Archive for October, 2008

I like this anime. It touches on talent, motivation, and friendship: good vs. great, hard-work vs. effortlessness, discipline vs. enjoyment, admiration vs. envy, friendship vs. competition. It reminds me ofThe Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (one of my favorite novels), although it doesn’t focus on or emphasize the dark side of human nature.
People who know me would know which type of person I find myself closer to. One advice from the director for this type of people: work hard (which is a given), but also learn to appreciate your works and like what you do.  

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Why I’m not nationalistic

I don’t identify myself with any country. The concept of nation is a recent construct in human history (here). Loving one’s country might give us a sense of belonging and satisfy certain human’s nature (e.g. in group vs. out group bias such as the romantic feeling of fighting for one’s homeland). But nation is an arbitrary concept. Today’s national boundaries are results from histories, and the definition of nation-states changes over time. Moreover we don’t decide where we are born. That’s why I prefer to identify people by who they are or the group they choose (voluntarily) to belong, but not something as arbitrary as where a person’s born or grow up. Same for country, there are countries I like because I like the order emerged from the interactions of the people in it, or the places, natures, or histories, but not because it is China, the USA, or France.

I like to think of the world as one place. And anywhere can be home for an arcane wanderer as long as he likes the place and the people in it.

PS: This is a follow up on my earlier post.

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Lost & found. We fear that as we grow up, we might lose our innocent, romantic self and turn into a calculating, cynical person. We live like a shadow, forget the little things in life that we used to treasure, and bury our feelings under a mask. And we know it, but we cannot do anything about it. We are waiting: waiting that someday, someone, or some events would save us and turn us back into our lost self.

Dreams & uncertainty. We want to pursue our dreams but uncertainty holds us back. We doubt if the dream is reachable. Even if we can reach it, we fear it might not be what we want, and all meaning will be lost. So we choose to idealize it and keep it as a dream while occupying ourselves with other things.

Distance & loneliness. Distance is not what’s separating people. We can be as close to each other as possible, or communicate thousand times a day, but still don’t get any closer to each other. Or the other way round, we don’t have to be together to feel connected to the another person. Loneliness is when we are disconnected from others, despite talking the same language and sharing the same space.

PS: The thoughts came after a brief discussion of the anime with Huibin,. Here is an earlier entry on the anime.

Update: This post is my interpretation of the themes the director want to touch upon. I might not agree with his view on the world, and tend to find myself torn between some incompatible worldview/ideals.  Nevertheless I think Shinkai Makoto does a nice job conveying certain emotions and aspects of inner struggle people have in a simple and idealistic way.  I also think the anime has a good ending. The protagonist smiles at the end. And through quitting his job, breaking up with a girlfriend he doesn’t connect with, and going back to feel the things he once care, I think he has found his original self.

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Bleak outlook

Monday is a public holiday in Singapore, and I suppose to be relaxing in a cafe reading a nice book on economics or psychology. I also plan to catch up on movies, series, and podcast that are piling up, go for some sports, draw, and catch up with friends over this long weekend.

But all is out of the window now. My boss just told me he’d need me to work 3 days over the weekend (up from 2 days I was told earlier). I blame this on the financial crisis. But I guess it’s not as bad as it sounds. Working on weekend tends to be more flexible with less distractions (no traders shorting at each other, and I can ignore all emails and phone calls).  And at least I’m doing something I’ve interest in, although I would prefer a better balance and do/learn something different on weekend.

Since weekend work’s supposed to be voluntary (I don’t get bill in hours or OT pay), I’m determined not to miss this featuring in this year’s animation festival.

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Another Identity

My fourth ID card.

A question I often get asked is ‘who do you consider yourself to be (translation: what nationality)’ or ‘where do you consider to be your home country.’ My blog title probably gives some hints to the answer. I will write more on this later as I’m exhausted and haven’t had enough sleep for a while.

Given the numbers of ID and passport I held, perhaps I’d consider becoming a secret agent if I lose my current job.

Update: Photo of my IDs was removed to become more like a secret agent.

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My Sister

Yesterday was my sister’s birthday and we’d a nice two hours chat. Although we don’t keep in touch often (maybe once a few months), we can easily strive up all sorts of conversations without any reserve. My sister is one of the few people who understand me well, maybe not my views or thinking at a point in time, but definitely my personality. She is also the only person who can easily get on my nerve and trigger arguments/ fights that are intense enough to scare everyone around us.

Po Ye told me recently that in our 10-plus years of friendship, she never recall a moment when I’m angry and wonder if I ever get mad, crazy, unreasonable, or silly. The answer’s yes, but I only get emotion with very few people and even then, not that often. My sister is clearly an exception: We fought intensively during our Japan and also our UK trip, which is amazing given we haven’t met each other for more a few years and are on vacation. We can get so angry with each other probably because we know each other’s bias well enough and exactly what to say to hurt the other person, and can do it without reserve as we know our relationship won’t be affected. Not sure if I could handle this kind of intense arguments with other friends, and I find it much easier to detach myself and turn off my emotions with other people.

PS: My sister’s personality is exactly opposite from mine: gregarious, socialable, cheerful and energentic.

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Why I like social science

From this week’s Economist:

Serotonin is another neurotransmitter that is usually deficient in an addicted brain. This probably accounts for the depressive side of withdrawal symptoms (serotonin receptors in the brain are the target of antidepressant drugs such as Prozac). Serotonin is made from an amino acid called tryptophan, which is found in foods such as meat, brown rice, nuts, fish and milk. Philip Cowen, a psychiatrist at Oxford University, has found that reducing the amount of tryptophan in someone’s diet increases depressive symptoms and also that increasing it can induce a more optimistic outlook.

Brown rice, nuts, fish….Perhaps that’s why I don’t usually feel depress.

For those who would like to be able to wake up earlier, here’s Tim’s advice on how to solve this time inconsistency problem (basic principle applies to diet and other addictions as well).

Isn’t social science wonderful, helping us understand the world and making our lives better at the same time.

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