free will

I do not believe, in general, that people do acts of evil for the sake of evil (there are exceptions.) There are always certain scenarios or predicaments that humans are put into, and, due to our imperfections, we may find imperfect solutions.
Humanity is inflicted with this imperfection of free will, we are then prone to sin.
But since sin is a human afliction, then our understanding of evil and good is also a human fabrication, so we must discern between these fine lines with human distinction.
Right and wrong are inherently clouded in ambiguity–furthermore, we are then expected to discern between right and wrong and somehow make the proper choices, despite our own shortcomings.
Even if God were to give us the truth, IE, thou shall not kill or steal, is there not certain predicaments in humanity where doing so would be justified? Is the man who steals bread to feed his family evil? To the baker, yes; to the family, he is a hero; to a bystander, we feel ambivalent. Here the man may understand his wrongdoing but justifies it.
Instead, we may look towards society: is society not evil in putting this man in such a predicament where his imperfection leads him to such an imperfect solution? I am eager to find these Truths, and furthermore eager to right future wrongs.

What is Love?

What is Love?
To Nietzsche, Love is Envy
The person you love is the person you envy
You strive to be a better person out of love; the person you love has the qualities and traits you admire.
Envy, in the context of love, is meant to bring an aspirational ideal and foster a relationship of striving. You make each other better. You want to become a better person for the sake of your lover.
But envy and jealously can bring on issues such as obsession or resentment, to the point where love turns destructive. Instead, the desire to become a better person transforms into an ugly desire to destroy the other person, bringing them down to one’s own level, or placing them on an unreachable pedestal as you fawn over them.
To Aristophanes, Love completes you
Before humans looked like the way we look now, we were instead these round blobs with two heads, four arms, four legs. We rolled around the Earth and, through our pride, sought power, and sought to overtake the Gods.
Zeus saw the humans’ lack of humility and struck us with his lightning, separating every human blob in half.
A single head. Two arms. Two legs.
Love is seeking, quite literally, your other half. I suppose the ancient Greek philosophers knew about this cliche far before modern rom-com writers.
Yet, this mentality of finding a lover to “complete” you make us fall into a disastrous trap of dependability.
When finding a Lover becomes your sole responsibility and goal in life, you start to lose sight of other things that are valuable that make life fulfilling. Most importantly, you forget the most powerful love, which is self-love. How can you expect love from someone else if you do not love yourself?
If you do not love yourself, and you seek this lack of self-love from someone else to complete you, you will fall into a cycle of lacking.
There is power in independence. There is humility in being single.
A relationship will not necessarily “complete” you. Succumbing to this ideal not only disrespects your individuality but also creates a mentality of dependability.
A true, powerful and sustainable relationship, are two independently complex individuals (as all individuals are equally uniquely complex) coming together to form a stronger bond that is greater than the sum of its parts. A Lover should not make you “whole”. A lover should embellish who you already are as an individual.
To Diotima, Love is Spiritual
Love is a ladder – different steps we must take before reaching true Love.
We start with the physical, the weakest form of love yet a very necessary step of the ladder. We must first appreciate the beauty of the physical before we move on to the beauty of the soul and appreciate the emotional aspect of beauty. Here we fall in love with a personality, with virtue, with ideals. Eventually, we move to spirit, and essence, and the very idea of beauty itself. Love becomes much more complex and more abstract. We love one’s essence. We love beauty itself and we see this true form of beauty in those we love. The purest form of love is the love of all beauty, humanity, and God.
As we move up the steps of the ladder, the forms of love at the lower steps become less valuable. When you fall in love with one’s personality, the physical becomes less important. Yet, to move up the ladder means we must move through a sequential guide, but love knows no bounds and should not be restrained by some ladder of steps.
What is Love?
I believe Love continues to elude us because there are no true criteria.
Love knows no bounds.
Love is patient. Love is kind
Love is unconditional. But, perhaps it should be conditional.
Love is Envy. Love completes us. And love is spiritual.
To Love is to Live.

boiling a frog in toxic water

Some people are just looking for drama

These people are toxic

If you put a frog in boiling hot water, he will jump out immediately.

If you put a frog in room temperature water and slowly boil the water, the frog will adapt to the heat and eventually bathe in the water in its own death.

If you spend too much time with people who are always seeking out hostile environments, you will soon become numb to this behavior. Before you know it, you will surround yourself with toxic friends.

It is important to call out people for the behavior you do not approve of, even if hidden under the veil of a “joke”

It is always better to make an uncomfortable decision so you can avoid disastrous situations.

The paradox of “Normal”

Last week I got a haircut because I wanted to look normal again.

I had been growing out my hair for nearly 6-months, as I had largely been confined in my home since the world decided to roll over and disturb the peace of what many of us considered “normal.”

And, that same week, I decided to pick up a book and start reading again. A book about humanity now sits by my nightstand, and a book about Love sits next to my laptop desktop.

I then had a much-needed reunion with some of my best friends from high school – our bi-annual reunion, as I “normally” spend 10 months of the year outside of Canada. Yet, during high school, I would spend 8-hours a day with these people.

Because, last year this time, what was considered normal to me was reading one book a week, getting my hair cut every 3-weeks, traveling the world, performing magic, and writing daily.

I want my life to go back to “Normal.”

But for the past 6-months, while I grew out my hair, I had to adjust to a new type of normal as I battled my health concerns and not to mention all things considered with how the rest of 2020 has been going.

And so, while I progress towards my past “normal” life, what I’ve begun to realize is that the true paradox is assuming that “normal” exists in the first place.

When I was 14, “normal” meant waking up at 4:30 AM to train basketball for 2 hours with at the time my best friend, before going to class, followed by 2 hours of musical theatre rehearsal, followed by basketball team practice, and getting home at 9 PM to self-study four AP courses. In university, “normal” meant waking up 5-minutes before classes started and stumbling over to the business building while somehow managing to grab an ice-coffee so I could stay awake before my afternoon nap.

I have gone through phases where “normal” meant I felt fat. To phases where I was used to having 6-pack abs. To phases where physical fitness wasn’t even on my agenda.

For the past 6-months, “normal” meant being quarantined at home like a couch potato and suffering as I thought about how much life I was missing out on. I wanted to see the world. Two years ago, around this time, I had traveled to four different countries in the summer.

My hair was so long that it could cover the entire length of my face down to my chin. So yes. I cut my hair – finally – because I wanted it to go back to normal.

But normal doesn’t exist.

As much as I want to go back to the way things are, it is better that I soon realize that there is nothing I can do to escape reality.

Whether it be the way my physical health adapts, or my mental health, or my relationships with family, friends, with society, it is all a misunderstanding that normal is something we can actually achieve.

My life will never be able to go back to normal because I’ve experienced new things; I’ve seen society change. I evolve – for better or worse – and I’ve made new relationships, forged new contracts with the universe. Each of us has a unique version of what “normal” is.

I miss the days of being 12 and having no worries.

I miss spending time with my best friends.

I miss the “normal” of my childhood friends who I’ve mostly lost contact with.

But I can’t dwell on something that doesn’t exist.

So here’s to forging a life worth living, writing about, thinking about, remembering, missing, and let’s forget the normal life.

I want an extraordinary life.

I want to close with one of my favorite poems, which might shed some light on these paradoxes I am battling.

Paradox – Sarah Kay
When I am inside writing,
all I can think about is how I should be outside living.
When I am outside living,
all I can do is notice all there is to write about.
When I read about love, I think I should be out loving.
When I love, I think I need to read more.
I am stumbling in pursuit of grace,
I hunt patience with a vengeance.
On the mornings when my brother’s tired muscles
held to the pillow, my father used to tell him,
For every moment you aren’t playing basketball,
someone else is on the court practicing.
I spend most of my time wondering
if I should be somewhere else.
So instead, I have learned to shape the words thank you
with my first breath each morning, my last breath every night.
When the last breath comes, at least I will know I was grateful
for all the places I was so sure I was not supposed to be.
All those places I made it to,
all the loves I held, all the words I wrote.
And even if it is just for one moment,
I know I will be exactly where I am supposed to be.

Oil falls 30%, rise of clean energy?

Russia and Saudi Arabia are in an oil-price war, with oil falling to under $30/barrel earlier this week, dropping from highs of $80/barrel just a few years ago

Many people may view the drop in oil price as a win for oil and a loss for clean energy

However, in my view, the instability and volatility of oil and natural gas, in turn, shows that clean energy is the solution: clean, environmentally friendly, stable energy

This bump in oil markets is a win for clean energy.

Stop specializing: I am my own niche

For years I’ve thought that the way to truly be successful and influential in your field(s) was to specialize – experts would always best Jack of all trades, masters of none.

Yet I quickly realized I had so many interests, genuine passions, for so many different fields that didn’t necessarily coordinate well together.

In high school, I’d be deeply interested in chemistry and math classes and how the world worked, my favorite class still was acting, and yet I received the top English award.

After class, I’d balance basketball practice with musical theatre rehearsals and violin orchestra practice. I constantly wondered whether I was spreading myself too thin, and I also realized I was never truly able to be the best in any one field.

I ended up dropping the basketball team out of lack of dedication, I felt like an imposter leading my high school strings orchestra as concertmaster for 3-years, and when I played Scar in Lion King I couldn’t help but have a lingering feeling of regret that I sacrificed basketball to sing. Why couldn’t I be like Troy Bolton?

Now I am at another semi-crossroads.

Am I the magician?

The philosopher, daily blogger?

Will I work on Wall Street and run a hedge fund, trading stocks, and options?

Or will I dive into academic economic research and cure poverty – my all-time goal?

I don’t have the answer, but I think I’ve come up with a path: I am my own niche

Specialization worked in the days of Henry Ford assembly lines, and yes it still works today too

But there’s something to be said about the creativity of bringing in interdisciplinary skills and disciplines

The most recent book I’ve been reading dives deeper into this concept of Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.

Steve Jobs famously cited his Chinese calligraphy class for giving him the inspiration for pioneering Apples typography and design

Roger Federer didn’t specialize in tennis until much later than his peers, and in fact, might have learned towards soccer at one point in his childhood

And Lindt chocolate brought together dark chocolate and spices to create something new, unique, and not necessarily specialized but surely special

There’s ultimately nothing wrong with specialization, and equally nothing wrong with having a broad range of skills.

I hope to find a balance between both practices so that I can further build bridges between philosophy and business.

Massive Group Suicide?

There is an old myth that lemmings, these rodents, will occasionally, in massive hoards, jump off cliffs into the water and their death. It’s quite a grim scene.

This scene of following the leader is often cited as an example in behavioral psychology as a danger in mass-conformity and herd-following.

There’s only one problem: lemmings don’t conduct group suicide.

Lemmings multiply fast and they need to migrate after a huge population boom every 3-4 years to find more space. Lemmings can swim, and may try to cross rivers or bodies of water in search of a new home. Inevitably, some will drown.

It would be quite curious if lemmings did commit mass suicide, still, this story is an irresistible metaphor for decision behavior and the dangers of conformity and mass-herd following. You never know who might be leading you off a cliff.

Tesla and Virgin Galactic

Yes, Tesla’s and Virgan Galactic’s recent stock price surges is all Wall Street can talk about right now.

But what’s even more exciting is the potential technological paradigm shifts that Elon Musk and Richard Branson is spearheading that will drive their values up even higher in the future.

1) Tesla is leading the EV industry by developing electric vehicles that are faster & stronger, more efficient, and better for the environment. Eventually they will launch completely autonomous vehicle taxi networks powered by their in-house AI chips, and  (current)14 billion driving miles data points.

2) Virgin Galactic is looking to be able to send people to space THIS year. (Sure, it’ll be ~$250k/ticket. But if I had the money I’d probably pay). Branson is going from air travel to space travel, and may be the first to offer commercial business. (Looking at you, Bezos and Musk).

If you believe in the long-term potential of innovative companies, then you won’t be too worried about short-term price movements as an investor.

#tesla #elonmusk #innovation #virgingalactic #richardbranson #technology

China Wuhan Virus

“These construction sites are a fine example of decisive Communist Party Action” reports the Economist.

China recently completed a 1000-bed hospital construction in just 10-days in response to the Wuhan virus. A second hospital is now being built. The timelapse of the construction is just insane

Chinese officials are getting criticism for apparently hiding the virus outbreak for weeks – maybe justified due lack of knowledge and  not knowing the insuing severity- yet “weeks” is a big improvement from when China’s government hid the SARS outbreak for 4 MONTHS in 2002.

Look, this outbreak is terrible and we don’t know how much worse it might get. But I honestly believe the criticism thrown at China is a little shortsighted. Obviously the people did not want this virus to occur. Not are they maliciously and intentionally spreading it to other countries.

Say what you will about China – but the government knows how to get things done and when to put it’s iron fist down. And with a population of 1.4 billion, I think they’ve done the best job any country could do trying to not cause massive chaos.

Sending prayers to China and my family.

#china #economics #wuhan #wuhancoronavirus