[Day 8] Willpower

Little things that can increase willpower (based on Kelly McGonigal talk at Google )

  1. Sleep more. Meditate and work-out on the regular basis.
  2. Think more about failure than success. Think about way how you can fail your goal. In fact, if you feel you’re getting progress, you’re more likely to drop.
  3. Eat more plants and fruit.
  4. Think about your future self. Write a letter from your future self to your current self
  5. Practicing mindfulness. Craving comes and go. This too shall pass. Try to feel the feeling and the urge to procrastinate/ do necessary things will pass.

Interesting facts: How long you hold your breath can be a good indication of how likely will you choose the easy way over the hard one. It’s called resistance test.

While I was typing this, Kelly shows me her 5 points. Here’s the the real 5 things that can increase your will-power (I might go too much into details and maybe my perception about it is different?)

  1. Train your will power physiology ( I think it apply to mediation, work-out, and resistance training)
  2. Forgive yourself ( I actually forgot this point)
  3. Make friends with your future self (same with my point 3, just shorter)
  4. Predict your failure (same my point 2)
  5. Surf the urge (same with my point 5, just shorter)

On the side story, today I’ve learned about how to make videos than can record the screen and webcam at the same time. Used a software call OBS studio.Spend a few hours trying to record the first lesson. Turns out that I have both less and more problems than I thought. Repeating words is not such a big problems but recording a video without making mistakes for a period becomes a real pain in the ass.

[Day 7] Difference in USA. Note in loneliness and communication.

Few brief observations/thoughts while driving car about America that I found much different from where I come from(Viet Nam, and somewhat New Zealand)

  1. Car culture. People spend a crazy amount behind the wheels and stuck in traffic everyday.
  2. Having a car is crucial. If you don’t have one, you’re basically disable.
  3. Everything is big and so far away, which directly increase driving time.
  4. Obesity is really a big problem. Overweight ppl are everywhere.
  5. Muscular and good-looking ppl are everywhere, too.
  6. No racism here, but I’ve heard from a black friend that when you drive to a new place and see a lot white pedestrians, it is a good neighborhood. Many people are obsessed in finding the imagined intent without acknowledging that is merely an observation, or fact.
  7. Americans are price-sensitive.
  8. Insurance is expensive. Only a few satisfy with their insurance’s rate.

Extra at the end of the day. I noticed that all day long I have been talking with myself while doing other stuff such as programming, or cooking. At night, I just lie down and open a YouTube video without watching it. I realise what I’ve done is trying to replicate a conversation by either using my own voice or the voice from my smartphone. I am in need of connecting to others, and without a real conversation all day long, my sub-conscious mind urge my to create a replica of it. I have not practicing mindfulness well I guess.

On another side note, I’ve just watched 2 videos from the channel “The school of life”. The first one talks about how communicating with children that you have not known before is the ultimate test of your social skills and the second one proves that the difference between an interesting person and the boring one is the courage and ability to convey one’s feeling, experience and opinions to others. I find both arguments quite convincing. In my first class of Creative Writing course, my instructor said that everyone of us has something to write. If I am 25 years old, it means I have at least 15 years of writing material waiting to be put on paper. The thing we lack is the courage to tell our stories to the world and the inability to transfer our perceptions into others by words. Everybody have their own filters, and if we are not aware of the differences between ours and theirs, we would indeed end up boring persons.

[Day 1] Got inspiration

After a long time not writing anything, I believe today is a good time to get back to this habit. The 50 days writing that I tried before has stopped at Day 23, but it really has died much earlier than that. Looking back, I realize my mistake was trying so much to make a deep and meaningful essay everyday without taking account of how hard and long it is to write one. To overcome that difficulties, I’ve reused the essay that I’ve written in the past and that practice has created few problems:

  • The supply of those essays are not limited.
  • It creates a inertia of not writing, which goes directly against the purpose of the challenge.
  • Basically, I’m lying. Both to readers and myself.

Thus, I think the challenge of writing everyday does not work really well on me. Habit needs time to catch on. Now I believe the challenge should be kept inside and the rules would grow organically. Tomorrow me should not be tied by the promise of its less intelligent version.

Ok, enough for that, here’s 2 people that have inspired me today:

1) Ha Vu  – a software engineer sharing about his plan to master Machine Learning and got a github respitory that has over 16K star.


2)  Huyen Chip – an adventurer, writer, Stanford undergraduate and master student (at the same time) – humble and totally amazing. Her 365blog inspires me a lot.



I also got inspired by the book  Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead (MIT Press) . I have wanted to work towards an driverless car before, and this book explains to me exactly how complex the problem was and how we have step by step work out the solution. I used to think the problem lies between computer science and philosophy. I’m much more informed now.

On a different topic, I’m thinking about making videos to teach Programming in Vietnamese, in particular “Data Structures and Algorithm” concepts. Despite of its importance and student’s struggle in the topic, I have not found a good source to explain those terms in Vietnamese. I will definitely take a deeper look in this idea.

“If” by Ruthyard Kipling ( Tiếng Việt ở sau)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

By Ruthyard Kipling




Nếu con có thể giữ được cái đầu lạnh khi mà tất cả

Đều đánh mất mình và đổ lỗi cho con,

Nếu con có thể tin tưởng bản thân khi tất cả đều nghi ngờ

Nhưng vẫn chừa chỗ cho sự nghi ngờ ấy,

Nếu con có thể chờ mà không mệt bởi sự chờ đợi

Cũng như khi bị lừa dối, đừng quan tâm đến sự lừa dối,

Cũng như khi bị ghét bỏ, đừng để thù hận lên ngôi,

Và cũng đừng mặc đẹp quá, hay nói chuyện ra vẻ sõi đời. 


Nếu con có thể mơ – nhưng không tạo những giấc mơ mà con đã khuất phục,

Nếu con có thể nghĩ – nhưng không tạo những suy nghĩ mà con đang nhắm về,

Nếu con có thể dối diện với Huy Hoàng và Thảm Họa

Và đối xử với chúng như nhau,

Nếu con có thể chịu dựng được những sự thật mà con đã nói

bị chụp mũ bởi người khác để bẫy những kẻ khờ,

Hoặc nhìn những thứ mà con hy sinh cả đời vì, sụp đổ,

Và tiến lên và xây lại chúng bằng những dụng cụ đã hao mòn. 


Nếu con có thể lấy tất cả chiến thằng của mình

Và đặt cược chúng vào một lần thành-hay-bại,

Và thua, và khởi đầu lại

Và không hé một lời về chuyện đã xảy ra, 

Nếu con có thể bắt buộc trái tim và khí lực và gân cốt của mình

Để phục vụ con dù chúng đã biến mất từ lâu,

Và trụ lại cho đến khi con không còn gì

Ngoại trừ Ý chí vẫn thầm thì “Cố lên!”


Nếu con có thể nói với đám đông mà vẫn giữ được mình, 

Hay đi với những vị vua – mà không mất sự nhạy cảm,

Nếu mà cả kẻ thù hay tri kỷ đều không thể tổn thương con;

Nếu tất cả đều dựa vào con, nhưng không ai quá nhiều,

Nếu con có thể lấp đầy một phút không tha thứ

Với sáu mươi giây của một cuộc chạy đường dài,

Con là hiện thân của Trái Đất và tất cả những gì trong nó,

Và – hơn tất cả – con là một người đàn ông, con trai của ta.


Viết vởi Rudyard Kipling.  


My poems


My black bike

I have two big circles and I am straight.

Those circles are soft sometimes but I’m always as hard as a steel gate.

People touch my bone, and then they touch my circles.

Touch it, touch it, feel my power.

Black, black, I’m proud these are all dark black.

Mysterious, manly, inviting like a guy with six-packs.

I run like a war horse, move swiftly like a whirlwind.

Girls surround me, admiring “What a majestic thing!”

But sometimes, when my circles are down, I’m like a gun with no rounds.

A proud soldier who got shot in the middle of the battleground.

Then I was taken to a beautiful woman.

Can you blow these up for me, please?

And now I’m feeling ready for another round.



The beast

We are scary.

I am scary.

A brute hide underneath human skin.

A clawless animal full of beastly thirst.

Hi, how are you doing?

Would that be enough to cover

my desire to bite, to consume, to devour, to tear you apart?

Oh, you’re busy? How about tomorrow night?

Would my voice betray me so much?

Has it already revealed

that I want to touch you

with my hands, my fingers, my nose, my head, my lips, my tongue, my everything?

I’m sorry.

I am not.

Take me. Take me. Take me.

I would be a rouge, a knave, a miscreant, a dog, a piece of meat. I don’t care.

Enslave me. Torture me. Kill me.

Would it make any differences?


But that will only be the start of my howling night.


How to code like a real programmer

First step: Plug the computer in,

and don’t forget to connect the screen.

Then you have to push the power button gently

but strong enough until it opens properly.

With luck, something might appear.

The texts, the symbols, arise from the darkest sphere.

Don’t be frightened, don’t be afraid.

But just in case,

this black magic scares the shit out of you,

give it your best kick and everything will be okay.


My little sis

She smiles

like an angel,

trying to hide her witty witty mind, which made me laugh every now and then.

She is holding a toy, as joyful as

every little baby would be.

She is wearing a red dress,

never knows she will be obsessed with them

until she turns ten.

There is me, on the right

wearing a shirt that I wish I didn’t have –

a cute Kitty cat smiles with me,

saying “Hey, I’m good on boys, too”.


[Day 24] Philosophical meditation

Inspired by a video I found from School of Life, I will try having a philosophical meditation session to regain my focus.

I) What am I currently anxious about? 

I’m anxious about the progress of my individual project. I’m supposed to show some results at the beginning of the trimester but during the break, I procrastinate on my task so much so I have not found anything valuable

I’m anxious about the development of my current self. I let myself loose a lot these days and often use unjustified reasons for my laziness. Sometimes I fell like I’m a hypocrite.

I’m anxious about myself. I lack the will needed to achieve something big. These days, I start losing my concentration and resistance to distraction. I think I’m going backward.

I’m anxious about my attitude with people near me. I seem not to care much about anyone else. I do love them, and definitely, help when requested. In normal times, I just cannot show care enough.

I’m anxious about the time just go by without any steps forward. I’m anxious about using my time carelessly.

b) What is this anxiety really about?

The worst that could happen if:

+ I don’t show up with any result after the break: The professor will be disappointed at me. I might risk losing our relationship and opportunities to work within my field in the next 3 years. However, if I keep my grades and my skills high, I can still be ok.

+ I keep my procrastination and laziness: I will achieve nothing in the break. I will also have the bad tendency to follow that path back in the trimester. If I waste my time, I will have fewer opportunities career-wise and disappoint my family and myself. Will have to go back to Viet Nam and work in a corrupted environment, which is the reason I come here. With my skills, I’m still much employable in Viet Nam if I try enough.

+ People think I’m selfish and do not care about them: I might hurt somebody close to me. I might hurt my family. I will be sad about it. However, I can live with that. It is never a bad time to start show some caring.

II) Who am I upset with and why?

I’m upset with myself mostly, for being unresponsible for my life and letting the surroundings affect me.

I’m upset with my aunt, who is under much pressures in her life. Although I know that she means no harm against me, I’m still irritated by the fact that she always finds something to scold me every time we meet. Whatever I do or not do, there is a reason to complain. Sometimes I’m amazed at how creative these complaints are. Half of the complaints are directly towards me, the other half are to a group that I’m the only representative listening. I find troubling at the first few days, then I thought since I know her motives, I will not be affected anymore. I was wrong. Though I’m compassionate with her innocent motive, I do not think it is her right to pass her troubles to me.

I’m upset with my cousins. Both of them are good, astoundingly good. Only when they are in their normal mood. The older cousin is careless sometimes, and often getting rage, not with me but with his family, which I partly can understand why but not agree with it. The younger cousin is ok, but once I accidentally make him fall off the bed, he continuously curses me “Stupid”. I find his manners disrespectful. I feel bad for them, yet I’m much disappointed in them.

b) If this happens to a friend, what do you advise them?

+ Distance yourself with negative power.

+ Know that they mean no harm. It’s just their ways of living.

+ Try mediation.

+ Reschedule your time.

III) What recently made me feel excited, envious, or desiring? 

My most recent excitement is when I went out to the nearby park to see the waterfalls with my cousins and his friends. I did not go with the group. Walking alone in nature is good. I feel reconnected.

I found excited talking with my mom.

I found excited when I made up my own problems, to make a program to play cards. I was deep in my thought figuring the solutions for that task.

b) What might be missing in my life?

I guess I need to go out for a walk/run and reconnect myself with nature more.

c) If feelings could talk, what might it tell you?

I guess it will tell me to stop settling with mediocre pleasure. Go and try new things.

It will also tell me to sleep and rise early.

d) If other parts of my life were more like this, what might they be like?

It will be an awesome, productive and satisfied life.




[Day 23] Tools for Conviviality – If we continue our industrial way, we will eventually destroy everything.


So I have finished Tools for Conviviality, another book in My December Reading’s list. With only 110 pages, this book takes me 3 whole days to digest, with me reading around 2 hours, stop doing another thing to regain concentration, and then continue. The book is dense, I must say. Every sentence is deep and meaningful. Without exaggerations, I have highlighted almost every 4 sentences. Thanks for having experienced one Ivan Illich’s book before, which is Deschooling Society, I have fewer troubles comprehending this book. Definitely, I feel more enlightened and smarter after finishing it. In the following paragraphs, I will try to simplify and summarize his argument. However, summarizing means getting rid of original information and replacing some by my own elements. Thus, I highly recommend anyone who is interested purely in knowledge read this masterpiece.

Ivan’s argument focuses on criticizing our way of thinking about technology, development, and industrialization. Are we in control of technology or we are controlled by technology? Technology mentioned here is not something so advance like computers or smart phones. Highway road can be technology. Cars can be technology. We’re growing more and more dependent on cars and road so that we cannot think out of it. A man without a motor-run vehicle like motorbike or car cannot do anything in our society. Bikes or other primitive vehicles that need only man-power are no longer needed. Another example is compulsory school and education. We have change our thinking from ” I want to learn” to “I need education”. The more “developed” a country is, the more “education” its citizen must need to function properly. Social polarization starts from this. An American with only 10 years of schooling is much worse of than a Brazilian with 4 years of schooling. Consumption only leads to more consumption. More education leads to more and more education. So are roads, or high-speed vehicles.

Two other examples that Ivan have listed in the book is medication and consumption. As we are more advanced in medical care, there are more disease and more sick people than ever. So are the cost and discrimination in professionalism. We can no longer declare ourselves sick. We need a subscription from a proven doctor. Ivan talks about the unlimited growth of consumption as humanity’s addiction. There is no good life since there is a belief that we need more “innovation” and “innovation” is better. We need more, and we need better products. Iphone keeps coming out every year and we can never satisfy with it. We are taught about unlimited opportunities but our ecosystem is limited. We’re destroying nature with significant speed, and making our link with nature more blurred. Nature is taking revenge on us in 2 ways, making Earth less inhabitable for human and make humans more inhabitable on Earth. If we keep thinking development is good, technology is good, industrialization is good, we will all be doomed.

Ivan’s solution is the world focusing on convivial tools. He focuses on establishing a society that places emphasis on human interaction, research on humans’ relation with its tools rather than tools’ efficiency, and restriction to production but not services. One example of convivial tools is the condom. It is cheap. It has science. It can be used by many people and it is easy to use. It is the most powerful tool to reduce population’s growth. Its power cannot be centralized nor used by a group of privileged people. Books and the alphabet are also convivial tools. Once again, I have simplified his arguments much. To understand what Ivan really means in his society, please take up the book and read. It is damned worth your time.

[Day 22] Captain Fantastic – a hidden gem


As usual, I just finish Captain Fantastic. It is just too good of a film. Actually, I really want to compliment the film to the highest standard, but now I’m losing my words describing it. It is just an extremely complicated mixture of feeling, caused by high crafted story line. The film contains perspective of our modern society from an outsider, the one who choose to retreat from human’s world. It also contains many philosophical concepts and peculiar ways of education. By showing pros and cons of their ways of living compared to a normal people, the movie has portrayed what is currently wrong with this world so that we can have appropriate adjustments for our lives.

Here is the list of lessons I learn:

  • I’m weak, both in intelligibility, spirituality, and physical ability. Seeing the film makes me ashamed of myself. I should have a more disciplined ways of living.
  • Practice physically. Practice mentally. And practice intelligibly.
  • “Interesting” is a lazy word. Describe more specifically. Focus on how you think about the matters, not the description of the matters.
  • A new way to talk about sexual intercourse. It seems to work.
  • Nobody is going to be there and help. Be more independent.
  • A good mixture of social knowledge and book’s knowledge is needed. Placing emphasis on one side and ignore the other is not great.
  • Watching these kids makes me realize my time is limited. I should god damn use them well.

[Day 21] Against utilitarianism – Morality is the tool benefiting society, not for the individual (10 min read)



John Stuart Mill, author of “Utilitarianism” and “On Liberty”

In the book “Utilitarianism”, John Stuart Mill has introduced a moral model with the same name, which put utility as the basis of morals or the greatest happiness principle. In this model, “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong in proportion as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By ‘happiness’ is meant pleasure and the absence of pain; by ‘unhappiness’ is meant paint and the lack of pleasure”(5). By examining and criticizing Mill’s arguments about the foundations of his theory, this paper will argue that utilitarianism should not be the moral standards for humans.  Furthermore, it will argue that “ethics of utility” are individual traits that are desirable to the group to which that individual belongs, not to the trait’s owner.

Pleasure is one of two major components of Mill’s happiness. He argues that we can rank pleasure’s value based on their desirability “Pleasure P1 is more desirable than pleasure P2 if all or almost all people who have had experience of both give a decided preference to P1, irrespective of any feeling that they ought to prefer it”(6). Even though this comparison method sounds logical, it contains a critical mistake, which involves collective opinions. What is the danger of collective opinions? One might ask. The most dangerous fault of believing in the mass is the fake unity that the mass portrays. For example, if we ask Americans whether we should increase our budget for education, we’re more likely to have an answer that is different than 50%-50%. Let’s assume that 70% of them vote for YES. Does it mean that increasing budget for education is the right thing to do? Not necessarily so. Over the people that voted for YES, 20% of them might think it’s better to increase salary for elementary teacher, 15% might think that we should increase scholarship for college students, 30% might think that’s we should abolish privilege such as scholarships for the elite and spend more for the average people, while the rest who vote YES do not have any specific preferred areas to spend the extra money. If we go into more details, we would find more and more diverse and conflicting reasons for their votes. They opinions looks like the same, but they are not. Everyone has their own reasons for placing one over another. A glance would show solidarity, but a detailed examination would display chaos.

The second fault in collective opinion is that no crowd should be trusted as the judge. What is the justest crowd? How big should it be? What are its attributes? Should it be comprised of the justest individuals? If it is composed of the people who do not have the highest standard, how could it come to the conclusion of the highest standard? If we let the people who are raised and taught Nazi’s ideal, would Holocaust is the right things to do just because it brings more pleasure to them? The ideal size and traits of group’s members is still a big question mark in Mill’s model. If there is no person who can be trusted for his judgment, there are even fewer reasons to let a crowd hold that role. Even Socrates, whose name has been used several times as a symbol of intelligence and virtue in Mill’s work, has strongly disregarded the idea of collective opinions.

“Should we care about the opinion of the many? Good men, and they are the only persons who are worth considering, will think of these things truly as they happened.” (Crito, 8).

Mill also believed that

the way of life that employs the higher faculty is strongly preferred·to the way of life that caters only to the lower ones· by people who are equally acquainted with both and equally capable of appreciating and enjoying both…no intelligent human being would consent to be a fool; no educated person would prefer to be an ignoramus; no person of feeling and conscience would rather be selfish and base” (6).

Mill calls our “sense of dignity” as the reason for making these choices. His assumption is too convenient to make and his trade-off lacks a basis of a fair deal, since it contains many hidden pieces. If a person chooses to be a dissatisfied human other than a satisfied pig, it is not only because the mental pleasure has higher quality than bodily pleasure, but also because of many other reasons. Being a satisfied pig is not secure. A turkey is always well-fed before Thanksgiving. Being humans, or having more intelligence gives an entity more awareness to its surroundings, thus help prolong its life. Moreover, the level of curiosity increases in proportion with intelligence, which leads to boredom in repetitive activity. If a person consecutively eats only one type of food for a year, his pleasure gained from eating would dramatically reduce, even given that food is his favorite. Having more intelligence means that you can extract pleasure from more streams, thus giving you the options of having fun in one activity while waiting for the excitement level of others streams to be refilled. One other hidden factor of the trade-off is that one cannot hold the other parties accountable after the deal. If a person accepts the deal, he would be in a more vulnerable position to be exploited. Thus, he may not have the promised pleasures. Giving these three conditions satisfy, the final decision can be much different. In fact, there are many people in this world who choose the trade-off differently than what Mill expects. We can name lots of millionaires, billionaires, politicians, dictators who have the capacity to be knowledgeable, to be virtuous, but they choose to have a regal life full of sexual and material desires instead. Mill can argue that they are not exposed enough to the other life, but there are still monks and intellectualls who cannot resist the call of bodily desires. By giving reasons to exclude these exceptions, Mill has “cherry-picking” the samples that fit his theory.

After establishing what is happiness and pleasure, Mill starts his endeavor into explaining why utilitarianism is good “you could rationally accept the utilitarianism standard without having grasped that people who enjoy the higher pleasures are happier than those who don’t· That’s because the utilitarian standard is not the agent’s own greatest happiness but the greatest amount of happiness altogether”(8). Mill wants to push the idea that happiness can be derived from noble character. He argues that selfishness and lack of mental cultivation are the roots of unhappiness. Thus, “anyone’s best chance of serving the happiness of others is through the absolute sacrifice of his own happiness”(8). Mill’s assessment about the value of self-sacrificing is not sufficient. Nobleness, or willingness to sacrifice for the sake of others is not a desirable trait for an individual but for a group. That trait is encouraged because it increases the survival rate of the group. Having one and two members deceased does not cause much damage for the group, but for those persons, they have lost everything they have. We help others because of two reasons 1) we felt good helping them or 2) there is something in return for us in the past, present or we expect it to come in the future. For the former reason, we may feel good because we have been taught that helping others is good (the society need their member to have that trait) or we may inherit that instinctively. The need to help others rises subconsciously since we want to make friends, to form our circles, so that we can be more secure. Without being taught about sacrificing or expecting benefits from helping, there would be no circumstances when a person voluntarily help another person.

Not satisfying in introducing his model, Mill took another step in recommending

(1) First, laws and social arrangements should place the happiness (or what for practical purposes we may call the interest) of every individual as much as possible in harmony with the interest of the whole.(2) Education and opinion, which have such a vast power over human character, should use that power to establish in the mind of every individual an unbreakable link between his own happiness and the good of the whole; especially between his own happiness and the kinds of conduct (whether doing or allowing) that are conducive to universal happiness(12).

This is exactly what happens on George Orwell or Ayn Rand novels, where everyone is taught that their happiness is in harmony with their brothers and sisters. The purpose of these rules is to benefit and stabilize “the whole”. However, like 1984 or Anthem, the definition of “the whole” is vague. What constitutes the whole? For a Georgia resident at Lawrenceville, would “the whole” be his family, his neighbors, his county, his state, his country, his race, humanity or every living entity? What kind of happiness matters?

Mill’s proposition “happiness is the end and aim of morality” (17) lacks the subject being discussed. The right proposition should be “personal happiness is the end of individual and group happiness is the aim of morality”. Without a group, there is no need for morality. Morality, or ethics, is the tool of a group to ensure its existence. It is necessary to teach morality to children, but not in the name of personal needs.


John Stuart Mill. Utilitilarism.

Plato. Crito. Pennsylvania State University. 1998  

[Day 20] The Martian – Cool movie


So I have watched The Martians. Even though it is a little bit cliche and too much Hollywood-like, I still consider it a really good movie. I thought movies like The Martians brings many inspirations and educational lessons to people, especially kids. If I were a kid watching this, I would definitely find science more attractive, and the hidden desire to be an astronaut in the future is having its chance to start burning again.

There are 4 choices (3 in the movie and 1 hidden) that I found interesting:

1st decision:

When NASA did not know that they left Mark at Mars, they consider proposing to the Congress about the new ARES 6. Vincent said it’s a good opportunity because they can use that chance to exploit the feeling of the audience about Mark’s death. Retrieving Mark’s body is never the main mission, but it is a good add-in for popularity. Teddy opposes because he does not want Mark’s body to be exposed to the media, thus reduce the astronaut’s (and Nasa’s) image.

Well, Mark is death. And business must go on. Retrieving Mark’s body is not appealing to NASA, but it is to the public. I find this talk really nice.

2nd decision: 

When NASA found out that there is a chance that Mark is alive. They face the decision between following the law to publish this or ignore it. Despite losing face and having a lot of difficulties in the rescue mission, they choose to publish the news, since they know they cannot cover the lie forever.

Teddy Sanders: How sure?
Vincent Kapoor: A 100%.
Annie Montrose: You’ve got to be shitting me.
Teddy Sanders: Prove it to me.
Vincent Kapoor: For a start the solar panels have been cleaned.
Teddy Sanders: They could have been cleaned by wind.
Vincent Kapoor: Back it up. Look at Rover 2. According to the logs, Commander Lewis took it out on Sol 17 plugged it into the Hab to recharge. It’s been moved.
Teddy Sanders: She could have forgotten to log the move.
Mindy Park: No, not likely.
Annie Montrose: Well why don’t we just ask Lewis? Let’s get on CAPCOM and ask her directly right now.
Teddy Sanders: No. No. If Watney is really alive, we don’t want the Ares 3 crew to know.
Annie Montrose: How…how can you not tell them?
Teddy Sanders: They have another 10 months on their trip home. Space travel is dangerous. They need to be alert and undistracted.
Annie Montrose: But they already think he’s dead.
Vincent Kapoor: And they’d be devastated to find out they left him there alive.
Annie Montrose: I’m sorry, but you have not thought this through. I mean, what are we gonna say? “Dear America, remember that astronaut we killed and had a really nice funeral for? Turns out he’s alive and we left him on Mars. Our bad. Sincerely, NASA.” I mean, do you realize the shitstorm that is about to hit us?
Teddy Sanders: How are we going to handle the public?
Annie Montrose: Legally, we have 24 hours to release these pictures.
Teddy Sanders: We release a statement with them. We don’t want people working it out on their own.

3rd decision:

When NASA facing the decision between risking Mark’s life and the whole crew’s life. Teddy, director of NASA, choose to protect the crews. He has to do that way. However, Mitch, their ground team captain choose to secretly let the crews know about the second option and let them choose. Of course, they choose to risk their life to save Mark. When Teddy knows about this rebellion, he told Mitch that the whole thing is bigger than one person. To his surprise, Mitch said ” No, it’s not. ”

Teddy Sanders: Annie will go before the media this morning and inform them of NASA’s decision to reroute the Hermes to Mars.
Mitch Henderson: Sounds like a smart move, considering the circumstances. Whoever gave them the maneuver they only passed along information. Crew made the decision on their own.
Teddy Sanders: You may have killed them, Mitch. We’re fighting the same war. Every time something goes wrong, the world forgets why we fly. I’m trying to keep us airborne. It’s bigger than one person.
Mitch Henderson: No, it’s not.
Teddy Sanders: When this is over, I’ll expect your resignation.
Mitch Henderson: I understand.
Teddy Sanders: Bring our astronauts home.

4th decision: 

This is the whole movie. This is just like Saving Private Ryan, on a much bigger scale. Millions of dollars and man-hours have been wasted for saving Mark.

Values that I think the film contains:

+ Will, effort of human can conquer nature.

+ Never give up.

+ Learn science. It helps. Be smart and creative. It helps.

+ Value of a human life is insurmountable.

Conclusion: This film may not be a classics, but it’s something to enjoy. It’s kinda Space Comedy The Revenant.