Blog (old stuff at

I've blogged on various platforms over the years as a way to express my thoughts on things important to me, though undoubtedly irrelevant in the greater social discourse. For me, this is my Theseus' ball of thread, a token of memory made permanent so that I may look back and judge my intellectual growth – and any audience is just an artefact of chance. 

I did spend some time on Medium but as its focus on long-format has sharpened, it no longer suits my snippet-like musings. But if you're interested...

The culture of family

Bao, Pixar's latest animated short screening before The Incredibles 2, is unique for two reasons. 

Firstly, it's the first to be directed by a woman. Given how long Pixar has been producing movies, this is mind-boggling – it's not the first by a woman of colour, or a woman with unique challenging circumstances, it's just 'a woman' 🀯Progress is better than none, but it is f*cking 2018.

The second is that the narrative of Asian immigrant parents dealing with empty nests is largely lost on the Western audience. With the comment of 'I don't get it' sparking the debate and echoed through the insincerity of laughing audiences and cultural confusion of Chinese vs Japanese, it highlights a deep rift between the often emotional experiences of migrant families and those with different family values. 

Having grown up on a Hollywood diet, I've come to appreciate the gamut of family dynamics ranging from sibling rivalry pains, socio-economic challenges, coming-of-age stories and rebellious journeys of self-discovery. Yet somehow, this particular script that resonates with an entire demographic generation being so unfamiliar to so many blows my mind. 

The bubble that some live within must be quite limited indeed. 

Ton Ha
What's in a name

With only three letters in my first name, you'd be surprised at the number of mispronunciations I've heard. Over the years, I have learnt that for non-meaningful conversations, it's just not worth my time to correct the mistake. 

As the global beacon of multiculturalism, Australians themselves are actually pretty woeful when it comes to language. While English appropriates and steals words, the Aussie tongue doesn't respect the many accents and unique sounds it borrows, and instead often masks it with the typical outback drawl. 

But it's changing, except in the backyards of the uneducated close-minded simpletons who ironically all have roots from overseas. The island syndrome is in full effect, but that's no excuse. 

Ton Ha
Luck of the draw

The seeding of teams at the World Cup are determined by luck, with two teams randomly drawn from the stronger pool and two from the regular pool, and has in the past created some unbalanced draws that have been affectionately dubbed the groups of death.

Lady Luck graces her touch across all sports but does so most cruelly in soccer's greatest event when there are no clear winners. This year's contest is highlighted by penalties and low-scoring matches which has subsequently made for a very close competition in several of the groups. 

Thus, by FIFA's own regulations, the criteria to determine who goes through to the Round of 16 are:

  1. Points (3 for a win, 1 for a draw)
  2. Goal difference (goals scored vs goals conceded)
  3. Number of goals scored
  4. Number of red & yellow cards conceded
  5. Drawing of lots

Yes, a hat draw – for a spectacle that comes once every four years, with numerous qualifying rounds, hours of blood, sweat and tears, of immeasurable sacrifice and injury, it comes down to your name being drawn from a hat. And there's no amount of training that can prepare you for that.

Ton Ha
The face of many

As the World Cup rolls into town celebrating the round ball religion, its vision of unity across all cultures is realised with teams from around the globe converging onto Russia. 

There is much glory and honour to be fought for, as are the advertising dollars and sponsorships that the victors undoubtedly enjoy. It is no wonder that a little friendly spying of opposing teams is par for the course – any hint of strategy, insight or information can mean the difference as one goal can make-or-break four years of blood, sweat and fears.

The World Cup is many things, and amongst it is the ability to bring moments of joy, loss and achievement. And sometimes, disbelief – despite our cultural melting pot amplified by social media, old stereotypes are hard to break, as one Asian coach, on his team swapping jerseys during a training session, commented:

They might know a few of our players but it is very difficult for Westerners to distinguish between Asians and that's why we did that.


Ton Ha
I want to be...

It's unlikely that any child, asked what they want to be, would say a bioluminescence expert. But then again, there's only one Dr Edith Widder β€“ currently tracking the lives of the giant squid in neo-futuristic submersibles.

And while Earth is classified as a water planet and that the surface of the moon is better mapped than our own ocean floor, it's extraordinary that NASA's expected to receive $19 billion while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) ocean exploration budget request for 2018 is $19.4 million.

There are two observations here. Firstly, we live in a magical age where the professions of the future are impossible to predict, fuelled only the curiosity and desire of explorers willing to chase the unknown. And secondly, inequity and misguided priorities are not constrained to any one field. 

Ton Ha
I choose you!

Even more anticipated than Half-Life 3, Pokemon trainers everywhere are holding their collective breaths for the upcoming content patch.

Trading is here!

Niantic's vision of real-world exploration now doubles-down on the social aspect with a variety of friendship mechanics to encourage gameplay with friends. While the in-game trading cost is steep, the fact that this key Gameboy and anime feature is coming soon will no doubt reinvigorate the fan base.

And if you've seen the raid crowds at lunch in any capital city, the game is only going from strength to strength 

Ton Ha
A dandy dram

Given my teenage years of Bundy and bogan beers, I'm not sure how I discovered whisky. Perhaps I was caught up in the hipster zeitgeist for all things of days past – needless to say, gin and single malts are now a mainstay. 

While lacking the bearded attire of my peat-loving brethren, I am a passionate advocate for the soothing smokiness that my wife ironically calls liquid dirt –Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg rank as some of the best.

Ardbeg Grooves is the latest in limited editions from the Islay distillery and through my brand-tuned eyes, it's a bold disconnect from their conservative and stately packaging. While the initial glance is bombarded with vibrant 1960s orange-pink typography, it is upon reading that one discovers the remote hamlet was well-known for its alternative lifestyle. 

History is full of surprises, and I'll no doubt appreciate it more with a wee dram. 

Ton Ha
Why hundred when you can thousand

There is something inspiring about those who choose to forge their own paths. Some take great strides and connect the world, while others take us to Mars – and then there are those who say a hundred rounds of nerf isn't enough... 

"Let's make it a thousand."

I admire those by the virtue of their own imagination, determination and hard work, make things happen. They do not settle but instead decide to ask 'what if', tinker and experiment, and at the end of the day, give it go. 

Having my own workshop and the knowledge to safely handle all the gadgets and machinery is still on my bucket list – by the time I get around to it, no doubt the grey hair and maniacal cackling will qualify me for the Council of Ricks. 

Ton Ha
Yeah nah

I recently found myself walking a less-travelled path in the outer suburbs of picturesque Munich when I came across this amazing canola field.


Having strolled past an archery field with targets mounted on haystacks, my attention was diverted by the melodic sound of children laughing as they rushed through the golden crops. As a true-blue Aussie, my initial thought was 'nooooo...'.

The same scene back home conjures a mental checklist of everything that could kill me, from insects to reptiles, small mammals to large f*ckers. Hell, a carrot-addicted kangaroo could be lurking in there. Then again, if it's Australia, the plants themselves would have you for breakfast.

Ton Ha
Memory lane

I've blogged on various platforms over the years as a way to express my thoughts on things important to me, though undoubtedly irrelevant in the greater social discourse. For me, this is my Theseus' ball of thread, a token of memory made permanent so that I may look back and judge my intellectual growth – and any audience is just an artefact of chance. 

I did spend some time on Medium but as its focus on long-format has sharpened, it no longer suits my snippet-like musings.

Ton Ha
Objects of affection

We show love and appreciation for things in one of two ways. Some embrace with full interaction through customisation and interaction while others cherish the original form, its intent and the purity of its beauty.

We see the former daily with stickers on MacBooks as marks of tribal devotion, highlights and scribbles in books as unconscious connection to story, and the fraying seams of a time-loved teddy as an emotional anchor.

The later is in stark contrast, whose owners of physical objects keep the original packaging for just in case, refuse to encase their trinkets in armour like phone cases, and would place their affections on display like prized trophies for star-gazed admiration.

I am the latter.

When I recently came across an old Polaroid camera in its perfect original condition, I was awestruck with its owner's care of the thirty-year-old relic. While some may be blind, I saw the affectionate love within its history.

While the original film is no longer in production, I did track down some that was compatible. I have only as yet taken one photo – it's so expensive! β€“ but to see the emotional range of love and happiness the physical token brought to a grandmother's eyes, was well worth the action. She has since written notes on the polaroid and cherished it like a childhood friend.

This could be a commentary on the loss of appreciation for physical photographs and their true worth, but for me, it was a reminder that there is room for all kinds of love – both the former, and the latter.

Ton Ha

I started my professional career in what some called flat design or 2D design β€“ I was a print designer. Coming from early digital designers, my craft was contained to a single plane of fixed dimensions... A4 was my canvas and what an artist I was.

The joke was on them really, as ironically print was tangible and its specialities gave it dimension through embossing and die-cutting. And no other could match the knowledge in this space as the paper representatives from the dual titans of the industry, K.W. Doggett and B.J. Ball.

These stationery giants would inspire with their range of stocks, each with their own unique feel, smell and printing properties – something designers would marvel over with the care and awe of cherishing a loved book, historic manuscript or handwritten letter from a long-lost friend.

It has been many years since and my trade too has led me into the digital world. Nonetheless, the inevitable merging of these beloved brands strikes the chord of loss in my heart. It is a move driven by survival and dominance for an industry that refuses to yield.

And for the love of the craft, I hope it it never does 🌈

Ton Ha
The digital workplace

I work within a small team of which there's always someone working remotely. For a modern workforce, the perk is generally chalked up to anything from family work-life balance to saving hours in traffic, working off-site to catering for freelancers and contractors.

Myself, I enjoy the routine of an office or in this case, startup co-working spaces. There's an energy and excitement that comes with an environment of creatively-driven minds focused on solving problems. Plus, home is where my toys and gadgets are – a den of distraction for an impulsive personality that constantly seeks new challenges.

Recently, life demanded that I spend some time overseas and the realisation set in that I was now the remote worker. But then again, I always have been – if anyone in a team works remotely, the reality is, so does the whole team.


Ton Ha

As far as clever ways to feed the machine learning engine, Google's Semantris is the best I've seen thus far.

Masquerading as a word association game, the jaunty ever-increasing beats keeps the adrenaline high as rudimentary leaderboards and social sharing draw you back.

It starts deceptively easy and ramps insidiously until your brain processes multiple words at once in vain race against time and space, Tetris style.

I'm still looking to crack the default score of 5000 which is mockingly held by PRO 🀯

Ton Ha
The light in the dark

Google's mantra was once "Don't be evil". They've dropped it since but there are still those within who carry on its spirt.

Meet the Nightwatch.

This is a team of engineers, lawyers, activists, and others who take a special interest in advocating for communities that might otherwise be overlooked, and it is their focus to review Google's products and services through the lens of privacy and security against a geo-political backdrop.

We're not talking about protecting users from leaked photos of last Saturday night's binge. The scale of their impact considers, for example, how do I upload footage of a government shooting its citizens while protecting the identity of the protesters within it?

It is easy to forget the plight of others while living within the relative comforts of a democratic society, but it is heartening to know that companies whose products cross borders are actively aware that their services are used in greater struggles.

Now there's a team, a mission and a name I could work with 🀩

Ton Ha
Black Panther, this is not

The upcoming all-Asian Hollywood movie is Crazy Rich Asian (trailer) the first in 25 years.

Having grown up as the only person-of-colour in the neighbourhood, it was often easy to wake up thinking I was the same as everyone else – an illusion instantly shattered by the face starting back at me in the mirror each morning while I brushed my teeth.

As a first-generation child, I grew up with the well-documented struggles of dual cultures. That being said, I often felt, talked, sounded like, thought and acted Australian – I loved Vegemite, drove old four-cycliners like V8s, and dropped c*bombs like the best of them.

In my later years, I subsequently found out it was a niche category called the Vogan, or Vietnamese bogan – it was a happy time, but one best left behind in memory 😏

Like any first-gen, we do look at our mother cultures through mixed lenses. As a source of pain and hatred through bullying in childhood, it also serves as an anchor to identity, pride and individualism as an adult – a connection to the greater world and communities beyond our own is an often envied by others without.

So for a movie about people who look like me, sound like me and have lived the same experiences, it will first be met with apprehension but like the mirror of childhood, it's comforting to see a familiar face.

This isn't our Black Panther, but perhaps something greater because of the wider representation of personas that defy the traditional stereotypes. I'd argue it's more grounded in reality, except Michelle Yeoh is the mother-in-law and they're crazy rich – and no one's that lucky.


Ton Ha

I once read that the human population has only 500 templates. As the term suggests, a template is just a base to which variations and differences are applied but I had always thought that number to be a very low – it was after all, something I read on the internet.

Interestingly, I recently came across this site that seeks to find your duplicate. In some of it's marketing, it claims that each person in the world has up to seven strangers that look exactlylike them.

Mathematically, I guess it's possible – check out these photos πŸ€―

For now, in my forty years, I've only met one other who shares my same first name – and that was enough for me to question my individuality.

Ton Ha
Martial arts, maths and music

I can't hold a beat or sing a tune, though not for a lack of trying. I just can not.

A recent discussion around the Asian stereotype in Hollywood has seen a small but significant shift away from having kung fu as part of an actor's mandatory skill set.

This follows the movement of other people's of colour and their struggles to shake off years of racial typecasting and pre-conceived roles.

Ironically, the handful of minor roles in short films that I've participated in have all been for my combat training. Perhaps just as well – my acting is definitely no better than my singing.

Ton Ha
A creative by any other name

Kanye is once again active on Twitter – this time, spreading words of creative wisdom. And honestly, they're not bad.

From a startup perspective, these resonated heavily:


And as a general approach to life, this is on the money:

Ton Ha
Whoa, woke!

I recently discovered the Asian bro archtype. It's not that they've never existed, it's just that I'm now aware... or more specifically, more conscious of.

I've also discovered planche pushups, so now that's my new goal.

P.S. Just because someone is Asian and is totes buff and has tattoos, it doesn't mean they're an Asian bro. But I guess that's what stereotypes are – and that's not cool.


Ton Ha