Report on my first day of Stoic Week 2014

Last year, I heard about the first Stoic Week, Stoic Week 2013, but did not participate because I was distracted at the time and did not feel like focusing. This week, I decided it was time to sign up for Stoic Week 2014, and I did.

Why my interest in Stoicism?

I’ve mentioned Stoicism only briefly in my blog: once in 2012 when thinking about Thanksgiving and once earlier this year after rewatching an old TV episode. As I mentioned, it was in 2011, upon reading a book on Stoicism, that I made some major changes in my life.

It turns out that a couple of weeks ago, I decided to make major changes in my life again, but not while thinking about Stoicism.

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An American English dialect quiz correctly guessed where I originally grew up in the US

Take this interesting American English dialect quiz yourself.

I took the quiz and wondered what it would analyze mine to be, given that I’ve lived in various places in the US in my life. I had a strong suspicion.

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Check out the unsanitized first edition of the Grimms' fairy tales finally translated into English

What do you think of when you think of fairy tales? Cutesy kiddie stuff suitable for cartoons and school skits and costumes? Or murder, rape, cannibalism, cruelty, torture? I’ve perversely loved fairy tales since coming across a huge collection of Grimms’ and Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales in a tattered album at a flea market when I was five and having my mother buy it for me. I spent four years reading this book (until all the pages fell out; the binding was horrible) as well as I could (since these were not actually children’s editions but adult translations to English and my reading comprehension was limited), before deciding that I “outgrew” the genre and moving on. Read On →

World Toilet Day is not just another crappy holiday

From an excellent blog I follow, Timothy Taylor’s Conversable Economist, I read his article about World Toilet Day. Yes, every day is some kind of observed day somewhere in the world promoted by someone, but World Toilet Day is not just another crappy commercial holiday. It’s about a serious problem, which is that 15 percent of the world population still lives without proper sanitation. Open sanitation, especially in densely populated areas, is a cause of much serious illness (especially to children, who are especially vulnerable). Read On →

On re-experiencing VHS tapes again

I stopped serious study of ballroom dance sometime around 2003, over ten years ago, because I was discouraged by not finding a maximally compatible dance partner. I ended up closing the chapter of my life that started in 2000 when ballroom dance consumed almost all of my time.

Recently I brought up several boxes of ballroom dance instruction videos from those days, with the idea that even though I’m not longer doing ballroom dancing with anyone any more (Abby is not very interested in ballroom dance), I might find it enjoyable to continue developing my dance skills and use the videos as part of exercise also. Almost all of these videos are VHS tapes. I have almost no dance videos on DVD, as I was very late in acquiring a DVD player: actually, one day, my mother bought me a DVD player because she was tired of visiting me and having no way to watching any DVDs she brought!

I had mixed emotions and memories as I started going through these videos again.

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Ransoms, hypocrisy, and bourgeois virtues

I saw a provocative article, “The Case for Paying Ransoms”, that argued that noted that European hostages of terrorist groups, unlike American and British hostages, tend to be returned alive, thanks to European governments paying ransoms. The US and UK governments, however, have a public policy of not negotiating with terrorists. It appears that “governments like the Spanish, the French, and the Italian, have simply found other, more clandestine and covert ways of making such payments, through sudden increases in aid budgets and the like. Read On →

My predictions after Carlsen and Anand are tied after round 4 of the World Chess Championship

Last week I made some predictions about the 2014 Carlsen-Anand World Chess Championship match before it began. Now, four rounds later, there have been two draws and a win for each player. What next? Since I correctly predicted some things already, I thought I’d speculate about the next couple of rounds.

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SorryWatch: good and bad apologies

I try to avoid reading news, but now and then I see an article about someone or other “apologizing” for something, and most of the time, the apology is pretty bad. Personally, I admire more someone who defiantly refuses to apologize. The stupidest, most transparent copout, of course, is “I apologize if (something bad resulted from what I said or did)“, rather than the real apology “I apologize that …” Read On →

Happy 10th birthday Firefox! Thoughts on using Firefox, abandoning it, and returning to it again

Today Mozilla launched a 10th birthday celebration for its Firefox Web browser. Mozilla just released both a developer version of Firefox as well as a new feature in regular Firefox to help users control their privacy Check out their video “Firefox: Choose independent”: My use I use Firefox daily on all my work and personal machines (including my Android phone), have it installed on Abby’s, and on the computers of my parents as well as my parents-in-law! Read On →

Understand and use motivation contagion: everyone matters

When I was a child, my parents always concerned themselves with whether I was hanging out with the “right” schoolmates. I never agreed with their definition of “right”, but they were onto something. I only accepted this truth when I was already in my thirties and reflected on choices I made in my life and why, and was surprised by correlations between what I did and who I happened to be around at the time.

An excellent article by running trainer and coach Steve Magness reminded me how important motivation contagion is in our lives, whether we recognize this consciously or not.

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