Will Write

I am thinking about writing my experiences overseas. All the different choices that I have made over time, choices that brought good and bad outcomes in my life. It would be nice if I can write those like a story being told. I feel like I have lots of stories to tell. Some stories may be inspiring, some may be dull. There are things that happened to me that I would like to describe. I wonder whether I still remember a lot of details of past times. It’s probably hard to remember some of the specific feelings that I experienced in the past. But I should try. I learnt a lot from the people I met, through the events I was exposed to. Some events definitely changed me as a person. I would like to rethink those if possible. What were those really that I tried to accomplish by getting involved in various things? I feel like to re-explore my own past explorations, do some self-reflections. How did I happen to desire certain things, how did I become an ambitious individual? How did I gain the courage of risking things? There were so many people I met that I no longer have connection. There are people that I still keep connection. The strengthening and weakening of relationship with people is indeed a strange thing. Not all of them were conscious choices, some just happened. I would like to write about the economic hardships, the emotional turmoils and how I have or have not overcome some of those. There are stories to write about my spiritual journey, thoughts about how I felt distance from religious doctrines, how certain knowledge have inspired me to do so. Hope I can start writing soon.

I just had coffee in a coffee-shop near the campus. I randomly looked for a book to read and found Richard Henry Dana, JR.’s “Two years before the mast” and started reading the introduction. Actually after knowing Dana’s personal struggle and choices, my desire to write about my own experiences escalated. Dana subjected himself to a marine sailor life to see the laborious life, to see the harshness. In some way, I might have also done the same. However, when I left home, I had no clue how hard it would turn out. I probably didn’t subject myself to the harshness, but I subjected myself to uncertainty, to unknowns. May be when I finish reading this book, I will gain some different perspective on my own experiences.

This is one quote I liked from the introduction of the book –

“Twenty-four years after. How softening is the effect of time! It touches us through the affections. I almost feel as if I were lamenting the passing away of something loved and dear – the boats, the Kanaksas, the hides, my old shipmates! Death, change, distance, lend them a character which makes them quite another thing from the vulgar, wearisome toil of uninteresting, forced manual labor.”

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Some crappy, some not but one needs it all

Permanent happiness is for sure an illusion. By little introspection, one can easily find out that one can not be permanently happy. Because one’s experience itself is pretty dynamic constantly influenced by the natural world outside, the emotional world inside and the superabundant interactions between these two. If the ultimate goal of one is to achieve an optimal state of happiness in the most possible conscious moments of one’s life, then from the very start of that continuous journey, one needs to prepare oneself for the rocky unhappy moments. But there are always some surprising unhappy moments one can not be prepared for and in fact, a life where everything is predictable is probably a very boring life to lead with few diversities and excitements at all. Then it follows that one’s experience of unhappiness, distress and melancholy is inevitable for one’s own happiness. One may argue that happiness and unhappiness are two sides of a coin being flipped randomly and incessantly. One, as an experiencer, is just a part of the coin flip reality with one’s desperate desire to achieve the happy side every time but evidently no prior ability to force the coin. Does then being a vigilant who prepares for future shock tend to achieve more happiness than a carefree? In general, our education claims to teach to prepare us so that we can be better equipped to deal with the uncertainties brought to us each day. Desire to get a good job, desire to acquire a good mate, desire to have stability in one’s inner mind and the desire for peace in society – all are to bring more happiness around. But one can never avoid being unhappy is what my personal realization at this moment.

Yeah.. who knows.

I am thinking about life. I am thinking about what is important in life. Everyone judges everything based on his or her personal experience. In fact most people tend to judge the most significant issues without fact checking, without understanding lots of backgrounds. You talk, you promote as you view the world. But your view of the world is quite biased by the way you have been brought up, by the experiences you have had throughout your life. I see lack of empathy everywhere and wonder how people can or should be encouraged to be empathetic. I am now living in an individualistic culture of america where most people, at least educated people whom I see around me, are focussed in progressing in their very own life. It’s true that if everyone is doing the right thing for his or her own self, ultimately as a whole it’s going to be good for a community, more broadly for a society. In an ideal place where everyone is capable of taking care of himself or herself, do we still need a lot of empathy? If I check the meaning of the word empathy, google shows “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”. So, given that we live in a society, and most of the social service and business is modeled on a producer-consumer idea, given that a healthy life requires a lot of interaction between people, it seems to me empathy is always needed. But do we really try to understand and share the feelings of another? If I argue that understanding the situation or feeling of others help you to not trouble or bug yourself by the constant flow of the small annoyances in life, probably that won’t be incorrect. If you are suffering, it always helps if you look outside your own suffering and try to realize that you are not the only one and stop blaming everyone. We always try to justify our own acts whether it’s good or bad as if we can not or should not do any mistakes. A life now in a highly paced culture, we are often so hectic that we can’t even feel what’s going on. And in the end of each day, it seems like that’s not the way the day you wanted to pass.

An appetite for wonder

I am happy that I have accomplished something on the Christmas day. At last I could finish the memoir “An Appetite For Wonder – The Making of a Scientist” of my favorite scientist Richard Dawkins. It was such an inspiring read, especially at a time when I am suffering a lot academically and lacking a lot of enthusiasm. The first part of the book was about his childhood in africa. He had truly amazing naturalist parents. The book has very interesting description about the schools he went. His education at Oxford has had a great influence on him. The whole book has transformed him leading to a science career where he unveiled some complex ideas through his own unique style of communication. His marvelous way of seeking answers through well posed questions is really really enthusiastic. Thanks Richard. Will wait for the second part.

Writing Advice From John Steinbeck

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” – Winter of Our Discontent.

The Politics of Writing

Whether a fan of his writing or not, John Steinbeck has been integrated into the American canon and shaped the way American literature has been perceived, moreso than any other writer has done. In 1962 he was awarded the Nobel prize in literature for “his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception.” Not only have his works been frequently taught in schools around the country, his books have also been subject to numerous book-burnings  and demonstrations; which is the landmark of any great writer.

At times Steinbeck was hesitant towards interviews, but the Paris Review has recently compiled a mix of different conversations, interviews, and writings about his art. It’s broken up into different sections, such as “On Work Habits”, and “On Publishing” for ease of finding the best piece of advice. But there’s one section in particular that sums it all…

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Books that I have been reading

There are several books that I have been reading for quite long time. Some of them I have been reading for more than years. I don’t know what is the best strategy: reading a single book with full attention and trying to finish it first or reading several books at the same time like I am doing. How did it happen that I got in touch with several writers at the same time. The reason is probably the fact that all of the books I have been reading are long non-fiction books that you can not finish very quickly. Some part of the book require more attention and multiple reading and need you to stop and think for a while. And in every book, there are some portion that you feel bored to read. I think sometimes those boring part just made me procrastinate finishing that book and persuaded me to move on to another topic. The books that I have been reading are “The Blank Slate” by steven Pinker, “The Procrastination Equation” by Piers Steel, “An Appetite For Wonder” by Richard Dawkins. Steven Pinker is one of the best contemporary scientist and writer whom I admire very much. In the blank slate, he argues against the idea that human mind is completely malleable. I have been fascinated by several chapters of that book but I think it will still require a great amount of time to finish that book. The book that I have been enjoying for last few weeks is the one about the biography of Richard Dawkins and how he became a renowned scientist. This book is really thrilling for me. As I want to become a scientist, I can relate my life to many different aspects mentioned in the book by Dawkins with his persuasive rhetorics. I have been reading the procrastination equation as I have a life long difficulty to finish work before the deadline. That book gave me a lot of insight. But I think I will have to finish reading it very carefully. Recently I have been feeling very lazy to read this book as it is not highly entertaining but really informative. Another audio book I have been listening is “The willpower instinct” which describes how we can develop our will power. I am happy that I am in the process of learning from all these books. I wish to read more books more often. The amount of time I spend by consuming videos from youtube, Netflix should be reduced down as most of the programs I watch, watched; even though give excitement, thrill, I should admit, don’t necessarily make me a thoughtful person that I want to become.

Capitalism, Communism, Fascism, Socialism- The concepts

I had insufficient ideas about Capitalism, communism, Fascism and socialism. Throughout human history, we have seen different types of governance, economic systems in different part of the world. Political and economic policies very often were shaped by the ideas of these four systems. I liked the brief summary in this article from an English Course at University of Idaho which gave me a general idea about them. Trying to make a contrast  just to keep track of my reading these concepts.. Will try to read and write more.

No.

Characteristics

Capitalism

Socialism

Communism

Fascism

1.

Ownership of

the means of

production

Privately owned

Owned by central state

Owned by

community

Primarily owned by a dictator

2.

What determines

the investment of capital?

A free market, rather than by state. Profit driven system.

State, rather than by free market.

Community requirement etc.

Will and desire of the powerfuls.

3.

Public property/Privatization

In pure capitalism, no public schools, no state owned or maintained roads and highways, public works, welfare, unemployment insurance, workers compensation, social security benefits etc.

Everything is privatized.

State owns or maintain  roads and highways, public works, welfare, unemployment insurance, workers compensation, social security benefits etc. In a pure socialist state, state owns and operate the means of production.

Communities owns or maintain the means of production.

4.

Religion

Humanism

Humanism

State sponsored

Any

5.

Personal Growth, Individuality, Creativity

High as individuals can earn status

Low personal growth. Individuals are not focussed.

Low.

Low as everything is for him and him only.

6.

Power/Governance in hands of

Upper class/corporations

Elite/people

Low/middle class

Elected congressional members

7.

Centralized control/ Centralized Banking

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

8.

Historically

America

Western Europe

Soviet Union

Nazi Germany, Italy, Rome

9.

Equality-Freedom in general

Low equality – High Freedom

High(somewhat) Equality- High Freedom

High equality- Low Freedom

Low Equality- Low Freedom

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Reposting some interesting part of the article.

“These are complex concepts concerning both economics and government ….. these concepts are not always mutually exclusive (most modern states combine elements of more than one)…. some of the terms refer strictly to economic systems (capitalism) while others (fascism) also refer to government and economic systems (communism and fascism). ”

United States is a Constitutional Democratic Republic that has long embraced both capitalism (free markets) and socialism (public schools and universities, and public works – parks, roads and highways, sewer and water, dams, harbors, as well as social welfare, such as worker’s comp, unemployment insurance, social security etc.).

Capitalism

An economic system in which all or most of the means of production are privately owned and operated, the investment of capital and the production, distribution and prices of commodities (goods and services) are determined mainly in a free market, rather than by the state.

Socialism

  “State ownershipof common property, or state ownership of the means of production.  A purely socialist state would be one in which the state owns and operates the means of production.

Communism

Most generally, communism refers to community ownership of property, with the end goal being complete social equality via economic equality.  Communism is generally seen by communist countries as an idealized utopian economic and social state that the country as a whole is working toward. Fundamentally, communism argues that all labor belongs to the individual laborer; no man can own another man’s body, and therefore each man owns his own labor.  In this model all “profit” actually belongs in part to the laborer, not, or not just, those who control the means of production, such as the business or factory owner.  Profit that is not shared with the laborer, therefore, is considered inherently exploitive.

Fascism
   “A governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.”

Other interesting Tables: http://texags.com/forums/16/topics/1386979

Liber Abaci- The Book Of Calculation

Can you remember the first moment when you learnt how to count? Did your mom or dad teach it. How did you grasp the concept of Zero(0) for the first time. When is the first time you have been introduced to the writing of numbers.? – Preschool, primary school ? The decimal number system widely used in almost every culture, in every modern mathematics or non-mathematics book consists of the numbers using the digits of the form 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. We form a number by having place values(units, tens, hundreds, thousands) for these digits.  This numerals are called “Hindu-Arabic Numerals”. Because in early years, in Europe, people were not familiar with them. They used to use roman numeral system. Anyone who have the slightest knowledge of advanced mathematics like cryptography etc/ can easily discover that with roman numerals it’s nearly impossible to do advanced math. So, if this “Hindu-Arabic” numerals were not imported to west, probably all the progress we have made because of science would have been impossible. When I recently realized this, I was totally astounded.

Now who has introduced “Hindu-Arabic” numerals to the west? Do you know “Fibonacci Number”s and Fibonacci Sequence 1, 1, 2(=1+1), 3(=1+2), 5(=2+3), 8(=3+5), 13(=5+8), 21(=8+13), 34(=13+21),…., F(n)(=F(n-1)+F(n-2)) which can interestingly be related to the growth of the population of rabbits. Fibonacci is the nickname of Leonardo of Pisa. In 1202, he wrote a book on arithmetic called “Liber Abaci”.The title means “The Book of Calculation” It was among the first Western books to describe those numerals. He popularized these numerals by addressing the applications of both commercial tradesmen and mathematicians.

This is an excerpt from the book “Liber Abaci”-

As my father was a public official away from our homeland in the Bugia customshouse established for the Pisan merchants who frequently gathered there, he had me in my youth brought to him, looking to find for me a useful and comfortable future; there he wanted me to be in the study of mathematics and to be taught for some days. There from a marvelous instruction in the art of the nine Indian figures, the introduction and knowledge of the art pleased me so much above all else, and I learnt from them, whoever was learned in it, from nearby Egypt, Syria, Greece, Sicily and Provence, and their various methods, to which locations of business I travelled considerably afterwards for much study, and I learnt from the assembled disputations. But this, on the whole, the algorithm and even the Pythagorean arcs, I still reckoned almost an error compared to the Indian method. Therefore strictly embracing the Indian method, and attentive to the study of it, from mine own sense adding some, and some more still from the subtle Euclidean geometric art, applying the sum that I was able to perceive to this book, I worked to put it together in xv distinct chapters, showing certain proof for almost everything that I put in, so that further, this method perfected above the rest, this science is instructed to the eager, and to the Italian people above all others, who up to now are found without a minimum. If, by chance, something less or more proper or necessary I omitted, your indulgence for me is entreated, as there is no one who is without fault, and in all things is altogether circumspect.

The nine Indian figures are:
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
With these nine figures, and with the sign 0 which the Arabs call zephir any number whatsoever is written…

I am glad that I was born in 19-th century to enjoy everything of the modern times.