Literary Classics for the Young and the Elder


Candidates for Taipei Mayor_Fotor_Fotor_Collage_Fotor_Collage

As an English major, I do not recall enjoying reading those classics and understand them very well. I would say the first one I really enjoyed was The Scarlet Letter, with which I could really relate for its characters are quite strong and dare to buck the trend, and even stand up to the establishments.However, classics can take a while for people, especially ESL readers, to grasp the meaning and connotations arising from the contexts, let alone appreciation and pleasure.One of the difficulties readers may have when reading classics is the language used can be quite different from modern literature, even though many characters are relatable and the issues facing them remain relevant today.
I also struggled with the length of these books. Too often, those unfinished novels I shelved long time ago would come into my view and remind me of my laziness and stupidity.

So how can we make these classics more accessible?

With The Enchanted Attics, Lisa Samson engages readers with some of the tomes gathering dust in your attics. The series are based on what might happen if some of literature’s greatest characters wandered into modern times. Written in an approachable, easy-to-follow manner, the whole series can be appreciated by adults as well as young readers, which is why the classics earn that designation. And Lisa’s writing leave the reader more time to contemplate the characters and themes at their most basic.

I feel that reading can be a terrific substitute for those non-sense TV programs, especially they leave you a good sleep with some though-provoking plots and mind gymnastics.





Is Economic Forecast Becoming Fortune-telling?

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Life is full of uncertainties and choices, so we struggle to predict what lies ahead and what it would be like if we take actions. If we cannot fathom the secrets in the making, seeing the whole picture of economy will be too overwhelming for us to tackle alone. Hence, we need professional advice.

But, here is a problem. When forecast arrive on the scene, whom and what should we believe?

In the book Fortune Tellers the Story of America’s First Economic Forecasters, Walter Friedman offers a deep perspective on this issue by tracking back to the USA’s first economic forecasters. He notes that economic forecast is nothing but an autonomous economy that followed decipherable rules.

These empirical approaches to economy created econometric models, along with ideas of how to conceptualize the economy. And, this explains why we have founded so many institutions to analyze the past as well as forecast the future.

Many financial advisors rely heavily on business cycle, they know the client would feel more comfortable about investment plans if they catch the internal rhythms of economy. It is just like sailing ships in the tide, the feeling of not knowing where we are going would kill us. This is why a bunch of experts would gather data and send out newsletters to render the financial outlook to their entrepreneurial advantages.

That is the way a lot of people tend to think about the economy these days. When seeing the stock market, for instance, going way up, your mind tells you that it is probably going to come down a similar amount and reach some kind of normal level. And that was Babson’s Chart, a beautiful red and black chart that shows how areas of boom and bust will equal out over time.

How much growth would you expect from investments? Babson’s chart has a trend line driving through the curve. And that was the estimated normal growth rate of about 3% per year. Therefore, for those who cannot take too much risk, it would be a great tool for making investments.

On the contrary, Irving Fisher became a rival of Babson in analytical approaches to economy. As a trend analyst, Babson really believes in trends over a long period of time. Just the opposite, Fisher does not think trends are important at all. Instead, he believes in causation and tries to figure out how the economy works and the effects are entailed. What effect does it have if we plow earnings back? What effect does it have if we pour dividends back in to earnings? Fischer tried to find ways to quantify these changes and the effects they would exert. His perspectives corroborate econometrics and foster the idea of mathematical approaches to forecasting and to make sense of econometrics.

The big move in forecasting that really has made a difference, is the transition from the idea of a fixed business cycle, to one in which certain actors like the government may flatten cycles.

Once you start believing that cycles are not something simply happens to an economy, but are ones that government can make a difference in, this mindset may carry a risk of over-confidence.

The real problems that people have with forecasting is that they tend to look at past accuracy as an indication as to whether or not to follow a forecaster.

Without trying to figure out the reasons behind forecast, investors are probably going to fall for a financial advisor as Walter Friedman explain in the book:

“I think you need to think about forecasts a bit like a treasure maps. In that you always have to be skeptical of the person who would want to print and sell treasure maps on mass. When it’s much better for you to simply keep a treasure map, if you actually have a valid one, and get the treasure yourself. You have to keep in mind that these people are trying to sell their predictions. And that persuasion is as big a part of this industry as prediction is.”

Therefore, having a financial advisor does not make investors exempt from doing research.


When the Wind Blows, What Will Be Gone and Fall with It?


It may be hypocritical of these critics to say that Taiwan has degraded itself by staging protests while they called those in Syria, Tibet, Ukraine and that staged by Falung Gong “fight for democracy.” I just believe Taiwan has gone through the incubation period and is enduring its labor stage.

These movements may be illegal and irrational, but they reflects two things:
1. People do not think they have a place in the political systems and social institutions, even they hold the voting right. This frustration is stoked by the increasing Gini coefficient in Taiwan, indicating the gap between the poor and the rich is widening.
2. As elections are approaching, many interest groups, parties and even individuals will hitch their leverage on these issues, but this does not mean the making of policies will depend on “the direction of the wind is blowing.” The situation will blow over, the momentum may wear off, so do populism and action other than civil disobedience.

Whatever, all these will mark a page in our history, and we should not be the only one to make a judgment call.

Photo credit: AFP

“When the wind blows” by The Economist:

〈經濟學人:台灣前途恐越來越由街頭決定 〉聯合新聞網

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Why Working Under the Same Roof?

Why Working Under the Same Roof?

If coffee shops are too rowdy and there’s too much activity for you to focus on the work at hand, then you may find the real working mindset in a communal working office space. It is like a library for people with cell phones and a strong desire to meet like-minded people with different background; hence, this style of work offers a solution to the problem of isolation that many freelancers experience while working at home, while at the same time letting them escape the distractions of home.

In an economic sense, early-stage start-ups often cannot afford hefty rents, and their uncertain success makes a long-term lease less desirable.

However, budget is not the only concern at play. The coworking space offers that age-old human connection leading to collaborating with professionals.

What lies behind the growing trend of doing jobs in a coworking space is to actively manage and facilitate presence, as technology allows more people to contribute from around the world. This may have changed the role of place in our work lives.

Amarit Charoenphan completed his degree in accounting from Thammasat University. He helps people realize their dreams and become more successful startups, entrepreneurs, and freelancers through the best coworking spaces, as well as events, education and media. His areas of professional interest include capacity building of start-up social ventures via incubators and accelerator programs, scaling up social enterprise via impact investments as well as the emergence of social venture philanthropy, angel investing and venture capital industry in Thailand. He co-created Hubba, Thailand’s first coworking space for Tech & Creative startups and is actively supporting the Chiang Mai start-up scene through partnership with Pun Space, a coworking space in Chiang Mai. Amarit (and Hubba) has also co-organized and facilitated events such as Echelon Ignite Thailand (e27) and Startup Weekend.

Transcriber: Samson Zhong
Reviewer: Elisabeth Buffard
Language: English

‘Winter’s Tale (2014)’ Review

I have worked as a translator and interpreter for a long time now, offering services to help people speak to different cultures while these experiences lend me some insights into things as restaurants, films, books, concerts, seminars, news coverage and even bodybuilding competitions. This is my first crack at film critics, and I would be lying if I said that I am more than excited about making my debut at Hollywood production, which I used to despise for a lack of great stories and an unhealthy obsession with sex and violence, let alone product placement brought up by commercialism. That said, I am a little shocked but very pleased to tell you that my reservations are unwarranted, as “Winter’s Tale (2014)” is truly a spectacular movie. The performance of Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, and Russell Crowe will remain imprinted in my mind.

The story is set in 1916 and present-day Manhattan, and recounts the life of Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), an burglar with the gift of reincarnation, and the romance that has gone out of his raid into a house occupied by Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay). When Peter finds that Beverly is dying from tuberculosis, he comes to her rescue as the reincarnation of Peter. However, Peter’s memories is being lost in the afterlife…How can a man save his love if he does not even remember her? Everything from the set, costumes and the soundtracks are terrific in this emotional roller coaster, and even though it is a drama, the pace is torrential, so men do not have to worry about being caught falling asleep on a cinema date.
The audience is moved to tears on several occasions, sometimes by moments of despondency and others by the faith shared by both characters and their spectators.

I bill “Winter’s Tale (2014)” as a must see for the upcoming Valentine’s Day. It is suitable for a fate, the whole family and the single. If you forget when is the last time you look into someone’s eyes and retain the touch, then you may find that bond in this great film.

Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

The Chinese subtitle was translated by Samson Zhong

Find More Hours in My Days

Find More Hours in My Days
I have always had trouble finishing all the items on my to-do lists, though I really enjoy checking them off at night. It may be that I squeeze too much into the list, or distractions keep me from keeping to the schedule. However, the news clip reminds me of the basics of time management: priority and simplicity.
Have been doing multitasking for a long time: listening to podcast news while doing house chores; typing on my tablet PC during commute and I even read books while sitting on the toilet, I am still desperate for more hours given in each day. Of course, we are all given only 24 and no one can literally buy more.
The problem is that I put ahead the tasks that I enjoy or easy to do instead of those matters of great urgency. I take time to enjoy what I like to do and procrastinate when it comes to tedious jobs.
The time management coach Elizabeth put it in a way that really makes sense: thinking of time like a credit card. Most of us would avoid maxing the card out by budgeting and allocating, and usually the most critical one would stay on top of the list.
Another tip I agree with is that keep life simple. If I can do it only once a day, I should not bother repeating it several times, even meals can be prepared at a time.

Why Bees Are Disappearing_TED Talk

I am so thrilled to see the subtitled video I reviewed being published by TED Talks.

Honeybees have thrived for 50 million years, each colony 40 to 50,000 individuals coordinated in amazing harmony. So why, seven years ago, did colonies start dying en masse? Marla Spivak reveals four reasons which are interacting with tragic consequences. This is not simply a problem because bees pollinate a third of the world’s crops. Could this incredible species be holding up a mirror for us?

Marla Spivak researches bees’ behavior and biology in an effort to preserve this threatened, but ecologically essential, insect.

A Better Tomorrow

A Better Tomorrow, directed by Mitsuyo Miyazaki, is the fifth film in the Lexus Short Films series, produced in association with the Weinstein Company.

In the near future when water is scarce, Shin and Myra, two orphans following in their scientist father’s footsteps, develop a technology that could turn the tides of time and heal the earth. But when dark forces kidnap them in an attempt to steal their father’s invention, the device is mistakenly activated and a mysterious power unleashed. While trying to escape their captors, they are magically transported on a voyage out of this world.
People tell stories for many reasons, including the sheer delight of talking, but probably most of the best storytelling proceeds from one of two more commendable desires: a desire to entertain or a desire to instruct. “A Better Tomorrow” holds true for all of the three reasons. The dialogue between Shin and his father is shown as a flashback of those sweet memories, but it also sounds poignant for the fact in the words: clean water is in short supply; however, the story is told through two children and their simple wish for a better future in which the audience can reclaim the imagination most people have grown out of. And, this multi-pronged beginning, through matter-of-fact, memories and nostalgia, holds our attention: we sense that something is going to happen during Shin’s journey along a scenic path to somewhere. Perhaps we even sense, somehow, by virtue of the reference to the ocean and bottles, that the journey itself rather than the traveler’s destination will be the heart of the story: getting water will be more than half the fun.
To our surprise, from the setting of 2042, we quickly get the complication; technology does not always bring a better future. There are apparently conflicts between the water rationing scene and an abundance of seawater; the green along the way and the barren landscape around the water tank. The director even takes this conflict a step further, the time machine extend the journey to another world that is rendered in animation, which can be taken for granted because it is a dreamy fantasy. I personally believe it is this contrast and conflict between the animation and real life; we are invited to see ourselves in the plot, and to live our lives in accordance with it. This simple but powerful story, even without too much film shooting techniques and twist in narratives—makes us feel the point in our hearts: to treasure what we have on earth. I think this mantra of environmentalism, though the unique weaving of the story, is reinvented to stand the test of time.

I Translated and Dubbed a TED Talk

What do 24,000 ideas look like? Ecologist Eric Berlow and physicist Sean Gourley apply algorithms to the entire archive of TEDxTalks, taking us on a stimulating visual tour to show how ideas connect globally.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at

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