Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Fairness in exam

Recently there is a hooha in the primary 6 Science examination in Singapore (PSLE). Some students sob while doing the paper with ‘difficult’ questions as complained by these students and their parents. For me, there is nothing much to worry about when there is a very difficult question in the examination paper, because probably most will lose the marks for the question. Similarly, there is not much to cheer about when there is a very easy question because almost all will score the full mark for that one. Thus, I suspect that the problem lies in the attitude that they believe and expect full marks if they have put in the sufficient amount of preparation. Thus, for those who have put in more than sufficient efforts and who believe that they are entitled to full marks if there is no fault from them during the examination, they probably have felt being cheated or the situation is very unfair to them.

Should the examination system be perfect with total fairness? I prefer not. Considering the education in school as the preparation process for students to survive in society, it should not differ from the actual world too much. The real world is not fair, surely not in perfect state. Although the school should provide a protected environment for students to experiment and explore and learn, it should not be too protected and over perfected such that students will find it quite tough when they eventually have to live in the outside world.

Friday, October 1, 2004

Read the product manual

Nowadays, almost all products come with some manuals, guides, explanations on how to use the product correctly and/or how the product functions. Even though many times we don’t look at them, most of us should agree that the correct way is to read them to understand the product better so that we can get the most out of it and thus increase its worth against the price we paid.

However, ironically, many people don’t bother to or even never ever have the idea to learn more about a product (try to figure out what is it by the time you finish reading this paragraph) that everyone uses and which is being used the most compared to any other product we buy. Furthermore, this product is very expensive, or actually, it is still un-buyable. Many of its parts are not replaceable. Even if it is replaceable, the supply source for parts is very rare and limited. Yet, some people even purposely use it in a known harmful way. Sigh…

So, what is this ‘product’? Have you any answers? If you have only one answer, then you might have thought of the same ‘product’ as me. The product is body. Haven’t we been using it for the longest time, all the time? Isn’t it the most precious product that we own? Aren’t there many who purposely cause harm to it in exchange for short-term fake benefits? Sigh, sigh, sigh …

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Neural networks

I just read an article about the up bringing of children. There is a discussion about the two extremes, caning and reasoning, and also some mixtures of the two. I might have mentioned before, another article I read some months back stating that it might not be so much dependent on the method, but the consistency of the rule or standard that underlines the method. For example, when on different occasions, a child acts in a particular desirable or undesirable way and he/she receive different reactions or responses from the parents, the child will be confused, find contradictions and inconsistencies.

Actually, many computer scientists and engineers should be very familiar with this phenomenon. For a number of decades, artificial neural networks (ANN) were implemented using mathematical models. On class of these ANN needs to be trained in order to perform in an acceptable way. The training effectiveness depends on the training data. If there were substantial portion of the training data has error, the ANN will probably not able to fulfill in role.

Now, we have to know that ANN is an artificial version of the neural network that scientists found in brains. I agree that brain is not the whole of a human being and therefore let alone the neural network in our brain. However, if the neural network in a child brain is fed with wrong training data by giving them different or even contradictory reactions and responses to the same behavior, then the that neural network will not be trained properly. This would result in the child behaving in a way that we label as undesirable.

So, may be some engineers and some psychiatrists should start working together for a better parental guideline in the up bringing of children.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Focus on the advantages

I think fairness exist. Or should I say relativity? Not too sure. It seems like every feature we have in us gives us some advantages and at the same time some disadvantages. In the past few days, I came across two articles that reflected the above.

First one is a study by some scientist about an already passed away artist. The research results argue that the artist had lazy eye based on the analysis of his paintings. He further hypothesizes that many other great artists could also have this problem. However, from another perspective, he indicated that this ‘problem’ could have made them great artists as it is easier for them to paint the 3D world on to a 2D plane.

Second one is a story about a Japanese boy who had lost his left arm. Despite of this, he still very much wanted to learn Judo. Later, a Judo Master accepted him as disciple. Many months passed by and he had only practiced one particular Judo skill. He once asked the Master shouldn’t he be taught of other skills? The Master told him that this one skill is enough. One day, he was sent to participate in a competition. Initially, with only one skill, he didn’t have the confidence. Still, he managed to clear the rounds and entered final. After wining many opponents who were more muscular then him, and eventually, he was the champion in the competition. On the way home, he wonders why he could win? So he asked the Master. The Master explained that the Judo skill you had mastered is very difficult to be overcome. In order to counter your skill is to grab your left arm. Thus, your missing left arm was a great advantage to you in the matches.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Influence or be influenced

Sigh, another close to a month gap between blog entries. Yesterday watched the first few minutes of a recorded speech. The speaker talks about during the time when millions of Jewish people were killed by the Germans, some of them alien themselves from those who were more likely to be killed by befriending with the Germans, they could be spared. However, gradually, this group of people went on the same destiny as the others.

The point he wanted to bring across is that in this current world when there are unrest and horrible killings going on, we should perceive such situations as our problems and put in effort to solve it. Otherwise, just like those Jews who had thought the killings of other Jews were not their problems and just tried to save themselves by lowering their risk of being killed, eventually, the evil environment grew and affected them. Similarly, when we watch news nowadays on terrible happenings around the world, we should have the attitude and mindset thinking that these are our problems and seek ways and opportunities to help to end such evil acts, directly or indirectly.

Similarly, I hope parents, who tell children not to go to certain places that are perceived as bad, can do more than that. Consider telling your children to influence other the same; discouraging other adults to visit such places; giving feedbacks to such places the wishes for them to remove the ‘bad’ impression by the general public; etc. Otherwise, if such ‘bad’ places were allow to flourish, very soon one day, there might have only such ‘bad’ places to go to!

Friday, August 27, 2004

pattern recognition or maths

Recently a friend says that his six year-old child knows the answer for 100+1, 100+2, 100+8, etc. but doesn't know the answer for 99+1. It seems that the child can recognize the pattern when a '1' follow by two '0's, a '+' symbol and a number of 1 or 2 digits, the answer can be formed by replacing 1 or 2 zeros from the right with the 1 or 2 digits on the right of the symbol '+'. Then, it became clear why he doesn't know the answer for 99+1 as this is a totally different pattern. This seems to be an unknown/unsolved problem for many students, who may score high grades for mathematics in tests and examinations by similar pattern recognition as above, without proper understanding of the mathematics concepts.

From my tutoring experiences, girls tend to use pattern recognitions more than guys. If this is not corrected, they will find mathematics very difficult by the time they reach secondary 2 when the patterns become much more complicated and thus requires many exceptions to their pattern recognition rules.

I am quite against the use of phrases based on pattern recognition, such as “canceled off the x in the numerator and denominator in a fraction” and “bring the x over to the right hand side”.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Hidden conflict

Is conflict good? Surely not. Harmony is good. However, sometime it seems that conflict brings problems to the surface and thus can then be looked into and solved promptly. I suggest the term "visible conflict" for situation where the parties previously having "hidden conflict" express their views. In this sense, I would say "visible conflict" is better than "hidden conflict". "Hidden conflict" might be taken as "fake harmony", which should be sub-productive and potentially dangerous because the longer a conflict is hidden/suppressed, the more serious the situation will be when it becomes visible eventually.

By the same argument, to resolve conflict should mean to eliminate it and achieve harmony. However, many times we wrongly think that conflict has been resolved by hidding/suppressing it. For example, when two kids argue, the elder, by power and authority, instructs them to stop arguing. They might have no choice but to adhere to the elder and stop arguing. This situation is a state with "hidden conflict" or "fake harmony", while the conflict is not clearly unresolved but rather just being hidden or suppressed.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Living for the greater good

Should have know this phrase long time ago, but better late then never... The phrase is "Living for the greater good." Previously, "Living for the sake of others" are commonly used. I think 'the greater good' is so much better and more appropriate than 'the sake of others.' Most leaders do feel responsible for their followers and thus in a way, they are living for the sake of their followers. Then, if two such leaders or groups are in conflict, they might end up fighting and this is bad. Still, aren't they living for the sake of others? However, by the standard of 'living for the greater good,' then something bad like fighting shouldn't be resulted, since this is surely not for greater good. The greater can be the 2 groups together. May be, the 'others' need to be quantified as 'other at the same level'. Eg. as a leader, representing a group, 'others' will mean other groups, but not others in the same group. Still, "Living for the greater good" is much clearer.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

To begin is absolutely needed for success

Almost a month since the last entry... still nothing concrete in my thoughts to put here... So, just throw in some nice quotes that I had collected and been randomly SMSing on a daily basis... A few about starting/beginning: R u in earnest? Seize this moment! Boldness has genius/power/magic. Engage, mind grows heated. Begin, work will be completed. John Anster, Faust; If you could get up the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed. David Viscott;
Winning starts with the beginning. Robert H. Schuller; Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Francis of Assisi.

Friday, July 16, 2004


Today heard a description about the horoscope with the most theories. SAGITTARIUS! That's me, and how true. I like to think, rationalize. After living these few decades, looking at myself, I agree with the description of Sagittarius. Now I wonder what are the characteristics of Capricorn, since my birthday is very near the end of Sagittarius.

I do believe there’s a link between character and the day, time of birth, the name, etc., just the way a person’s character is related to his/her upbringing style/environment/etc. However, I don’t think there is any between character and the name of the horoscope, the stars forming the horoscope, the name of the ‘animal’ of the year in Chinese horoscopes, etc.

Similarly, I do believe there’s logic in the concept of ‘fengshui’. However, I would say no one correctly, exactly or fully understand everything about ‘fengshui’.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Butterfly effect

Few weeks back I watched the movie 'Butterfly Effect'. In the study of ecology, scientists have also learnt that minute changes will bring about huge effects. Similarly, in many nature parks, signboards were put up to instruct tourists not to feed the wild animals to avoid undesirable effects on the species. Today, in two conversations, some friends have noticed that young men in some countries are less manly. A conjecture comes to my mind, is it probably that most man in Singapore went through the army training at a young age of about 18 serves the function of boosting the manly characteristics of men here?

On some further thoughts, it seems that some evolutional changes that have been happening for at least some decades should be seriously studied. As more women step into the fields of men and as the living environment become safer, the need for muscles and those capabilities once mainly or solely belong to men reduces. This results in an environment where men are more unlikely to play the full role of the male species, in terms of protecting the females, being the bread-earner, making all decisions, etc. As a result, women are becoming less womanly and men are becoming less manly.

I suspect this could be a major reason for the low rates of successful marriages in many modern societies. As men and women not playing the proper roles of husband and wife, respectively, the relationship within families could not be properly formed and grow.

Feeding the hungry wild animals may appear as an act of kindness, but the effect on these animals could be disastrous, unless the importance of the animals to acquire their own survival skills is being re-enforced. Similarly, for women to be able to survive by themselves and contribute more to societies after the expansion of their capabilities may appear good, but this might have caused men to be less manly. It is as if the magnetic bonding force between two magnets weaken is due to the north and south poles of the magnet becoming less ‘northly’ and ‘southly’ respectively. Relating this to the case of a family, the bonding force between husband and wife would be weakened due to the husband and wife becoming less manly and womanly, respectively.

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Outside marriage pregnancy

This evening we have some discussions about outside marriage pregnancy. I was pondering on the possibility of making it an illegal or punishable act. Still thinking... the argument could be similar to theft with a difference where the victim is someone to be born. Many acts are considered a crime because it causes harm to others or the society. Pregnancy outside of marriage do cause harm to the society, and people such as the to be born baby (obviously), the future/present husband/wife/children/parents. Could it be because of the common pitiful feelings towards the pregnant woman? Shouldn’t be since we punish those who survived their attempted suicide.

From another angle, deep inside our pure conscience, we know that acts such as stealing, robbery, murder, sex not between husband/wife and etc. are wrong and therefore society should have the proper mechanisms to educate, prevent and punish accordingly.

Thursday, July 1, 2004


There is the chinese idiom 一山不容二虎 (literally: two tigers cannot be accommodated in one mountain). Usually, the immediate conclusion is that one must leave and the other, probably the stronger one stays. This is clearly not the best solution. Wouldn’t it be better if the two can join forces? However, it is quite impossible for the two to have the same authority and power. Thus, in order for them to join force, they must agree on some hierarchy between them with the understanding that this for the betterment of the whole.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Ideal is not ideal

Life is interesting because it is not straightforward. We want to be in the ideal state, but being in the ideal state is probably not ideal. It's like many phenomena in nature. Being in equilibrium is like being in the ideal state. When there is a pressure difference in the atmosphere, the air moves so as to reduce the pressure difference and we call this movement ‘wind’. However, if this equilibrium is maintained, then there will be no wind, which is not nice, or lifeless. If the pressure difference were allowed to build up, then the wind that is formed might be too strong and become an unfriendly wind. Thus, it is not about reaching and remaining at the ideal state but the gentle oscillations about the ideal state at comfortable amplitude of oscillations.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


The word 'suffering' was mentioned on Sunday. Am I suffering? By what standard do I measure or compare against? Comparing to those starving in Africa, how can I say that I am suffering? However if I ask is my conscience at ease? Am I able to answer ‘yes’ comfortably? Then, if my conscience is not at ease, how can I say that I am not suffering? In a way, if we are not able to live a life of the highest moral standard, our conscience will not be at ease. Thus, deep inside us, we are actually suffering.

Then, there are probably two main ways to reduce the suffering, by living a life of the highest moral standard, or by ignoring the voices from our conscience.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Perceived reality vs true reality

Sometime, it may be nice to question if some of our perceived likes and dislikes are truly what we like and dislike. For many years, I thought I don't like to eat vegetables. One day, I asked myself why don't I like to eat vegetables. Then I realized that it is not I myself who doesn't like to eat vegetables, but probably, I was somehow influenced by my family members that I don't like to eat vegetables. All along at home I only use spoon during meal time. Spoon is not suitable to scoop vegetables. Thus, I tend not to scoop vegetables. This was observed and concluded by my family members that I don't like to eat vegetables. Then, quite often they make comments about me not liking vegetables and try to encourage me to eat more. Eventually, I was influenced to belief that indeed I don't like to eat vegetables.

Similarly, when a small boys and girls are 'naughty' from our perspective, I think it is bad to mention to them that they are naughty. If the 'naughty' act or intention is way above their existing intelligence, I would say that they were not 'smart' enough to want to be naughty, but probably they thought behaving in such ways could fulfill certain of their desires. Isn't this call innocent? However, if we indicate to them that they were naughty, in a way, they will learn this concept of being naughty and soon gain the intelligence to be naughty, intentionally.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Give and take actions

Today the company Informatics announces the resignation of its CEO. I did a Google search on the new CEO. Interestingly, he treats a company in a similar approach as a doctor treats a patient. I also have similar thoughts. In the chinese medicine, it stresses on the smooth flow of 'qi' and 'xue'. In economics, I feel that it is important to have the smooth flow of resources. In enviroment, an important issue is the smooth flow of H2O, heat, etc. (just watched the 'Day after tomorrow' movie recently) Between a couple, communications, or a smooth flow of love is essential.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Generation gap

Was with a bunch of kids last Saturday. I wonder the term 'generation gap' is a modern term or not. Imagine during the ancient times when there is probably no changes in the lifestyle between the time a grandfather was 12 years old and the time his great grandson is 12 years old, did people then have any idea of this term 'generation gap'? May be, but surely not as intense as today. The world and culture is changing so fast. It is very easy for two persons of a age difference of 10 or 5 years to feel the gap between them. What about parents? Some parents tried to close the gap by becoming friends to their children. It is not easy, and I also wonder, when the parents became friend of the kids, who then is their parents? Any suggestions, people?
I am considering these:
- build good bonding between a group of families of different generations, then both the children and can learn from the slightly elder ones. Because some practical advices that work 5 years back could already have become outdated.
- the elder ones cannot assume that the younger are experiencing and growing in a similar way as them, and therefore cannot expect the younger to understand them by default. Thus the elder ones, other than trying to listen to the younger, also need to tell and explain to them what happened during their times. Because this background knowledge helps the younger to better understand the advices and instructions given by the elder ones.
- traditional and conservative practices may not be good or practical in the present times. However, many new concepts and ideas are also worse than the traditional and conservative practices. So, don't blindly follow any of the traditional, conservative, new concepts, new ideas. Study and analyze the various practices according to some fundamentally correct principles (the pure conscience in each one of us knows what's that) and adopt the right way.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Ideal workplace

Have to spend more time closer to nature. I was enclosed by air-conditional filtered air almost the whole day. My ideal workplace: deep within forest or high up on mountain with an effective power source supplying a notebook with broadband communication to the internet. Won't I feel lonely, you may ask. Don't worry, when this is achievable, I'll not be the first one doing it and probably there'll be some other people around me in the forest or on top of the mountain.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Endless cycle can have a beginning

Yesterday in a TV drama, a kid asked the adult relatives, "What is life?" Most responded without any answer until an aunt expresses her feeling by the illustration of the life cycle of water, rain from the sky ends up in the sea, sea water evaporates up to become clouds in the sky, clouds turn in to rain and falls on to the earth, and the cycle went on. From this natural phenomenon, I would like to mention two points.

For those who study ecology, the idea of cycle is very clear. A balance or harmonious cycle is very important. Now, most countries have strict custom control on the import of living creatures into their countries. However, this idea has not been formally brought to the other fields, especially in the manufacturing and invention field. When a new invention is being developed or a new product is being designed, the inventor and designer should include the consideration of keeping harmony. Is the raw materials used being threatened or a feasible way is proposed to maintain the amount of such raw materials? Is the by products or the item after its life time able to return to the nature properly. Sad to say, for so many years, especially in the recent century where technology advances greatly, almost all the products created are without the above considerations.

Such seemingly endless cycles might still stop when the harmony could not be maintained or when there is too great a disturbance. Thus, although it is possible for endless cycles to exist, the possibility for it to stop also exists. By similar reasoning, we could not say for sure that there isn't a starting point for such cycles. An example, the CPU fetch-execute cycle in computers. If the power supply can be eternal, then this cycle might also be endless. However, we know that there is a point at some earlier time this cycle started.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Names reflect what is being valued

I like the names of some company that highlight the concept of solution provider. Recently, more and more I feel that 'problem oriented' is not a good way. Instead, it should be the reasons that brought about the problem being the main concern. Thus, we should be 'solution oriented', but must be clear that the solution is not to solve the problem, but to satisfy the reasons or needs that is behind the problems.

An example, if there is a part of a road that is not allowed to U-turn, but many vehicles do so. If this is viewed as a problem to the authority as the law is not being followed, the solution could be to set up some structure to block vehicle from doing so at that spot. If this is viewed as there exist the need for vehicles to U-turn, the solution could be to provide directions for the vehicles to proper alternatives that has the similar cost and outcome as illegally U-turn at that spot.

Between western and traditional medicine approaches, western is more 'problem oriented' that reduce the symptoms or the measured indicator of adnormalities, while traditional medicine looks at the status of the health and provides what is needed to achieve balance and harmony for the prevention of illness.
Hope the new look is good. Spent some time last few days on adjusting the template, thus used up the time to post.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Do whichever is more important

Few days back, I came across a comment made by a mother on her disagreement of another mother's decision of going out to work. Few weeks back, I realised that a friend who has 4 kids is baby sitting a baby for another friend, while she works outside. Fundamentally, I feel that parents' main responsibility is the upbringing of their children. However, if they are also holding an above family level role that benefit the larger society, then I feel that they should not give up their societal role and use 100% of the time for their family. Thus, the issue is about how to live a contributing life. Considering the great contribution in properly raising up children, I would like to suggest all working mother and girls/women who will become mother to reconsider. Is the time and effort spent on raising children or the preparation of it sufficient.

Similarly, for working fathers who claimed to be too tired to deal with their children after work is not proper. Between the role of providing financial support and the role of parenting, I think the latter should be more valued.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Live by the rules

I was away from internet for a week. Just returned. Had a good time for self reflections and realignment. What kind of life should we live? I feel that the concept of eternity is very important. Since young, we were told to follow rules. However, many times once we thought we were outside the boundaries of the rules, we stopped following rules. The boundary could be geographical such as within a campus or country, or time limited such as before certain ages. There are rules without boundary. However, without the concept of eternity, all rules are bounded in time. Considering our eternal existence even after physical death, it is important for us to live properly.

An analogy: A secondary school student who understands the effects of his behavior matters long after graduation will be more serious in his study life than another who doesn't or understands otherwise. If our existence is temporal, it is eventually pointless to live a proper life.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Instead of shouting with raised voice

Today, at a friend house, some children from a few families were there having fun. At one stage, their game was throwing of toys at one another. I asked them who is the eldest. They were quite happy to answer my question, probably 'age' is a concept of direct concern to them as each day/month/year is a much more significant growth for them than adults. However, I couldn't get the eldest attention because he doesn't know me well.

Anyway, I managed to talk to one who is the eldest at home and his younger brother was also in the game of throwing toys. I asked him if he has such game at home and he said no. Then I asked if throwing toys is good and he said no. Then he was asked to tell his younger brother not to throw. By then, some other children might have heard my questions and have similar answers and the group went away to their next episode of fun.

However, the toys were everywhere in the room by then. So I asked again if this were the situation at his home, what should he do. He understood and started to put back the toys into a big box for toys. The younger brother just naturally follow and the two have the room tidy up shortly.

I respect the good up bringing efforts by the parents of these two children. Without that foundation, probably one of the mother has to tidy up the mess. As to why not me doing the tidy up, the previous posting about problems and opportunities has the reason.

Children influence one another when in a group. Keeping children from bad company is a poor strategy, while empowering children to influence other to do good is a better way.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

More research needed on family

There are different levels of developments in different fields. One important factor is the magnitude of influence. Business related fields have this factor. There are many theories and studies into running a business well and also on good practices in investments, management, etc. On the other hand, issues on the family and interpersonal relationship level do not receive as much studies. So, the idea come to my mind, there should be good theories and solutions from the business world that can apply well in the family and personal level. This is similar to the concept of the recent years of applying the Sunzi Art of War in business, since war was already very well studied in Sunzi's time.

For example, during the last few downturn years, "turning difficulties into opportunities" is used by good business people during these times. At the family and personal level, this was not so much applied (illustrated in my previous entry about kids and toys).

Another example, diversifying your investments to lower risk. At the employee level, rarely few thought of that. Most employees have all their eggs in one basket, one single job, and some worse, one single skill. It should be better to diversify their income source, by having multiple skills, jobs, providing other services, keep looking for venues of income and learn and make correct decisions.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Seeing opportunities in "problems"

Few days back a friend shared with me some of his strategies in raising kids. Intentionally, all his children share the same room even though there are enough rooms for each. Obviously, those who sleep later will be disturbing those who sleep earlier. This situation is a 'problem' and 'solutions' such as arranging for each child to have their own room. However, to my friend, this is an opportunity to educate the kids about being considerate.

Yes, I agree very much with him. Many a time, too easily we classify many situations as 'problems' while it would be much better to see them as 'opportunities'. Thus, 'solving' these 'problems' is actually 'avoiding' or 'wasting' these 'opportunities'. A common example, when two kids fight for a toy, an easy 'solution' is to buy two toys for the two kids. Apparently, the problem of 'fighting' is 'solved'. However, this natural opportunity for them to learn and experience the consequences of 'fighting' and/or to build up the self-control ability to refrain from fighting is wasted.

Then, hours later, this question came up in my mind: "If someone invented a device/method such that new born infants will not cry for milk in the middle of the night, is it good?" It might be a solution in giving the parents a better night sleep, but the bonding between parents and child would be weaker. What about pampers vs. cloth, walking helper vs. trial and error, Panadol vs. self-recovery, etc. The point is not going to any of the extremes, but be aware of the bigger picture and the pros and cons of each decisions and approaches.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Respond wisely to changes

Today there is a discussion on preparation for marriage with some friends. Basically, an important requirement for a successful marriage is the mature character of the couple. The maturity of a person is very much dependent on his/her up bringing. Then, I would say that parents should be the main role in preparing their children for marriage. It should be a life long process that start at the very begining of a child's life till his/her marriage, rather than through some kind of short pre-marriage courses provided by some organizations.

Actually, if a child lives with parents day in day out, in the ten over years during the up bringing of the child, quite surely that they must have talked and discussed about mature character and marriage and parents would have given their advices.

Quite often we heard the comment '...never in history, ... develops so fast...' with the focus on the benefits of the speedy developments. Not too much attention has been on the side or negative effects it has brought about that need to be resolved. Relating to the above discussion, the fast changes of family lifestyle in modern days had many children grew up without spending substantial quality time with parents. Thus, it is likely tht many of these children grew up without a good knowledge of what is maturity and how to build a successful marriage.

Therefore, we need to be aware of the side effects of modernization on us and respond to them wisely.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Don't reduce your love to parents after knowing God

I was reminded about a concept that I think was misunderstood by many. (Before I begin, I should say that I am not too familiar with the Bible and I am talking about the concept here, i.e. not about the actual meaning of the verse.)

In the Bible Matthew 10:37 "Jesus said to his apostles: ‘Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; ..." Initially, this gives me the impression that we have to love our parents lesser so as to fulfill the condition that we do not love our parents more than Jesus. I am not surprise if there were many who felt likewise.

Now I understand it as follows: Assuming that we naturally love our parents very much and loving them is correct, without doubt. Thus, the idea of reducing our love for them is not an acceptable concept or option. In this case, the only way to satisfy the request of not loving our parent more than Jesus will be to strive to increase our love for Jesus.

In some way, this is similar to the common behavior of choosing the easy way out. Last time, some how I avoided from being rich and was having low level of satisfactions. This is the easy way out for living 'comfortably' by lowering our standard of 'comfort'. By a similar logic as above, now I set higher standard of comfort and strive for it, by putting more effort into achieving that. In doing so, I foresee that the overall standard of comfort in a society will be raised and everyone benefits. In 'easy way out' case, I'll remain as comfortable through illusion and this will not benefit those around me.

Greedy algorithm

In computer algorithm design, there is this term 'greedy algorithm'. Greedy algorithms are usually among the first few proposed by the pioneers. The main characteristic of greedy algorithm is to achieve the best results in each and every steps. In this way, we will have the best result at the end. The problem is that this is very expensive. Usually, it is only the final state that we are interested, i.e. regardless of the intermediate state, as long as the final state is the best will do. Thus, 'smarter' algorithms will achieve the same best result at the final step in a shorter time. (Those who have studied sorting algorithms will surely see the connection)

In layman term, I think 'short-sighted' (in chinese: 眼光短浅) is similar to the idea behind greedy algorithm. In some of those 'smarter' algorithms, it is not easy to understand the purpose and the direction the each step is leading to. In real life, choosing the obvious best option at the present moment is like the greedy algorithm, and might lead you to the best desired outcome, but that will be costly. Sometimes, when we think a decision is seemingly poor or even stupid, try to stretch the time longer and we might understand the cleverness in such decisions.

Presently in Singapore, the government is headache about the low birth rate problem. This is not a health issue, but a social one. The more complex issue behind is younger generation decision of not getting marriage and/or intention to have very few children or even none. The obvious best option for a young working adult is to stay single base on financial and lifestyle concerns. However, if we look further, and wider, I believe that marriage and parenthood are very benefitial to us as human, although we may be temporarily become poorer financially and lesser personal time. I guess the question is, do we want our contributions to be limited by time or be potentially eternal through bringing up a good lineage?

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Changing is not necessarily improving

Yesterday, had a short conversation with a friend and mentioned the idea that everything has its pros and cons. Many time when we gave up on one thing to avoid the current problems and took up another, we ended up facing another set of problems.

For example, a friend who stopped being a research fellow and took up lecturer appointment. When he was a research fellow, he has all the time to concentrate on doing research work but do not have the authority to direct a research team. When he became a lecturer, he got the authority to direct research, but now most of the time he was occupied with administrative and teaching tasks.

In some situation, giving up is perceived as a bad choice, such as giving up building a marriage, i.e. divorce. Personally, I would like to say that giving up should not be a choice, but this seems too simple for our complicated world. Instead, I would want to highlight the attitude when we decided to give up on something. Before thinking about giving up, one should check if he/she has made sufficient efforts within ability to improve the situation.

When making the decision to give up, one should not feel relieved but feel sorry for the decision and learn from the event so as to prevent it from happening again or be more prepared if the same issues arrises again. After giving up and took up or enter another situation, still be constantly reminded about the event, the lesson learnt and keep a look out for any chance to resolve/overcome the issues that caused the event.

Thus, cherish and appreciate the present, recognize the pros and cons, respond accordingly to achieve the best results, don’t envy the seemingly greener grass on the other side but work on it to have greener grass on your territory.

Friday, May 21, 2004


Skip this post which contains a list of glossary terms. This post will be updated as and when there are new glossary terms to be added.

Broadband: The term Broadband is generally accepted to mean Fast digital access to the Internet. [Source: Black Widow Web Weavers]

Butterfly Effect: The flapping of a single butterfly's wing today produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. Over a period of time, what the atmosphere actually does diverges from what it would have done. So, in a month's time, a tornado that would have devastated the Indonesian coast doesn't happen. Or maybe one that wasn't going to happen, does. (Ian Stewart, Does God Play Dice? The Mathematics of Chaos, pg. 141) [Source: Chaos Theory: A Brief Introduction]

CPU: Central Processing Unit; (computer science) the part of a computer (a microprocessor chip) that does most of the data processing. [Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University]

Fetch-execute cycle: The sequence of actions that a
CPU performs to execute each machine code instruction in a program.
At the beginning of each cycle the CPU presents the value of the program counter on the address bus. The CPU then fetches the instruction from main memory (possibly via a cache and/or a pipeline) via the data bus into the
instruction register. [Source: The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © 1993-2004 Denis Howe]

Greedy algorithm: An algorithm that always takes the best immediate, or local, solution while finding an answer. Greedy algorithms find the overall, or globally, optimal solution for some optimization problems, but may find less-than-optimal solutions for some instances of other problems. [Source: Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures]

Qi4: Usually translated as ‘energy’. Qi moves, transforms, protect, holds and warms everything in our body. [Source: Glossary of Chinese terms by College of Integrated Chinese Medicine]

SunZi's Art of War is written by SunWu and is set in the final years of the Spring and Autumn Period(770-476BC). It is not only the oldest Chinese military work in existence but is the oldest work of military theory in the world, well-known for a long time in the history of the military academy both in China and abroad.
SunWu styled himself ChangQing. Zi is the laudatory title for man in ancient China. Therefore, SunWu was known as SunZi. SunZi is not only an outstanding military genius but came first on the list of military strategists in Chinese history. His standing in military science is similiar to that of Confucius(Sage) in Confucianism. Hence, we may say that SunZi is the Military Sage of China. [Source: LeeHong's Page - SUNZI's Art of War]

Theory: The philosophical explanation of phenomena, either physical or moral. [Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.]

Theorem: An idea that is demonstrably true or is assumed to be so. [Source: The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary. Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.]

Xue3: Blood is a Substance that nourishes; moistens; and houses the Shen. [Source: Glossary of Chinese terms by College of Integrated Chinese Medicine]

Explaining the blog's name - "nature"

Following the natural trend, next I shall talk about the word 'nature' in the title. Nature refers to the original state before any human interference. Mankind is special because we can respond, while all other creatures only react. If there were no existence of man, then all things would be in harmony because they interact and react among each other according to the laws and principles exactly. Mankind, with the extra ability to respond, has not been able to act in full accordance with these laws and principles, because for some reason, we do not have clear idea about these laws and principles. Thus, a way to study and learn these is to go back and observe the nature. Nature refers to both the universe outside ourselves and our conscience deep within our heart/mind that is at similar level as our instinct, which are inbuilt in us.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Explaining the blog's name - "back"

If anyone is wondering why 'back' in the title 'back2nature', actually even if none bothers, I would like to briefly explain. I believe living is to develop and move forward, but in a purposeful way. However, many developments were intended without a clear and good purpose. Thus, the need to go back and reconsider now and then if we are heading at the correct direction or not.


Hi, I'm a guy who like to think and hope to share my thoughts with you.

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