Monthly Archives: December 2008

Happiness, or Pursuit of Happyness

“In what does happiness consist? Is it the same for all men, or do different men seek different things in the name of happiness? Can happiness be achieved on earth, or only hereafter? And if the pursuit of happiness is not a futile quest, by what means or steps should it be undertaken?”

The above is from the Syntopicon essays from the Great Books that discusses about Happiness. The Syntopicon is great reading and addresses many topics, as well as serves as a guide in the reading of the Great Books of the Western World.

I think everyone will think about this topic of Happiness in this time of the year, the end of the year and the beginning of a new one, and many will work out their new year resolutions. Well, what are new year resolutions if not the pursuit of happiness? We resolve to be happy, in fact, as Pascal said, we can only wish to be happy and cannot wish not to be so. I tremble to think of a person who wishes himself/herself not to be happy.

But what is happiness?

My own perspective is happiness do not come from one big thing or event but is a accumulation of small happy moments and the memory of such happy moments. The funny thing about happiness is that you can still be very happy although you are suffering physically.

So what are these happy moments? In Lin Yutang tradition, I will consider the following things that makes me happy:

1. To be in the company of family members that loves you and cares for you, even if they sometimes abhors you or nags you. That’s because they love you.

2. To be in the company of good and talented friends that thinks of you and cares for you and find you to be a good and talented friend too. Friends that takes interests in what you do (e.g. commenting on your Facebook status.. heh heh), asks you out and sends you messages and greetings (or gossips…).

3. To perform one’s job professionally, to be held in high regards by your employers, employees, colleagues, customers, suppliers and competitors.

4. To enjoy good health, not only yourself but your family and friends too because without them, what are you going to do?

5. To be able to have leisurely time and money to do what one fancy, e.g. to be able to have time and money to indulge in one’s hobby (e.g. play Go and watch movies) or to go for holiday trips.

6. To be able to live in a peaceful environment, in a good and pleasant house with a good car and have a peaceful job.

7. To be able to be financially free and not a slave to money.

8. To be able to die peacefully and without much pain.

Well, simple ain’t it? For me, at least for now, paradise in on Earth and I don’t expect to go to heaven, although I may go to hell, if hell exists ;-)

So with this, Happy New Year 2009!!

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Filed under Thoughts & Commentaries

Where did all the money go?

I was feeling a bit feverish this morning, perhaps a result of the headache I got from the Go tournament last Saturday in the Japan Club where I had two wins and two losses. The normal thing to do is to just sleep tight for a day and rest before going to work again tomorrow.

But I couldn’t do that because I had three meetings lined up today. The first was with a boutique Corporate Finance adviser where they are advising on our coming corporate exercise, the second was with our company auditor and then in the afternoon, a meeting with our corporate banker to discuss some banking facilities and to restructure the exisiting facility. And then tomorrow morning, a meeting with a leading investment banker, again for the corporate exercise.

While doing this, of course, naturally the finance side of me will take over the movie and Go side of me. Recently I read a book entitled THE WORLD IS CURVED. Of course, most people have read or heard of the book THE WORLD IS FLAT by Thomas Friedman. Ironically, I read the book over a weekend in my condo in Hyderabad and reflecting on the book in Hyderabad, I felt that I was at the right place at that time. Anyways, back to THE WORLD IS CURVED, it basically says that while Thomas Friedman’s book brilliantly described the world of commerce in goods and services, the world of Finance is essentially curved in that you can’t really see what is around the corner.

Reflecting on that book, I was of course thinking of the current economic condition that the world is in. Of course, many people thought that the crisis stems from the Subprime housing mortgage crisis but actually, the root of the problem goes further than that, even further than what is accused of Alan Greenspan, i.e. creating a housing bubble by lowering interest rate for a prolonged period of time (by the way, Greenspan’s biography THE AGE OF TURBULENCE is also a very good read and I got a lot of inpiration from it while working in Jakarta).

The thing with modern finance is just the complexity of it and thus the frequent lack of transparency in the system. Financial derivatives and structured financing masks too much of the risks involved in such financial instruments and as such exposes the holder of such instruments to very high risks, risks that they often are not really aware of due to the lack of transparency. As such, banks are “suddenly” insolvent and the government has to pump national money to rescue these troubled financial institution whereas these money would have been better used to improve the country’s infrastruture and to enrich its citizens.

So, with the government pumping so much money, in the trillions in rescue packages, it is only logical to think that those trillions are no longer in the economic system. So where did all these money go? Needless to say, they went to a small group of extremely powerful people but who are these people?

The modern world of finance is such that those who knows how to play the system will make huge amounts of money while those honest, down to earth people, will work their buttocks off day in day out, doing productive work, but finding that the money that they have earned with their hardwork is slowly eroded by the financial system, if not wholly swallowed up by those who know how to play the system.

Imagine the common American, for example, who finds that the value of his home has gone down by half and he is no longer able to pay for his mortgage while the company that he is working for is retrenching while someone in Norway has bought a repackaged asset backed securities who finds that that asset is no longer backing up the finance sufficiently and has to lose money on that investment, those money that he has saved up so hard to invest for the future. There is no more future then, and they have to start all over again, toiling day in day out, to save money again.

While some fat cats are sitting somewhere in the world, laughing at these sad and honest people. The world of finance is not fair. The world of finance is curved.

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Filed under Economics, Events and Happenings

Three Country Go Tournament

Last weekend, we had our annual Three Country Go Tournament between Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Apparently, this tournament is already 20 years old, having had the first one back in 1988. It is more of a friendship tournament so that players and members get to know each other more and share experience etc. It is a very good initiative.

I took part in the tournament, of course, having promised myself that I should play more tournament Go. I took part in the same tournament some years back in Singapore and had great memories of it.

Besides the tournament proper, we had two professional teachers from Singapore, Mr. Yang and Mr. Kang who played teaching games with us. Without any doubts, I learnt a few things this time too.

The tournament started on Saturday morning itself and since I had to work, I had to miss the first two games. I wanted to take leave from work but we had a pre-arranged meeting with some Singaporeans that morning and I could not be absent from the meeting.

So, barring the first two games which I lost on penalty, I won 2 out of 5 games. One game I lost to Philip by 8.5 points, due again to my horrible yose play which Alex showed me how I should have played, and the two games I won, one is with Chyn who walked-over because he said he needed rest and the final game, I won against Jimmy Cheng by 1.5 points. The game with Jimmy was particularly interesting as he played two “flying knife” moves on me which I got hit both times and had to struggle to recover from that ambush. Luckily, I managed to secure some territories in the center to get that win.

Overall, it was a fun event. More tournaments to go.

Full report and pictures here: http://www.weiqi.org.my/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=190&Itemid=54

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Filed under Weiqi/Go/Baduk

Playlist – Some of My Fav Songs

Edit: Well, somehow the code didn’t work, so just click on the “Pop Out Player” to listen.

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