Category Archives: Misc

The Language Instinct

The Language Instinct

languageinstinctBy Steven Pinker

The author believes that language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution.

Fluent grammatical language can in fact appear in many kinds of people with severe intellectual impairments, like schizophrenics, Alzheimer’s patients, some autistic children, and some aphasics. For example, if you ask a normal child to name some animals, and you will get a standard inventory of pet store : dog, cat, horse, cow and pig. But if you ask a Williams syndrome child, you will get a more interesting menagerie : unicorn, sea lion, yak, pteranodon, koala, dragon, saber-tooth tiger etc. A person can have all the environmental advantages such as parents who will bathe you in language, but still not be a competent language user if you lack the right genes or just the right bits of brain.

One of his theory is on language of thought called metalese. He ask himself 2 questions :

  1. Is thought dependent on words?
  2. Or is our thought couched in some silent medium of the brain (language of thought called metalese) and thus merely clothed in words whenever we need to communicate them to a listener?

He believes that knowing a language is knowing how to translate mentalese into a string of words and vice versa. People without a language would still have mentalese. According to Pinker, mentalese exist in all species. and he argues that mentalese is simpler than language as it does not deal with Grammar or pronunciation.



Modern Romance


modernromanceBy Aziz Ansari (2015)

There were some funny aspects in the beginning part of the book. The book did examined some research that was done, but it did give me a feeling that times have changed and future relationships have become more vulnerable than ever.

Finding someone today is probably more complicated and stressful than it was for previous generations – but you’re also more likely to end up with someone you are really excited about.

The search for the right person – the meaning of “right person” has changed radically in a very much short amount of time.

A few generations ago, if I had been a young person, I would have gotten married pretty young say around 23 years old. Most will end up marrying someone who live in the neighbourhood.

In today’s era, at 23years old, I wasn’t thinking about marriage at all. Instead I got the chance to experience “emerging adulthood” and grow as a person. I met people from all over the world in this part of my life. I wasn’t limited to just the folks I knew in my neighbourhood.

The “good-enough marriage” is definitely not good enough for today’s singles. We are not content to marry someone who happens to live down the street and gets along okay with our parents. We want a soul mate. We want a lifelong wingman/wingwoman who completes us and can handle the truth.

Today, once you start dating someone, your physical lives aren’t the only things that get entangled; your phone worlds also merge. Treat potential partners like actual people, not bubbles on a screen. With online dating and smartphones, we can message people all over the world. However, it is important to analyse options in the real world, not just on the screen.




How to learn almost anything in 48 hours

How to learn almost anything in 48 hours

howtolearnShortcuts and brain hacks for learning new skills fast by Tansel Ali (2015) 

The author list out a 7 step guide to learn anything in 48 hours.

1. Gather materials and resources to learn (3 hours)

2. Develop memorization strategy (2 hours)

3. Organize / prioritize materials (1 hour)

4. Create accountability (Up to 1 hour)

5. Memorize (30 hours)

6. Review (spaced repetition) (1 hour)

7. Practice and apply (10 hours)

Imagination is the key to making anything more memorable. Build on foundation memory principles with SMASHIN SCOPE and bring your story to life. You can practise on anything you can visualize.


S : Senses / Sensation
M : Movement
A : Association
S : Sexuality / Self
H : Humor
I : Imagination
N : Numbers

S: Symbolism
C : Color
O : Order
P : Positive images / negative images
E : Exaggeration

The Yellow Elephant Memory Model will help you when you are not sure how to remember something. Break it down by looking at how you can create memorable mental images and link the story. There is a 4 step guide to make something memorable.

  1. Abstract – identify abstract thing.
  2. Image – Need to convert abstract to image example the word “creativity” is abstract, but we can use the image of a light bulb or even Albert Einstein to convert the abstract nature of the word to an image we recognize and understand.
  3. Association  – use physical connectivity to make a strong association.
  4. Communication -consider ways to craft info that others can understand.

When reading, use your finger as a guide by running it under the words. Doing this will not only help you read faster but also improve your comprehension.

When linking numbers, make sure you don’t mix up the order of the numbers you are trying to remember. If you make an incorrect story, you will recall wrong numbers.

When using the Method of Loci to remember numbers, always attach the story deeply into the location. Remember, physical connection makes for stronger memorisation. The Method of Loci is the fastest way to memorise playing cards. Create as many loci as you can so you don’t get your stories mixed up by repeatedly using the same location.

Create a spreadsheet listing people and their actions is super helping when using the Dominic system.

Make time to learn things you want to, not just need to, to free your mind from everyday routine. Don’t ever stop learning. It provides fuel for the soul and changes in the world.

Use mind maps or illustrations to help encode big blocks of data.

For languages, make sure you memorize the pronunciations before memorizing the phrases. It will make learning much more effective.

The best way to promote 21st century skills is to embrace Art of Memory techniques.

Real life examples of high speed learning exist. One competitor at first World Memory championships, Bruse Balmer taught himself 2000 foreign words in a single day. Another competitor from the 1999 World Memory championships famously taught himself Icelandic in only one week and then went on a talk show in that language.  These individuals have nothing special about them. Rather, they all employ a small set of simple techniques, known collectively as the Art of Memory. The Art of Memory originated in Ancient Greece. They were almost universally practiced by the thinkers of the ancient world.



ImageHow Smart Innovation and Agile Companies will help protect our future (2010) By Patrick Dixon and Johan Gorecki

This is a book with a lot of information, very detailed. Though I may not be able to grasp all the information mentioned, but there were quite a lot of interesting things that I learn.

The book mentioned that most green tech is profitable if oil prices stay above $75 a barrel – profits may more than double with every additional $25 above that basic ceiling. Today, oil price is more than $100 a barrel, hence green tech companies will be making good money for the cost savings.

Alternative energy such as solar, wind, tides, waves, geothermal energy should be explored. Seawater can also make electricity by osmosis. Every cubic meter of river water that flows into the sea could be used to generate electricity. Fill a reservoir with sea water and another with river water. Connect the two with a large semi-permeable membrane, which allows water but not salt to pass through. Water moves across to dilute the salty reservoir, and the salty reservoir rises. Now let the salty water flow down to sea level, driving a turbine as it does so.

Carbon capture is the only way to burn fossil fuels without damaging the environment and our future may depend on it. This technology is very attractive to large energy companies because it allows them to continue their business in a less polluting way. But some scientists worry that the underground stores of carbon may leak, and that the whole idea may be a dangerous waste of effort.

There are ways to save energy and emissions on travel and logistics. Review all logistics and give teams tough energy saving targets. Make every effort to use empty lorries by selling space to other organizations.

One of the world’s greatest challenge is the lack of clean water. Wallenius has developed a way to purify water instantly without using any chemicals, killing all bacteria and viruses. It can work for public water supplies, swimming pools or in any other situation. The secret is ultraviolet light shinning into the water as it passes over a specially treated metal plate.

The Shadow of Your Smile

The Shadow of Your Smile

By Mary Higgins Clark (2010)

At age eighty-two and in failing health, Olivia Morrow knows she has little time left. The last of her line, she faces a momentous choice: expose a long-held family secret, or take it with her to her grave.


Olivia has in her possession letters from her deceased cousin Catherine, a nun, now being considered for beatification by the Catholic Church–the final step before sainthood. In her lifetime, Sister Catherine had founded seven hospitals for disabled children.


The letters Olivia holds are the evidence that Catherine gave birth at age seventeen to a child, a son, and gave him up for adoption. Olivia knows the identity of the young man who fathered Catherine’s child: Alex Gannon, who went on to become a world-famous doctor, scientist, and inventor holding medical patents.


Now, two generations later, thirty-one-year-old pediatrician Dr. Monica Farrell, Catherine’s granddaughter, stands as the rightful heir to what remains of the family fortune. But in telling Monica who she really is, Olivia would have to betray Catherine’s wishes and reveal the story behind Monica’s ancestry.

The Gannon fortune is being squandered by Alex’s nephews Greg and Peter Gannon, and other board members of the Gannon Foundation, who camouflage their profligate lifestyles with philanthropy.

The Gannon fortune is being squandered by Alex’s nephews Greg and Peter Gannon, and other board members of the Gannon Foundation, who camouflage their profligate lifestyles with philanthropy.


This story tells me that behind every great or noble person, there may be a hidden secret or scandal that was not revealed. Some men who are infaturated with a woman may resort to violence and rape, in a desperate attempt to be with the person. However, a child born in such situation may never get to know his parents and will always be left wondering about his ancestry.

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 the backbone of leadership (2006)
by Gus Lee

Churchill of Great Britain once deemed courage “the first of all human qualities.”  It is the one quality needed for human survival. He talks about 3 base skills : courageous communication, courageous leadership, and courageous problem solving.

There are 4 steps to courageous communication model :

1) Communicate Collegially
Approach others with unconditional positive respect. Be ethical, supportive, and encouraging.


2) Listen Actively with Empathy

Capture what the other person is feeling – the in feeling in that person’s context, without being detached from or swamped by it. You must geniunely hear the other person and reflect back what you hear.


3) Ask Questions on Point.

Ask open-ended questions.


4) Relate Respectfully

Focus on support, encouragement, moving forward, partnering and accountability.


Competence comes from practicing a skill until it becomes second nature. Courage in practice is powerful. Practice produces big dividends; fear is faced, which improves important things like decision making. It builds big things like relationships and quality of life.

Everyone needs continual feedback, encouragement, and support. It will be better to have a routine performance returns (RPR) with a 4:1 ratio of positive to negative feedback.


There is a story in the book in which a Major H. Norman Schwarzkopf was telling the experiences to the author. He said that careerists are self-centered, self-absorbed. They act out of selfishness. They sacrifice their men for a promotion. They lie to pump up results. They save their skins instead of others’. Careerists can’t really lead because their men do not trust them and will not willingly follow.

You cross the border. You destroy the enemy to protect your men. You then take the personal consequences to your career, knowing that you violated an order, but acted for what is right. You feel pride in getting court-martialed and being reduced to a private. Everyone’s a leader or isn’t . It’s not rank. It’s character.

We are all wierd

We are all wierd

The Myth of Mass and the End of Compliance (2011)
By Seth Godin

I am quite disappointed with this book, as I have read Seth Godin’s “Poke the box” before, and I have high expectations of his books. The book just emphasize that the trend is now towards a “werid” choice instead of a more normal one by the masses. You literally yawn as you read the book.

Normal begets normal. As totalitarian regimes of government or brands or event the organiations of society begin to gain power, they demand more compliance. Those who are in the tribe of normal understand that their power will increase if they can push others to comply as well.

And so the powerful spend money and media and authority to ensure compliance, until it approaches the maximum. Then an interesting thing happens – pockets of people discover that they can gain power and increase joy by being werid. So they splinter off. They spray graffiti on the wall or start their own projects or speak up.

And weird begets weird. The weird set an example for the rest of us. They raise the bar; they show us through their actions that in fact we’re wired to do the new, not to comply with someone a thousand miles away. That’s where we are as a culture right now – on the up part of the curve.


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