What do you want to be (when you grow up)?

This talk really gave me a「!!!」moment. Wonder if it'll be useful to you guys too?

The Proper Way to Apologize

How to conduct an apology when you've messed up? Different cultures have different approaches to interpersonal communication. Here's what's considered to be better quality apologies in the US. Let's talk about it!

The Proper Way to Apologize
Don’t say, “I’m sorry this offended you”.
Instead say, “I’m sorry I was offensive.”

Don’t say, “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Instead say, “I didn’t mean to hurt you, but intent means nothing because the damage is already done.”

Don’t say, “It was just a joke.”
Instead say, “Some things should not be joked about.”

Don’t say, “I wouldn’t try to hurt anyone like that.”
Instead say, “I realize I hurt people with my words, and I’m sorry.”

Don’t say, “I‘ll remove the joke if it bothers you so much.” (if posted online)
Instead say, “Yes, I said this, and it was wrong, and now I know not to say things like this again.”

Don’t say, “Well other people weren’t bothered by it.”
Instead say, “Well some people weren’t bothered by it, but others were, and their concerns are just as valid and worthy of consideration.”

Stop accepting passive apologies that do not show the offensive party actively taking responsibility for their mistakes.

Freedom! And The Fear!

Lyrics for The Fear

When Francine said last week that she wanted to talk about free will, I asked her over Line to say more about the topic. She ended with a sentence:
“When we grow up, we get more physical freedom but less freedom of will. That's because of the fear.”
I understood immediately! But then when I sat down to pull information together for this article, I found that I didn’t understand at all. What is The Fear? Is it maybe different for every person?

Lily Allen made a song entitled The Fear, and it catapulted her to superstardom. It really resonated with people. But is her The Fear the same as what Francine mentioned, or is it different?

So let’s talk about this sentence! When you hear it, what do you think of?
“When we grow up, we get more physical freedom but less freedom of will. That's because of the fear.”

What is our Geist 討論逐字稿

—Let’s look at the first question: “Humans are just doomed to destroy each other?” Are humans basically just destructive assholes?
—Well, I don’t think humans are evil, but in a book, “The Third Chimpanzee”, the author analyses human behavior, like from the aspect of environment, he argues that humans always destroy their environments. Like the ancient people, we think they tend to live in harmony with nature, but the truth is not like this. For example, he uses a lot of proofs to demonstrate why the Aztecs and Maya, the reason they disappeared can be ascribed to their destruction of nature, because they used up their resources, no matter animals or plants,
—And the people around them too!
—And some creatures like animals, they went extinct, not just because of climate change, but they were overhunted.
—So you feel like, yeah, this isn’t something that can change
—I was quite persuaded by this author, because the population is more intensive than other creatures, so we can’t help but destroy what’s around us, because we need more resources than other creatures. So I think that’s possible
—Maybe it was true before, that people can destroy each other in the past, or use up a lot of resources in the past, because we have to live. But do you think the situation will change in the future? I think the situation will become better, because people are trying to find the balance between humans and environment. Like we’re trying to protect animals. Some people think we don’t use as much energy as possible, we have to save energy. So the situation has changed. Do you think people will kill each other in the future?
—Do you mean on an individual basis or a mass basis?
—Either one.
—I think individual murders will probably always be with us, but 20th century style mass mowing down of human beings will change.

What is our Geist? What do we want it to be?

Hi guys, this is a difficult article because it compresses a lot of references into a small space. Instead of trying to understand the article as a piece, I’d rather talk about some of the questions it brings up.

So each title is the question to discuss, and the text underneath is the part of the article that brings it up, just for reference. We can also talk about the meaning of each passage during the discussion.

What is Geist?
The concept of Geist is one of the most fundamental of the Enlightenment. It refers to how the human mind creates the world we live in. This mind is, by default, a collective mind, but it is one shaped by individuals’ experiences of the world. And zeitgeist is, as the word indicates, the spirit, or mind, of its time. When Goethe talks about ‘den Geist der Zeiten’ in Faust, he emphasises that it is always with ‘one’s own spirit’ that we look upon history.

Fair Compensation?

Pay everyone in the company equally, at a livable wage (for the US)
Three months ago, Mr. Price, 31, announced he was setting a new minimum salary of $70,000 at his Seattle credit card processing firm, Gravity Payments, and slashing his own million-dollar pay package to do it. …The idea struck him when a friend shared her worries about paying both her rent and student loans on a $40,000 salary. He realized a lot of his own employees earned that or less.
Yet almost overnight, a decision by one small-business man in the northwestern corner of the country became a swashbuckling blow against income inequality.

1. Media Onslaught
What few outsiders realized, however, was how much turmoil all the hoopla was causing at the company itself. To begin with, Gravity was simply unprepared for the onslaught of emails, Facebook posts and phone calls. The attention was thrilling, but it was also exhausting and distracting. And with so many eyes focused on the firm, some hoping to witness failure, the pressure has been intense.

2. Both Loss of Customers and Too Much New Business
More troubling, a few customers, dismayed by what they viewed as a political statement, withdrew their business. Others, anticipating a fee increase — despite repeated assurances to the contrary — also left. While dozens of new clients, inspired by Mr. Price’s announcement, were signing up, those accounts will not start paying off for at least another year. To handle the flood, he has already had to hire a dozen additional employees — now at a significantly higher cost — and is struggling to figure out whether more are needed without knowing for certain how long the bonanza will last.

Doing Favors + Creating Relationships, Who Counts?

Today we're looking at quotes from two related articles, one in The Guardian and one in The Wall Street Journal. The heading of each quote is a link to the article it came from.

Women's help doesn't count as something that should be repaid
Women were more likely than men to be asked for favors and were more likely to grant requests for help, Frank found. When the recipients of help were asked how “indebted” they felt, they appreciated the help of women less than the help of men——it turned out that people felt entitled to female help. Worse, the more “agreeable” the woman seemed, the more the value of her help was discounted by the person she assisted (as if they assumed “she just likes to help”).

How societies can grow old better

Today we'll talk about Jared Diamond's TED talk, How societies can grow old better.

As a supplement to this discussion, here's a video describing a group home for older people in Japan called Collective House Seiseki (in Chinese), and here is their website (in Japanese).

How to Spot a Liar

Let's talk about Pamela Meyer's TED talk: How to Spot a Liar

This talk has got a lot of information in it. As you listen, pick out the one or two things that really catch your attention, and we'll talk about those things. See you tonight!

Being Authentic

Tonight we're going to discuss Ash Beckham's talk, "When to take a stand and when to let it go."

The main theme of her talk is that human beings are more than one thing at a time, and acknowledging this is one way to be really human. I think this is one of the main cultural differences between the US and Taiwan. I feel that in Taiwan that it is culturally normal to be more than one thing at a time, and to have more than one idea about the world at a time. I think this is one of Taiwan's greatest strengths. So, let's talk about what is being an authentic human being, according to different cultures.

You Become What You Do

Let's talk about Barry Schwartz' TED talk: The way we think about work is broken.

"And that's how the industrial revolution created a factory system in which there was really nothing you could possibly get out of your day's work, except for the pay at the end of the day. Because the father -- one of the fathers of the Industrial Revolution, Adam Smith -- was convinced that human beings were by their very natures lazy, and wouldn't do anything unless you made it worth their while, and the way you made it worth their while was by incentivizing, by giving them rewards. That was the only reason anyone ever did anything. So we created a factory system consistent with that false view of human nature. But once that system of production was in place, there was really no other way for people to operate, except in a way that was consistent with Adam Smith's vision. So the work example is merely an example of how false ideas can create a circumstance that ends up making them true.

It is not true that you "just can't get good help anymore." It is true that you "can't get good help anymore" when you give people work to do that is demeaning and soulless. And interestingly enough, Adam Smith -- the same guy who gave us this incredible invention of mass production, and division of labor -- understood this. He said, of people who worked in assembly lines, of men who worked in assembly lines, he says: "He generally becomes as stupid as it is possible for a human being to become." Now, notice the word here is "become." "He generally becomes as stupid as it is possible for a human being to become." Whether he intended it or not, what Adam Smith was telling us there, is that the very shape of the institution within which people work creates people who are fitted to the demands of that institution and deprives people of the opportunity to derive the kinds of satisfactions from their work that we take for granted."

Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

What do people really need in their lives? Isn't it actually connection with others?

To see this talk on the TED site, click here.

Why it's time to rethink the pecking order at work

This talk is about why we might be better off rethinking how we organize ourselves at our workplaces.

To see this talk on the TED site, click here.

What Dame Ellen MacArthur learned sailing around the world

We're not the only ones talking about this! Another person's view on what's going on with our economy, surprisingly similar to our conclusions a couple weeks ago, when we were discussing the problem with Free Trade Agreements.

To see this talk on the TED site, click here.

Open Source Blueprints for Civilization

To see this on ted.com click here: Open Source Blueprints for Civilization

"So let me tell you a story. So I finished my 20s with a Ph.D. in fusion energy, and I discovered I was useless. I had no practical skills. The world presented me with options, and I took them. I guess you can call it the consumer lifestyle. So I started a farm in Missouri and learned about the economics of farming. I bought a tractor -- then it broke. I paid to get it repaired -- then it broke again. Then pretty soon, I was broke too.

I realized that the truly appropriate, low-cost tools that I needed to start a sustainable farm and settlement just didn't exist yet. I needed tools that were robust, modular, highly efficient and optimized, low-cost, made from local and recycled materials that would last a lifetime, not designed for obsolescence. I found that I would have to build them myself. So I did just that. And I tested them. And I found that industrial productivity can be achieved on a small scale."

Flow, The Secret to Happiness?

"So my research has been focused more on -- after finding out these things that actually corresponded to my own experience, I tried to understand: where -- in everyday life, in our normal experience -- do we feel really happy? And to start those studies about 40 years ago, I began to look at creative people -- first artists and scientists, and so forth -- trying to understand what made them feel that it was worth essentially spending their life doing things for which many of them didn't expect either fame or fortune, but which made their life meaningful and worth doing.
This was one of the leading composers of American music back in the '70s. And the interview was 40 pages long. But this little excerpt is a very good summary of what he was saying during the interview. And it describes how he feels when composing is going well. And he says by describing it as an ecstatic state.
[O]ur nervous system is incapable of processing more than about 110 bits of information per second. And in order to hear me and understand what I'm saying, you need to process about 60 bits per second. That's why you can't hear more than two people. You can't understand more than two people talking to you.
Well, when you are really involved in this completely engaging process of creating something new, as this man is, he doesn't have enough attention left over to monitor how his body feels, or his problems at home. He can't feel even that he's hungry or tired. His body disappears, his identity disappears from his consciousness, because he doesn't have enough attention, like none of us do, to really do well something that requires a lot of concentration, and at the same time to feel that he exists. So existence is temporarily suspended. And he says that his hand seems to be moving by itself. Now, I could look at my hand for two weeks, and I wouldn't feel any awe or wonder, because I can't compose."

How do we design for wisdom?

If the video above doesn't work, please go here: How to run a company with (almost) no rules

The Surprisingly Logical Minds of Babies

Go listen to this TED talk: The Surprisingly Logical Minds of Babies.

The Hardworking Ant?

Last week we talked about ants as an example of hard work, so I thought we might look at this article in the Boston Review on ants again.

Network interactions, and the uses of downtime
Among harvester ants—the ants I know best—the important interactions are brief antennal contacts. An ant uses the rate at which it meets other ants to decide what to do. If you have ever watched ants closely, you have seen them touch antennae. When a harvester ant moves from tasks inside the nest to tasks outside, its odor changes, so an ant’s hydrocarbons identify its current task as well as its colony. To test how brief antennal contact influences ant behavior, my colleague Michael Greene and I presented ants with little glass beads coated with the odor of ants who are performing a particular task. Some of the beads smelled like patrollers, the first ants to go out of the nest each morning and travel around the colony’s foraging area. The safe return of the patrollers, at a rate of about ten ants per second, stimulates the first foragers to go out to search for food. When foragers meet beads bearing the hydrocarbons of patrollers, at the correct rate, they leave the nest. This experiment shows that an ant’s rate of brief antennal contact influences what the ant does next.

And what an ant does next may not be much at all. Contrary to another of our beloved myths about ants, told by Aesop, Homer, and the writer of Proverbs 6:6, many ants don’t work very hard. In a large harvester-ant colony, about a third of the ants at any time are hanging around doing nothing. As Mark Twain put it, this “will be a disappointment for the Sunday schools.” Because colony behavior is regulated by a network of interactions, inactivity might have its uses. Idle ants may act as a buffer to dampen the interaction rate when it gets too high. My colleagues and I have found that ants will move around to adjust their interaction rate—either they seek each other out when there are few ants, or they avoid each other when crowded. Sometimes interactions create positive feedback, as when ants go out to forage in response to interactions with foragers bringing food back to the nest. But eventually this could lead ants to search for food when there is none left. The colony may need some inert ants, unlikely to be stimulated by interactions, to buffer the network.

Playing 討論逐字稿

We discussed the article Playing.

Closing statements
—So I was thinking about an argument I had with a friend recently, he was saying our whole economic system should be based on measuring whether people are productive. That’s a system that values work only. And like the system we’re in now is all about valuing work. So I was thinking, why is play devalued? Why is it seen to be less important? Then I was looking at the part in the article where it says that play is integral to egalitarian societies. Is it that because they’re basically equal, they play? or is it because they play, so equality results? So does that mean play as a concept is inimical to authority? Because people who are socially different cannot play together, like, you can’t play with your boss, or teachers are told not to get too close to kids, because that’ll erase the authority. So our system, which is all about dominance and people being different levels of human, and authority, it can’t tolerate play. It has to be about work to maintain the system. So basically, if we want to break capitalism, we have to play more!

—I would like to answer her question from the perspective of economics…from our discussion play still has rules, still has some kind of elements like work, but the difference...and you still can gain/create something new from playing, but for work you can expect a certain kind of gain or return. But for playing, the rule is set by you or your own team, there's no limitation, you are free. You can do what you want to do, and in the way you want to do it. From the perspective of our economy, the authority of society wants to create a kind of certain return. So it was good for society for everyone to work and not to play. Like everyone, when in an agricultural society, if you are playing to--you still can play with cultivating vegetables and rice, but if you are playing, you won't make a schedule, or set a goal of how much you want to cultivate. So if everyone is playing, then society won't have certain kind of food or clothes, so these are my thoughts on why people appreciate working or not playing. It's about the certainty. And authority can control people if they are working and not playing.


First, two short articles to consider:
Playing Isn’t Just For Young Folks (sorry, I lost the link to this article)
One day I decided to take a break from routine and try a new recipe. The next day at work, when asked what I did on my day off, I responded, “I played”, because that’s what it felt like – having some fun trying something different. To my surprise, that co-worker commented that she felt like she had forgotten how to play. And so began a several-minute discussion between all of us on what “play” means.
One woman described being intrigued by watching her grandson, age three, pour water back and forth from several containers and be absorbed in this play for close to thirty minutes. He was enjoying the wetness, watching what a stream of water looks like, seeing one cup fill up and another empty, learning that smaller cups run over when filled from larger cups. (Of course he also was acquiring skills in co-ordination and spacial processing, but he didn’t know that. He was just enjoying himself.)

WaHT iS InTeRneT????

The Net’s super-power is connection without permission. Its almighty power is that we can make of it whatever we want.

The Internet is connected
1. The Internet is not made of copper wire, glass fiber, radio waves, or even tubes.
2. The devices we use to connect to the Internet are not the Internet.
3. Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and 中国电信 do not own the Internet. Facebook, Google, and Amazon are not the Net’s monarchs, nor yet are their minions or algorithms. Not the governments of the Earth nor their Trade Associations have the consent of the networked to bestride the Net as sovereigns.
4. We hold the Internet in common and as unowned.
5. From us and from what we have built on it does the Internet derive all its value.
6. The Net is of us, by us, and for us.
7. The Internet is ours.

The Joyful Economy: Who and What?

So we’ve been talking about the economy a bit, and it’s been a depressing topic at times, but we passed through a pretty important concept on the way, which is that we collectively re-make our culture every day.
Our culture is the handed-down wisdom of what has worked for us in the past, (Although, it’s not necessarily ‘best practice’, only that it’s worked well enough that people adopted it for better or for worse), and using the past as a pattern, we make the world new every day.
This is an incredibly hopeful concept actually, because every day is therefore a day to make the culture start to change direction. And so, if we could really start making the culture of our economy change direction, then we have to know what a better direction might be. We have to ask this question:
What does a well-functioning economy look like?
and also: How do we make that happen?
The second question is of course much harder to answer than the first, and the first one is a very very hard question to begin with.

It’s a hard question, but as soon as you ask, ask 'What is good?' almost immediately two other questions pop up: 'Good for who?' and 'Good for doing what?' And these are kind of easier to answer!

And so tonight, what I’d like to do tonight is some brainstorming on these two questions:

Spending Money

“When you spend your money, it should be on something that lasts a long time, not something that’s gone in a moment.”
Agree or disagree?

The Enemy of Happiness is Adapatation
“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich … “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

It's counterintuitive that something like a physical object that you can keep for a long time doesn't keep you as happy as long as a once-and-done experience does. Ironically, the fact that a material thing is ever present works against it, making it easier to adapt to. It fades into the background and becomes part of the new normal. But while the happiness from material purchases diminishes over time, experiences become an ingrained part of our identity. “Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

The Relationship between Capitalism and Government

I want to get into a topic that came up a few weeks ago, the difference between Markets and Capitalism. Boy, has this turned out to be hard to find simple, clear discussions of this idea online. So, the below excerpts are seriously, super long, and I apologize for that, but they tell a necessary story in three parts. The last excerpt is just there as a reference. As always we'll go through the readings on the day of the discussions!

The Safe Distribution of Private Power
—[In the US,] what we want to do, to the best of our ability, is use our public government mainly to ensure the safe distribution of private power. The basic idea was that if you distribute private corporate power widely enough, then people will compete among themselves in ways that are good for both our democracy and our economy.
—Did Wilson proceed to do this?
—One of the first things his administration did was fix the many flaws of the original Sherman Antitrust Act by passing the Clayton Act. The second thing they did was put the public fully in control of the money supply. A lot of people have problems with the Federal Reserve, and there’s a lot of reasons to have problems with the Federal Reserve. But the Federal Reserve we have today is better than having JP Morgan run the money supply, or Jamie Dimon.

Economic Models...的討論逐字稿

This is a partial transcript of our discusssion of Economic Models are the Foundation of Social Relations

—The second passage is about how we produce the culture we live in everyday through the way we live.
—The culture creates our way of living, and by living it we create the culture.
—So the culture is perpetuated.
—To survive, we have to eat food, so we do work. So what does that have to do with culture? If a poor person, they don't care about culture. If they can live, if they can survive, how he does so has nothing to do with culture.
—I think the culture here doesn't mean, for example, music, or painting. That's not the culture that we're talking about. Culture is the abstract, or the physical thing.
—Okay, i'll say it a different way. In Taiwan, not a lot of people can understand what you mean, when you talk about culture like music...
—'Culture', what the article is saying, is like an overall picture. In the past, we are in a culture that we eat what we produce, or we wear clothes that we made ourselves. It's more like 'lifestyle'.
—But I think culture as a word is very okay for this kind of issue.
—It’s like this, the chopsticks they use in Japan are not the same as the Chinese chopsticks we use in Taiwan, and Koreans have their own style of chopsticks. In the west we use forks and knives, but they use forks and spoons in Indonesia and Thailand, and they use them differently than us. This is what culture is. It’s not just the big stuff, it’s all the details of our lives.

—Okay, so since some more people have come in, let’s recap what we’ve talked about so far. There are like three steps in the points under discussion today, the first step is, libraries and bookstores. If an alien came down to Taiwan and stepped into Eslite, and then was taken to visit Taida’s library, they might not see the difference. They’re both a big building filled with books on shelves, and with people all around, and some people take books to the counter, make some sort of exchange, and walk out with books. But what is the big difference between the two, besides the fact that Eslite is such a beautiful place that everyone loves going to, and Taida’s library is perhaps less comfortable inside? The difference is that the basic principle of access to books in the library is “to each according to need” or interest, while the principle in the bookstore is “to each according to ability to pay.” Meaning, if you want a book in the library, you just go get it, or maybe you have to wait a bit and then you can read it. At Eslite, you have to think about if the book is worth 600NT or 1500NT to you or not, and maybe you can’t afford it. And if you’re poor, that’s all the difference in the world.

Economic Models are the Foundation of Social Relations

I want to get into a topic that came up a few weeks ago, the difference between Markets and Capitalism. Of the article excerpts we're going to discuss today, the first one is kind of ordinary, and the second one is from a very famous and very difficult text which has generated a lot of controversy in its existence. As always we'll go through the readings on the day of the discussions!

Libraries or Bookstores?
A nice illustration of the difference between capitalist and noncapitalist ways of organizing economic activity is the contrast between two ways in which people get access to books: bookstores and libraries. The United States turns out to have one of the best developed public library systems in the world. Ironically, perhaps, this system was largely founded through the philanthropy of one of the wealthiest and most powerful capitalists of the late 19th century, Andrew Carnegie.

What are the key differences between bookstores and libraries? When you enter a bookstore in search of a book you go to the part of the store in which the book is shelved, take it off the shelf, look at its price, and then decide whether or not it is worth it to you to spend that amount of money to have the book. Your access to the book is governed by your willingness (and ability) to pay for it. In a library you go to the shelf, see if the book is there. If it is, you take it and check it out. If it is not, you put your name on a waiting list and get notified when the book is available. The access to the book is rationed by time: your willingness to wait for it. The librarian then notes how long the waiting list is and, depending upon the resources of library, the level of community support for its activities, and its policies concerning waiting lists, decides whether or not to order more copies of the book.

The underlying principles of a library and a bookstore are thus quite different. The basic principle of access to books in the library is “to each according to need” or interest, while the principle in the bookstore is “to each according to ability to pay.” These two mechanisms have very different consequences in the world. Libraries are clearly more egalitarian in the sense that they embody an ideal of equal opportunity for all. No one is at a disadvantage because of personal resources. If bookstores were the only way of getting books, then poor people would have much less access to books. One can easily imagine libraries being used for all sorts of things besides books – movies, recordings, artwork, tools, video cameras, etc. And indeed, some public libraries in the United States do provide some of these. Imagine how the American economy would be different if libraries were ever to become a general, pervasive model for access to such a wide range of things?

Oh, Baby

“PLAYING God” is what medicine is for. Every Caesarean section and cancer treatment is an attempt to interfere with the natural course of events for the benefit of the patient. Not every procedure should be allowed, but a general sense of what is “unnatural” is a poor guide to what to ban. Transplants and transfusions were once considered unnatural, but now save many lives. That insight is why MPs were right to agree, on February 3rd, that Britain should become the first country to allow the creation of children with genetic material from three people instead of the usual two (see article).
By doing so, they hope to relieve terrible suffering. Faults with mitochondria—the tiny power sources inside cells—afflict about one child in 6,500, or 100 a year in Britain. The many conditions that result, a lot of them agonising and fatal, have no cure. So scientists hope to prevent them at conception, by transferring the healthy nucleus of an egg cell with damaged mitochondria into the body of an egg with functioning ones.

Time, Labor, Balance 討論逐字稿

Concluding statements
So for me, I was thinking about how when I was a child, totalitarian countries were the big scary thing that the news talked about. And it was presented as this brand new thing that came out of nowhere, that was somehow new and scary in the world. But tonight when we were preparing for our concluding statements I realized something: because Chi-ning said that thing about how in capitalism, you have to use every single bit. And that made me think of how in the Story of B they talked about totalitarian agriculture, that if something was the enemy of your crops, you had to destroy every bit of it. Like, wolves: we had to kill ALL the wolves, even though wolves don't actually threaten all of our cows. So it made me think that this is all on a continuum in our culture. The same ideas that started with the new kind of agriculture 12,000 years ago are the same ideas that led to capitalism and are the same ideas that lead to totalitarianism [極權主義/集權主義].

I don’t know if Angela arranged the paragraphs intentionally, that the capitalism was first and the balance was the last part. The paragraph that’s ‘in balance’ we should think, we are only guests in the world, I kind of agree with the idea that we’re only passengers, guests, we are not possessing what we thought we have, anything material or land or houses. And talking about the goal, I was thinking that, how can we decide or, I mentioned, define, that this is real or true or final goal for us, or for me! To pursue. I used to set the goal from others’ opinions, or social expectations, we should do this, this is good, this is better for your future or whatever. But I’m trying to discover, or define my own path or my goal for the next decade.

I thought the totalitarianism is not the same as capitalism. But if we want to be balanced in life, maybe we must try to use the benefit of capitalism. And also consider why totalitarianism is the little good…it’s not all good or all bad. I mean, sometime one thing is a good or bad, so it’s not totally the worst. If we want society to be better and better, we can consider capitalism and totalitarianism in balance
—Good idea, to not think about it as a dichotomy.

Time, Labor, Balance

Okay! This is one of those posts where I give you seemingly unrelated quotes, and in the discussion we find what connections there might be between them. What a way to begin the New Year!

Time Is Money
"Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings besides.[...]Remember, that money is the prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on. Five shillings turned is six, turned again is seven and threepence, and so on, till it becomes a hundred pounds. The more there is of it, the more it produces every turning, so that the profits rise quicker and quicker. He that kills a breeding sow, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation. He that murders a crown, destroys all that it might have produced, even scores of pounds."—Benjamin Franklin, as quoted in the summary of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Working Hard 2015/2/6的討論逐字稿

Final Statements:
—Do you have to be hard on yourself to be a good creator?
Is it really better, to be hard, to work hard, to develop yourself through adversity? I mean, can’t we just go drinking together? Hang out and talk and make beautiful things together?
—Well, all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
—Yeah but all play and no work makes Jack an alcoholic!

—when we were discussing woman A or woman b being more virtuous, I was thinking one thing, the chairman of Foxcomm, Guo Taiming, he once said, I just told my daughter how to spend my money wisely, and then also, spending my money to help society, to help the community. So his daughter doesn’t need to work, but it’s better for…I mean she is just so lucky, but at least, during her childhood, her father was working very hard. Because this guy, the chairman of Foxcomm, did not really have rich parents himself, but he works hard, but his daughter, the next generation can deserve, can enjoy the achievement that he brought to them. So how do you say about that.
—it’s a good fate!
—and also she was very well behaved, she doesn’t spend the money crazily on luxury goods.
—maybe she will…
—but we speak good of her, so well respected. So yeah, she deserves to be his daughter!
—because she’s morally correct?

Working Hard

When you think of ‘hard work’ what are some of the images that come up for you?

Is ‘hard work’ a priori virtuous?
To ask this question through a narrative: Say there’s a person who’s worked hard all her life for her dream, she’s suffered a lot, but finally she makes it, the thing she was working on happens, she gets what she wants.
Then imagine someone else, who just for no reason, luck or the universe or whatever, totally just gets what she wants.
Who is more virtuous?

Why I am not a "Maker"

In this Atlantic article, Debbie Chachra brings up an important issue about global culture:

"Creators, rightly, take pride in creation. In her book The Real World of Technology, the metallurgist Ursula Franklin contrasts prescriptive technologies, where many individuals produce components of the whole (think about Adam Smith’s pin factory), with holistic technologies, where the creator controls and understands the process from start to finish. As well as teaching my own engineering courses, I’m a studio instructor for a first-year engineering course, in which our students do design and fabrication, many of them for the first time. Making things is incredibly important, especially for groups that previously haven’t had access."


Here's another excerpt from "The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible", this one from Chapter 21, Attention.

"Most of us have grown up in a society that trains us, from kindergarten or even earlier, to do things we don’t really want to do, and to refrain from things we do want to. This is called discipline, the work ethic, self-control. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution at least, it has been seen as a cardinal virtue. After all, most of the tasks of industry were not anything a sane human being would willingly do. To this day, most of the tasks that keep society as we know it running are the same. Lured by future rewards, chastened by punishment, we face the grim necessity of work. This would all be defensible, perhaps, if this work were truly necessary, if it were contributing to the well-being of people and planet. But at least 90 percent of it is not. Part of our revolution is the reunion of work and play, work and art, work and leisure, of have to and want to.


This is an excerpt from Chapter 24 of "The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible" by Charles Eisenstein.

"Pleasure, remember, is among other things the feeling we get from satisfying a need. The more powerful the need, the greater the pleasure. To follow this principle requires, first, accepting that our needs are valid and even beautiful. And not just our needs, but our desires as well, coming as they do from unmet needs. Hold your breath, and your need for oxygen generates a desire to breathe. Stay too long at a dull job, and your need to grow will generate a desire to break free of limitations. Society tries to confine or divert that urge to break free, channeling it toward something inconsequential like drunkenness, video games, or bungee jumping, but what are these pleasures next to the exuberant expansiveness of real freedom?

To trust pleasure is to controvert norms and beliefs so deep that they are part of our very language. I have already mentioned the equation of “hard” with “good” and “easy” with “bad.” The fact that words like “selfish” and “hedonist” are terms of disparagement speaks to the same basic belief. But the logic of interbeing tells us that among our greatest needs are the needs for intimacy, connection, giving, and service to something greater than oneself. Meeting these needs, then, is the source of our greatest pleasure as well.

Open Discussion

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