• Hoppe (Part 1): Government & Time Preference

    April 14, 2024

    As part of my interest in exploring ideas that might help us shift our model of governance toward something that is more aligned with civilization, human flourishing, and freedom, I'm currently reading Hans-Hermann Hoppe's Democracy: The God that Failed.

  • It's Trucks & Tractors or It Will Be Guillotines

    July 10, 2022

    Over the last week, I've been in shock over the scale of the Dutch farmers' protest. It might make the Canadian Freedom Convoy look like a weekend picnic. Canada is a big country, yet some of its key trading routes with its largest trading partner, the United States, were blocked for days by protesters. The Netherlands, it seems, is completely cut off by its farmers who have used tractors to bring the country to a halt. In solidarity with them, fishing boats have similarly blocked ports. While Schiphol airport seems functional, other airports have been closed. The goal of the farmers is "for the entire country to be paralyzed". I can't be quite certain about the details of the protest, because the second most shocking thing in the last week has been the near complete blackout in news coverage by western news media.

  • Advice to a Young Graduate

    May 3, 2022

    I was recently approached by a young graduate of computer engineering as she was struggling with deciding on a direction for her life post-graduation. Coming from an Eastern culture, she had always followed the straight and narrow path that her parents and family laid in front of her. She enrolled in computer engineering because that seemed to pay well. Now nearing graduation, she got a job offer from Amazon, and she accepted due to pressure from her family. Yet she was sitting in front of me, questioning whether following this predictable and safe path is really all there is.

  • How to Be Your Own Bank

    March 9, 2022

    I have been buying Bitcoin consistently for almost two years. I also bought a hardware wallet at some point, but I was too afraid of "being my own bank". The cryptocurrency world is rife with stories of people who lost their private keys and in turn lost access to millions of dollars' worth of Bitcoin. I figured a company like Coinbase is probably much better positioned to guard my assets than I am.

  • Why I care

    February 10, 2022

    A cynical friend asked me why I’m wasting my time even reading about the freedom convoy – or politics in general – let alone going to the demonstrations. At first, I tried to give him a philosophical answer.

  • In Praise of Doing Your Own Research

    February 4, 2022

    Among the many things that people in the America (and her sphere of cultural influence, which certainly engulfs Canada) are divided about as a result of the two years of this pandemic is how we should find reliable information and how we should make sense of the world around us.

  • Doomed Strategy

    December 7, 2021

    Over at Fresh Lens, we recently sat down with an immunologist to go over what the science says about vaccinations and the pandemic.

  • A Culinary Guide to London

    November 8, 2021

    Over the last few years, I was in a long distance relationship with a girl in London, which meant I spent a lot of time there. I did not always love that city. In fact, just prior to meeting her, having gone there multiple times and seen the standard sights, I had vowed to not go back for a while.

  • Spells, Rituals, and Viruses

    September 1, 2021

    In the early days of the COVID, I joined a private chat group to share our findings about the pandemic. How's everyone protecting themselves? What's the latest finding? What do we know about the disease? I was so concerned about it that I distinctly recall having a dream that my apartment was broken into and my primary concern was that I needed to wipe the door handles.

  • Leaving Dr. Bill

    March 5, 2021

    In December 2013, my two partners and I started Dr. Bill - a medical billing service for Canadian physicians. In October 2019, Dr. Bill was acquired by RBC Ventures.

  • People Ponderings

    February 15, 2021

    Over the last several years, I had two individuals in my life whose association significantly degraded my quality of life and caused much suffering. In both cases, these individuals were very personable. In both cases there were red flags early on that I ignored. Probably, these people were quite far on the narcisism spectrum, if not clinically so.

  • Election Reflection

    November 10, 2020

    In 2016, I was happy when Donald Trump won the election. It wasn't so much that I liked him, it was more that everyone else was so repugnant. Sure, Trump lied, but he was transparent in his lying, whereas regular politicians lie and sanctimoniously pretend otherwise. Moreover, by 2016 I had paid attention to politics long enough to know that on certain key issues, the two parties in the US were in total agreement and thus the population would never get an opportunity to vote for a true alternative.

  • Borat and Hurt Feelings

    October 25, 2020

    There's an interesting debate raging on Twitter, triggered by Nassim Taleb, about the racism in Borat. It seems pretty undeniable that Borat is deeply racist, and some of the techniques used in the movie to fool people into playing the butt of the joke is downright bullying. (See Zeynep Tufekci's thread here)

  • Learning and Applying

    August 23, 2020

    I remember the first time I set foot inside a large bookstore. I was about 13 years old, and something had broken with my computer, which I needed to play games. My teacher at the time suggested I read a book on how to fix computers myself. When I entered the computer books section of Chapters, my mind was blown by the sheer number of books. Something clicked in my head and I thought: "I need to read all of these!"

  • Notes From 7 Powers

    May 25, 2020

    Why can some businesses generate vast amounts of profits while others can't, even with comparable products and services? How can a manager ensure that his business can maintain healthy profit margins for extended periods of time without having those profits eroded by competition? How can an investor identify companies likely to generate healthy returns on capital?

  • Pandemic Predictions (Part 3)

    May 18, 2020

    Here's another (short) prediction about the long term effects of Coronavirus, along with a call for help.

  • Pandemic Predictions (Part 2)

    May 2, 2020

    In the previous post, I talked about when we might go back to normal. Today, let's think about what possible long-term ramifications the COVID19 pandemic might have. It would be an interesting thought exercise to do this for a variety of economic sectors. For this post, I'll start with the most obvious long term impact: the impact on commercial real estate. This first became obvious to me about a week or two into North America being hit, and it has been pointed out by a number of writers.

  • Pandemic Predictions (Part 1)

    April 27, 2020

    Like everyone else, I've had a number of conversation in the last few weeks around the question of "when will we go back to normal?". So here's how I think we need to approach the answer, based on my readings so far. The TL;DR is "not soon".

  • Don't Trust the Peacock

    November 13, 2018

    When the great Tao is forgotten, goodness and piety appear. When the body's intelligence declines, cleverness and knowledge step forth. When there is no peace in the family, filial piety begins. When the country falls into chaos, patriotism is born.

  • The Master's Work is Invisible

    February 3, 2018

    β€œWhy are you squeezing my arms!? It’s way too much force! It needs to be much more subtle.”

  • Meditation Retreat Recap

    January 6, 2018

    A month ago, I took an early morning Greyhound bus from Vancouver to Merritt to attend a 10-day meditation programme. I think when I look back, I will see this as one of the most profound experiences of my life. It was hard and gruelling, and I was apprehensive leading up to it, but I’m so glad that I went for it. Here, I will try to provide an overview/summary of the experience.

  • Cheap Chopsticks

    November 17, 2017

    The Poke Guy is an excellent little hole-in-the-wall in Vancouver's Gastown district. It sells customizable dishes with rice, fish, veggies, and some delicious sauces. It's high quality food – the kind of eating out that you don't have to feel guilty about. I ordered a big dish with a little bit of everything, complete with a sprinkle of wasabi mayo.

  • On the Google Fiasco

    August 16, 2017

    Last week, Google fired an engineer, James Damore, who had written an internal memo, pointing out that Google's ideological echo chamber prevented it from effectively tackling its problem with gender diversity.

  • Inflation of Communal Values

    May 25, 2017

    I recently discovered an old journal entry in which I wrote about my observations of something I called at the time "the inflation of communal values". I later discovered that there is a proper term for this phenomenon in social science ("value signalling"), but I still prefer mine.

  • Politics Ban

    January 24, 2017

    Well, we have President Trump now. This season of Who Wants to Be The American President is over. Tune in again in four years.

  • Thoughts on Success

    October 2, 2016

    The capacity to imagine the future is a powerful feature of the human mind. But, like many matters of the mind, it can also deceive us.

  • Man and Cuckoo

    August 21, 2016

    I recently finished reading The Happiness Hypothesis, the 2006 book by Jonathan Haidt that tries to build a "scientific formula" for happiness based on all the most recent psychological findings and experiments (as of time of publication). I loved the book not so much for the formula (I actually don't think happiness is all that important) but for the deep insights into our common nature that Haidt's coverage of psychology experiments and their results confers. These are some of my most interesting takeaways:

  • Hardship & Loss

    August 15, 2016

    The word "Islam" means "to surrender". The idea is that everything that happens is an act of God. When things start going bad, the devout Muslim can take solace in the fact that all is according to God's will and since God has perfect knowledge and is infinitely good, all that happens according to his will is good, whether or not we, in our limited understanding, may think so at the time.

  • Galileo's Middle Finger

    March 27, 2016

    Recently, I read Galileo's Middle Finger - an excellent page-turner on what happens when scientists publish findings that run counter to politically correct narratives. The author, Alice Dreger, is a historian and a staunch supporter of (and activist for) social justice. Unlike most social justice activists, however, she has an incovenient belief that scientific evidence matters.

  • White Spaces

    February 28, 2016

    I wrote this post several months ago and never published it. My ideas on this topic have become more refined since then. I plan to write more about this in the future, so this will serve as a good starting point.

  • My Friend Hans

    July 12, 2015

    I have a friend, let's call him Hans. When one of us is stumped on making a tough decision or needs to think something through, we're kinda each other's second brains. We tend to think about problems the same way and have similar values and priorities.

  • Microaggression

    May 17, 2015

    Read this article on a new report from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign about "microagressions".

  • The Ideal Capitalist

    May 10, 2015

    It's impossible to keep up with popular movements today without being bombarded with messages about the immorality of capitalism. It also doesn't help that the worst elements of capitalism brought about the worst financial crisis that today's 20- and 30-somethings can remember.

  • No Will Power to Spare

    March 31, 2015

    I'm certain that years from now, I will look back on January of 2014 as the beginning of when I really became productive - and responsible for my time. I have been knee-deep in various self-improvement communities since at least 2010. I knew that my time was precious, and I knew that I should live every day as if it was my last. But sometimes, hard ideas just take time to sink in.

  • Pleasures Not Worth Seeking

    March 8, 2015

    I've always been obsessed with studying successful people and trying to find tidbits of habits or "best practices" that I could copy. My definition of "success" has changed dramatically over the years. I have read biographies or memoirs of real estate moguls, finance tycoons, and tech visionaries.

  • Better Information In-Take

    January 9, 2015

    Recently, I have uncharacteristically found myself thinking about going back to school and taking some courses. I'm no more a fan of higher education than I ever was before and I'm certainly not considering getting another degree. But there are certain advantages to taking formal courses instead of teaching yourself.

  • Form vs Flash

    December 15, 2014

    About a month ago, I started taking lessons in West Coast Swing after some encouragement from a few friends. When I showed up for my first lesson, I instantly knew I'd love this dance. It's all about the two people maintaining a strong connection, with the leader manipulating the follower's momentum to move her around. In other words, it's just like Aikido, which is to be expected: human body mechanics are the same.

  • Embracing Uncertainty

    November 24, 2014

    If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

  • Remarkable Products

    November 3, 2014

    A while ago I had a debate (for the millionth time) with a friend of mine about the merits of using Apple products. This iPhone-vs-Android debate is about as meaningful as any debate where people take sides and stick with them like their lives depend on it. But sometimes, with the right people, you can discuss even these subjects intelligently and with reason, and when that happens, it's a perfect time for some introspection and thought about why you think what you think.

  • Unbundling Goals

    October 18, 2014

    As an engineer, I have a propensity to spend a long time on a problem until I find the most elegant solution to it. "Elegant" solutions are about efficiency. Can I solve this problem in a way that helps solve a bunch of other problems too? Can I come up with a solution that requires much less effort on my part? Can I hack the situation in my favour? This is often an advantage. It makes me think about whether there's a more efficient way to do something - whether I'm getting the best bang for the buck. But while this is useful in the domain of engineering, when it comes to life decisions it can be a great impediment to achieving things.

  • Swift Notes #1: Swift Is Not Objective-C

    September 7, 2014

    Over the summer, I've been really busy trying to ship products for my startup. At the same time, I've been teaching (part-time) a two-month-long iOS bootcamp at Lighthouse Labs, which involves preparing lecture material, homework exercises, etc. It's been a busy summer, and I haven't had a chance to play with Swift as much as I wanted to.

  • Outrageus Ideas

    July 20, 2014

    TechCrunch had a post about the neoreactionary movement today. If you're not familiar with the neoreactionary movement, I highly recommend checking out some of the links on that article and also on this one, which the original article linked to. In short, neoreactionaries promote moving away from liberal democracy and to a more traditional system like monarchy, along with everything that comes with that. They believe human societies perform optimally under those kinds of systems.

  • When You Shouldn't Ask Questions

    June 27, 2014

    The book I'm reading at the moment is How to Read a Book. It is 426 pages of instructions on how to get the most out of books: how to pinpoint the core concepts, how to make sense of the terminology, etc. It is valuable for more than just books. What you really learn from it is How to Pay Attention Analytically ("be mindful", in other words). For example, think of the last book you read. Can you tell me, in one sentence, what the purpose of the book was? Can you describe what techniques the author uses to communicate that message? Do you know why the contents were broken up the way they were? Perhaps most importantly, did reading the book feel exciting - like you were solving a puzzle - or did it feel passive, like watching TV?

  • Being a Producer vs. Consumer

    June 17, 2014

    When I was in high school, I was absolutely obsessed with computers. I'd walk into the computer books section of Chapters and think to myself "Gosh... it's gonna take me a long time to finish all these". I was always in a rush to read more. Back then I was not so concerned with how I spent my time, but I guess I didn't do so bad.

  • Smash Your Idols

    May 12, 2014

    Tim Ferriss had a great piece in the Huffington Post today on his productivity routine. I've read a lot about different people's productivity hacks, but there was something I particularly liked about this piece: Tim's list of failures.

  • Thoughts on Startup Culture

    May 3, 2014

    Yesterday, I read this article on how a new anonymous, local messaging app had brought a Connecticut "high school to a halt." And just now, I saw this tweet by Aral Balkan:

  • Success Rule: Evolution Always Wins

    April 25, 2014

    When I tell people that I'm a programmer and I work in my own business, many times the response is something like "Oh! That's really cool! I've always wanted to do my own business, but I'm trying to come up with good ideas." This is something every entrepreneur has heard from friends or family. It demonstrates a flawed understanding of what it takes to be successful.

  • Attachment to Failure

    March 11, 2014

    One subject that you're going to read a lot about on this blog is effective methods of learning skills. The most successful people are those who can reinvent themselves many times and adapt to change effectively. That means being able to learn new things quickly and efficiently.

  • Dabbling Vs. Boiling the Water

    March 10, 2014

    One of the (many) benefits of practicing one skill repeatedly and over a really long time is that in the process you get to observe a lot of people who fail and succeed. You start noticing patterns on what works and what doesn't.