Archive for the ‘philosophy’ Category

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

31 July, 2012

It’s been aboot a year since I borrowed Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother from my mother-in-law.

I loved the book, it was well written and fun adventure story, filled with humor, inspiration and real emotion. It’s taken me so long to review it, because I didn’t want to let the book down. I know, silly, huh? Well… read it. It’s awesome.  At least read the chapters “Popo” and “The Birthday Card*”.
First, it made me realize how lazy I am. Of course I want to be a driven parent, to drive my kids to succeed…but I’m lazy. Professor Chua, is in a very competitive and time consuming field, traveled for lectures & seminars, wrote two scholarly books, shuffled her children to many music lessons and competitions, and still had time to walk the dogs.

Her theory, children don’t naturally want to do the difficult. I’ve seen that for potty-training, cleaning room, putting away their bikes, taking dishes to sink…  I don’t know if I’m prepared to make them put in the work so that they excel in school.  Must learn to  be a hard ass. I do not want them to turn out like me.

Something I agree with, and will probably experience first hand, when she writes, “Nothing I hate more than…schools are constantly trying to make learning fun by having parents do all the work.” (pg 64)

I’ve had people ask me, attacking the TigerMom because they heard all the negative press about her, “but are the kids happy?”  Professor Chua counters that with

  • no proof that normal-USA style families are any happier (pg 101).
  • The worst thing you can do is let them give up when it’s difficult (pg 62).
  • That you can enjoy something more if you are good at it (pg 29) .
  • That success brings opportunities which gives you more freedom of choice (pg 132).

 

Seven things Tiger-mothers believe

  1. schoolwork always comes first – I agree
  2. an A-minus is a bad grade – I agree
  3. your children must be two years above their grade in math – I agree
  4. never compliment your children in public
  5. always side with teacher or coach
  6. only do activities that you can win a medal – funny, a co-worker is taking her sun to a cup-stacking championship in Texas
  7. that medal must be gold – disagree

 

Here’s a funny story, about how difficult it is to be good. Her eldest daughter, practiced piano for multiple hours every day for a dozen years… goes to a Professor of Piano at Yale. He listens, then gives her a stack of books to help her with techniques she is deficient in. Laughed.  Getting good is more than Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule, evidently!

I think the best support for her theory, comes from Saturday Night Live Weekend Update… they showed a tape of elementary schools across America singing an uplifting self-confidence-boosting song, and Seth Meyer’s finished with, “…meanwhile, a billion Chinese kids were doing math.”   Or maybe from Lewis Black, showing a video of a kid biking down a hill, up and over a ramp, and smack into the wall of a house. Lewis responded with, “you’re right, we don’t need geometry, with a little more self esteem, that kid could have made it.”

Life is gonna be tough for my childrens. And I gotta do my best to get them prepared. It used to be that a C average and HS diploma could get an American kid a decent job in a factory. Now, we have a couple billion ready to work harder, for more hours, and less pay.

America, we gotta remember how to put in the work in order to be the best. Luckily, we have a few parents like Amy Chua.

*Birthday card…just because something is acceptable gift for your mother when you are four, doesn’t mean it is OK to give her the same quality of gift when you are twelve. You need to put time into it, to show that you care. I am trying to do this…this past mother’s day, I took the childrens and we worked on a poster… not much, but the pre-schoolers did alright for their level. Now if I can be a good father, and encourage them to keep this up for all the following Mother’s Days and Birthdays.

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In regards to getting older

13 October, 2010

I love T.S. Eliot.  I’ve heard it said that sometimes TS can be a bit of a bummer. I love Part Five, of “East Coker” and find it very optimistic, in a roundabout sort of way.

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

I love it. Here we have one of the best poets ever, and he feels like an incompetent hack at his craft. But that’s not the point in art, sport, life, relationship with God. “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”

For me more than twenty years have passed since I became an adult. And even though my body and mind are not as strong or flexible, and I certainly don’t feel any wiser, I just need to keep trying.

Dear Mr Cameron

22 December, 2009

Sir,

I am told there are thousands of languages on earth that are in the process of going extinct. Might I suggest, to you and your ultra-rich colleagues, that next time you need a different language, instead of hiring someone to make one up, why don’t you use a real language that is rare, and going extinct.

UNESCO has a list of 429 languages that have between 1000 – 5000 speakers. That way, Hollywood would be preserving actual cultures, as opposed to homogenizing everything.

How freaking awesome would it be to have nerds going around attempting to speak Koryak, instead of Klingon, Na’vi or Esperanto?  Although, maybe in today’s day-n-age, people prefer to pretend to do something (GuitarHero, RealDoll, Sims, chess,… ) than actually do it.

I know, the special effects be they makeup, digital, or linguistic are there to serve the story. But, my follow up question, and I do not know because I’ve seen neither film, but I have heard that your Avatar has the same plot as Fern Gully, it this true? And nothing wrong with reusing a plot. I hear Shakespeare did it all the time.

rum & coke at the FDA

14 November, 2009

once upon a time, I drank a rum and Coke. It was disgusting and I decided that the best way to enjoy the worlds most popular beverage, is unadulterated Coca-Cola straight from the can. No ice, either, thank you.

Now, the FDA wants to regulate that awful drink. What? you ask. Well, first they’ll come for the come for the Liquid Charge ™…and I suspect that eventually they’ll outlaw the 182 alcohol and coffee drinks .

FDA press release explains their power to regulate:

…a substance added intentionally to food (such as caffeine in alcoholic beverages) is deemed “unsafe” and is unlawful unless its particular use has been approved by FDA regulation, the substance is subject to a prior sanction, or the substance is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS)

I think, using Starbucks as our main argument, that caffeine is Generally Recognized As Safe by our society.

Why the concern? I suspect because some crazy college kids are drinking high energy alcoholic drinks and then acting crazy.

But don’t worry, the a few scientists wrote a letter…the best parts are:

there is emerging evidence that increased exposure to psychoactive drugs in general (including alcohol and caffeine) is associated with an increase in the risk for later drug dependence.”  (Yes, Irish Coffee is a gateway drug. )

The methodological limitations of these studies make extrapolation of the findings very difficult.

Yes, we must protect the college age kids. Well, unless of course they join the military. It amazes me how much trust we put in an 18 year old when she’s paid to carry an M-16, but how little we will trust her two years later when she’s carrying a college textbook.

Yeah…before you know it JackDaniels&Pepsi & Hot Toddy will all be subject to FDA purview.

By the way…I think the ATF’s ban of “flavored” cigarettes is also a horrible idea.

This goes back to one of my core political philosophies:

Not all good ideas are good laws.

“Valiant” by Holly Black

14 August, 2009

I just finished Holly Black’s “Valiant“. Warning, sex & drug use in this story – which makes me wonder, do I want my teens reading this? What is OK for a 14 year old to read? Yes, I realize when I was 14, I had a big potty mouth, but in the sanctioned readings I was given, there was no profanity. Does giving a book was topics you wouldn’t want your kid to do, somehow say, “this is acceptable entertainment,…this is what some people your age do”?

Sure, my kids will be exposed to things…but there are somethings that I don’t want to sanction. For example, if they go to a friend’s house, and eat raw undercooked hamburger…I suspect that won’t be the end of the world. But I would never give my child undercooked hamburger. Or cigarettes. Or alcohol. Or books by James Joyce.

I liked it, but not as much as I enjoyed “Tithe”, at first, I thought that it would be a continuation, but it is a story in the same universe Ms Black has created, but only one character from Tithe shows up, and then only for a few pages. The big climatic fight scene, is one of the better fight scenes I’ve read in a while.

I didn’t see any imagery that really gripped me, however a few quotes to think about:
“She would make all her own decisions now, even if they were ruinous ones. It was the same pleasurable feeling as tearing a piece of paper into tiny, tiny pieces.” (pg 45)  – I’ve witnessed & experienced this, doing something bad, just so you could know that you were in control and calling the shots.

“Everybody hates rats….But what if I told you that there were things out there that think of you like you think of rats?” (pg 55-57)
Well, that’s creepy…we think we’re on top. But what if something else thinks of us as vermin?

“…the real problem with with (video) games was that the player was supposed to try everything.” (pg 91)
And we all thought the problem was the violence, or the images.

breaking and entering

25 July, 2009

…well…I suspect it is time for me to confess. I am a bit racially prejudice. I can only hope that I am less prejudice than my parents, and that my childrens are less prejudice than me. Let me explain… when I see a blues band, or a jazz band, if most of them are white guys, I honor them a little less. Now I know, being a certain color don’t make you a better musician in a particular genre. And, I am happy to say, if it’s classical music, I don’t have preconcieved notions about race and authenticity of performance. But somehow, of some stupid reason, I think that jazz is more real/authentic/better played by a black man.

Reminds me of Sir Charles Barkley, “Only America, where the biggest rapper is white, and the best golfer is black.”

Speaking of race… did y’all catch that? President Obama is trying his best to reform health care. (By the way, can someone explain to me, why Americans spend at least $2000 dollars more per year per person than any other rich country on health care? So, if our system does become European…which may or may not be better…at the very least, we should be saving money. Substantial money. Every year.)  And as a distract the public tangent, President Obama is asked about a breaking-and-entering case.

Long ago, in the wilds of SouthTacoma…there was a girl, A-lee-sha whom I was friends with. One evening, she had locked herself out of her house, and she and her friends didn’t want to stand on the lawn until her mom got home. Using her charms, she convinced me to break into her house. OK, it didn’t take too much convincing, I wanted to be the hero that saved the day. So, I climbed onto the fence, pulled myself onto the roof of the porch, and pryed open her bedroom window.

Luckily, she had neighbors who watched out for her, and when they saw someone crawling into her bedroom, called the cops. Twenty minutes later, the cops showed up, knocked on the door, saw a bunch of teenagers sitting around in a living room chatting. Naturally, A-lee-sha didn’t have any picture I.D., but showed a school bus pass, with her last name, which matched the last name on the phonebill that was in the mail, and also there were half a dozen family photos on the wall. The cops decided A-lee-sha lived there, and left.

Now, the other day, President Obama, demonstrating how much class he has, called the cop that arrested Obama’s friend, Harvard professor Gates, and Obama said in press conference that he, Gates and the police officer had all over-reacted and hoped the three of them could get together at the WhiteHouse for a beer.

I’m glad I voted for Obama.

I disagree, President Sarkozy

3 July, 2009

The French are considering banning the burqa from public places. This is foolish.

I will agree with my president, Barack Obama, who said that “it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practising religion as they see fit—for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear.”

Objections to Objectivism

21 September, 2008

I’m a big fan of the Cato Institute. I don’t always agree with them, but I check them regularly.

The Cato Institute is a big fan of Ayn Rand. And since everyone needs philosophy, I decided, to take a look, and it was nice that Anthem fit in my summertime dystopian kick. At the back of the short novel, is the essentials of “Objectivism” the philosophics viewpoint of Ayn Rand. (I’ll be doing a bit of quoting…)

“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute”

Once asked if she could present the essence of Objectivism while standing on one foot*

  1. “Metaphysics: Objective Reality
  2. Epistemology: Reason
  3. Ethics: Self Interest
  4. Politics: Capitalism”

Translated into familiar terms….

  1. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.
  2. You can’t eat your cake and have it too.
  3. Man is an end in himself.
  4. Give me liberty or give me death.”

More…

Man, is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life.”

Men must deal with one another as traders, giving value for value, by free, mutual consent to mutual benefit. The only system that bars physical force from human relationships is laissez-faire capitalism. Capitalism is a system based on the recognition of individual rights,…in which the only function of government is to protect individual rights, i.e., to protect men from those who initiate the use of physical force.”

So, if I am to read it correctly, as long as you are happy with your free will choice, then you are OK…so, under Objectivism, it is OK to

  • father 8 kids by 8 women and not support them
  • divorce your wife who’s in the cancer ward
  • divorce your wife when she’s “old”
  • ignore a drowning man
  • not take the risk of immunizations, and rely on the herd immunity provided by others

If Objectivism is all about self interest, that seems very childish. My children, are selfish, and get very upset when they don’t get what they want, when they want it, especially if the other one has it.  But according to AynRand, when they are trying to achieve their own happiness, they are being very moral.

Evidently, monopolies aren’t a problem. I suspect fire departments should be avoided by the government.

The Hero for AynRand is the individual. But I believe that many of our greatest achievements as humans come from team work, think, the symphony, the sychronized swim team, movies, buildings, the US Constitution, jazz, wiping out small-pox, democracy,…

But, when I think about it, maybe, I am a bit of an objectivist when it comes to the government. I don’t think we should implement policy A, because it is the right thing to do. I think that the US government should implement policy A, because of the benefits.

  • Fire department, sort of like a non-profit insurance company to help me if I might need it, and, help my neighbor, if they might need it to also reduce the risk of my house burning down.
  • Subsidizing the buses, especially important during rush hour, because less cars on road, means everyone can drive faster, (I think of this when I see three buses filled with 50+ people each infront of me on the freeway. What if instead of those three buses, there were 150 additional cars in front of me?)
  • Public health, I don’t want poor diseased children coughing on my childrens.
  • Public education. Teaching everyone to read is good for society.
  • No monopolies. Because when there is no competition, then the business can charge what ever.

I want to comment on something about how big business are about to get a huge government bailouts, because “they are too big to fail.” That, I think is immoral. I think these bailouts only encourage risky behavior. If you want to play wild and go for great rewards, fine, but be prepared to suffer the consequences if you fail.

But for individuals, I think that it is better “To love your neighbor as yourself.” That, I believe is the highest moral purpose in life.

*I think it is great to be able to define your philosophy standing on one foot. I would reply:

  1. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

I think Miles Davis would say

  1. Play and pray.
  2. Pray and play.

(more…)