With the rise of Donald Trump, there is now a growing concern about racism in the US. Vox has an interesting theory on the topic. They analyzed the recent data and argued that economic hardship does not explain Trump's popularity and the rise of racist sentiments. They are proposing that it's the other way around; that is, it's racism that is causing them to believe that they are experiencing economic hardship. Flipping them implies that racism has no cause. They are not looking for a different cause; they believe racism is the origin of the problem. In other words, some people are innately racist (like they are born racist) and Obama's presidency awoke their latent racist drive. Read »

Recently, one of my clients asked me to use less email and talk more on the phone or face to face. No Basecamp. No Slack. Just good ol' fashion phone or meeting. In this day and age when it is considered rude to call someone without first making an appointment through email, this was an interesting challenge. So I embraced the challenge to see what I would learn from this experience. Read »

“The question of what Donald Trump ‘really believes’ has no answer” is an interesting analysis, but I disagree with his conclusion. I think contrasting him with Hillary Clinton would shed further light on his theory. I think ALL politicians use words to DO things. That is an essential ingredient to make a politician. In the leaked emails of Clinton, she spoke about her “public” and “private” positions. The point she is trying to make is that what matters is achieving a particular end, so the means by which to achieve it is secondary. This is how all politicians operate, including Lincoln as she noted. Read »

Here is what I think is happening in this country, and why so many people are indeed voting for Trump. Most people are generous and tolerant of others as long as they are happy themselves and can afford to be so. In France, for instance, we are now witnessing blatant discrimination against Muslims. Their prejudice did not surface until recently with all the terrorist attacks, because France was peaceful enough and people were happy enough. Whenever we are happy ourselves we can afford to point our fingers at others and call them bigots and racists so we can feel good about ourselves. Read »

In the US, we have reached a point where every election is about voting for the lesser of two evils. We keep complaining about this situation but do nothing about it, either because we feel hopeless, or because we lack imagination. Read »

A lot of people seem to be un-friending Trump supporters on Facebook and keep complaining about Trump. Who are they exactly complaining to? This is a symptom of the troubling state of our democracy. The most urgent issue at stake is our political system itself. It's too outdated to address our modern problems. It needs an upgrade. Who we vote for is secondary to this problem. Read »

I woke up at 8:05am even though I had an appointment to see my friend Robert at 9 in the West Village. I quickly analyzed the likelihood of being able to get there in time. I needed to take a shower, get dressed, walk the dog, and get on the subway. On weekends (actually, today is Labor Day) the subway is unreliable, so I concluded that it's highly unlikely that I could get there in time. I emailed Robert to let him know that I was going to be late by about half an hour. Read »

Yesterday, my wife and I took our kid to an amusement park. We were with two other families who are more impulsive and happy-go-lucky than I am. They wanted to play on the beach first and then go to the amusement park later. I was concerned that it might start raining later. And if so, I figured, it would be better for us to go to the amusement park first, and then to the beach. I’m a control-freak, so I used my hyper-local weather app to check the probability of rain. It looked almost certain that it will rain later. As soon as I made my prediction, the weather became a lingering thought in my head. After the beach, the other families went on enjoying the amusement park despite the fact that ominous clouds were forming above us. I kept looking up and sure enough, it started raining. But fortunately, it drizzled for a while, so our kids were able to enjoy most of the rides. Towards the end, however, the rain became heavier. My wife and I had umbrellas, but the other families did not. They were getting soaked, but it didn’t seem to stop them from having fun. We decided to go home. They went off to get hot dogs with their clothes drenched in the rain. Read »

The younger generations are generally savvier with the written forms of communication like texting, email, and social media, because they grew up with them. The older generations had to learn them as their second language. I'm wondering: Are the younger generations better at avoiding miscommunication when they use these digital mediums? Read »

My father often talks about death and dying. He jokes about it a lot with my daughter; like he might not be around when she visits him next time. Well, I've been the same way. The idea of death has been one of my favorite topics. I've read many books and articles on the topic, like "The Denial of Death" by Ernest Becker. I recently had the opportunity to spend two and half weeks with my parents, and what was interesting about observing my dad was that I could see, more objectively, my own attitude about death in him. Read »

Interestingly, popular video games emulate mundane aspects of everyday life that we dislike. For instance, Packman is about cleaning. I've heard that it's popular among women for that reason. FarmVille is about running a small business (farm). Minecraft is about sheer survival. Candy Crush is about pattern matching. It reminds me of matching pairs of socks after laundry. Read »

“I am a ____.” This blank space is scary. You want to be able to fill it in, so that you can respond to people with a complete sentence. Read »

I’ve always felt that your friends and families made the worst audience for your art but had a hard time explaining why. I think it’s partly because every context brings out different aspects of a person. In some ways, it can be said that art is a way to express aspects of yourself that are suppressed in your everyday life. If what you express in your art is naturally and continually expressed in your everyday life, there wouldn’t be much need for doing so using art forms. When you do express these different aspects of yourself, your friends have a hard time recontexualizing who you are. Read »

I’m back in Japan, first time in 16 years—although I’m not sure if “back” is a right word to use. Being back in the culture that I left many decades ago, both physically and psychologically, is a strange experience. We all like to believe that at the core, who we are is unchanging, but the stories we write about ourselves (also known as egos) are inextricably tied to the cultures we belong to. Read »

I jumped on the bandwagon and started meditating about six months ago. I was expecting that I would be a happier person but that’s not what happened. Even if I am indeed a happier person now, the effect is too subtle. The only noticeable effect of meditation for me is that now I value human beings more than inanimate objects or animals. I understand that this is how you are supposed to feel if you are a normal human being, but I wasn’t—probably still not. If a MacBook, a dog, or a human being (assuming I don’t know them personally) were to call for my help simultaneously, I would have had a hard time choosing one. Not anymore. Read »

I watched the cult classic, Coming Apart (1969), last night (DVD from Netflix). The experimental format was promising but I don't think the director, Milton Moses Ginsberg, pulled it off in the end. There was no psychological depth to the process of "coming apart". Wikipedia says it's a "schizophrenic breakdown," but I don't see how schizophrenia manifests in any of the characters. Read »

“Refactoring” in computer science means to reorganize the code without changing what it does. Programmers could spend many months refactoring their code, and at the end of their hard work, the users would not notice any difference. Why do they do such a thing? There are many reasons, but the main ones are: to create more room for growth and to adapt to changes in the environment that they did not account for. Read »

I sat in the back of the yellow school bus with a bunch of fifth graders in front of me, including my daughter. We were headed to the skating rink uptown. My daughter told me that if I didn't go, she would be the only kid without a parent. As it turned out, I was one of the few parents who were suckered into coming. Read »

Why do we procrastinate? I believe understanding this can help us make the coming year a bit more productive. Here is my theory. Read »

Now that I’m 48, Roosevelt’s famous phrase, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” takes on a personal meaning. In some aspects of our lives, we are "over the hill" at this point, and are making a gradual descent. Having reached the top, we can see the other side of the hill for the first time. The fear of death becomes real. When we are still climbing the hill, it can feel as though there is no end because we are continually staring at the sky. Read »

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