Tag Archives: school

兩週一聚﹕一件小事

前言﹕這是一個叫「兩周一聚」的活動。是網友米雪兒發起。每月十五日﹑三十日﹐一班住在世界不同角落的香港人都會一起寫同一個題目。今天是第十六次相聚,由Sherry 出題﹐主題定為「一件小事」。

現在認識我的人﹐也許以為我從小也是個品學兼優的好學生。沒有人會知道中二那年﹐成績表上還給校長用紅筆寫上Fighting一字。打架發生在小息時間﹐什麼原因開始打架已經忘記了﹐大慨是一些雞毛蒜皮的瑣碎事。在男校打架是很通普的事情﹐只要有人開始打架﹐其他同學便聚過會來圍觀﹐在打架兩人身後圍圈搖旗吶喊。通常打架不會持續很久﹐風紀或老師來到﹐大家就一哄而散。

那次很不幸校長剛巧路過﹐他是個非常嚴肅的外藉修士﹐所有學生也懼怕他。他沒有審問我們打架的理由﹐二話不說便當場下旨責罰我們。兩個人一起到校長室外站罰一星期﹐每天小息﹐午飯和放學後也要去報到。接下來的一個星期﹐我們二人每天返學的所有時間﹐便一起共同渡過。放學後校長見我們只是站著罰企沒事幹﹐便物盡其用叫我們去執垃圾。執垃圾至少可以活動可以談話﹐總算比罰企乾悶好一點。打架罰留堂當然不可以讓阿媽知道﹐那個星期我每天找藉口說有課外活動﹐要留到五時才放學回家﹐倒也給我胡混過去。

由於這次事年是校長直接處分﹐班主任並不知道打架的事。那個學期的成績表﹐神奇地操行仍然獲得優良的成績。可是派成績表當年﹐不知何解由校長親自派發﹐他記得我打架受罰﹐於是在成攣表上御筆親批寫上Fighting一字。我也不記得回家結果如何﹐大慨給阿媽藤條炆豬肉﹐打到躲在桌子底下吧。可能我不知天高地厚﹐中二成績表被校長劃花了﹐中三還敢膽粗粗去考風紀。我當然知道成績表寫著打架有問題﹐於是我用沙膠把Fighting那個字擦去﹐把成績表影印拿去面試。騙那些高年級的風紀隊長﹐說阿媽怕我弄掉成績表﹐只給我拿副本出來用。想不到竟然又給我過關﹐成功加入風紀。事後回想起來﹐有點後悔擦掉Fighting那個字。其實可以先影印一份﹐塗改第一份副本後再影印。畢竟給校長在成績表寫打架﹐並不是每個學生也有的殊榮啊。

其他文章﹕ humptidumpti (下期出題者)洛言C9讀與食南杏加燦athrunzmad dog周游leonaaudreymaSilverHaricotlomicheechilli momPetit_melonZerohevangelVince、揚眉女子、HollyThe Man Who Loves EvertonMugen CwannicrSimon 木棉、michelle、軍師奶

若果想參加兩周一聚的朋友﹐可以參看這個網頁

Game theory

This term instead of taking a philosophy course, I am taking a economics course, game theory. Technically, I am not taking a course, I did not register. I am just going to the lecture to audit the course off the record. It is one of those huge lecture with over a hundred of students. The structure of the course is fairly one way, the professor explain the course material in class and then hand out homework assignment. Unlike the philosophy course, I learn by interacting with the professor, this course is just a one way street of absorbing knowledge. I figure if I don’t need the credit and I don’t need another to mark my assignment, why don’t I just sit in the lecture and learn for free.

I am taking game theory not only because I am interested in economics, it is also I need this knowledge for more advance moral or political philosophy. Utilitarianism is always and will always be an important moral or justice theory. There are new research to field on applying game theory concept to calculate the utility function to determine whether something is moral or evil. Knowing game theory will give allow me to give more quantitative argument when I am making a moral claim.

In this course, I am using Wiki to take lecture notes. My ultimate goal is to create a knowledge database for my studies and I am experimenting with Wiki. Here is my lecture notes

Old friends

It has been many years since I spend time in Toronto.  Last time I came back for my friend’s wedding, I only stayed for a weekend.  I did not even have enough time for my family, so I could not see most of my friends.  I saw many friends in the wedding, but it is hard to talk during the banquet.  It is too noisy and has too much distraction to talk about work, family and life in general.  It takes a relaxing environment to talk about those touchy topics. This time I came back for another friend’s wedding and staying almost a week and I finally have the chance to catch up with them. My schedule is fully booked everyday to have lunch, dinner and drinks after dinner with my old friends.

We went to school together, we are about the same age, we are experience the same stage of life, so we share many common worries. I envy some aspect of their life and they envy some other aspect my life. It seems grass just is always greener on the other side. Some of my friends stuck in a technical job with relatively good pay but not much visibility about the future in ten years just like me. Some of my friends starting start-up to pursuit their dreams. Some of my friends left the industry and working on something totally different. Talking to my friends gives me some thoughts about my life plan and at the same time makes me learn to treasure the gifts I already have.

Out of all my friends, one made a pretty interesting career move. Guess what, he started a condom shop! We are all wondering, does he QA all the products sold in the shop himself? Maybe that’s why he never bring his girlfriend to the reunions. He knew we will ask very embarrassing questions. We are a whole bunch of engineers after all.

Missing chapters in college days

Block university has a applied disablity study program that is related to Pat’s studies in autism, so we drove to St. Catherine to take a look at the university campus.  Comparing to the huge campus of UBC, Block seems very small.  Even SFU or Waterloo seems big comparing to the several connecting buildings that is all of Block’s campus.  The university campus store can tell you a lot about the character of the university.  I checked out the textbook of the philosophy courses;  I think Block’s philosophy department is much tougher than SFU’s.  The readings are mostly original materials, unlike the comprehension textbooks use in SFU.

When I am browsing the titles in the university bookstore, I realized what I missed in my college days.  Like those portrayed in movies or novels, university suppose to be a place for the quest of knowledge.  Students should carry those thick wordy books around, then they sit under the sun and talk about the wildest ideas.  They would have many complaints against the society, the government, the corporate, basically complain about the adult world in general.  They dream about the future and talk about how they would make a change.  Thinking back what I have done in my university days, it seems my time outside of classroom are mostly wasted.  I just spent endless nights playing Warcraft with friends in the computer lab, went to Karaoke and get drunk on the many weekends.  I should have read more books, pretend to be more intellectual and maybe even join some movement for a noble cause.

The process or the result

I have a friend quited her job and went to study MBA planned for a career change.  Very unfortunately, now she graduate right in the middle of the fiancial crisis.  Jobs opening is drying up everywhere, especially on the traditional MBA related industries.  This year is a very though time for a MBA graduate.  Luckily, although she quited when she went back to school, she is able to get back her old job.  It seems things is not changed at all for her, except she lost a year of salary, the accumulated benefits and got a huge debt for the tuition.

If we are just looking at the result, yes, she seems to be worse off than before.  However, there are many things cannot be quantified with a dollar sign.  Instead of seeing it as a failed attempt of career change, it can be seen as a sabbatical.  My friend always dreamed to study aboard and experience a different country.  That was her last chance to experience the school life full time before she is too old to enjoy that.  The course work she learned in school might not be very useful, but who knows what might come in handy one day.  Most important of all is she had tried to go after her dream.  No matter what is the outcome, she won’t have any regrets.  Maybe when she look back in 10 years, her decision quitting her job to go back to school will have a different perspective.

What’s wrong with the undergrad mentality

Today is the last day of my philosophy class. The professor has office hour after the lecture. I don’t know which essay topic should I choose, so I went to see her. There is a small line up in front of her office. Some students want to check the grades of their exam, some other just like me want to discuss their essay. While waiting in line, I start the conversation with the classmates by asking them how do they think about the course. To my surprise, all three of them think the course is really hard. They did not get a good grade in the exam and not even know how to write a philosophy paper.

I chat with them a little bit more, I found out none of them are philosophy major. They take the course not because they are interested in political philosophy, it is because this course fulfill the requirement for a minor degree or is an elective of a certain a program. To them, this course is just another course, the final essay is one of the many essays due next week. The stop keeping up with reading after the exam, since the material in those chapters won’t get them any grades. They are very surprise when I told them I am taking this course for fun. I guess they wouldn’t believe why someone would eager to take a course that they think is a torture.

I remember I had the same mentality when I was in undergrad. A course is just a mean for an end, an obstacle between myself and graduation. I don’t really care what I learn, all I care about was getting good grade and an honor degree. I wonder does all undergrad think the same way. Students go to university suppose to learn enthusiastically and always aspire for higher knowledge. How come university becomes a system making students to jump throw hoops in order to graduate. It seems that is not the problem of university. I took the same philosophy course as the other undergrad students. I found the course very interesting but the undergrad think it is boring. If nothing is wrong with the university, then something must be wrong with the undergrad students. But what’s wrong with them? I was one of them too!

兩周一聚:傳統與傳統智慧

今期兩週一聚加燦出題目﹐原本的題目水蛇春咁長﹕傳統 & 傳統智慧 / Convention & Conventional Wisdom。為免影響博面排板美觀﹐我把貼子的題目改為﹕傳統與傳統智慧 。原本加燦要求一雞兩吃﹐同一題目中英文各交一篇﹐可惜我恕難從命﹐原因請看篇未注腳。

傳統與傳統智慧
每間學校也有它的獨特傳統﹐我不是指尊師重道或德智體群那些官方傳統﹐而是在學生間世代相傳的不成文規定。我的中學便有一個十分特別的傳統習俗﹐做生日。做生日並不是為同學慶祝生日﹐而是一班同學忽然間圍著其中一位同學﹐很高興地唱生日快樂﹐然後把“壽星仔”按著背脊朝天﹐大伙兒以拳頭相向﹐將不幸被圍的同學打得彭彭作響。做生日的受害者並不只是被圍在中央的同學﹐在外圍的同學手不夠長﹐打不到中央的同學﹐隨便看到那個背脊便打落去。生日會通常不會持續太久﹐每位同學過完手癮後﹐便會一哄而散。

不一定要生日的人才便被做生日﹐當然生日的人一定逃不過被做生日的命運。每一人也有可能是壽星仔﹐選擇基本上帶有隨機性﹐當有有些不幸的同學被選中的機會高些。生日會可以發生在任何時間任何地點﹐轉堂時小息時放午飯時甚至上堂時。最常見的一種生日會在排隊時發生﹐一班同學自發地候守在樓梯口﹐第一位從樓梯下來的同學便自動成為壽星仔﹐而後來從樓梯下來的同學看見有生日會﹐當然會加也快腳步一起加入慶祝。有同學在課室內搞事﹐騷擾一位受歡迎的老師講課﹐我們即場做他生日﹐安撫他後讓老師安心授課。最經典放會考前最後一天﹐我們為一位深不得人心的舊生老師做生日。他幾經爭扎逃出我們班的圍困後﹐他在隔鄰班上最後一節課時﹐害怕再次被做生日﹐還未落堂便奪門而逃。

做生日也有其傳統智慧。生日的正日當然不可以讓同學知道。行落樓梯時也要小心﹐要眼觀八路耳聽四方﹐若果察覺到樓梯底氣氛異樣﹐便應該折反上樓﹐讓其他同學身先士卒。被圍的時每個人的反應不同﹐有些同學會嘗試突圍﹐不過通常也不會成功。有些同學會採取守勢保護自己﹐其實做生日也不是認真地打﹐大伙兒又不是收賣人命。我被圍時則以攻為守﹐隨手找一個同學拉他入圍﹐讓他與我一起分享被慶祝生日。其他同學有兩個背脊做目標﹐落在自己背脊便的拳頭便減少一半。

生日會歷史悠久深入民心 ﹐現在我們在舊同學結婚時﹐仍然會保留這項優良傳統。在飲宴留到最後等大部份親友離去後﹐我們便會舉行這個簡單而隆重的做生日儀式。雖然人老了大家只是循例做樣子扮打﹐但是拍照出來的效果十分有趣。

Footnote: Convention and Conventional Wisdom
Something is wrong with Kempton’s choice of the English title. The translation of 傳統 should be tradition. Convention usually means a big meeting which is not really related to conventional wisdom. I could not figure out the relationship between convention and conventional wisdom, so I could not write anything else except this analysis of the English title.

其他文章﹕
加燦 (出題者)周游hevangel、Sherry、michelle軍師奶IanC9讀與食、南杏、lomichee、zero、芸、mad dog、chili mommingmanfred、hongkieatlarge、athrunzHaricot 微豆SilverThe Man who Loves Evertonhihisimonlongqt肥肥媽媽

下期題目﹕ 怕

Demanding professor

Next semester, my life begins getting back to normal, I am talking another philosophy course. I had class with this professor before, she is really demanding. In her class, she forbid any students using laptop, even for taking notes, because she think anyone with a laptop would be distracted by surfing the web. The course work load was normal, but her lecture expect us to do the reading before coming into class without explaining much background details. I didn’t do very well in that class, but that’s OK, I won’t really care about my grade.

My first class is staring on Monday and the professor already sent out email to the class to assign next week’s reading. I don’t even have time to buy the textbook yet. Luckily the textbook is available online at Google books, so I have to read the two assigned articles on my laptop this week. The work load of this course is not too bad, just two essays on top of the exams. I did introductory political philosophy last year, I thought the intermediate course would be more or less the same. However, I already found I am learning new ideas on the first two essays. The previous course taught about the all the -ism in political philosophy, this course talk about political theories, which is one layer deeper than the -ism.

Quest for wisdom

I didn’t take any part time course at SFU this term because I have to adjust my newly wed life and I to work in India for 3 weeks in October. I am going to resume my studies next term. I can only afford to take one course per term, so I am working very very slowly to my philosophy degree. Next term I am taking intermediate ethic theory and political philosophy. The course is in the area of my study interest. I want to prepare myself well equipped to rebuke intellectual attacks from the both end of the political spectrum.

When I went to the bookstore pick up next term’s textbook, I have a habit of browsing textbooks of other courses, to see is there any interesting course I might want to take in the future. I come across many interesting and useful courses outside of the philosophy major. Philosophy is the mother of all subjects, which gives me a good foundation in making connection from knowledge in different fields. But I have to broaden my knowledge outside of philosophy into related areas if I want to survive in battle for the minds.

I observe that many leftists have a social studies background and many right-wingers have a economics background. I often feel kinda dumb when I read the theories quoted from both side to support their claims. Well, I sort of understand the quoted theories, they appears to be quite convincing in their context. However, without more knowledge on related fields, I can’t tell whether the theory really holds up or it is merely an intellectual bluff. I have identified a few other courses to take in the future if I couldn’t find a philosophy course fits my schedule on that term. Here is the list of core courses for my undergrad degree:

PHIL120 – Introduction to Moral Philosophy (done)
PHIL203 – Metaphysics (done)
PHIL220 – Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy (done)
PHIL242 – Philosophy of Art (done)
PHIL280 – Introduction to Existentialism (done)
PHIL300 – Introduction to Philosophy (done)
PHIL144 – Introduction to the Philosophy of Natural and Social Science
PHIL201 – Epistemology
PHIL240 – Philosophy of Religion
PHIL320 – Social and Political Philosophy
PHIL321 – Moral Issues and Theories
PHIL322 – History of Ethics
PHIL341 – Philosophy of Science
PHIL421 – Ethical Theories
SA250 – Introduction to Sociological Theory
SA350 – Classical Sociological Thought
SA351 – Classical Marxist Thought
SA450 – Advanced Sociological Theory
ECON208 – History of Economic Thought
ECON282 – Game Theory
ECON309 – Introduction to Marxian Economics
ECON402 – Advanced Microeconomic Theory
ECON403 – Advanced Macroeconomic Theory