Tuesday, 31 March 2009

More Geekfreak / The Schrödinger Equation

Schrödinger Equation
In physics, especially quantum mechanics, the Schrödinger equation is an equation that describes how the quantum state of a physical system changes in time. It is as central to quantum mechanics as Newton's laws are to classical mechanics.

In the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics, the quantum state, also called a wavefunction or state vector, is the most complete description that can be given to a physical system. Solutions to Schrödinger's equation describe not only atomic and subatomic systems, electrons and atoms, but also macroscopic systems, possibly even the whole universe. The equation is named after Erwin Schrödinger, who discovered it in 1926.

Schrödinger's equation can be mathematically transformed into Heisenberg's matrix mechanics, and into Feynman's path integral formulation. The Schrödinger equation describes time in a way that is inconvenient for relativistic theories, a problem which is not as severe in Heisenberg's formulation and completely absent in the path integral.

(From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger_equation)

It's things like these that just make me wish I was better at the mathematical part of science. I really frickin' wish I knew exactly what all this is about. It's akin to a wormhole in my head leading to a whole new paradigm of knowledge that I could have but don't because I lack the electromagnetic field and space-time requirements for it.

Quantum physics - The dreams stuff is made of.

Audio Candy:
Avenged Sevenfold - Dear God

Monday, 30 March 2009


Typing away furiously at the keys, aligning words on a document, cutting down on text to fit the word limit, switching from one assignment to another, flipping through pages of 3-inch thick books, running back from school to the library because of a realization that the previous book had a useful source, opening websites in new tabs, scouring over online resources, searching intensively for half an hour - AND always eventually finding what I need, sending out update emails, pondering over a theoretical argument, being in a state of academic thought and deliberation non-stop the whole day.

That was roughly my state of mind from Friday through til today, and I LOVED it.

I really love this intensive drowning in academic work, especially when it involves researching, sifting through books, considering arguments, formulating essays and writing. And I will always be anal because I don't want it to be anything but the best that can come from me, if not in quality then in the form of formatting and bibliography. Every source must be cited, every reference must be documented.

And in the end I did learn stuff. I feel more well versed in the history of Xi'an and the business viability of its location and current economic situation, I feel less alien to the differences between selection, recruitment, performance management and compensation of Singapore and Britain. I feel leveled up.

I guess when it comes to work, I'll always be an individualist.

Today marked the end of the hell part of everyone's favouritely coined hell week for me.

A clean desk is a sign of a cluttered desk drawer.

Audio Candy:
Broken Social Scene - Stars And Sons

Soccer Philosophy

I chanced upon an article today which talked about some of the things soccer has always driven me effortlessly to ponder about. I have itched to write about some of these things but never really got down to doing it, perhaps because there is to some extent a cliched nature of soccer philosophy, often brought to the masses in random packets of gibberish by managers and coaches and ex-professionals.

This article sums up a few of the things that have always tickled my mind when soccer is in question, and perhaps acts as a frame of mind for anyone who might be interested in knowing more about the sport beyond its facade of 11 men chasing after a ball, grossly overpaid players and petty violence.

When you're on the pitch playing and there's nothing but you, the ball, all these things around you and a split second to make a decision, everything gets so elegantly summed up in a moment its like attaining some form of revelation with everything and nothing at all, all at once.

One can never fully convince a Chinese man who knows no English that a particular Shakespearean prose is beautiful. All I can say is that I truly wish that the ones who can't appreciate it can know how much more it is than they think.

Soccer brings out the philosopher in us
By Douglas Todd

When I need real insight into the meaning of life, I have been known to sidestep famous philosophers like William James, Jean-Paul Sartre and Lao-Tzu and go straight to the hard stuff: Books about soccer.

There is nothing like soccer to focus the mind on the art of living, on making sense of the sweet bitterness of existence. For me soccer (a.k.a. football) has a complexity and cohesiveness the Olympics do not.

The Olympics don't speak to me about philosophy, whereas the globe's most popular sport offers natural metaphors for life's fluidity, ambiguity, corruption, idealism, communality and beauty.

Too many Olympic sports, with exceptions such as soccer, of course, and field hockey, require women and men to become like machines, fixated on going just a millimetre higher or a microgram heavier or a millisecond faster.

I am a tad biased (my sons, by the way, play soccer far more than I ever did.) But even those who don't like soccer have to acknowledge that a flood of good-to-great books have been written about it since Nick Hornby's surprising 1992 bestseller, Fever Pitch.

Fever Pitch is about the inner workings of a boy-man from a divorced household who finds delight, torment and healing in the then-dreary London soccer team, Arsenal (which happens to be my favorite team in the English Premier League, whose season kicks off today.)

Before highlighting some of the remarkable books written about soccer in the past 16 years, it's pleasing to confirm Vancouver author Alan Twigg has recently added the first Canadian voice to the pantheon of those who have leaned on the sport to say something important.

In Full-Time: A Soccer Story, Twigg, with complete lack of pretension, offers large dollops of down-home philosophy as he recounts the way his over-50s team, the Point Grey Legends, jet off on a risky adventure to Spain to play several teams of ex-professionals.

Along the journey, Twigg muses honestly about his own semi-erotic obsession with the ball. He delves into the vagaries of romance, the need for glory, self-doubt, the Canadian identity, aging, loyalty and how soccer connects people in weird ways.

In a fine section on the unusual courage it takes to be a referee, Twigg pulls out the philosophical stops about the value of bringing order to the apparent chaos of life, comparing the ref to a priest.

"The referee, like the priest, must be a complex personality. He must have a strong ego in order to rise to the challenge of his job, and yet he must resist all signs of his egocentricity."

The referee plays a transcendent role. "In the eyes of the others, the referee can only be a loser, never a winner, and so he enters each match with the private hope that he might walk off the pitch at the end of ninety minutes as a completely unsung hero."

Full-Time illustrates how serious content can be packed into books about this deceptively simple game enjoyed by billions globally, including millions of Canadian youth. These books explore the intersection of soccer with history, national culture, economics, politics and philosophy.

Some of the best titles include Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano, a lyrical history of the game; Franklin Foer's How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, and Alex Bellos's Futebol: The Brazilian Way Of Life, which brings out the game's perennial mix of joy and pathos.

To my mind, however, no soccer book reveals a more subtle philosophical mind at work than David Winner's Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer.

Brilliant Orange argues that the "Total Football" developed three decades ago by the Dutch national team reflects the often-difficult personalities of the people of the Netherlands.

"Total Soccer" requires every player to, in effect, be able to switch to any position. Because space is always at a premium in their small country, Winner maintains the Dutch have learned to use it in wildly innovative ways. This is seen in Dutch architecture, art and society - and soccer.

That said, understanding soccer fan(atic)s can be as interesting as analyzing the game and its implications. For raw literary power, there may be no more persuasive book than Among the Thugs: The Experience, and the Seduction, of Crowd Violence.

In this early 1990s account, Granta Books editor Bill Buford enters the horrifying culture of British soccer hooligans. His gift is to make the reader feel the intoxicating attraction of mob mayhem.

Why does soccer evoke wider horizons of meaning in so many? American writer David Goldblatt, author of The Ball is Round, said:

"Milan Kundera (author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being) defended the role of the literary critic by arguing 'Without the meditative background that is criticism, works become isolated gestures, historical accidents, soon forgotten.' I would say the same of social history and sport."

Soccer especially brings out the contemplative side of many people because it doesn't lend itself to statistics, as do baseball and the Olympics.

And it doesn't require body-disguising equipment, like American football and hockey.

Soccer is also so fluid, so non-mechanical, that describing the game and everything that goes into it often requires a touch of poetry.

Twigg's book provides bursts of such poetry, in much the same way as the highly evocative Miracle of Castel Di Sangro. In that book, famous crime writer Joe McGinnis goes to Italy and uncovers the mix of valour, solidarity and immorality that go into how a tiny village's team climbs momentarily into the big leagues.

One of the refreshing peculiarities of Twigg's soccer book is that he writes about actually trying to play the game with some skill. Twigg's also in his mid-50s, so his final reflections on the bravery of the solitary referee illustrate the wisdom that can come with age, the wisdom of bringing impartiality to a rough and tumble contest.

By the end of the book, Twigg even thinks about the value for himself of "outgrowing" soccer. He quotes the Nigerian striker Kanu saying, "If you make football too important, you deprive it of its beauty."

As Twigg considers detaching from the game that has provided him so much passion, purpose and meaning, it's not at all a stretch to say he is offering up ultimate philosophical insights about life itself.

Saturday, 28 March 2009


Dear Stressed SMU Student,

I had an emphatic day of work today. I woke up early to visit the trade office of International Enterprise Singapore (IESingapore) at Bugis Junction Office Tower at 10am so that I could get some documented information and professional advice about local SMEs and Xi'an, where we have stipulated that doing business in is good. It might seem a little odd that I'm doing this because most SMU students like it in the Li Ka Shing Library where the internet, powerpoints and air conditioning are available in a comfort-zone kinda way, but I guess I just like the idea that the research I'm doing beyond the laptop can value-add to my project. So why not the trouble? Besides, I had started to hit a wall of sorts with regards to the information searching online, and my group's BSM report was due at 5pm.

Once done with the visit to IESingapore's office at 1pm, I went straight back to the National Library to resume my research for my human capital management (HCM) report that is due on monday. Thankfully, the National Library isn't that far off from the office. The HCM report is proving to be very pressing, because the deadline is very near considering the scope of the report, which our professor has indicated as very difficult to do. And an exchange student group mate seems to be experiencing some difficulty in getting the information we need for our 3 man team, but it's alright, I appreciate a challenge.

2 hours on, and my research on HCM practices in Singapore's culture, while content-substantial, is still very vague, and I still hadn't began researching about Britain's HCM culture. So I had to apologetically inform my ethics group mates that I had to be a little later than the 1530h rendezvous time. This is because the National Library closes by 9pm and while I need the information, I still had a BSM meeting to go to after ethics which might end late and cause me to not be able to utilize the library's facilities.

By 4pm, I was somewhat done with Singapore's research, so it was a hasty rush down to SMU's School of Business and I'd already felt quite bad that I had to keep my group mates waiting. Crashed into the GSR, settled down, and then it was diving headfirst into solid ethics debating for 2 hours on whether the Bureau of Land Management should allow Questar to continue its angular oil drilling at the expense of Wyoming's wildlife and environment. The results were a little inconclusive, especially that of sustainable development under Adam Smith's free market ethical argument, but I wouldn't discount the meeting as unproductive. As long as our directions were positively and constructively aligned - which we were - everything is constructive; even if we argue forever to find that an idea is useless, it has served to trim and shape our overall argument better.

It was almost 6pm when we started to wrap up on the discussion and conclude that we need more meetings, so I hurried down to the School of Social Sciences at the other end of campus for my BSM meeting that I was already slightly late for (again!). A little more discussion and quite a bit of procrastination later, the meeting ended and it was 8pm. With a little bit more time to spare since the library closes at 9pm, it was back to the Singapore section at the 11th storey of the National Library to do some final research.

After 9pm when the library closed, Angie and I had dinner, which was my first meal of the day (aside from the very delicious tangyuan beancurd she had mercifully brought down for me to snack on during BSM meeting). The day outside is done, but there was still more tidying up to do for tomorrow's presentation, and more work to fuss over for monday's HCM report submission, as well as my 5-page LTM learning journal. Who can forget DMA presentation on tuesday and ethics presentation on thursday, with more meetings to come?

But that's for tomorrow to worry about. I'm gonna hit the sack soon, because I've gotta be up at 7am to prep for my presentation. :]

As I look back on the day, time had passed incredibly fast, and I reckon because it has been nothing but work and thinking all day. But it's really okay because in the end I'm still smiling about how the day has unfolded without me getting into an accident or breaking down, and you know what, Stressed SMU Student? It is your own imperative and your own choice to decide how you want to be bogged down or purposified by the hell weeks of 12 and 13. The rate the school is going, if everyone can see to it that it's not that bad, then everyone would be much happier. Make a choice and be positive about things, if not for anyone, then yourself.

Happy SMU Student

(In reality, please just suck it up for me. One more whiner who comes along will have me telling him or her how pathetic he or she looks next to my ethics group mate, who is taking 6.5 mods this term and is still being a delightful group mate to work with.)

Audio Candy:
Metro Station - Shake It

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The/That SOB

So many years on, and SMU is still all about its business school. Sure didn't help when the vice bigwig committed the latest faux pas during the dialogue session by saying that there are indeed 'lesser schools' around that should be easier to get a degree from.

I've never disapproved of SMU as a school with a business slant - it is a corporate management university after all - but what really riles me up is that the business faculty still holds on to a deliberately ignorant and baseless perspective that other faculties are useless, impractical, worthless of one's time and basically pathetic, and by virtue of the university's fiercely business standing holds these values and perspectives to be presumably true.

On the premise of intellectual rigour alone, social sciences and research is the basis of any theoretical standing that business practices may wish to stem their discipline upon. Any social science student can do as well as the average student in business, and I am confident that not any business student can do well at all in a social science course. And face this - your business degree has an expiry date, unlike a social science degree.

I am of the opinion that not every business student is unenlightened - there are a good deal of students who know what they're in it for and are respectful of what others pursue - but a significant number of people, however small, is enough to create the impression that business is a better faculty, and worse if they have the backing of the administration and the impression the university gives as well to hold their ignorant prejudices.

A friend of mine recently tried to apply for Unilever, which advertised 40 vacancies, and got rejected with the notification that more than 1000 applicants signed up for it.

Wake up!

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
- Mahatma Gandhi

Audio Candy:
TobyMac - New World

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Let The Good Times Roll

It's been over two weeks since the last update and quite a bit has happened. Socscistan: The Little Republic had a pre-launch on saturday during the SMU Openhouse at the social sciences booth, and was later officially launched the following monday. It now sits snug at the SOSS lift waiting to be picked up by potential readers. I think at 5000 copies and a 428 population in the social sciences faculty we might have overproduced a little...

Angie and I caught the ballet rendition of Cinderella by the Singapore Dance Theatre which proved to be extremely impressive and entertaining. The choreography was original, creative and witty. This should pave the way for more performances for us, considering that ticket prices can actually be quite attractive for students.

Prawning has been a new obsession recently. There is something quite therapeutic and obsessively engaging about catching your own stash and then barbecuing it to eat. I guess it really works when the rewards are so tangible. I think we're on our way past pretending to be pro and actually notching a decent amount of catch.

In truth, the past 2 weeks have been pretty hectic actually. But I'm starting to just focus only on the upcoming summer holidays, although I suppose I'll be quite busy with internship. I had an interview with Pearson Education South Asia Ltd on wednesday and it seemed really positive, so employment may be quite safely in the bag. The location leaves plenty of room to be desired though, with it being situated at First Lok Yang Road which is like a 20min bus ride away from Boon Lay interchange.

I've got a street soccer tournament up tomorrow and I'm dead tired. Wish me luck. :]

99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

Audio Candy:
Fall Out Boy Feat. John Mayer - Beat It

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Comment Posted

If it had a home would it be my eyes?

The mind can be likened to a computer for more than the obvious reason of its role as a processor. To broach the sensitive, just as a thought, the computer is a human and the computer-user is whatever one might wanna consider to be divine and above. All of consciousness is then whenever the computer is on, without its being aware of anything that is really guiding its operations.

Then make the computer think everything it does is of its own choice and will, and you will safely remain invisible to the computer.

Colour psychology can be really fascinating. For example, it has been shown that red can, quite universally across cultures, rile people up more just by them looking at it. Sometimes, a woman can seem more attractive by just wearing a red dress. I think this means that red serves to heighten emotion and arousal such that whatever the base emotion - aggression or attraction just to name two - gets elevated.

That is the cause-effect part of things. But I also believe the colours one chooses to decorate or shroud one's more personal and functional belongings, such as the walls of one's room, one's handphone, one's watch, etc (as opposed to one's living room or one's occasion clothes) are indicative of one's personality and self-identity. It might sound a little obvious but I'm of the opinion that this indicator can have quite powerful predictive ability.

And I think it is more important to look at the personal things that don't often get shown to the world because those non-private belongings have a greater degree of conscious statement-making, rather than what one really subconsciously perceives of oneself.

Subconscious perception is interesting in that it reveals far more. One may choose to hide a weakness by consciously displaying colours or behaving in a way that announce the opposite of that weakness. But in one's subconscious self-percept, one knows in a non-conscious manner about what one dislikes about oneself, which is often the basis for insecurity. As for those who are more comfortable as they are, the colours between what's private and what's personal overlap more. But the fundamental idea is basically that what one likes to colour his or her personal belongings is very much more telling.

Offhand, I can make an educated guess about what some colours represent. Red probably signifies an emotional and passionate streak. Dark blue would probably represent a powerful calmness and/or stability. Green might have something to do with zest, quirkiness, being different or intelligent. Brown strikes me as down-to-earth. And et cetera the guesses may go.

I am half listening to music and half trying to sleep in the sofa chairs fashioned into a coffin-like womb in the school library after my cognitive psychology paper (a conservative estimate brings me to establish that 93.7% of the time I'm in the library for purely sleeping purposes), and also entertaining half-baked random thoughts flittering around.

Audio Candy:
Broken Social Scene - Lover's Spit

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident

If we hope enough without expecting too much, things will always work out. And if we are curious, humble and open enough, answers will come.

Cognitive Psychology has been the dominant peripheral activity of the daily grind recently. While many have expressed disdain towards the impending mid-terms this week, I'm strangely looking very much forward to it. I think this is very much an indicator of how comfortable I feel studying and even embracing psychology as a discipline, and I'm very much fortunate for that.

With pride, Socscistan: The Little Republic will finish printing and come in by Friday. All of us can't believe how much of a miracle this little newsletter-magazine has been, from our maiden meeting in late January where we were all direction-impaired beings foraying into something that we had no idea could ever take off, to a confident publication that has exceeded the original 14 pages we thought we'd struggle to fill up to a total of 28 pages.

Socscistan: The Little Republic will be dropped off in (hopefully not so) insiduous and strategic locations on Saturday in conjunction with the SMU Open House, so look out for it. The team is confident that it won't disappoint. :]

"Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin. If the caveman had known how to laugh, History would have been different."
- Oscar Wilde

Audio Candy:
Jamiroquai - Just Dance