Other than the couple’s counseling my wife and I had about 10 years ago, I’ve never had any therapy. It’s not that I had anything against the idea of therapy; it’s just that I never thought to seek outside help. Many men don’t ask for directions when they get lost, and I’m one of them (although, in many situations, not asking for directions is rather stupid). My wife is now studying to be a therapist, so our apartment is littered with books about psychology and psychotherapy. One of them, which was sitting on our dinner table, is “A Guide to Rational Living” by Albert Ellis. My wife told me that it’s one of the classics in psychology. I started reading it and was intrigued by his definition of “neurotic” because I felt like he was describing me personally, and at the same time I was surprised to find that he talks like I do; arrogant, sarcastic, and annoyingly rational. Later I learned that Ellis himself was “neurotic”. Read »

When feminists criticize or analyze men, they usually assume that all men are like Napoleon, Type A personality, aspired to be a leader, wants to conquer the world and leave his name in history. This is equivalent to assuming that all women want to stay home and raise children. I believe at least half of men do not aspire to be like Napoleon or Bill Gates; they just want to live a simple, modest life. Think of the father of Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol”. If it were culturally acceptable for him to stay home with his kids, wouldn’t you think he would have loved to do so? Read »

Some friends of mine are having difficulties with their five year old son who has started swearing whilst at his new school. They've tended not to discourage him from swearing at home and now they’re faced with the task of socialising him into a set of values which are somewhat different to their own but which are held by the social sphere into which their son is being initiated. It makes one wonder who’s actually being manipulated to conform the most: the child or his parents? Read »

In essays, books, and interviews, many artists and writers have explained how their creative processes work. They can be quite different but at the core, there appears to be two schools. Let me quote two writers representing the respective schools describing their creative processes. First, Steven Pressfield from his book “The War of Art” Read »

I wasn’t allowed to eat junk food when I was growing up in Japan, so when I moved to the US on my own, I went nuts eating at fast food restaurants practically every day. I think everyone has similar experiences. Some women of my generation were forbidden to have pink toys or Barbie dolls because their mothers firmly believed in the feminism of the 60s and the 70s. So when they gained independence, they went nuts surrounding themselves in all things pink. Some people were forced to go to Catholic schools and now they passionately hate Catholicism. Some are even making artistic careers out of their hatred of it. We see this pattern everywhere, every generation, culture, and gender. So why do we parents keep repeating the same mistakes? Didn’t we learn the lesson from our own experiences? Read »

I would say my friend Ian is a little creepy but in a good way. He is a talented photographer and cinematographer, stylish and well-groomed. You might call him “metrosexual” but there is a strong hippie quality to him that invalidates that label. Even though I’ve known him for years, I would still watch my ass if I ever had to take a shower with him in a gym. There is something mysterious about him. Usually when someone is mysterious, it’s because he is keeping some aspects of himself secret, but in Ian’s case, I think he finds himself mysterious. Every now and then, we sit down at a cafe and try to solve this mystery together. Read »

At 3 years of age, we don’t yet know how to lie or what a lie is. So, “Kids say the darndest things.” It’s remarkable to see how consistently kids deal with truths. If you ask them how you look, they might say, “You look really fat.” They are not yet capable of predicting the emotional consequences of their statements, so everything comes out uncensored. As they grow older, they become aware of the fact that other people have feelings too, and this consideration takes a priority over being honest or truthful. In other words, they become capable of empathy. If so, why do we tell our kids to “always tell the truth”, and scold them for lying when we ourselves lie left and right? Read »

Almost everyone is aware of the challenges posed by information management within our increasingly digitized world, but meanwhile something is spreading itself throughout cyberspace, largely uncontrolled and unregulated. Like a cancer it replicates and attaches itself as an unwanted and uncontrollable accretion invading digital space in vast proportions, consuming progressively larger quantities of energy and leaving frustration, stress and misery in its wake. This isn't some kind of natural or automated process that I'm talking about here but rather the product of a Faustian ignorance, error and neglect. Some have referred to this proliferation of information as “Data Smog” but I’d like to suggest that it’s a good deal more threatening than a fine haze of irritating particles. Smog shifts and changes and often clears on a windy day. On the other hand, a cancer which grows out of control, threatens the very existence of vital organs and processes and therefore needs to be kept in check, if not eradicated altogether, before it threatens life itself. Read »

The Luddites held that the changes brought on by the Industrial Revolution would lead to a moral degradation of society. Many modern Luddites often argue the same thing—that technological progress opens up the door for deeper and deeper immoralities and creates a darker and darker world. Read »

How do leaders and people in authority gain an accurate picture of what’s going on around them and how sensitive (in both senses of the word) should they be towards criticism? Read »

We all seem to outgrow our own emotions. The things I held sacred in my youth are no longer so. The songs I used to think were divinely beautiful sound rather banal now. My universal and eternal ideologies crumbled and blew away over time. This seems to happen not just to individuals, but to the whole human race. As we have become more rational, many superstitious and prejudiced beliefs and rituals have faded away. For instance, not so long ago, race had an inviolable meaning for many people. It just felt right that we organized ourselves according to the colors of our skin. We assumed that our own race was superior to others. Such convictions were largely emotional, but many probably believed that their convictions were perfectly rational. As we educated ourselves better, we came to realize that we were misguided. Read »

Christopher Carr over at The Inductive reports about Japanese corporate hazing, which is basically a form of bullying. It's quite common in Japan, and what makes it so problematic is that adult bullying is often sanctioned by the organizations within which it takes place. Because it is so culturally normalized that they cannot see that it's actually bullying. Read »

Dear DoGooders: I am writing to you because I noticed that you use DoGood Headquarters' advertising service. Please give me a moment to explain to you why DoGood's service is ultimately harmful to all of us. This is not a simple matter to explain but if you could read this letter to the end, I believe we could agree that everyone will lose by using DoGood's service. So, bear with me. Read »

All my life, I’ve been told that my problem is not what I communicate, but how I communicate. Only recently, I’ve wised up to the fact that most people would not listen to me unless the idea is communicated in a form that is acceptable for them, like a restaurant accepting only a particular type of credit cards. The problem with this thinking is that it becomes habitual, and we can’t stop manipulating everything we communicate. After all, it feels good to be heard, so we become addicted to manipulating our own stories. How do we figure out when it is appropriate to manipulate and when it is not? Read »

The people who know me well would probably exclaim, “That’s a good idea!” Well, sorry to disappoint, but this isn’t about the fact that my values are questionable. I would not teach my own values to my child even if I thought my values were immaculate. This brings us to the question: What do I mean by “values”? The simplest way to put it is: To deem one thing to be superior to its counter part. For instance, in the last presidential election, many parents involved their kids into politics by teaching them that Obama is better than McCain. So, we had preschool kids campaigning for Obama. Read »

I’m not at all convinced that plagiarism is an entirely bad or avoidable thing. However, if you’re a student reading this in the hope of discovering a handy excuse to steal someone else’s work I’m afraid I’m probably going to disappoint you. Read »

There are many different types of online networks and each encourages different user behavior. For the purpose of this discussion, I would like to create 4 different categories of online networks: centered-public, centered-private, decentered-public, and decentered-private. "Centered" means everyone is looking at the same thing. "Decentered" means everyone is looking at a different thing. Facebook is a good example of a decentered network; when I login, what I see is different from what you see when you login. "Public" means anyone can view the content, and "private" means only selected/invited users can view the content. Read »

My 4.5 year old daughter is really into Hannah Montana now. In case you don't know who she is: She is a live-action character Disney created. She is a teenage rock-star who leads a double-life as an ordinary high school student when she is off-stage. It's strange that a 4.5 year old is interested in watching a sitcom about high school students. I'm not sure how much of what goes on in the show she is grasping. At first, she liked the idea of watching Hannah Montana more than she liked actually watching it. This is because she heard so much about it from her friends. The first few times I played it for her, she would get bored and stop paying attention half way into the show. But, then a few days later, she would ask for it again. Now, she seems to actually understand enough to enjoy it, and she is in the process of learning the opening song. Read »

Louis Menand, of The New Yorker, recently reviewed “The Program Era” by Mark McGurl: a book which traces the ways creative writing has been taught in American universities. The overarching question raised by the Menand is whether creative writing can actually be taught at all. Of course, it is taught, in a literal sense, but to what extent is that teaching fruitful? Read »

Why would you start and run your own business? You might say, “Money. What else could it be?” Well, that is the common assumption but this isn’t true for everyone, and depending on your answer, the path you take may be quite different. It sounds like common sense, but I see some very successful business people make bad decisions because they didn’t ask this question. Read »

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