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 It's too outdated to address our modern problems.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 »

Our current culture praises charities, social services, donations, and philanthropies, but let’s not forget that they are the symptoms of our societal dysfunctions and maladies, not the solutions. It’s like Red Cross in the times of war; they can’t stop the war. And, in many ways, they perpetuate the dysfunctions because the biggest contributors to these temporary fixes are also the greatest oppressors of our societies who create the dysfunctions. Let me explain what I mean by that. Read »

The way people think about aesthetics in business have fundamentally and irreversibly shifted in the last decade or so. The shift started with the advent of online advertising. For the first time in history, advertisers can quantify the return on their investment, and get detailed data back to examine what worked and what didn't. It was a paradigm shift in the so-called "creative" business. Read »

Every new generation is accused of being spoiled, but according to this article on Psychology Today, it is now a statistical fact that our current college students have no resilience, and it is becoming a serious problem. Read »

The trailer for this short film sets up an expectation that we will see a lot of drama in the typical style of reality TV, but what we actually get is an NPR-style story. It has both flaws and substance; the flaws are in the execution, and the substance is in the content. It feels like a beginning of something that can become great. Read »

I have this theory that fine arts is a culture that you cannot learn after a certain age. Once you are over twenty, I think you’ve missed your chance. It’s like trying to learn English after a certain age (say, 12); some do succeed in being able to speak flawlessly, but they still wouldn’t get the culture. There is no way to objectively prove if someone “gets it” or not, but you can sense it in the same way gay people can sense other gay people with their “gaydar”. When you are young, especially when you are in college away from your parents for the first time, you suck everything in your environment like a sponge just by being exposed to it. Trying to learn a culture after you are twenty is sort of like trying to marinate your vegetables after you have already marinated them in something else; you are not going to absorb much. Read »

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