesy. Musicians, painters, filmmakers, and all other artists are just average people, and people are complicated creatures. Sure, we might condemn a person for an unforgivable act, but is it right to boycott or banish the art they produced? Are we horrible people for enjoying the work of monsters? Shouldn’t the work of art have a life of its own?

In modern times, there are several despicable individuals who have created such a substantial body of work that we cannot help but admire. The first that comes to mind is Kanye West. Although I don’t know the man, I do know his work and his reputation. His arrogant persona often makes entertainment headlines and causes a stir. I for one don’t care how he behaves or what he does, as long as he continues creating evocative and enjoyable music. His 2010 album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is one of my favourite albums, and I couldn’t imagine it without the hit single “Runaway, where Kanye acknowledges the fact that he is a douche-bag.

In 1977, Roman Polanski, director of classic films including Chinatown andRosemary’s Baby, was arrested for raping a 13-year-old girl. Fleeing from America to France to avoid imprisonment, Polanski went on to direct some of the most thought-provoking films of the past three decades. The Pianist, which received theatrical release in 2002, still remains one of my favourite World War II movies. Polanski was detained when he tried to attend the Zurich Film Festival in 2009, where he was to receive a lifetime achievement award for his work.

Anti-Semitism and racism have been the muses of many artists throughout history. From the works of Joseph Goebbels to TS Eliot to DW Griffith, all have had an impact on history—despite their bruised reputations.

Goebbels developed some of World War II’s most appalling and brilliant pieces of cinema, all of which were used in some form or another as wartime propaganda. He was therefore known as one of the most influential people during the Third Reich.

Many consider TS Eliot to be one of the greatest poets of all time, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t find inspiration from his prejudice. In a piece entitled “Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar,” Eliot uses a classic stereotype to compare the Jewish people with vermin: “The rats are underneath the piles. The Jew is underneath the lot. Money in furs.”

My last example is DW Griffith, who was best known for directing American masterpieces The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages. The silent films made in 1915 and 1916 told the stories of the American Civil War, but through the eyes of Griffith’s racist ideals. Although the Old South bias stained the cinematic experience, the movie led the way in filmmaking and storytelling innovation and changed cinema for the better.

It seems as though art is a lawless occupation, where quality entertainment offers immunity. In a world where any other professional would lose their job, an artist can survive, because creating art is akin to creating life—the art lives on honestly, while the hateful person dies shamefully.