Archive for November, 2013

I was in Seoul and Taipei last week, just finished two reports on the macro & political situation there, and am now working on presentations for an upcoming offsite in London. The past week reminds me of a time back in the sell-side when I was working 14-7. Like back then, I don’t think it’s sustainable. And like back then, I’m still learning and enjoying what I do. Life is probably a bit more balanced nowadays as I continue to take Thai boxing and Japanese lessons, read books during commutes, and update my blogs. Having soup waiting at home also helps.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll continue today’s lifestyle. The arcane wanderer in me still wants to live an alternative lifestyle at some point (like this guy or Jodi). In Yunnan, I also came across many people who quit their jobs to seek different lifestyles, which according to this NYT article seems to be getting more common in China nowadays. I’m not sure just quitting my job and going to live in Dali/Lijiang would satisfy me, as I probably prefer the feeling of pursuing something more than the feeling of escaping from something. For now I’ll continue to save, so that I wouldn’t mind ‘naked quit’ when I feel like I’m not learning anything more in my job.

PS: Zhang and Liang’s travel videos (in Chinese)

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“Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music.” —Bertrand Russell

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Searching for Sugar Man – an amazing documentary. It shows how luck plays an important role in life. The story is consistent with studies that found that luck plays a part in determining music popularity and labor market outcomes.


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Timelapse video of 49 cities

Bloomberg & Chinese censorship

Short anime background intro on China’s 3rd Plenum

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After leaving Singapore for nearly two years, I finally went back to meet up with people and revisit places I used to hang out. The city continues to impress me, but at the end it’s the friends there that made the trip memorable. As noted in the past, I don’t identify myself with any country, probably because I’ve lived in different countries at various stages of my life. Interestingly for someone with a maximizer tendency, I like most of the places I’ve lived (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, UK, and Singapore).

The trip prompted me to reflect on where do I want to live. Below are some criteria that would likely guide my future decisions.

-People: close to friends and has lots of interesting people
-Amenity: accessible to nature; basketball and hiking friendly a plus
-Convenience: good public transport; walkability is important and bicycle friendly a plus
-Environment: public safety and good air quality
-Work: opportunity; tax rates; supports variety ways of living
-Institutions: Good rule of law and no major censorship
-Kid: accessible to reasonable education; conducive environment to learn Chinese 
-Culture: accessible to museums, art and musical events a plus

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Honors bother Feynman: “I don’t see that it makes any point that someone in the Swedish Academy decides that this work is noble enough to receive a prize. I’ve already got the prize. The prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery, the observation that other people use it. Those are the real things. The honors are unreal to me. I don’t believe in honors. It bothers me, honors. ”

Advice on life from a 20 year old.


Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.


As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal) he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.


A man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance. So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”

And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know—is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.

Parenting skills.

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What I’ve been reading

Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much. The main claim of the book is that scarcity changes how we think and behave. Scarcity helps us manage our pressing needs but neglect other possibly more important concerns. For example, the authors noted that being poor reduces a person’s cognitive capacity more than going one full night without sleep. The findings seem plausible. If true, it suggests we should be more empathetic towards the decisions made by the poor. Personally I find having a different mindset (abundant/scarce) does make a difference in how I behave.

Epigraph from Calvin and Hobbes:

HOBBES: Do you have an idea for your story yet?

CALVIN: You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.

HOBBES: What mood would that be?

CALVIN: Last-minute panic.

The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life. A fun read about using experiments to understand how incentives affect people’s behaviors. People who like Freakonomics should like this book. There are plenty of sensible advice from the book. A main takeaway is I should do more experiments in my daily life.

The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality. The author said the book is about “the endless dance between progress and inequality.” Angus Deaton knows the data he used well and interprets them in a thoughtful manner. It’s a good book, but I find it a bit long and at times repetitive. The section on health reminds me of another book “100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith,” which basically argues that we should get ready for a long life.

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