Monday, June 30, 2008

Homelessness - No to free lunch

I'm not a very big fan of charity, especially when it comes to random bouts of charity i.e. dropping a penny or two off to some homeless man on the side of the street. The solution for the homeless is not to hand them free money (which might just get spend in the end on liquor bottles or random accouterments), thus promoting an inefficient economy, but to open up work opportunities. I don't believe that all homeless want to bet on the fact that they can continue living on begging all day, but that some would rather prefer a sure, fixed cashflow.

Instead of donating them some money, why not donate to a government-managed "city funds" that provides wages in return for work done in city improvement projects, i.e. sweeping, collecting garbage, cleaning up graffiti, etc. There is plenty of work to be done in slums and most parts of dense cities (i.e. midtown New York).

The point is, money should never be given freely, but always for a cause and to benefit society. Tossing your pocket change to a man on the street doesn't do anyone any good.

After writing this, I did some research on such funds that support this cause. The most targeted towards self-sufficiency seems to be the DOE fund.


Saturday I went to my friend's housewarming BBQ, which later turned out to be an engagement announcement party. The guy is very settled. Very homely 1 bedroom apartment in Jersey City, domesticated decor, all in all located in a very family-oriented neighborhood.

Experiencing that atmosphere brings plenty of mixed feelings - fear, envy, relief, etc. Fear because for this couple, the game of life is almost over. The guy is content w/ his job, they're happy in their relationship, they could probably die happy just like that. Thinking about that terrifies me, because it represents a death of your restless self into a new immutable self. The envy part is mostly due to the fact that they are living so comfortably and the fact that they are set in life. But then again, is comfort really a good thing?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

State of Mind

It may sound obvious, but I've come to learn that regret is caused by a changing mindset. The mind has many states due to new experiences, changing environments, etc. In each state of mind, you'll have a different decision making process and be satisfied with completely different decisions. For example, someone who plays World of Warcraft 8 hours per day will be happy and satisfied to make the decision of not hanging out with friends or pursuing career ambitions. At the same time, careerist such as an investment banker will feel obligated to sacrifice leisure and family pursuits for job promotions.

So where does the regret part come in? In our youth, the state of mind is by no means stationary but is transient. When your state of mind changes (and thus your decision making process), you'll look back at past decisions made under a different mentality and regret them, since those decisions no longer make any sense to you. When we're young this doesn't really matter and should be accepted, but as one settles down and makes long-term decisions (such as marriage, decisions to move and switch career paths, etc.) it's important to stay within a consistent mindset and reduce any irrational wandering. Sometimes our state of mind may be temporarily affected by new experiences, such as influential words from a book we read or a compelling talk w/ a new friend. One should always be wary of these effects and stay clear-headed, while thinking independently.

As we ground ourselves and stabilize within certain bounds of a state of mind, regret will occur less frequently and we may even find some form of contentment.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

B.S. Round 1

- post-interview thank you letters
- "face time"
- girls who hug all the time
- "best ____ ever!" or "most ____ I've ever heard in my life!"

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Enlightenment is obtained not from differentiating happiness as a positive, sadness as a negative, but rather accepting all the spectrum of life seamlessly as one whole. There is no differentiation but a mix of all the emotions and experiences of life into one, and the acceptance and appreciation of this as reality.

"Knowledge can be conveyed, but not wisdom. It can be found, it can be lived, it is possible to be carried by it, miracles can be performed with it, but it cannot be expressed in words and taught." ~Siddhartha, Herman Hesse

Knowledge and theory is gained from words, but the wisdom of this oneness can only be gained through experiencing every aspect of life.

Independent thinking

Leaders are able to think independently. In particular, they are experts in taking others' words with a grain of salt. As human beings, we have a tendency to be influenced and guided by others' opinions, especially when the person making the opinion appears to be one who knows what he's talking about.

The conflict lies in the fact that as social beings, we want to be able to not only to listen to others, but value their words. However, if you value the words too much, you may just start acting on them. The right approach is to maintain a balance - appreciate the opinion, but still be selfish in judging and critiquing the opinion, regardless of how sensical or good-intentioned it may be.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Thinking under pressure

Challenging math problems are solved using a great deal of working memory, or "short-term" memory. Studies show that those who perform regularly with a higher degree of working memory are more susceptible to pressure because they rely on a working memory that has been crowded out by anxiety.

The solution to this is to either reduce reliance on working memory (higher reliance on automation or memorization) or become oblivious to pressure. Pressure seeps in through self-doubt and pessimism. Practice and familiarity can reduce the amount of self-doubt and reduce pressure, thus increasing thinking capacity in a high stress environment.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Whenever I'm stressed and I repress it during the day, it comes back to bite me when I sleep... in the form of nightmares. Ever since high school, stress comes to me in the form of bad dreams. So not surprisingly, ever since I registered for the CFA I've been getting nightmares every night. My friend says it's because I don't find ways to release it during the day. Well for me it's not about finding ways, but finding time. I simply just don't want to allocate time for stress relief, because I feel like it'd be a waste.

So for now I'll put up with my nightmares. Yeah... we'll see how long that lasts.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What smart people do: hold lots of information in short-term memory

Smart people have very active brains. That is, they're able to hold much more information in their short-term memory than non-smart people (however, that's not to say they have very good long-term memory... shockingly I've noticed that a lot of them don't).

I.e. today I started with the number 3 and kept taking the exponent (kept multiplying by 3), all in my head, until I just couldn't keep track anymore. A smart person would be able to go a lot higher, perhaps even going into 7 digits, which is my short-term goal.