Archive for January, 2008


Cato has some interesting discussions on marriage this week. Coontz gives a nice history on how the role of marriage has evolved, while Stevenson and Wolfers use economics to explain what caused these changes. Here’s an widely quoted except from Stevenson and Wolfers:


So what drives modern marriage? We believe that the answer lies in a shift from the family as a forum for shared production, to shared consumption. In case the language of economic lacks romance, let’s be clearer: modern marriage is about love and companionship. Most things in life are simply better shared with another person: this ranges from the simple pleasures such as enjoying a movie or a hobby together, to shared social ties such as attending the same church, and finally, to the joint project of bringing up children. Returning to the language of economics, the key today is consumption complementarities — activities that are not only enjoyable, but are more enjoyable when shared with a spouse. We call this new model of sharing our lives “hedonic marriage”.


Reading these articles reminds me how much our views on marriage have changed. When I was young, it seems that getting married and raising children is a path everyone follows. But nowadays marriage and child bearing become much more optional. Sex before marriage is much more common and tolerated by society. Psychologists have found that raising children are very costly and is among the largest source of stress, quarrels, and unhappiness (on the other hand, married couple tend to be more happy and successful, or perhaps more happy and successful people tend to get married).


I currenlty also view marriage and child bearing as something optional. Having the right partner is much more important than ‘building a family’, and I probably prefer to marry than to remain single if finding the right partner (let’s not discuss what ‘right’ means for now as it’d easily go into love or something that’s even harder to pin down). Children for me are much less important than spouse, and I’m slightly tending toward not having them, but ultimately it should be something decided jointly by the couples. Timing is also not important for me. Many men I know prefer to focus on work first before getting married. Although I don’t think I will marry anytime soon, if I’m certain about someone I want to be with, marrying sooner or later (if at all) doesn’t make a difference for me. It’s also interesting to note that many philosophers in the past don’t marry. Perhaps they prefer solidarity or spending more time on intellectual pursuits. Or perhaps like me, their personality makes them hard to live with.

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What I’ve been reading

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Back to basic

Following up on the New Year post, I still haven’t sorted out a clear plan. My aim is probably less about changing myself (as some of the previous entries might suggest), but more on discovering my preferences so I could align them with what I do.


Getting back to basic means spending time on activities I enjoy. For me, a lot of them are simple and inexpensive: play street ball once in a while (already got myself a basketball and found a court), draw, and maybe continue to dabble in guitar or saxophone (my landlord owns a nice classical guitar that I’d borrow whenever I want). Ideally I’d also try more different foods, read more broadly, see more places and take more photos.


Now the list seems to become unrealistic and most likely I won be able to do them all. Even if I can, I might not be satisfied if I’m not good at them. That’s why I still don’t know how best to spend my free time. I should probably take more risks and try more things, but also learn to stop doing things I don’t enjoy (not going to parties/drinks just because most people do it, stop movies/books/foods I don’t enjoy, etc.).


Relationship is another one of my weak spots. Socialization’s not something that comes naturally for me. But for now I guess I’ll focus on myself first. The key is to live life in a way that I could like myself more and move in the direction I want my life to go.



‘One can live magnificently in this world, if one knows how to work and how to love, to work for the person one loves and to love one’s work.’

Leo Tolstoy

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Once – An enjoyable film on a simple encounter and relationship (thank Asaka for the CD). Recommend for anyone who likes music or enjoy feeling the usual human nostalgia for the artistic, non-materialistic way of life (the good old simple and non complicated life most people romanticize).


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The motionless sea
The silence of the wind
Listen carefully
And you shall hear
The melodies in your heart

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Assorted links

1. 18 Stunning Bridges From Around The World – beautiful photos.

2. If Ignorance is Bliss, What Should Intellectuals Do? – I agree with most of them. Nevertheless, I still think life is good.

3. Exodus to the virtual world – Interesting podcast. Some of the ideas are similar to what I’ve blogged before: lots of potetial in video game and virtual world remain unexplore; people like living in a world with clear purpose and meaning (e.g. good vs evil, hero vs villain).




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New Year Reflection

New Year is a convenient time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. Reviewing my older entries
remained me of my more sentimental, idealistic self (for those who’re too lazy to go through the past entries below, this one probably sums up my current views well). Although years have passed, it seems like I haven’t change much. I’m still not satisfied with myself, want to be more true to myself and to live life my way. I want to be able to focus more on the moments in life, treasure simple things in life, and discover what I’m seeking.

 The theme for my New Year plan is Self: to get back to the basics, focus on myself, and to test whether it’s possible to become better through conscious and consistent efforts. From my experience, personality seems rather stable through time and hard to change, but this might be because most people don’t genuinely want to change themselves too much, as it could entail loneliness. Details of my New Year plan will be left for another post.

Back to something lighter, I spent my New Year Eve watching Jay Chou’s movie ‘Secret’. Although I read a few negative reviews, the movie is above my expectation and I like it. Given how hard it’s to film a movie (anyone ever trying to use a video camera to film something nice would understand), the movie’s pretty good as a 1st attempt by a singer. I can understand now why Angi likes 桂綸鎂 (Kwai Lun Mei) so much. She might also become one of my favourite actresses. I’m looking forward to watch ‘The Most Distant Course’ played by her as well.  成海璃子 (Riko Narumi) is another young Japanese actresses that I think is very talented, which is good as I’ll have more movies to look forward to.



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