Friday, December 24, 2010

Predictably irrational by Dan ariely


An interesting read. I devoured it with the level of enthusiasm as I did freaconomics. Both books discus the dark and the unknown sides of human behaviors that have strong social impacts. As the new discipline that integrates economic and psychology, the behavior economics explore scientifically the unknown part of social behavior. Some of the experiments described in books are intriquing, many of them flawed, but nonetheless reveal many undiscovered truths.

Also worth noting, when I met Dan in a book signing event in L.A. I am impressed by his speech. Very enjoyable.

So what are so irrational about us?

We can only compare and analyze similar items. So when choosing among many is difficult, we choose the better one among a similar and much smaller group, omitting the much better option that is harder to contrast.
We are so affriad of losing something, a fake scarcity will boost up the price significantly, like the drak pearls.
There are high prices, low prices, but when the price is zero, the whole rational economic behavior break down.
Without a clear deadline, we all procrastinate. Trust is so important in a sociaty, yet it can easily fall victim to the tregidy of the commons, we all have to be vigilant.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Academic Integrity - for professor's grading

A student came to my office asking for his grade. He has worked hard on our several projects that are not related to the course. I appreciate his contribution to those projects. For the course, he completed all assignments several months late and the final report was mediocre. Even his final presentation was pretty good, to be fair to other students, I gave him an B, not good, but definitely a passing grade.

After realizing he received an B from me, he was upset, "I worked so hard for you, the B is such an insult!" and stormed out of the office. I tried to explain to him that as an academic, I have to keep the academic integrity. If I assigned a better grade to the course because of non-related projects, that will be an insult to me, him and the university. It simply won't happen in an ethical environment. I can only wish he will learn the lesson that a grade, a degree meant so much in the society precisely because it is objective, not because if a professor appreciate a students help or have great working relationship with him, or his father gave a large donation to the university, etc.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Beautiful things and Trump 101


Reading the book on Trump 101. Most of it is Trump's self promotion of how successful his real estate, the Apprentice TV show and his Trump university. But there are nuggets of wisdom that I appreciate. He mentioned he likes beautiful things, making something good is not enough, making it breathtakingly beautiful should be the goal. He mentioned dreaming big but be patients, for example, his acquisition of 44 Wall St.

Making thing not only good, but beautiful. Noteworthy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Biking in Angel Island


Went for a 3-hour biking/hiking and visited the historical site of immigration office on the island. Was a great day-trip for relaxing, culture and exercise purposes. Should have brought my own bike, since the rental is very low end and worn. Stopped by Tatami Japanese seafood buffet. Unlimited sashimi and oyster, don't know if it is healthy or not, but mighty enjoyable. Now it is hard to go to work on Monday!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dark Day in Spring


The day was much darker today.
Suddenly clouds moved in,
rained terribly, mood sank.
Meetings were filled with useless arguments.
Emails rebuked with little reasons.
Nascent news from far away turned to lament.
Passion came back demanding retribution.
The price we have to pay, when we realize we are all just grass, bending unwillingly to the wind.
It was a dark day today.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Whole New Mind or Out of your Mind?


A nice grad student brought me a set of books on innovation. "This is a must read", she pointed to Dan Pink's "A Whole New Mind".

Pink's articles in Wired and other places were entertaining to me so I picked the book and started. A great read. But the book falls into the similar trap of most books by professional reporters and writers: they write the book mostly based news reporter's observations. The mind set of the news reporter is to create information product that people are welling to purchase, not science backed up by research. It made entertaining read but if anyone will shape their values or career strategy based on these types of books, they will be misled and very disappointed.

The book, like the famous "Flat World" book, if read by someone already have a strong and sound believe system and intellectual maturity, should provide invaluable pieces of information and insights that can be very beneficial. For someone who does not have a firm knowledge foundation, those books can be misleading and down right dangerous since the scattered pieces of news and a few author's "revelations" usually are not coherent and can not stand the test of time. And by the time, I don't even refer to generations or centuries, I mean just a few years. Pick a best seller 10 years ago and try to read it, most of them are whimsical and laughable now. Remember "Dow at 30000"?

Back to the "New Mind". I completely agree the holistic, long term, creative, emotional capability (the L-directed mind) is as important, if not more so, than the analytical, logical, test taking capability (R-directed). The author's pitfall is to declare this is a new phenomenon starting 2000 A.D. while it is the case through out the human history. The best among us have both, even some don't show one side as much as the other. Use both sides of your brain!! That is the old, the new and the only mind. No recognize that is, well, out of your mind!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sisyphus is my middle name



Often I am driven to pick difficult challenges knowing at the end of it, all will turn to nothing but dust in the wind. But the struggle itself provides meanings.

Yes, I sweat, weep and bleed. Yes, I have many visible scars and more invisible ones. Oh, Yes, many times I am crushed and humiliated.

But No, no regrets; and Never, Never give up.

Secretly I smirk at the unbearable hardship and often openly enjoy the horrible circumstances. Many despise me because of this. I just tell them my middle name.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Reflection upon 2009


Stopped counting the years passing. Instead, the milestones are no long the calendar, but the events. 2009 is an overwhelming and hectic year. It is filled with many success and challenges:

Finance, boy, what a year, investment was down 70% during the first three months because I hold on to risky equities and not reacted fast enough. Since March, I started to watch and market closely, woke up every morning by 6:30 AM and actively managed my portfolio and took on more risks!! This is against most of the investment book I have read. Fortunately, till the end of the year, I recovered most of my investment and gained 50% on top that. The fund is now enough for a basic level of financial independence.
Career, slow but steady forward. Selected, trained, monitored several managers in ITCD and CALMAT, they are true stars. Each is very capable and enthusiastic. Started the Institute for Innovation project in the summer. The institute project was not on my plan but it was dropped on my and I felt obligated to assist the university in getting the institute started. Published a couple of papers; helped WASC to review several degree programs including one remarkable trip to Prague. CALMAT is moving forward, it is still in its infancy, needs a lot of attention and handwork, but I am rather happy with the results so far. We started with nothing but a dream, now we have all basic structures and have continuous operation.
Personal, had my second cello recital, stopped tennis, got a dog, got a covertable, learning how to pace myself, had a better time management...



Living the dreams

I used to just nod politely saying "just fine", when people ask me "how are you doing?".  I decided to change that. ...