Reading the World

Archives for Year 13

Science Education

In the chapter ‘O Americano, Outra Vez!’, Feynman talks about his visits to Brazil, and the course he taught at an engineering school there; although this topic is more about education than actual science, it is still something I found interesting from the book. He eventually discovered several flaws in the education system. For example, students would memorize what they had learnt in lectures in order to pass exams, but did not know how to use them in real life situations. Another problem was that students never asked questions because they were afraid of other people looking down on them and complaining about time being wasted.

Even though Feynman was describing science education in Brazil, I think that these problems can be seen in educational systems all around the world more or less. The large emphasis on tests as a measure of intelligence and for getting into college means that students might learn something for an exam without necessarily understanding it. This is very different from how Feynman learnt; he would make his own theorems and proofs, and could never leave a puzzle or problem unsolved.

“Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman”

I was not too sure of what to expect when I first picked up ‘Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman’, the autobiography of professor, physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman. Having read it, I can now say that it definitely was not something I would have expected a scientist to write. Instead of being just a list of chronological events and facts about science, the book was more like a series of short, personal, even funny stories of his experiences as a child, at college and graduate school, working on the nuclear bomb at Los Alamos and much more.

As someone interested in studying engineering at college, I was fascinated by Feynman’s love of the sciences. It is clear that he was passionate about science since he was a young boy, and his logical mind-set and undying curiosity were qualities that stayed with him his whole life. Being a specialist in theoretical physics did not prevent him from dabbling in other fields – he took courses in biology and philosophy, and was even “chief research chemist” at a 4-man company metal-plating plastics. Apart from his academic interests, he also learnt how to crack safes, play the drums, draw, paint and speak several different languages. Although Feynman was an extraordinary case, this goes to show how much one can achieve if they really put their mind to it.

The Four Forces

According to what Seth Gordin the writer of we are all weird he said that we are all move towarding changes from normal into weird because of the four forces.

Force one: Creation is amplified. Nowadays, the technologies are better and better everyday. The world is moving fast , therefore, people can publish ideas in any places at anytime by using a social network and technology.

Force two: Rich allows us to do what we want and we want to be weird.  In this case Seth Godin does not mean rich as a wealthy people but instead it means the person who have the amount of money that they can make a choice without considering about survival first.

Force three: Marketing is far more efficient at reaching the weird. Seth Godin said that marketers are trying to reach to the weird so that they can gain more money by offering them the things that they are obsess about.

Force four: Tribes are better connected. The people that obsess about the same thing are no longer alone because people can now connect together by the internet. Therefore, they can find the others who obsess the same thing as them and join together with those people as a group.

Overall, it can be sum up by using Seth Godin’s own phrase “If you cater to the normal, you will disappoint the weird. And as the world gets weirder, that’s a dumb strategy.”

Know your weird !

“If you persist in trying to be all things to all people, you will fail.  The alternative, then, is to be something important to a few people.” from We Are All Weird by Seth Godin.

In we are all weird Seth Godin talks about Hyatt hotel that tried to stick the photo and the album of the Beatles up on the wall. Hyatt saw an opportunity of marketing do they did that. However, things went wrong because what they tried to do is incoherent with the culture of itself. I think that instead of doing different things to each person, it would be better if they act the way they are. Consumers know what is the best thing about business so by pretending to be something else, it would make the situation worse.

This theory can also adapt to use in our life not just in business because to show other what is the best in you, you need to show the real you not just pretending to act differently to everyone of the others. Furthermore, I think that almost all people do not like others to pretending to be something that tries to impress you.

You cannot be everything to everyone, so only focus on one thing to be the best for someone.

Abuse and the Modern World

Psychologically, through child development theories (or others), such strong abuse should have damaged Dave Pelzer’s personality in a way that would have made him unable to lead a normal life. However, Dave prides himself in his family and “entrepreneurship” after this book became a bestseller. It would be interesting to learn more about if that kind of issue can be mentally resolved. This can help child abuse victims lead a normal adult life.

In the modern world, the “mainstream” cases of child abuse would be more about kidnappings and rape (e.g. Amanda Berry), whereas people never truly witness trauma based abuse cases like this because law enforcements are stricter that such abuse would not be tolerated or taken lightly by schools, relatives, or even neighbours. They can also be too traumatising for society. Therefore, one benefit of this biography is that it raises awareness of an issue that can sometimes be overseen.

How did Dave Pelzer actually remember everything?

The most interesting bit in all this is the detail that Dave claims to remember all the incidents.

True, psychology states that we can remember things from our childhood if they have been especially traumatising or unpleasant (though its more likely repressed). But, the specificity that he used in describing his thoughts and first family vacation from before he was in kindergarten just makes the whole book more like…fiction. It is unusual for a young child to have thoughts or a drive to live that is related to religion, and even more unusual for him to be able to describe it in excruciating detail 10+ years later.

Maybe it’s heartless, but i think its a load of baloney.

Choices

“Weird (not normal) means that you’ve made a choice, that you’ve stood up for what you believe in and done what you want, not what the marketer wants.  More and more, that’s precisely what’s happening.”  this phrase came from the book by Seth Godin called we are all weird.

Being weird is not a bad thing because we are able to choose what we really want without following someone else. As people like to follow others the marketers see the opportunity to make a story and make one of us buy the product then as nowadays there are social media like Facebook this can be done easier. There are a social media which makes it easier for the marketer to marketing the product, but there is one reason why people becoming weirder, that is because more people are becoming richer. As people are rich they can make their own choice, unlike normal people who cannot choose but need to demand on the product that they have power to demand on it.

This focus on how marketing nowadays should focus on. I my opinion I think that in these days the marketer should focus on the niche (small specific) market rather than Mass (whole) market because as we can see that when people have more choice it is easier to target specific one rather than all of them.

Legitimacy of “A Child Called It”

When I first started A Child Called It, I was extremely disturbed by the harsh content and kind of amazed at how such atrocities could happen to a child. However, as the book progressed,  I began to question how factual it all really was.

This book has sparked several controversies about its’ credibility. Although Dave and his older brother claim that the abuse did happen, other family members report otherwise. Personally, I think that most of the acts in the book were either made up or extremely exaggerated. I don’t think that the mother would treat her four other sons completely different from how she treated Dave. I gathered that he was abused to around the age of 11 or 12, which means that his older brother would be in his teens. Any regular teen might have observed an abnormality and have done what was decent for their abused brother.

At some points in the book, the text seems to be seamless memories spun into a sad tale, while in others, it just sounded like Dave listed all of the worst possible things that can happen to a child, and claimed his mother did ‘all of the above’.

The Origins of Virtue

The overview of the book touches upon the concept of “Altruism”. Whether one does something for the greater good as an exchange for something in return or not.

In the first chapter, the book describes a prison break of a Prince, Prince Peter Kropotkin. The author narrates that Kropotkin influenced by anarchism joined  a banned organization against the ideology of Marxism which was instilled on the people at that time. During the Prince’s exile, he came across an essay written by Thomas Henry Huxley, who believed that “human nature was essentially selfish and individualistic unless tamed by culture” Whilst Kroptkin argued that man was born virtuous and benevolent, but was corrupted by society”. The author mentions both perspective to try and prove and discover the origins of the human society using different analogies for example a colony of ant, a beehive, a mother and a fetus and many more. It is interesting to see that actually the act of kindness is an act of selfishness even when not intended as the author describes that even our genes shows altruistic behavior and that its in the human nature.

Patience and investments

After reading a thai investment book, I realised that patience is one of the many keys to success. The book is aimed for readers who are considering to start investing in the stock market. It teaches many basic things e.g. interpreting different parts of a company’s financial statement.

One thing that the stands out from book and is emphasized a lot is the benefits of being a long-term investor over a short-term speculator. Holding a good stock over a long period of time, say 10 years, will definitely give a higher return on the money invested than frequent buying and selling. The author has given evidence to show that for some good companies, the value of their stock has gone up by at least 1000% in the past 10 years.
So I have learnt that patience is very important in being an investor because 10 years is a very long time to wait. The author even tells us that it is okay to hold some good stocks for as long as 20 or 30 years!
Although it ensures that the returns will be worth the wait, a lot of people still chooses to be a speculator for the fun and hoping that they will get a jackpot one day that a stock they just bought has increase by 100% in 1-2 days (which is rarely the case). Most people tend to say that they want to be a long-term investor but in reality when the price increases by a small percentage the next day they cannot resist to sell it.
Not only that patience is an important characteristic of an investor, now I see that it applies to everything we do in our life because anything worth having will be worth the wait.
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