Working With Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Work With You

musing

A few weeks ago I had a textbook frustrating experience at work. I was put on a new project and the primary person that I was supposed to work with did not want to work with me.

This was not the result of some bystander psychoanalysis that I did, but instead an observable fact. It started with brief and incomplete responses to my questions, grew up into no replies to my instant messages (we work in different cities), and most recently, before I left the office to go on vacation, ended with withholding information and trying to publicly embarrass me via an e-mail chain with a long list of names in the “Cc” field. The first day this project began, his behavior really bothered me because I have been the object of someone’s insubordination before and I was hoping that after going to business school, I wouldn’t have to deal with pettiness so soon after graduation. I no longer think that – in fact, I think that I am vulnerable to more pettiness now than pre-business school because I’m perceived as much more of a threat.

I asked myself on a hurried walk to a yoga class, why am I practically on the verge of tears? Why does his cooperation matter so much to me? From that point on, through some cat/cow and warrior poses in class, I realized that my feelings embodied my expectations, and his actions were just a stimulus. I expect others to recognize how motivated and hard working I am, and so if someone antagonizes me, it runs counter to how I envision my life. But, and this is critical, the bad apple is very likely experiencing the situation analogous to me. As ironic as it is, he and I are probably feeling the exact same thing. Where he and I will differ, I tell myself, is how we choose to act on our feelings.

Modern day workplaces are effectively giant experiments in sharing that test your focus, agreeableness, and less often than expected, your competency. The primary challenge in working with someone difficult is figuring out what it is the absolute minimum contribution that you need from that person to deliver your work with integrity, and then be laser focused on that minimum. How you choose to act on your feelings is what distinguishes productive self-reflection from rumination. But, remaining focused on that bare minimum (if you are able to define it) is not easy because:

  • You have plausible reason to worry about this coworker sabotaging you (so you check all information shared 2x, 3x over and this takes up time)
  • You don’t trust what your colleague says (so you write your e-mails and chats as if they will be read in a deposition in court one day, ha)
  • There is palpable negativity around your co-worker and with your project (so you try to contain it by not asking for help from your manager or colleagues)

And so, you get frustrated and lose focus. I felt angry. One of my favorite thinkers, a brilliant contemporary philosopher named Martha Nussbaum, wrote on anger:

“If we think closely about anger, we can begin to see why it is a stupid way to run one’s life…A wronged person who is really angry, seeking to strike back, soon arrives, I claim, at a fork in the road. Three paths lie before her. …Path three: if she is rational, after exploring and rejecting these two roads, she will notice that a third path is open to her, which is the best of all: she can turn to the future and focus on doing whatever would make sense, in the situation, and be really helpful.”

Source: https://aeon.co/essays/there-s-no-emotion-we-ought-to-think-harder-about-than-anger

 

Admittedly, another one of the feelings that came up in this experience was disappointment. I am disappointed with this colleague.

This chance to work together was an opportunity: to build a reputation, to achieve something valuable together, and to learn from each other without any risks (because of the nature of this project). But instead, he had turned this experience into a performance of his emotional struggles, projecting his insecurities onto my involvement. He wanted to run the project, though that was not possible, was not willing to adapt and so decided to make this as difficult as possible to complete so that we, or someone in a position of authority, would recognize and reward his value. Of course, that is not how this story will unfold as this project mattered too much to me and to the other people supporting it, to let it fail.

His behavior leads me to believe one thing: that great leadership is not alchemy. The measure of great leadership is how well you empower those that are willing to be empowered to achieve and make the best of the resources (people, talent, positioning) that one has to take your people to a better place in the future. When you encounter a bad apple, your job as a leader is to consolidate your allies down the third path that Martha describes: the productive path that is helpful.

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Jakarta or…The Other Melting Pot

travel
Below is a reflection I wrote during an extended stay in Indonesia in January 2016. 


My second week in Jakarta has flown by. Only after writing that sentence did I realized that the second week of my project isn’t officially over. I have had something to do just about every hour of the day, and since we use activity for the passage of time, I feel like it’s much later than a Wednesday night.


Instead of traveling for a day trip to Borobodur this past weekend as initially planned, my team and I decided to stay in Jakarta and explore our temporary hometown. I visited some of the most popular cultural sites in Jakarta: the Grand Istiqlal Mosque (the biggest in all of Southeast Asia), the Grand Cathedral, and “Old Town” Jakarta.


Initially, I felt averse to visiting the big tourist attractions because my experience has been that the most popular attractions are often underwhelming and don’t convey the authentic character of a city. But, I’ve grown up a little and am skeptical of whether “authentic” characters even exist. A city has multiple narratives and what one native considers authentic is really just their individual viewpoint.


But, the mosque, cathedral, and old town each represent a part of Jakarta’s — Indonesia’s, history. The largesse of the mosque gave me a feel of the influence of Islam on this island nation. Indonesia has the largest country-level Muslim population in the world. The presence of Islam is ubiquitous, from the stamped “Halal” seal that almost every packaged food product dons to the sea of the hijab-wearing young girls that flood the sidewalk in front of an all girls school by one of our offices. I can hear the azaan throughout the day and it’s hard to drive more than five minutes without catching a minaret in your peripheral.


The fact that the Grand Cathedral is across the street from the biggest mosque in the region is representative of the diversity of values in Indonesia and the generally inclusive, multicultural attitude that most people here seem to hold. The people that I have worked with over the past two weeks are dedicated to their respective faiths and don’t seem to consider an alternative to a multicultural existence. I see some co-workers taking breaks for prayer in the middle of the day and those same people wait for their peers that run late to our weekend brunches because church service ran late. I love that.

Childhood Memories, Eating, and a Toast Recipe

food
Are there people, places, or things that you strongly associate with your childhood?


I woke up a few Saturdays ago with a longing for the time in my life when I was a kid. A kid beholden to my mother’s guidance and care. Living life as my mother saw fit, but still seeing every day through my eyes. I don’t remember most of my childhood, though I’m sure much of it was spent feeling a sort of idiot pleasure, totally simple-minded and innocent. I look back at it so fondly, at my childhood, even though when I lived through it I experienced all of the (silly) internal noise that makes children and young adults not see just how safe and at rest they actually are.


It all started when a good friend of mine had sent me a text about corn muffins that her mother makes and my associative mind bounced me all the way back to the buttered kaiser rolls my mother would make for me and my sisters when we were young. We didn’t grow up with much, despite living in New York City, but I didn’t know that until I made a life of my own. My mother never let us feel inadequate or with want.


The number one way my mom showed her love to us was through food. This resulted in some chubby trouble (good thing I also don’t have many photos from my childhood…), but I wouldn’t change (most of) how things went even if I had the chance. Food and nourishment is such a primal need, and the practice of mothers gathering, cooking, serving food to their kids feels special to me.


I recently read a piece in Atlantic magazine on diet culture and our psychological relationship with food. The article argues that humans have created so many rituals around eating and mealtimes, and more so than pleasure, and the reason why we fuss over making food a positive experience is because, in our psyches, eating is inherently linked to survival, which necessarily means that it is linked to our death. So, rituals around food exist to distract us from our certain death. Eating is fundamentally a transfer of energy, and any additions to the process of eating or expansions of the purpose of eating are cultural in nature. I agree with the general argument of the article but I think the scope is too sweeping. Not all rituals exist towards the same aim. Not all rituals around eating are aimed at distracting us from death. When you travel, engaging in food culture and mealtimes serves to give you a sense of normalcy and familiarity. When you invite friends to your apartment to eat, engaging in food culture helps you all bond around an activity that feels good, just a bit messy, and very human for everyone. The rituals of mothers feeding their children, for example, is not about avoiding death, it is, I believe, about facing being alive. And facing our chance to be alive is not neatly an optimistic one, there are burdens with being a sentient being that can feel exhausting. A mother feeding her child is helping her offspring thrive, feel loved, and safe, in a world that is filled mostly with unknowns and strangers.


One of the more gluttonous dishes we used to eat were hot, buttered kaiser rolls. It’s really just a salted butter festival in your mouth, and it is a damn good time. I think it’s something commonly served from the sidewalk coffee and breakfast vendors throughout Manhattan. Maybe that’s where my mom got the idea from. This kaiser roll is simple and straightforward to make and we spent many weekends and late nights doing it. You start with a fluffy kaiser roll that’s been cut into 1/3 and 2/3, pile on whipped butter that’s salted, and microwave for a little over a minute. By the time the microwave finishes with your roll, the fat piece that’s 2/3 of the roll will be soft and gooey with the butter, and the thin piece that’s 1/3 of the roll will be sort of stiff and chewy. I remember watching my youngest sister, just a few years old, pulling apart the soft side with dancing fingers (because she was too impatient to wait for the roll to cool) and chewing my own.


bd9ef949f0d455757ba35f17053cdc13

A kaiser roll

Now, that I’m mostly all grown up, my philosophy on food is different than my mother’s. I wouldn’t eat that kaiser roll, it’s too fatty…not nutritious enough…too much of an indulgence. My go-to toast recipe is more utilitarian, a bit different, but still delicious. It goes something like this:


Savory Egg, Butter, and Pistachio Toast Recipe


step-1
Start with your decently toasted piece of bread. I used whole wheat. The bread should be toasted to the point of being warm and crispy, but not so crispy that it would shatter upon bite. This recipe would be better with a fried egg but I was at work when I put this together, so no such luck.


step-2
Take the toasted bread, and spread your butter across evenly. If I had put this together at home with more time, I would’ve been more generous with my olive oil based butter. The more butter, the better this will taste.


step-3
Final step: slice up your egg and drop your pistachios across the toast.

5 Best Things I’ve Eaten – #3

food

Food is a huge part of my life. I get so much happiness from a delicious meal, and also strongly believe that delicious food can and should also be good for you. Luckily, I live in two of the best cities in the world for fresh, delicious, eclectic food: San Francisco and New York City. I find lots of inspiration in restaurant visits and by reading their menus, and try my hand at recipes, too. 

 

saffron

During my stay in Boston, I made some time for a dinner in a Persian restaurant, Lala Rokh. To end my meal I ordered this saffron ice cream that was subtle and fragrant and the perfect ending to a Persian meal.

sushi

San Francisco has an endless option of good sushi places, and I am so happy that I can explore them all over time. Domo Sushi has this melt-y slippery fresh tuna sashimi wrapped in watery cucumber that is so simple and so good. The taste of the cucumber goes so well with fresh tuna, which is really really light. My friends and I asked for another order, that’s how good it was.

kaya

I spent a few weeks in Southeast Asia in 2016 that introduced me to the glory that is kaya jam. Kaya is basically just sugar and egg and water, but with the twist of the kaya plant which gives it this taste that’s hard to describe unless you’ve had it before. The consistency is different than Western jams, as it’s smooth and almost paste-y. So good on warm bread…or on the tip of your finger straight out of the jar.

latte

Maybe this should have been the very first photo in this entry because this is how I started all 4 of the mornings that I spent in Boston a few weeks ago when I was there for work. Tatte is a cafe chain based in Cambridge that holds a special place in my heart, and they’ve expanded since I left town. Lucky Bostonians.

taco

Fish (cod) Taco @ Don Pisto’s! I know that this photo is awful: dim and forgettable, but the fish taco at Don Pisto’s is not. Though the taco falls apart very easily, which gives it a higher than desirable messy factor, the stuffing is delicious. The house spicy sauce has such a strong kick to it, too, that it helped me remember exactly where I was sitting and what I was looking at when I took my first bite. 

Jakarta or…A City Made of Shopping Malls

travel
This is a reflection I wrote at the end of my first week in Jakarta, in early 2016. 

 

Jakarta in three words right now: malls, food, and cars. My team and I spend our days working on our car care products project for a small, family-owned manufacturing company and spend our evenings taking in the sights of urban Jakarta through Indonesian cuisine and the ubiquitous shopping mall…

 

When I’m bored in the States, my gut reaction is never to go to the mall. If I lived in middle America or the South, it might be, but I’ve always lived in a bustling city. When boredom hits, I might start reading online, go to the gym, go for a really long walk and call my mom, or reach out to a friend to spend some time together. But, in Jakarta, the thing to do is to go to a shopping mall – maybe even several. I’ve already been to three this week, from the ultra posh to the more casual, everyday mall. They’re all teeming with department stores, coffee shops, restaurants, groceries, shiny electronics stories, fun bubble tea vendors, and the people that shop at those businesses, meandering their way around. The difference between the ultra luxury and average shopping malls is striking. I’m not using the term “ultra luxury” as an assessment relative to what my expectations for a developing country are. These are ultra luxury malls by any country’s standard. I can’t afford to shop at any of these stories without taking out a loan! Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, and the likes are housed in slick, gold-hued, marble lined rooms. Pretty women stand next to handbags, watches, and extremely structured apparel that costs more than the average Indonesian’s income times two.

 

The more casual malls are more or less the same as what I see in Boston / NYC / SF. I see familiar brands like the GAP, Zara, and H&M. The wonders of branding and global marketing… But, the casual malls here definitely have better food than what one finds in American malls. Mall food in the U.S. is…mall food. You don’t eat it for pleasure – you don’t tell your friends to meet at the mall (after college, at latest) to grab dinner, you don’t eat mall food because you want a healthy, filling meal. If you can afford to spend a little more money navigating to another neighborhood for a decent meal. (Fun fact: I had my first piece of “sushi”, a California roll, at a mall in suburban Queens.)

 

But, in Jakarta, and Indonesia more broadly, malls are centers of social activity as well as commerce. Competition within malls is fierce and the restaurant market is well developed – catering to a range of tastes and budgets. In fact, My top two favorite meals here so far have been at a classy, expat-heavy Indian restaurant that wasn’t inside a mall and at a Japanese restaurant, Ootaya, which was in a mall.
I’m excited to try more food in Jakarta and really hope I can find dishes that are more vegetable-heavy, most dishes seem to be some combination of fried rice/noodle + fried egg + a protein. I’ve reasoned that given Indonesia’s hot climate and largely rural state, fried and hot foods are sanitized (and delicious), but I’m surprised that a tropical country doesn’t make better use of its vegetation.
Bubble tea is commonplace in Jakarta. During my two days here so far, I've run into several locations of the Chatime franchise. My favorite order: bubbles and red bean, slightly sweetened, with milk, medium ice. SO good.

Bubble tea is commonplace in Jakarta. During my two days here so far, I’ve run into several locations of the Chatime franchise. My favorite order: bubbles and red bean, slightly sweetened, with milk, medium ice. SO good.

McDonald's localizing its flavors to the region! I never go to McD's in the States but there's one right around the corner from our hotel, and it's the nearest source for an iced latte.

McDonald’s localizing its flavors to the region! I never go to McD’s in the States but there’s one right around the corner from our hotel, and it’s the nearest source for an iced latte.

I've been enthusiastically trying local fruits (yes, this has led to a few stomachaches). The pears in this picture, are ever so lightly sweet and a refreshing break from the 3 fried meals that we seem to be unable to avoid.

I’ve been enthusiastically trying local fruits (yes, this has led to a few stomachaches). The pears in this picture, are ever so lightly sweet and a refreshing break from the 3 fried meals that we seem to be unable to avoid.

One of the many humorously named baked goods...this one is called "chicken floss".

One of the many humorously named baked goods…this one is called “chicken floss”.

The healthiest snack that I can find here - 80 calories of fried peanuts.

The healthiest snack that I can find here – 80 calories of fried peanuts.

great dinner @ Ootaya Japanese restaurant., inside the Plaza Mall. Tofu miso soup + lettuce with a ginger sesame dressing + pickled cabbage + salmon. Consumed with a side of toasted matcha green tea.

great dinner @ Ootaya Japanese restaurant., inside the Plaza Mall. Tofu miso soup + lettuce with a ginger sesame dressing + pickled cabbage + salmon. Consumed with a side of toasted matcha green tea.

Indonesia tapas, string bean and stir fried tofu, extra spicy cabbage, rice.

Indonesia tapas, string bean and stir fried tofu, extra spicy cabbage, rice.

I ate about a pound of rambutans while waiting for the 3 cars my team and I hand-washed (for research...) to dry

I ate about a pound of rambutans while waiting for the 3 cars my team and I hand-washed (for research…) to dry

Indonesia has a huge Indian influence and it manifests most clearly in their cuisine. This is a peanut-y, Indonesian play on my most favorite South Asian dessert: soan papdi.

Indonesia has a huge Indian influence and it manifests most clearly in their cuisine. This is a peanut-y, Indonesian play on my most favorite South Asian dessert: soan papdi.

Jakarta's Skye Bar - a must stop for all foreigners. We stepped in for a few minutes to take in the view of the city skyline.

Jakarta’s Skye Bar – a must stop for all foreigners. We stepped in for a few minutes to take in the view of the city skyline.

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Most Interesting Articles – Week #3

reads

I am an incessant reader. I am a non-discriminating reader: long-form, essays, infographic-format, books, poetry, I like it all. I collect words and ideas in my Evernote account and re-visit them often. Without words, there is little language and without a command of language, there is not much different between us and the other animals. I read on a diverse set of topics, but human psychology, economics, philosophy, health, tech, how-tos and neuroscience draw me in most often.

These are the most interesting articles I’ve read over the past week:

 

higher-education-clipart-clipart-panda-free-clipart-images-bbs540-clipartAmerica’s Great Working Class Colleges from The New York Times

Higher education is the best / safest tool / bet for lifting one’s self into a higher income bracket and live a better life in the United States. A recent paper by an economist that focuses on inequality and his colleagues revealed a trove of data on how students from across income backgrounds fare post-higher education. Definitely worth a read- or just look through the charts if you’re short on time. You can also customize many of the graphics to include American universities of interest.

 

2-ingredient_banana_coconut_cookiesTwo-Ingredient Shredded Coconut and Banana Cookies from Carrots ‘n Cake

Exactly what it sounds like. Ctrl + F “banana” to find the 3 sentence recipe in the linked page. I cannot wait to make these when I get back home after I finish traveling for work. I almost always have Trader Joe’s shredded coconut at home. I also imagine that these would fill your home with an incredible smell. And it literally needs no added sugar.

 

 

Decline in Absolute Income Mobility

This is a research paper led by Raj Chetty (same research work as what is referenced in the NYTimes article above) and several other economist. Skip forward to page 35 to see visualizations with the takeaways from the paper, if the finer details don’t interest you. TLDR summary is that it became much, much harder for children to out-earn their parents since 1940, and, that if you were born to parents in the 80th percentile, you’ll likely stay there.

 

fitness-clip-art-microsoft-clipart-panda-free-clipart-images-bqu3n5-clipartHow Long Does It Take for Fitness Benefits to Show from Mark’s Daily Apple

A nice reminder of what the point of the work that you put into your body is. I find the benefit of better mind-body coordination and neural strength really interesting, and I’ve experienced it firsthand.

Excerpt:

Neural strength: Improvements to neuromuscular efficiency happen within days of starting a lifting program. Beginners get stronger almost immediately simply by learning proper technique and how to fully contract the muscle fibers they already have.

 

bzbbvazysvkj1xgfdyzg_screen20shot202017-01-1820at2011-48-5120amMake Operations Your Secret Weapon from First Round Review

Just as the difference between productive and unproductive individuals over the long-term has to do with the actual actions that they take, successful companies need robust operations practices. And as is usually the case, the best a unit can do is a ceiling determined by the leader. Good strategy without execution just isn’t enough.

5 Best Things I’ve Eaten – #2

food

Food is a huge part of my life. I get so much happiness from a delicious meal, and also strongly believe that delicious food can and should also be good for you. Luckily, I live in two of the best cities in the world for fresh, delicious, eclectic food: San Francisco and New York City. I find lots of inspiration in restaurant visits and by reading their menus, and try my hand at recipes, too. 

 

The 5 best things I’ve eaten recently:

cod-taco

 

The tacos at Papito Hayes are awesome (and they’re 2 for $10 and 4 for $18!!). I went with a friend recently (no way I could’ve eaten 4 in one sitting) and loved loved loved the rock cod taco that’s in focus in this picture. As soon as you bit into the taco through the crispy outer shell (read: fried!), the cod inside was hot, warm, and juicy. I also loved the vibrant colors of the cabbage on top. Yum.

 

dal-makhni

Okay, this picture does not evoke much…but, the dal makhni at Kabana in Berkeley is amazing! If you enjoy spicy food, you will love this. I thought the sizzling chicken tikka that came out on a heated dish or the boisterous owner that wouldn’t stop talking to me and my friend would be the most memorable part of my meal, but really, it was this dal makhni.

 

la-note-pancake

I’ve only been living in the Bay Area for 6 or so months now, but I have three restaurants that I know will never fail me, and never leave me too poor, that I can ALWAYS take company to. La Note Provencal in Berkeley is one of those three. If you can get in, which is hard during brunch rush hours, this restaurant will warm you with its all wood rustic appearance and cozy, delicious, homemade-esque dishes. I am not a fan of pancakes, but the pancake that borders on being a dutch baby (it is so tender) at La Note is so good. Each time that I’ve been, I have half a pancake and half an order of eggs. This pancake is fluffy and soft in the center, topped with pears, and perfect with a light smear of the butter that comes on the side.

 

feta_date_toast

This here is my own creation! I’m a sucker for texture (“mouthfeel” as they call it in the food industry) and if you can’t make up your mind on whether you want something soft or crunchy, sweet or savory, warm or room temp make this! This is feta, avocado, and dates on a slice of toasted sourdough bread.

ubiquitous-kale-salad

This looks like a pile of kale (’cause it technically is…) but the lemon dressing on this salad just makes it so much more. I got this at Alden and Harlow in Cambridge. I will definitely take a pass at this myself the next time I’m fixing myself dinner. A delicious dressing goes a long way in making a meal.

Most Interesting Articles List – Week #2

reads

I am an incessant reader. I am a non-discriminating reader: long-form, essays, infographic-format, books, poetry, I like it all. I collect words and ideas in my Evernote account and re-visit them often. Without words, there is little language and without a command of language, there is not much different between us and the other animals. I read on a diverse set of topics, but human psychology, economics, philosophy, health, tech, how-tos and neuroscience draw me in most often.

These are the most interesting articles that I’ve read this week:

 

09-true-love-w710-h473-2x


What Romance Really Means After 10 Years of Marriage from New York Magazine

Undoubtedly your definition of marriage will depend on the culture in which you were raised. Two people raised within the same culture also have differences, as we are heavily influenced by the models our parents create for us. For me, as I am still figuring it out (and unmarried),  a marriage is something like a working partnership. Two people have an idea of how they want to live their lives and their visions align with enough harmony (the word “synergy” also comes to my business school trained mind) that they think they can support one another and create something fun and fulfilling together. That means going through the everyday nonsense of survival together, which is annoying and probably not all that interesting, for the long haul. I loved the playful and frank descriptions the writer shared from her 10-year-old marriage.Excerpt:

Excerpt:

But once you’ve been married for a long time (my tenth anniversary is in a few months!), a whole new kind of romance takes over. It’s not the romance of rom-coms, which are predicated on the question of “Will he/she really love me (which seems impossible), or does he/she actually hate me (which seems far more likely and even a little more sporting)?” Long-married romance is not the romance of watching someone’s every move like a stalker, and wanting to lick his face but trying to restrain yourself…After a decade of marriage, if things go well, you don’t need any more proof. What you have instead — and what I would argue is the most deeply romantic thing of all — is this palpable, reassuring sense that it’s okay to be a human being. Because until you feel absolutely sure that you won’t eventually be abandoned, it’s maybe not 100 percent clear that any other human mortal can tolerate another human mortal. The smells. The sounds. The repetitive fixations on the same dumb shit, over and over. Even as you develop a kind of a resigned glaze of oh, this again in, say, marital years one through five, you also feel faintly unnerved by your own terrible mortal humanness.

 

girl doing stretching exercise clipartIs Your Workout Not Working? Maybe You’re a Non-Responder from The New York Times

(A summary of) Another study that reminds us that behind our skins is a complex system of hormones, organs, muscles, run by the mind and our genetics.  And, as a result, each system is a little different from the next. Every body will not have an identical response to physical exercise. When explained that way, customizing exercise seems obvious, but how frequently do we look at the people in our lives and wonder why we cannot accomplish the same results?

 

15neanderthals1-superjumbo-v3Neanderthals Were People, Too from The New York Times

Really interesting article on our historical understanding the “Neanderthal”. Upon the first known discovery of Neanderthal remains, the scientific community struggled to understand who the neanderthal was and what its existence implied for the what they knew about the contemporary human. So, as is not infrequently the case, scientists appealed to their culture-driven understanding of what a Neanderthal’s existence might be like given their appearance.

Excerpt:

Then, having reassembled the Neanderthal this way, Boule insulted it. This “brutish” and “clumsy” posture, he wrote, clearly indicated a lack of morals and a lifestyle dominated by “functions of a purely vegetative or bestial kind.” A colleague of Boule’s went further, claiming that Neanderthals usually walked on all fours and never laughed: “Man-ape had no smile.” Boule was part of a movement trying to reconcile natural selection with religion; by portraying Neanderthals as closer to animals than to us, he could protect the ideal of a separate, immaculate human lineage.

 

27943512-woman-sleeping-cartoon-clip-art-illustration-stock-vector-womanThe Economics of Sleep – Part 2 Transcript from Freakonomics Radio

This gets interesting towards the second half, where they explain their learnings from a natural experiment set-up to contrast the sleeping habits and earnings of two towns (Huntsville, AL and Amarillo, TX)  that are at the eastern and westernmost ends of the Central Time Zone in the U.S. The two towns are in the same time zone but daylight reaches and leaves them at different times as they are nearly 1,000 miles apart. Some of the takeaways are too sweeping but sleep is an interesting factor to consider, as it affects us over the long-run.

 

healthy-kale-egg-breakfast-cups-otish-cupHealthy Kale Egg Breakfast Muffins by Taste and See

I LOVE eggs. They are just such a perfect food – impossible to mess up, versatile (fry, bake, scramble, savory, sweet) and nutritious (I was very happy when research a few years ago started to show that eggs do not drive up your cholesterol). I don’t like to work with kale in my kitchen so I would sub spinach in these but these are delicious and convenient. And, you can customize them to your heart’s content. I would bake them with hot sauce in the mix.

 

klebsiella-pneumoniae_cdc_6689A Superbug Resistant to Every Available Antibiotic in the U.S. Kills Nevada Woman from PBS

Infectious diseases scare me far more than other illnesses,  even those that are chronic, because their behavior within my body is much less predictable. Article includes a brief educational video from Stat News on what the meaning of the term “suberbug” is – definitely work watching. Sorry for the icky picture.

 

Vaccine Critic Robert Kennedy Says He Will  Chair Trump’s Vaccine Safety Panel from Stat News

This is problematic because bringing a man who does not appreciate that science tries to solve large problems that we cannot immediately address with deductive experimental methods with lots of experiments over time, poking and prodding through our complex natural world cannot have say on policies that protect science / scientists’ work that protects our well-being. Ugh.

Cambodia…or Living Heart and Grace

travel

this post is about my travel to Cambodia in early 2016

While in Cambodia, I spent all of our time in Siem Reap. The best way for me to describe how I feel about Siem Reap and what I learned about Cambodia while there is that i think it’s a place and people with heart and grace.

I saw more prostitution than I wished I had while in Siem Reap, and at times, those glimpses that I caught took stage in front of whatever else I was experiencing. The duos of overweight Western men with local women were abundant. It wasn’t as prevalent as what I saw in Bangkok, but that could just be because there are more people in Bangkok. I have a lot of empathy for the women that have to do sex work to make a living. Their conditions are not fair and ultimately, the drive for self-preservation might just be the strongest one that we all have. Most of these women are trying to make ends meet, for either just themselves or their family units.

The people with whom I am deeply disappointed is the men who enable this industry. There are other ways to empower the women of Cambodia and fulfill your own sexual needs that don’t reduce the integrity of others. I understand that sexuality is complicated, and that these men might not even think that they are being derogatory or they might be too wrapped up in their own personal state to even consider the impact they might be having on others, but their psychic state does not absolve them in my eyes. They are doing something terrible by engaging in sex tourism. Prostitution is usually a last resort profession for those in poverty.

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world (it ranks in the bottom 80, many countries at the bottom are tied to each other) and among the very poorest in East Asia (on a per capita basis). Much of its poverty can be explained by its recent history. The Khmer Rouge ran the country from the 1970’s through 1997. the leader of that dictatorship was Pol Pot, who subjugated the people of Cambodia through systematic and ruthless killings. He killed anyone that he felt was too intellectual, too skilled, too outspoken, etc. and that could be a threat to him and his vision for Cambodia. Pol Pot wanted everyone in Cambodia to become a farmer and live through the land. Some estimate that he killed nearly a quarter for the Cambodian people. He supposedly passed away in his sleep due to heart failure, which seems too soft a death for someone so cruel. It is almost poetic that he died of heart failure as it is clear that he failed to ever use his heart when he was alive.

It is incredible that the people of Cambodia are where they are after enduring a generation of genocide. 1997 was also the year that my family permanently settled in the United States. In some  ways, we are still in a period of adjustment. I am so impressed that the Cambodian people have progressed to the extent that they have over the same time period. And, that it is a relatively peaceful country with low rates of crime. According to the UN’s Office of Drugs and Crime, Cambodia has an intentional murder rate of 6.5 / 100K (which is less than the Americas (~16), Africa (13) and just about the world average of 6.2), which is high for Asia (~3) but still not bad, all things considered. And, they’re persevering with such grace.
Some pictures from the highlights of the trip below:

 

we went to see the angkor wat complex at sunrise- very ancient and grand

We went to see the angkor wat complex at sunrise- very ancient and grand

a view from within the main courtyard

A view from within the main courtyard

A sunrise almost too soft and pink against this jagged structure

A sunrise almost too soft and pink against this jagged structure

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The yard at the back of the complex.. Angkor Wat is the largest religious site across all faiths, in the world

My favorite picture from this trip. I found this pretty amusing. but I'm sure the monks were not amused by my amusement.

My favorite picture from this trip. I found this pretty amusing. but I’m not sure the monks were amused by my amusement.

The night market in Siem Reap is quite vibrant-- though the selection is quite limited. Most vendors sell the *exact same* things and there is little room for price arbitrage. I wonder whether they pool their earnings as they can maximize individual earnings if they do not compete and instead, pool

The night market in Siem Reap is quite vibrant– though the selection is quite limited. Most vendors sell the *exact same* things and there is little room for price arbitrage. I wonder whether they pool their earnings as they can maximize individual earnings if they do not compete and instead, pool

One of the out of commission helicopters used by the Khmer Rouge at the war museum of Cambodia. This museum was an incredible institution. It was very tiny, but absolutely a must-go to learn more about the country and I encourage all visitors to support its work. They employ ex-soldiers and those displaced/hurt/affected by the Khmer Rouge in their facilities.

One of the out of commission helicopters used by the Khmer Rouge at the war museum of Cambodia. This museum was an incredible institution. It was very tiny, but absolutely a must-go to learn more about the country and I encourage all visitors to support its work. They employ ex-soldiers and those displaced/hurt/affected by the Khmer Rouge in their facilities.

 

Most Interesting Articles List – Week #1

food, reads

I am an incessant reader. I am a non-discriminating reader: long-form, essays, infographic-format articles, books, poetry, I like it all. I collect words and ideas in my Evernote account and re-visit them often. Without words, there is little language and without a command of language, there is not much different between us and the other animals. I read on a diverse set of topics, but human psychology, economics, philosophy, health, tech, how-tos and neuroscience draw me in most often.

These are the most interesting articles that I’ve read this week:

Source: NYTimes

Source: NYTimes

How “Elites” Became One of the Nastiest Epithets in American Politics from The New York Times
Excerpt:
But about half a century ago, the conservative movement set out to claim anti-elite politics as its own. That meant redefining the term away from class and toward culture, where the “elite” could be identified by its liberal ideas, coastal real estate and highbrow consumer preferences… The notion that distant elites might be conspiring against the people comes straight from the Founding Fathers, whose Declaration of Independence lamented the “long train of abuses and usurpations” inflicted upon ordinary Americans by an arrogant British king. From there on, United States history might be seen as a repeating cycle of anti-elite revolt.

 

 

Reconsider: On starting a business (a startup) with economic sobriety
Excerpt:
I wanted the best odds I could possible get at attaining the tipping point of financial stability. In the abstract, economic sense, a 30% chance of making $3M is as good as a 3% chance of making $30M is as good as a 0.3% chance at making $300M. But in the concrete sense, you generally have to make your pick: Which coupon is the one for you? The strategies employed to pursue the 30% for $3M are often in direct opposition to the strategies needed for a 0.3% shot at making $300M. Shooting for the stars and landing on the moon is not how Monday morning turns out.

 

The Voices in Our Heads from The New Yorker

If not talking to others, I am almost always talking to myself. I did not know until my early 20’s that not everyone has inner speech. I talk to myself to learn new concepts, and to reflect on a day’s events, so that I may get a grip on reality. Very interesting research.

Excerpt:
“Splitting itself into separate parts is one of the most powerful of the mind’s defense mechanisms,” he writes. Given that his fMRI study suggested that some kind of split occurred during self-speech, the idea of a connection between these two mental processes doesn’t seem implausible. Indeed, a mainstream strategy in cognitive behavioral therapy involves purposefully articulating thoughts to oneself in order to diminish pernicious habits of mind.

 

Fuck Work from Aeon
This article is an opinion piece and the author’s (a historian) agenda is clearly an anti-capitalist sermon. Setting that agenda aside, the author articulates assumptions that have been baked into the American psyche (including mine) that are worth examining.

Excerpt:
When we place our faith in hard work, we’re wishing for the creation of character; but we’re also hoping, or expecting, that the labour market will allocate incomes fairly and rationally. And there’s the rub, they do go together. Character can be created on the job only when we can see that there’s an intelligible, justifiable relation between past effort, learned skills and present reward.

 

Bullshit is no laughing matter from Aeon
This is a re-visit given the flood of bullshit in my Facebook timeline and media sources, that I’ve become more aware of since Trump’s win. When I first read this a few months ago, this is what stuck with me:

Excerpt:
According to the philosopher Harry Frankfurt, emeritus professor at Princeton University, bullshit is something that is constructed absent of any concern for the truth. This is quite different from lying, which implies a deep concern for the truth (namely, its subversion). Bullshit is particularly pernicious since the bullshitter adopts an epistemic stance that allows for a great deal of agility.

 

 

Vegan Rasgullah recipe
I just LOVE rasgullahs. If you’ve never had them, please run to your nearest Indian restaurant and try them off the dessert menu. They have a dry consistency but they’re still just moist enough, and have just a sweet enough taste and smell of airy cardamom. This recipe made me feel I can make them myself, in 40 minutes. Amazing! Will definitely try my hand at them soon.