Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Virality

Gone is the cycles, virality is the new trend these days. In recent years, we do see a viral trend comes in once awhile and takes the social medias by storm.

The most recent viral trend, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is for a great way to spread awareness as I wasn't aware of this hugely horrifying disease before. It all started with the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg whom I first watched. He then tagged Bill Gates who can afford a creative challenge reply. The trend went on and spread wildly to celebrities, athletics, and general public.

I watched a touching video of a confession of victim where ALS runs in his blood. Shortly after that video, I made a donation. The Ice Bucket Challenge made an instantaneous impact, short yet powerful, simple yet successful. My sincere prayers to the ALS research team to solve this disease, for the victims deserve no further pain.

However, I wish the impact wasn't temporary or people doing it for the sake of joining the bandwagon. The world needs to understand that ALS is not the only cause that needs attention and awareness. Pouring icy cold water probably is not even 1/100 of what the patients are feeling. To understand how one feels, it is probably more practical to volunteer for a cause to understand and help the cause.

Thinking back about other viralities, The Harlem Shake came into mind. It was probably a year ago where groups of people make a short dance video of The Harlem Shake. The 30 seconds video spread from group of friends, to offices and to universities. The Harlem Shake was fun, but other than fun, there is probably no meaning behind it. After a year, it was forgotten.

I have a habit of commemorate something in the form of anything. Recent years, I take photos of bits of pieces of my life and uploaded it on Facebook. To me, it reminds me of what I have done, with whom and where I was at that point of time. In 2012, I jot down 366 moods into a line graph, just to see how I fared for the year. Well, like all years, a roller coaster ride.


The next viral video is not difficult: Giyomi which was downright annoying. I have nothing to elaborate on this.

As a firm believer of Symbolic Interactionism, I attach meaning to almost every single thing. It does drive me crazy sometime, but what I do hope for from the viral trend of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, do seek to understand the meaning behind the challenge and be sincere about it. And also, to remember it and probably to remind yourself that you are one of the lucky bunch who should help the unfortunate not just through this viral trend, but on other platforms and with larger scale of commitment.



Love,
Wen Xin

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Week at a Glance


It's Andrew Leigh again. Of almost similar speech as the previous session, but added with more thoughts by this respectable politician. This time, he reminded me about the role of luck, comparative advantage and the unexpected consequences in life. Disasters can happen at the wrong time as they compete for media coverage. Some issues can be left overshadowed by the Olympics hype or some celebrity's brawl.

Economics can't explain everything but it can explain most things. Same goes to physical sciences, knowledge is growing and there will be times that things are wrong. It is not difficult to acknowledge and move on.

One asked Leigh about his university life, he encouraged critical thinking and practical learning, but not just theoretical studying. University should be a place to test and try ideas. Fortunately, economics encourage that. We could try playing economics in every conversation.

Some quotes are, a dollar makes different impact to different people and don't give power to the bad guy. Well, the bad guy gets the power because the good guy doesn't want power.


The ANU College of Business and Economics organised the Trevor Swan Distinguished Lecture, presented by Nobel Laureate Professor Edward C Prescott on Neoclassical Growth Theory: From Swan to now. It was a great honour to be present in a room with a Nobel Prize winner, Trevor Swan's descendants and some prominent figures in the college.

While Prescott lecture is not something I can catch up with due to the unfamiliarity of the Macroeconomics history, but it does spark an interest in me to understand the concepts. More interestingly, Prescott is convincing with supporting facts and research, addressing stages by stages on the state of economy. "We are learning so much and there are so much more to be learned. There are so many problems out there. Simplify down and try to show views on the question."


The next day, I went to a lecture to see Prescott once again. To my surprise, this session is far more inspiring than the lecture yesterday. The lecturer, Timo Henckel shed some light on Bob Gregory, who is an economist who is interested in everything and been to everywhere, he doesn't specialises in a single thing. Now that's inspiring in my case.

Gregory went on to give an introduction for Prescott, like always, a powerful and inspiring introduction remark. He mentioned that Prescott is a brilliant man who works all their life and has lots of ideas. The difference of him and normal people is he made impact on economics as a whole. We need to change people's views and innovation of ideas can tested by seeing which generation appeals to it. The iPhone is an innovative idea that started its appeals with the young generation and spread to the older generation.

Though ideas or thoughts are absolutely vital, but integrating thoughts are important. What Prescott achieved is, he integrated both micro and macroeconomics concepts.

Some words from Prescott:
"Students are important, the future of Australia depends on you"
"I don't believe in dictatorship, but I believe in people"
"Academicians are less stressed as they get to say what they think."
"Lecturers are motivated by what students asked."
"The East is picking up, it's glad to see them rising and they could have done better."
"When I teach a graduate student, I want to learn more than them."
Get interested in economics because "it became fun, with smart people around, so much fun than mathematical theory"

"People has to know your work, you have to market your contribution, having a good student helps" Gregory who is an excellent moderator contributes by saying "Having an idea itself is not enough, you need people to know it."

"Investing in English is worth it and valuable"
"Tune into the audience and see what's in their brain, and also seeing their background and major"
"Being able to solve problem but not memorising formulas"
"Get good at selling and presenting ideas. No one is going to judge you on something, don't get too frightened."

Did the Nobel prize cost you anything?
"I do things I like and ask why on it. Humans are social animals, don't have to be a nerd, I do like sports and parties." Gregory continued by saying "don't have to give up everything, don't have to work to death, have a bit of leisure."

Researchers work by getting a new question and don't have a clue how to do it at all. They take the question and push them to ways that other people can't, and create insights out of them. Pick up the idea and make progress, making progress is what differentiate. Logical thinking is crucial.

Henckel concluded the session by saying it's not important what the subject matters, it is to learn to think critically and analytically and logically. Learn to take things to perfection, read a lot, question on the good and bad, and emulate to be better.

Sorry that I didn't organise the quotes well. On a personal note, these words are particularly meaningful on that day itself. It was a day I have been waiting for 3 months. It was life-defining. I thank God for helping me through the challenge and granting me another chance.

Had a rather uninspiring session the day after. But it gives me some ideas on things I want to get involve in. And I have strike out a couple off my list. What's ahead will be interesting, but I do know where my decisions lie.



Love,
Wen Xin


Friday, August 8, 2014

Lucy


It was a spontaneous urge to call up two friends to catch this movie on a weekday. I like how big movies start to feature female protagonist.

One question popped into my mind immediately when the credit rolls, how big is the capacity of the pendrive? The biggest byte I know is Terabyte, but of course, with only much less than 10% of my brain capacity being explored, Terabyte ain't the biggest. The pendrive which contains every knowledge that a brain can fully explored, will probably be millions or billions of yotabyte. 


The truth is, Lucy left me hanging there. It has a different cinematic experience, somehow like a scientific documentary, added with action and drama. There is something lacking in Lucy, where it didn't manage to intelligently fool the cinema-goers. I felt like the movie has just started when it ended. 

What if you know more things as usual? Lucy takes it well, frighteningly calm. I remembered in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull, when granted her wish to know everything in the world, Irina Spalko simply couldn't take the overloaded mind. Similarity between Lucy and Spalko, they both disintegrate into space, time and/or dimension.

I am not sure I am using my brain at how many percent, but I know I am not using it at the fullest of the 10% a normal person uses. I want to know more things, I question how and why knowledge is created. But the more I know, the scarier things become. Because there is when you find out your thoughts are innocently stupid. And there is when I confuse myself what is right what is wrong. Perhaps there isn't right or wrong, but rather what you believe in.

So, Lucy or Professor Norman, mind sharing me the content of the pendrive? I guess Skydrive wouldn't work, so I will meet you in Paris in 12 hours.


To Paris with Love,
Wen Xin

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My First Love

I am not sure what went into me but I feel like writing recently, which I wish it could be studying instead. Someone told me during an event, 'if you don't feel like studying, don't, do something else which relaxes you'.

So I went on to Youtube, got on to DavidSoComedy channel and started watching 'My First Love', well his First Love. And that inspires this blog post. I am going to write about my first love. Even though I remembered every single moment of it clearly, I guess nothing is better than putting it into words.

I was probably 1.2 metres tall, carrying 5 textbooks each day, wearing red tie on a blue collar shirt. I was probably 9 years old or 10. We were at the same grade, same class and the same school bus. I didn't know how it started, but we got close with the rides back home. Teasing, bullying, messing around. We both knew we had a thing for each other, but what would 9 or 10 year old kids do at that point?

Soon, he stopped taking the bus home, that was when he started writing me notes with his messy writing on the blue piece of paper. He passed me the note in class, asked me to sit at the last row of the bus, then he would come and bid me farewell. It progressed where he would leave the note on the last row of the bus. I made my way through the end of the bus to retrieve it. The bus would make a loop, passing by the school gate. He would wait there patiently until my bus arrived, and ran 100m while the bus made its way. I remembered signalling him not to run, because I was afraid that he would fall.

While you may argue that this isn't love, well it's puppy love, we never develop the relationship. I moved on crushing on another guy but I believed it remained with him, until we were 12. I was smiling all the way while writing this, we still keep in touch until today. One thing I hated, I threw the notes away after collecting it for awhile.



Love,
Wen Xin