Archive for December, 2007

The World Is Flat

This is my biased response after finishing the very important book by Thomas L. Friedman.  Slightly more sarcastic than the copy I sent Doc! …Merry Christmas Eve!  ^ ^

My Copy!  My Cherries!! ^ ^

The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman definitely made me think. Sometimes students get so bogged down by school and their current lives that they forget to look up at their surroundings and the future. And a flattening world means that your surroundings don’t just include your state or country. It now includes the entire world as competition gets fiercer and more opportunities arise for everyone.

Some of this globalization of countries the individual is obvious. Last time I checked, nearly everything in my room was made in China.  Anyone with a computer (aka you and I) can now create their own blog, upload their own videos, and have their own voice in the online community. With email and Skype, I can communicate with almost anyone anywhere for virtually nothing. Friedman’s book also goes into the immense impact of other flatteners like UPS and Netscape.

On one hand, the idea of a nearly flat world strikes me as extremely positive. It’s nice to know that individuals are getting a chance to rise to the top regardless of whether where they were born. Caste systems no longer determine one’s social status throughout life and the poor can advance themselves. In fact, we should go even further with this flattening to help areas like Sub-Saharan Africa with all of its water, malaria, and AIDS issues. Personally, I’m glad that my cousins (who are, believe me, quite ambitious) in China have a chance to compete equally as the playing field levels out. And from an economic standpoint, competition forces countries and businesses around the world to produce better products at lower prices for the consumer. Everyone benefits from globalized trade because of comparative advantages. Those in India, China, and other countries get jobs producing goods at a much lower cost than in the U.S. and we have more money and time to dedicate to other areas and services. There is always another want out there to be fulfilled; you just have to discover it. This makes innovativeness a definite necessity in the new flat world.

On the other hand, this prospect of a flat world and all this outsourcing is a bit frightening. Friedman’s book did a good job of portraying those billions of teenagers around the world as intelligent and power-hungry individuals willing to work hard to get to the top and yes, eventually dominate America. My parents, who immigrated to Hawaii from Shanghai in the 1980s, have always stressed the importance of studying hard and being a step ahead. So it’s a little sad to see how slow the United States’ education systems are when compared to those around the world. It’s even worse how some parents baby their kids and say we should slow down the system even more when little Junior can’t keep up.  And those who want to incorporate intelligent design into the science curriculum and take out evolution?  We’re trying to make progress here, not regress back to the Middle Ages.  Ambition is also definitely lacking in America. As more children and adults turn to video games and messed-up, drunk-one-day-and-pregnant-the-next celebrities for entertainment, the “brain gain” after the Sputnik incident sadly becomes a “brain drain” as Americans lose interest in math, science, literature, and everything else. Yes Paris Hilton, Shanghai certainly “looks like the future” if America’s obsessed with people like you.  The first step is awareness of the problem. The second is figuring out how to deal with it.

In The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman states that to become successful in today’s world, you need to be able to adapt and stand out from the crowd. The world is changing and we must be able to change with it. It’s not just doctors and lawyers anymore. Now we have data miners and gene programmers. Versatility is key. Like the lemonade seller who added his own little jig to make himself unique, you also have to give yourself that little spark of specialization to make yourself “untouchable.” If all of the technical jobs are indeed going overseas, I see personal communication as becoming more important. That’s why you join speech and debate: to learn how to sound convincing even when you’re clueless.  As some presidential candidates know, that little bit of charisma could go a long way. Speaking of presidential candidates, in Obama’s latest “stump speech,” he promised college students more help in paying tuition. Education, according to Friedman, is the most important thing. Without the basic skills, you’re not going to get anywhere. Learning a second language or playing a musical instrument can’t hurt your chances either.  So why are the Republicans cutting funding for education? 

I personally loved the 11/9 and 9/11 comparison. 11/9, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, symbolized an opening up of nations, a breaking down of walls, a time of freer trade and a flatter world. After 9/11, we tried to close off the U.S. to further threat. Risk is inevitable when reaching for success but isolation is not the answer in this new age of connectivity.  Sure, there’s predators on Myspace and online porn.  But most parents have no way of keeping their kids off the Internet.  The keys are awareness, caution, and good judgment.  Building walls would only be detrimental to making sure America stays near the top. We need to learn how to develop the skills that will allow us to effectively compete in this increasingly flattened playing field to avoid being “left behind” by the world.  And all of this increased connectivity and dependency is more likely lead to cooperation than to world wars.

I could go on but I suspect that I’m boring you. 🙂  On a lighter note, you should watch this for laughs. Happy Holidays! 

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Musical Updates

I should be catching up on schoolwork…but I feel like updating. ^ ^  Heehee…

More specifically the music pages on this site after listening to stuff from the Jekyll & Hyde musical today.  “God damn you Hyde!”


So I highly highly recommend you check this page out. ;]

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Happy Birthday to Me!

Sweet Sixteen!!  Amazing!!

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Happy Holidays!!

Only 2 more days! ^ ^


The World is Flat is actually pretty fun to read..kind of like The Armchair Economist. : )

Yayness for life!!!

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Because of a general lack of…imagination , we shall once more explore the mysteries of the violin!  After playing around with natural harmonics on Friday’s lab with Adeline, I decided to do a little bit of research.

By using Sound Sensor and playing the open A string, you can view the frequency spectrum.  You can see the fundamental frequency and its multiples following it(2x, 3x, 4x, 5x, 6x, 7x, 8x, 9x…). 

 OpenA.jpg picture by xtaintedwatersx

When you play the 2nd harmonic/1st overtone on the A string (by lightly placing your finger at the middle of the string), you create a node and force that point on the string to remain stationary.  This eliminates some of the frequencies present earlier: only the even multiples (2x, 4x, 6x, 8x…) can exist. 

 2ndHarmonic.jpg picture by xtaintedwatersx

Likewise, when playing the third harmonic with a finger placed at 1/3 of the string length, only certain multiples of the fundamental frequency (3x, 6x, 9x…) are present.  And so on…

Another item of interest is how the bowing arm can influence timbre/harmonic content.  By playing closer to the fingerboard of the violin (the black strip of wood under the strings), you emphasize the fundamental frequency.  By playing closer to the bridge of the violin (the little wooden part supporting the strings), you emphasize the higher harmonic multiples.  Imagine the conductor of an orchestra saying “Bring out the fundamental frequency!” xD

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It’s finally December 1st!  Only eighteen more days till the best day ever!! ^ ^

A good example of harmonic motion that I have the joy of experiencing nearly every day is that of the violin string.  When plucked, the string oscillates up and down, exhibiting periodic motion.  A restoring force proportional to the displacement from equilibrium causes this motion. 

The tuning pegs change the tension of the string.  When turning the peg away from you, the violin string has more tension, making the restoring force greater.  This increases the frequency of the string, and since that’s proportional to wave speed (v=λf), wave speed increases too.  The more you tighten it (without breaking it), the higher the pitch. 

My Violin!!! which needs some polishing...xD

Thicker strings vibrate more slowly.  They are more massive and a greater linear density.  This means that the string has a slower wave speed and a lower frequency, making its pitch lower than that of a thinner string.  Which is why the G string has a much lower pitch than the E string.  By placing the fingers of your left hand down on the string before plucking, you can play different notes.  This is because you have shortened the length of the string that is free to vibrate and that raises the pitch of the note.

That shall be all for now…isn’t Temple Square pretty? Winter Kao Ani

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