4 years, 11 months, and 9 days. Nurture your imagination. Learn to see possibilities and have the courage to pursue them.

https://shoshandjaialai.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/19951-itisthepowerofthemindtobeunconquerable.jpg?w=656

https://i0.wp.com/www.maxvibrant.com/images/mind-power/affirmation/mind-power.jpg

https://geniusquotes.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Mind-Power-Quotes.jpg

https://i1.wp.com/positivemed.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/power-of-brain.jpg

 

Imagining bodily states, like feeling full, can affect our future preferences and behaviour

Our current bodily states influence our preferences and our behaviour much more than we usually anticipate – as anyone who has gone shopping hungry and come back with bags full of fattening food can attest. “Even when people have previous experience with a powerful visceral state, like pain, they show surprisingly little ability to vividly recall the state or to predict how it affects someone (including themselves) when they are not experiencing it,” write Janina Steinmertz at Utrecht University and her colleagues in their paper in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

The good news is their research suggests we can exploit this phenomenon – we can trick ourselves into thinking we’re feeling differently, thereby influencing our preferences in ways that help us. For instance, one potentially important finding from their paper was that people who thought themselves full went on to choose smaller food portion sizes.

The research builds on earlier work that’s found that getting people to consider a particular experience can have a similar effect as actually doing it. For example, people who looked at pictures of salty, savoury foods and rated how much they’d enjoy them, subsequently enjoyed eating peanuts less than others who’d first looked at images of sweet foods. It’s as if merely considering salty food had led to a degree of satiation.

Steinmertz and her colleagues wanted to investigate whether mentally simulating feeling warm or cold, and also hungry or full, affected people’s subsequent preferences, and even their actual behaviour.

For the first study, 119 participants spent 30 seconds imagining themselves in a picture that either depicted a very cold environment (a snowy landscape or a picture of a glacier) or a hot environment (a desert or a lava lake). Afterwards, people in the cold condition reported feeling colder and were more likely to say they preferred “warming” activities, like a hot bath, to cooling activities, like a “cool, refreshing shower”.

A similar effect occurs based purely on our imagination, without the aid of pictures. For the second study, 300 participants were spent 60 seconds imagining, in detail, feeling very hot – or cold, hungry, or full. They then wrote about how they thought they would feel, and how they would act. This kind of purely mental simulation also influenced their reported preferences for related activities – people who’d imagined being hungry were more likely to say they’d prefer to go on a date to a restaurant than a date to see a movie, for example.

To find out if we can exploit these effects to our advantage, the researchers recruited another 111 people to explore the effects of imagining bodily states on subsequent food choices. Participants spent a minute imagining either being hungry or full. Then they were asked to choose between a variety of rewards, including varying sizes of popcorn, chocolate ice cream and crisps, one of which they were told they would receive. Crucially, the participants who’d imagined being full chose smaller food portion sizes than those who’d imagined being hungry. This showed, the researchers write, that mentally simulating visceral states “can affect real choices with immediate consequences”.

https://digest.bps.org.uk/2017/12/13/imagining-bodily-states-like-feeling-full-can-affect-our-future-preferences-and-behaviour/

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Remember how I have always told you that the mind is your greatest tool?  As seen above, research continues to bear this out.

You are what think; thus, don’t embrace the suck but do embrace the best possibilities.  Many much greater than I have stated this much better than I.  For example,

https://tonyevansdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/20140529-082821-30501903.jpg?w=656

https://i2.wp.com/img.picturequotes.com/2/259/258676/see-it-first-in-your-mind-then-become-it-quote-1.jpg

https://i2.wp.com/m.likesuccess.com/quotes/24/1156654.png

https://stevenwebb.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Peace-of-mind-quote-The-World-Exist-As-You-Perceive-It.-It-Is-Not-What-You-See....-Rumi-600x600.jpg

The commonality here is your mind.  That’s the control mechanism for your life.  Don’t let others take control of your mind or your life.

But, the mind is like a garden.  You must tend to it.  You must nourish it and water it daily.  Give your mind healthy things like nutritious food, sleep, literature, music, silence, joy, friendship, etc.  Also, take care to control harmful weed and pests.  Don’t embrace or dwell on pettiness, dark thoughts, negativity, failures, hate, vengeance, etc.  Put only as much thought in each of those negative thing AS IS NECESSARY to deal with it, to learn from it, etc., then MOVE ON!

Focus on the what you must do TODAY to get to your goals for tomorrow and the future.  DON’T waste your life away reliving the past or dreaming of the future.  Deal with TODAY.  Deal with this very moment!

If the moment is filled with negative thoughts, change it.  Refocus.  Don’t give life and energy to what will only harm you. Why would you do that?!!  A friend of mine in college once marveled at the fact that if I don’t want to think about something — like ghosts in the middle of a stormy night when the power is out — I simply won’t.  He, on the other hand, couldn’t help indulging himself.  That’s all it is:  self-indulgence.  Don’t do it.  It’s like having the discipline to not pick at that scab on your wound.  You know it’s the body’s way of healing, but your curiosity can compel you to peel off the scab to see how the wound is faring.  Don’t.  Let it be.  The wound will heal faster if you let it work its magic.

I love you, I miss you, and I want the best for you always.  Be well, my sons  Be happy.  Be good to yourselves and others.  The world really is your oyster.  Let your mind lead you to success.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

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4 years, 10 months, and 12 days. A person’s past acts are the best predictor of his/her future acts. Foster good habits.

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https://i0.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7358/9097262700_4c96081bde_b.jpg

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

The above is simply a useful rule of thumb.  By no means is it infallible.  But, simply because it is not a perfect tool doesn’t render it useless.

We are creatures of habit.  You would do well to pay attention to the habits of others — as they relate to you — and how those habits guide their actions in certain circumstances.  For example, your cousin B, on your mother’s side, used to lie about his three Nintendo DS game consoles being “broken” or uncharged in order to not let you play with them, pocket your toys when you’re not watching then lie about it when caught, etc.  I suspect his lying and thieving ways haven’t changed much and have only grown in dimensions as he’s gotten older.  Be wary of him.  His older brother has a felony drug conviction because he “happened to be” hanging out with friends who were dealers.  Regardless of the veracity of his claim, the damage is done: he is a convicted felon, and that criminal record will make it hard — if not impossible — for him to get good jobs, secure loans at good rates, etc.  Watch the behaviors of those around you, and choose your company wisely.

Note: the caution about our tendency to follow our habits applies equally to you as well.  Develop good habits.  Shosh, you know what I mean about the nail biting, right?  I hope you’ve kicked that nasty habit.

Continuous incremental improvement, remember.  Don’t worry about perfection and reaching those distant goals.  Break them down into baby steps and try to achieve one of those baby step each day.  In time, you’ll look back and recognize how far you’ve gone with those baby steps.

I want you to use that same approach to get into top colleges in the U.S. as I did.  Getting into good colleges will put you on the road towards success.  Again, graduation from a top college doesn’t guarantee success, but it will significantly help.  A top college will give you good first opportunities and open doors for you.  It is then up to you to work hard and make a name for yourself.

Start now.  Create good study habits.

Learn to study more effectively. Learn to read more efficiently so that you understand more and remember more.  Don’t bother to read every single word as you were taught to do when you were 3 or 4 years old.  That’s how children read, and you are ready to leave your childish ways of reading behind.

Reading Techniques

Strategies for improving reading rate and comprehension.

SQ3R Method for Thorough Study

  • Step 1: Survey
    • Skim through the book and read topical/sub-topical headings and sentences. Read summaries at the end of chapters and books. Try to anticipate what the author is going to say. Write these notes on paper, then look it over to get an overall idea.
  • Step 2: Questions
    • Turn paragraph headings into questions (e.g. “Basic Concepts of Reading” to “What are the Basic Concepts of Reading?”). Write these questions out.
  • Step 3: Read
    • Read with alertness to answer the questions you came up with. Write notes, in your own words, under each question.
  • Step 4: Recall
    • Without looking at your books or notes, mentally visualize, in your own words, the high points of the material immediately upon completing the reading
    • ** More time should be spent on recall then reading
  • Step 5: Review
    • Look at your questions, answers, notes and book to see how well you did recall. Finish up with a mental picture of the WHOLE

Adapted from F.P. Robinson. Effective Study. New York: Harper and Bros. 1948. Chapter II

Steps to Follow in Skimming for the Main Ideas

  • Read the title of the selection carefully. Determine what clues it gives you as to what the selection is about. Watch for key words like “causes,” “results,” “effects,” etc., and do not overlook signal words such as those suggesting controversy (“versus”, “pros and cons”), which indicate that the author is planning to present both sides of an argument.
  • Look carefully at the headings and other organizational clues. These tip you off to the main points that the author wants you to learn. You may be accustomed to overlooking boldface headings and titles which are the obvious clues to the most important ideas

Vary Your Reading Rate

A few broad suggestions may help you to select your rate(s) within the particular article:

Decrease speed when you find the following:

  1. An unfamiliar word not made clear by the sentence. Try to understand it from the way it’s used; then read on and return to it later.
  2. Long and uninvolved sentence and paragraph structure. Slow down enough to enable you to untangle them and get an accurate idea of what the passage says.
  3. Unfamiliar or abstract ideas. Look for applications or examples which will give them meaning. Demand that an idea “make sense.” Never give up until you understand, because it will be that much easier the next time. Find someone to help you if necessary.
  4. Detailed, technical material. This includes complicated directions, abstract principles, materials on which you have scant background.
  5. Material on which you want detailed retention. The key to memory is organization and recitation. Speed should not be a consideration here.

Increase speed when you find the following:

  1. Simple material with few ideas new to you. Move rapidly over the familiar.
  2. Unnecessary examples and illustrations. These are included to clarify ideas. If not needed, move over them rapidly.
  3. Detailed explanation and elaboration which you do not need.
  4. Broad, generalized ideas. These can be rapidly grasped, even with scan techniques

Skip that material which is not suitable for your purpose. While the author may have thought particular information was relevant, his/her reason for writing was not necessarily the same as your reason for reading. Remember to keep your reading attack flexible.

Shift gears from selection to selection. Use low gear when the going is steep; shift into high when you get to the smooth parts. Remember to adjust your rate within a given article according to the type of road you are traveling and to your purposes in traveling it. Most important, remember: You must practice these techniques until a flexible reading rate becomes second nature to you

The Pivotal Words

No words are as helpful while reading as the prepositions and conjunctions that guide your mind along the pathways of the author’s ideas. Master these words and phrases and you will almost immediately become a better reader. Here’s what they are and what they say:

  • Additive words: “Here’s more of the same coming up. It’s just as important as what we have already said.”
    • Also, further, moreover, and, furthermore, too, besides, in addition
  • Equivalent words: “It does what I have just said, but it does this too.”
    • As well as, at the same time, similarly, equally important, likewise
  • Amplification words: “I want to be sure that you understand my idea; so here’s a specific instance.”
    • For example (e.g.), specifically, as ,for instance, such as, like
  • Alternative words: “Sometimes there is a choice; other times there isn’t.”
    • Either/or, other than, neither/nor, otherwise
  • Repetitive words: “I said it once, but I’m going to say it again in case you missed it the first time.”
    • Again, in other words, to repeat, that is (i.e.)
  • Contrast and Change words: “So far I’ve given you only one side of the story; now let’s take a look at the other side.”
    • But, on the contrary, still, conversely, on the other hand, though, despite, instead of, yet, however, rather than, regardless, nevertheless, even though, whereas, in spite of, notwithstanding
  • Cause and effect words: “All this has happened; now I’ll tell you why.”
    • Accordingly, since, then, because, so, thus, consequently, hence, therefore, for this reason
  • Qualifying words: “Here is what we can expect. These are the conditions we are working under.”
    • If, although, unless, providing, whenever
  • Concession words: “Okay! We agree on this much.”
    • accepting the data, granted that, of course
  • Emphasizing words: “Wake up and take notice!”
    • above all, more important, indeed
  • Order words: “You keep your mind on reading: I’ll keep the numbers straight.”
    • Finally, second, then, first, next, last
  • Time words: “Let’s keep the record straight on who said what and especially when.”
    • Afterwards, meanwhile, now, before, subsequently, presently, formerly, ultimately, previously, later
  • Summarizing words: “We’ve said many things so far. Let’s stop here and pull them together.”
    • for these reasons, in brief, in conclusion, to sum up

https://students.dartmouth.edu/academic-skills/learning-resources/learning-strategies/reading-techniques

 

Likewise, learn to take good notes.  Use the Cornell notes method and study system.  There are many different note-taking systems out there; find one that works best for you.  See, e.g.,

The underlying theme of both the reading lesson and note-taking lesson is active engagement.  Actively participate in the learning process.  Don’t simply read mindlessly or write down words mindlessly.  Think!  You should spend half your time thinking about what you’re reading or writing.  Your recall and grades will improve as you actively engage more in your studies.

Spend an extra few minutes each night reviewing your notes.  This keeps those memories and synaptic connections fresh.  If you don’t, you’ll end up having to spend more time later relearning the material.  You’ve already made the huge investment of time and energy to learn it the first time: spend the little energy necessary for upkeep.

Last, but not least, don’t fear failure.  Those are learning opportunities.  The man who has never failed has never tried his hands at anything worthwhile.  All worthwhile things are difficult.  Aim high, then try and try again until you succeed.

https://socialstrategizer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Stand-Up-Eight.jpg

Be well, my sons.  Be happy.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

 

 

4 years, 10 months, and 6 days. The Internet is but a tool. Use it! Don’t let it use you!

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The Movement of #MeToo

How a hashtag got its power

About 10 years ago, after I’d graduated college but when I was still waitressing full-time, I attended an empowerment seminar. It was the kind of nebulous weekend-long event sold as helping people discover their dreams and unburden themselves from past trauma through honesty exercises and the encouragement to “be present.” But there was one moment I’ve never forgotten. The group leader, a man in his 40s, asked anyone in the room of 200 or so people who’d been sexually or physically abused to raise their hands. Six or seven hands tentatively went up. The leader instructed us to close our eyes, and asked the question again. Then he told us to open our eyes. Almost every hand in the room was raised.

For a long time, most women defined their own sexual harassment and assault in this way: as something unspoken, something private, something to be ashamed of acknowledging. Silence, although understandable, has its cost. A decade ago, I couldn’t have conceived of the fact that so many women had experienced sexual coercion or intimidation; now, I’d be surprised if I could find a single one who hadn’t. On Sunday afternoon, the actress Alyssa Milano used her Twitter account to encourage women who’d been sexually harassed or assaulted to tweet the words #MeToo. In the last 24 hours, a spokesperson from Twitter confirmed, the hashtag had been tweeted nearly half a million times.

#MeToo wasn’t just mushrooming on Twitter—when I checked Facebook Monday morning, my feed was filled with friends and acquaintances acknowledging publicly that they, too, had experienced harassment or assault. Some shared their stories, some simply posted the hashtag to add their voices to the fray. And it wasn’t just women: Men also spoke up about their experiences with assault. Actors including Anna Paquin, Debra Messing, Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, and Evan Rachel Wood joined in. The writer Alexis Benveniste used it to remind people that the messages they were seeing were only the tip of the iceberg. For every woman stating her own experiences out loud, there were likely just as many choosing not to do so.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/the-movement-of-metoo/542979/ (emphasis added)

 

 

The Most Downvoted Comment in Reddit History Is the Perfect Example of How Not to Respond to Customer Complaints

Video game company EA Sports responds to gamer complaints in an overly-corporate and disingenuous way…and its new game, Star Wars Battlefront II, pays the price.

One of the features of the soon to be released Star Wars-based video game Battlefront II is an in-game economy that allows players to earn credits to unlock items within the game.

The game is a single-person campaign that takes place after the Return of the Jedi film. The online multiplayer mode lets you battle as a soldier for either the Empire or the rebels, earning perks like better weapons or boosts along the way…

…Plus, playable characters like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.

And therein lies the problem. Imagine you just spent $60 to buy the game–and then you find out that you have to spend tens of hours actually playing the game in order to earn the right to use the most popular characters.

Or if you don’t want to put in that kind of time, you have to spend even more money to unlock them.

To many gamers, that’s like buying a car and then finding out you need to pay extra to get a steering wheel. And since many will play the online version, that economy creates a pay-to-play dynamic where players who spend money can gain a greater advantage by gaining access to better weapons and perks more quickly.

According to estimates made by early users, players who aren’t willing to spend more money on a $60 game would need to spend 40 hours of grinding to unlock playable characters like Chewbacca and Palpatine, and 60 hours–each–to unlock Luke or Darth Vader.

But what if you’re a highly skilled player? Doesn’t matter: One person determined that in its current state, Battlefront II gives out credits based on time spent playing and not on skill. That means no matter how good you are…you would still have to grind. A lot.

So naturally gamers complained.

And here’s how EA responded on the gaming r/subreddit, the ninth most popular subreddit with over 17 million subscribers:

With well over 600,000 downvotes, that comment is now the most downvoted comment in Reddit history by a substantial margin….

Following the backlash, EA announced changes to how it incentivizes players to unlock key content within the game. In a statement posted on EA’s website, John Wasilczyk said the company will reduce the number of credits required to unlock classic saga heroes by 75 percent.

https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-most-downvoted-comment-in-reddit-history-is-perfect-example-of-how-not-to-respond-to-customer-complaints.html (emphasis added)

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

The internet is a powerful tool.  Use it wisely, and it can change the world.  For example, it is giving a voice to women who have long been preyed upon by the powerful and ugly (inside and/or out).

But, remember that it is also a tool for those with bad intentions.  These include people, on one end of the spectrum, who want you to waste time and money on whatever they are selling — this includes “free” sites and games where the site gets money from advertisers as you while away precious moments of your lives and lose your health to the sedentary lifestyle they inspire.  On the other end of the spectrum lies the nastier netizens who hack laptop cameras and microphones to get nude photos or compromising information to blackmail users, who download viruses onto laptops to steal users’ bank and credit card account information, who hack power stations and damns to endanger the lives of people, etc.

How hackers can switch on your webcam and control your computer

A malicious virus known as Remote Administration Tools (RATs) can be used by hackers to switch on your webcam and control the machine without your knowledge. Andrew McMillen reports.

http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/consumer-security/how-hackers-can-switch-on-your-webcam-and-control-your-computer-20130328-2gvwv.html

Bank Hackers Steal Millions via Malware

Russian Hackers Shut Down Ukraine’s Power Grid

http://www.newsweek.com/russian-hackers-shut-ukraine-power-grid-415751

As with all things in life, it is your responsibility to use the item wisely, and to take control of it and not let it take control of you.  Think.  Be purposeful in your actions.  If you need to unwind for a bit and watching YouTube or playing video games helps you unwind, then, by all means, do that.  But, control yourself and the tool.  Limit your use of it.

Don’t let it take over your lives.  Video game addiction is a problem.  In addition to all the bad physical things that results from you spending hours in front of a TV (muscle weakness, poor eyesight, poor cardio-vascular health, etc.), your social skills and life would also suffer.

Gaming ‘addict’ who played Xbox 16 hours a day sought counselling after struggling to talk to real people

James Callis sought help when he struggled to connect with real people and missed out on university

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gaming-addict-who-played-xbox-11470536

 

Man Dies From Blood Clot After Marathon Gaming

The family of a 20-year-old British man who died as a result of a blood clot that formed after playing video games for up to 12 hours a day is speaking out about the health risks obsessive gaming can pose.

David Staniforth told The Sun that his son, Chris, spent most of his days playing the online game Halo and was accepted into a game design program at Leicester University.

“He lived for his Xbox. I never dreamed he was in any danger,” Staniforth said.

The young man died in May from a deep vein thrombosis, the coroner told The Sun. The night before he died, his father told the BBC he was probably up all night on his computer.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/extreme-gamer-dies-pulmonary-embolism/story?id=14212015

 

computer.jpg

Those that spend more than four hours a day looking at a screen are particularly vulnerable to mental illnesses, according to the study

Children who spend large amounts of time glued to a computer risk developing mental health problems such as loneliness, depression and anxiety, government health advisers have warned.

In a hard-hitting paper, Public Health England, which advises the NHS and government, makes a clear link between the overuse of the internet and social networking sites and lower self-esteem.

Those that spend more than four hours a day looking at a screen are particularly vulnerable to mental illnesses, the report says.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/the-internet-can-be-bad-for-children-s-mental-health-9381551.html

Learn to use technology for good, my sons.  Don’t let it use you and lead you down dark paths that don’t serve you.

As always, put away electronic devices.  Limit them to no more than two hours.  Go outside. Take a walk.  Play in the park.  Enjoy nature.  Hang out with your neighbors and friends.  Be real.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

4 years, 10 months, and 3 days. Don’t every lose your sense of wonder about the world. Stay curious!

https://shimul93blog.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/giant-coconut-crab.jpg?w=656

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These crabs can grow up to 3 feet — and hunt birds, a biologist’s video proves

There’s a theory that giant crabs overwhelmed Amelia Earhart, dismembered her and carried her bones underground.

Speculative, at best. Sounds crazy, we know.

But so has almost every other horrifying rumor about the so-called coconut crabs — until science inevitably proves them true.

They grow to the size of dogs. They climb trees, and tear through solid matter with claws nearly as strong as a lion’s jaws.

And now, finally, we have video evidence that the crabs — thousands strong on one island — can scale trees and hunt full-grown birds in their nests.

“It would at first be thought quite impossible for a crab to open a strong cocoa-nut,” Charles Darwin once wrote, as that father of evolutionary biology recounted stories of a “monstrous” arthropod said to roam an island in the Indian Ocean.

“The crab begins by tearing the husk, fibre by fibre, and always from that end under which the three eye-holes are situated,” Darwin wrote. “When this is completed, the crab commences hammering with its heavy claws on one of the eye-holes till an opening is made.”

But Darwin would go no further than that. The genius who championed life’s endless forms gave no credence to reports that these fierce giant crabs could also climb trees.

In the decades to come, coconut crabs would be photographed not only climbing trees but hanging from them like enormous hard-shell spiders. Researchers in our own century once left them a small pig carcass to see what would happen, Smithsonian Magazine wrote.

The crabs quickly disappeared the pig.

Now we know they are the largest invertebrate to walk the earth — more than three feet long, pincer to pincer, with claws so strong that a researcher once tried to measure the force, and described it as “eternal hell” after a coconut crab caught his hand.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/11/11/these-crabs-can-grow-up-to-3-feet-and-hunt-birds-a-biologists-video-proves/?utm_term=.5d3735ffbdf1

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Shosh, do you remember seeing one of these crabs at the aquarium in Okinawa?  It was so strange and cool, wasn’t it?  Now, they’ve got a video of it eating a bird.  Cool, huh?

(Yes, it’s probably not so cool from the perspective of the bird, but such is the circle of life.  Life is what it is.  It is neither good nor bad.  Don’t make the mistake of attributing human values to animals.  They live and are guided by their instincts, and it is not up to us to “judge” them.  A scorpion, in and of itself, is neither better nor worse than a chicken.  [Of course, if we are speaking of them in terms of a food source, then the analysis differs.])

Stay curious about nature and all of her amazing feats, my sons.  Studies show that being mindful of and connected to nature improves our health, happiness, and well-being.  So, stay connected to nature.  Go for walks often, as we did through our neighborhood in the day.  Keep an eye out for the awesome and the curious.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years, 9 months, and 23 days. Embrace who you are! You are beautiful inside and out. Ignore idiots who say otherwise.

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27 Asian Leading Men Who Deserve More Airtime

Asian actors don’t often get starring roles in Hollywood, but these guys — American and otherwise — prove they’re leading men too.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/mattortile/asian-leading-men-who-deserve-more-airtime?utm_term=.kh76aeev2v#.asewAOO606

 

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13 Asians On Identity And The Struggle Of Loving Their Eyes

“I used to use Scotch tape to make my eyes bigger. Then I said, ‘Hey, this is your face. This is how you look.’”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/asian-american-eyes-photos_us_59f79448e4b0aec1467a3270.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Let’s face it.  There will always be stupid, ignorant, and racist people.  You can find them in every corner of the world.  As with all life forms, there are those who/which are more evolved and higher functioning, then there are the weaker and lower functioning ones.  You see it in dogs, termites, plants, etc.  They simply exist.

But, their existence doesn’t define you.  You are who you are.  You can no more change who you are than a tiger can change its stripes.  Yes, you can make cosmetic changes (e.g., dye the coat of the tiger), but that doesn’t a tiger into something other than a tiger.  Likewise, putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a pig.

https://thinktext.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/lipstick-on-a-pig5.jpg?w=656

Embrace who you are.  You are Vietnamese-Americans, and you come from good stock.  Your great-great-great grandfather was the first Secretary of Treasury for the country.  Your great-great-great uncle was Vietnam’s representative to the French Parliament.  Your great grandfather was a doctor.  Both of your grandfathers were accomplished and learned men.  More than half a dozen of your aunts and uncles on my side of the family hold a doctorate or graduate degree from some of the top programs in the U.S.  Collectively, we have spent tens of thousands of hours saving or improving the lives of orphans, refugees, victims of domestic violence, the homeless, the elderly, the poor, and the disenfranchised.

Like my siblings, I hold a doctorate and matriculated at some of the top schools in the U.S.  Like my father, mother, and siblings, I have spent thousands of hours volunteering to help — and working to improve policies relating to — the poor, the homeless, the disenfranchised, and the hard-working members of society.  Federal employment and immigration laws in the U.S., for example, bear my imprints from my years working for and with the U.S. Congress.  In addition, among other things, I have helped those abused by their governments find new lives in countries of asylum, fed the poor, prevented the homeless from freezing to death on cold winter nights, protected victims of domestic abuse, and helped build homes for the disenfranchised.  (My only regret is that I didn’t engage you boys in these activities when I was with you, thinking you were too young.  You are never too young to help others.)

Hold your heads high.  You come from good stock and have nothing to be ashamed of.

Life can throw us curve balls, but the truth eventually prevails.  Recall how I fought the Enron of Healthcare for five years (both from within and without) to stop them from cheating and harming the sick and dying?  They lied, cheated, and stole from the sick and dying, but government regulators ultimately validated everything I said about those scums and more.  The truth will prevail this time as well.

Remember, what people say and do is a reflection of THEM … not you!  Stupid and ignorant people make stupid and ignorant remarks because they are stupid and ignorant.  That’s their problem, not yours.  Why should you make it your problem?  Don’t ever do that.  Remember, you have control only over yourself, and no one else.  Let others own their problems.

Be proud of who you are.  Be you, but be the best you.  Strive to improve yourself every day, and ignore the less evolved and lower functioning.  Why bother with them?  You are not responsible for teaching them.  If they ask for your help, then, by all means, help them if you want.  But, if they insist on being stupid and ignorant, let them.  If they fight for their limitations, let them keep it.

I am always proud of you, my sons.

All my love, always

Dad

4 years, 9 months, and 21 days. Beware: you are being manipulated.

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https://sendablequotes.com/quotes/113864.jpg

https://shoshandjaialai.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/2321c-manipulation.jpg?w=1420&h=947

https://shoshandjaialai.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/0fe99-stock_market_manipulation.jpeg?w=751&h=947

 

To give an example, if I ask you, “How wrong is it to falsify information on your CV in order to get a better job?” you might think that you just go through a rational process, and think of the reasons why this is wrong, or perhaps why it’s not so bad. But we found that when you put people in certain emotional states, for example, if you have them sit at a table that happens to be very sticky, dirty, and disgusting, then people make different decisions. If you sit at a disgusting table, or let’s say you’re smelling a disgusting smell in the room, then you’re more likely to say that falsifying your CV in order to get a better job is really wrong compared to somebody who sits at a clean table, or somebody who doesn’t have a nasty smell around them.

Similarly we find that when you give people a chance to feel very clean and pure, they decide that something like falsifying their CV is not so bad, it’s proper behavior, or it’s okay, it’s clean. It seems like however people happen to be feeling at the moment colors their judgments about some even very fundamental decisions of whether it is right or wrong to do something. It’s quite surprising that even though we like to think there are good reasons for our decisions, often times there are all these random things that just happen in our lives, and that’s how we decide, for example, what is moral, and what is immoral.

https://www.edge.org/conversation/simone_schnall-a-sense-of-cleanliness

 

http://www.academia.edu/5148803/The_effects_of_cleanliness_and_disgust_on_moral_judgment

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

At sales schools years ago, when Southwestern sent us college students to Nashville for sales training, we were taught how to ask questions that would more likely than not push the respondent to give the answers we wanted.  “Your next door neighbors, the Smiths (a beautiful family), just bought a set of study guides for their children.  You’d want to purchase a set for your kids also, wouldn’t you?” gets you better results than “Would you like to buy a set of these study guides?”  In other words, we were taught to manipulate people.

We were far from unique.  You are being manipulated everyday by ads, by strangers, by friends, by family, by almost everyone.  Beware.

As evident from the above citations on how being in a clean or disgusting environment affects people’s sense of right and wrong.  Who’d thunk it?!!!  But, it’s there.  We could house workers in clean offices with fresh smelling air being pumped in and have them engage in questionable sales tactics all day.  Who is to say Enron traders who laughed about ripping off old grannies weren’t similarly manipulated?  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/enron-traders-caught-on-tape/.  (I am not suggesting those traders were not to be blamed, but that Enron created an environment which heightened the individuals’ unethical leanings.)

So, how can you defend yourself against this insidious manipulation?  Be aware of the possibility.  Think.  Analyze.  Question assumptions.  Use your slow thinking process instead of fast thinking/automated/knee jerk reactions.  See Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.  See also:

Be you, my sons. Be the best you possible.  Your time and your life are your own.  Don’t allow others to impose their will on you and trick you into buying things, wearing clothes, saying things, etc., that are not you.

Go for walks.  It’s a good way to slow things down and think.  It’s good for your cognitive and physical health.  And, it will help you live longer.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cravings/201710/the-easiest-exercise-longer-life.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., I have woken up the past two days extremely sad.  It makes me worry about you boys.  I hope you are ok.

 

 

4 years, 9 months, and 14 days. Know your limitations.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Life demands much of us, doesn’t it?  We are constantly bombarded by demands from all sides: “Do your homework,” says the teacher; “You need more sleep as teenagers!” says your pediatrician; “You gotta try this new game,” says the “Cool” kids; “Facebook is so yesterday — do Instagram,” says a friend; “Get off social media,” says the dad; etc.

How do you manage?  Who should you listen to?  Who can you trust?

That, my sons, is a challenge you’ll face for the rest of your life.  There will always be talking heads telling you what to do, what to buy, what to wear, what to say, what to eat, etc.

But, always remember, you are in charge of you — and no one else.  That means you are not in charge of anyone else, and that no one else is in charge of you!

As we say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”  You choose what you do and what you don’t do.  Take responsibility for your choices.  Don’t blame anyone else.  Losers spend often spend their entire lives blaming others for their mistakes.  Don’t be like them.

So, how do you make the right choices in life?  Well, life offers few certainty, so (1) you must make the (2) best decision (3) based on (4) the best information (5) you have at the time.

As you can see, there are a number of elements to this decision-making process. Let’s go through them one by one.

First and foremost, YOU must decided.  Don’t let others decide for you.  If you do, then the fault resides with YOU because YOU abdicated your personal responsibility — you chose to let someone else decide your fate.

Second, you must make the best decision possible.  Sometimes, flipping a coin may be the best choice when you are faced with two equally attractive or unattractive options and indecision is hurting you.  Choose and move on.  The moment of absolute certain will never (or rarely) arrive.  But, use this method extremely sparingly.

Think critically about your choices:

  • What data do you have?
  • What data don’t you have?
  • What data can be obtained and at what cost (in terms of time and expenses)?
  • What data are simply unavailable?
  • What is it that you don’t know about that could or would affect your decision-making process?

Think critically, methodically, and deliberately.  Shosh, when you were 3 or 4 years old, my staff were so impressed when you answered their questions in an organized and orderly fashion.  For example, you’d say, “Well, there are three reasons why I like X.  First, ….”  Keep doing that.

When you make your decision, make sure it is BASED on sound reasons.  Don’t make knee-jerk reactions.  Don’t make rash decisions because someone else is yanking your chains — emotionally, physically, or otherwise.

Stop. Think.  Assess.  Decide.

Make sure your analysis is based on the BEST information available.  Use reliable and reputable sources to obtain your data.  Don’t rely on hearsay, fly-by-night bloggers, charlatans, talking heads, etc.  Again, there is no guarantee that even the most reputable of sources won’t make mistakes, but life is a game of chance and all you can do it maximize your chances of getting the  right information on which to base your decisions.

Lastly, never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Perfection is rarely achieved and rarely possible.  Go with the best you have at the time.  Now, since time is obviously an important factor, make sure you give yourselves sufficient time to conduct your research, make your analyses, and decide.  Don’t wait until the last minute, then flip a coin because you have no data on which to make your decision and, as a result, all the options appear the same to you.

Obviously, this is an involved process and you cannot engage in such a process for every decision in life.  For less critical decisions, rely on less demanding processes.  Where possible, use reputable and trustworthy substitutes for parts of your data-collection and analyses.  For example, if I want to buy a new laptop, I read reviews by PC Magazine, ZDNet, Gizmodo, etc.  They have built a reputation as experts; thus, it would not be unreasonable to rely on their expert opinions as part of my analysis.

Now, this is where it can become tricky.  Not all “experts” are the “experts” they claim to be.  Below is a good example.

Revenge of the Lizard Brain

[B]ack in the ‘60s, ..: Paul MacLean [proffered the now] infamous “Triune Brain” theory, whose basic idea is that every human brain contains three independent competing minds – the reptile, the early mammal, and the modern primate….

Problem is, MacLean’s pet hypothesis doesn’t hold up under scrutiny….

How is it, then, that modern authors as educated as Seth Godin and Rick Hanson (among others) are writing entire essays that present “the lizard brain” as well-documented scientific fact? How does Godin keep a straight face onstage [giving a TED talk] as he tells us that “the lizard is a physical part of your brain” and that “the reason we call wild animals ‘wild’ is because they have lizard brains”?

It’s because the idea makes a weird kind of intuitive sense. We’re bundles of instincts and inhibitions and desires that don’t fit neatly together. It’d be comforting, in a way, if we could pin those conflicts on little lizard brains – just name those ancient demons and drive ‘em out, like we did in simpler times.

Whether we like it or not, though, the lizard is simply us. Every habit and hangup, every dread and desire in our minds is dependent on neural pathways that were once laid down by our personal experiences. Like every other organism on earth, we carry the history of a long, successful lineage in our genetic and biological makeup. The question of what to do with those resources, though, isn’t predetermined by the past. It’s up to you.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/revenge-of-the-lizard-brain/

See, also, https://www.ted.com/speakers/seth_godin; http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/01/quieting-the-lizard-brain.html; and, http://www.eruptingmind.com/beating-the-reptilian-brain/.

How do we know?  By trial and error.  By the use of your best judgement.  By staying current regarding new research findings.  By doing the best you can with the limited amount of time and resources you have available.

But, also, remember your own limitations, biases, etc.  For example,

Study: Teens’ View of Fairness Shifts as Brain Develops

When it comes to the concept of fairness, teenagers’ ability to consider the intentions of others appears to be linked to structural changes in the brain, according to a study led by Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences Luke Chang.

The research found that cortical thinning of specific areas of the brain from youth into young adulthood corresponded to the transition from an emphasis on equality in all transitions to a more complex consideration of the intentions of others in exchanges. This developmental change in the social brain continued through late adolescence, the researchers said.

“We were surprised that this shift in preference for considering others’ intentions occurred so late in development,” Chang says. “This finding has potential implications regarding how much autonomy this age group should be given when making important social and ethical decisions, such as purchasing weapons, going to war, and serving on juries.”

https://news.dartmouth.edu/news/2017/09/study-teens-view-fairness-shifts-brain-develops

You are in your teens.  Your brain continues to develop and change.  Certain limitations result from this process.  Acknowledge it.  Incorporate it into your analysis.  For example, it may necessitate you seeking additional counsel of a trusted source to counteract a known weakness.  There is no shame in that.

At the end of the day, own your decisions and learn from your mistakes.  Don’t let hard choices hold you back from doing what you must to achieve your dreams, to do the right thing, etc.

Winners do.  Losers whine and blame others.

Live well, and be happy, my sons.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., below is a poem I like which touches on this issue of limited time to make our moves in life.

Andrew Marvell. 1621–1678
357. To His Coy Mistress
HAD we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side          5
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.   10
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,   15
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.   20
  But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,   25
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:   30
The grave ‘s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
  Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires   35
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.   40
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun   45
Stand still, yet we will make him run.