At the End of the Human Race (for Destruction)

June 26th, 2009 by Puissance

CraterWhen I read the news, I think that the end of the human species is not a farfetched idea. Future intelligent species will examine our technology, study our history and look at our ruins. They will come to the conclusion and say, “What an idiotic species!”

Our Technology
Our ancestors began using tools to increase the chance of survival. Discoveries such as fire brought heat, light, and the ability to cook. Inventions such as the compass helped in navigation. Innovations such as irrigation has increased crop production. Think about the internet today, it brings communication with other parts of the world to your fingertips. We have become masters of our environment.

Our History
Our cultures are diverse, we have a vast amount of languages, we trade resources, and we share our talents. Human history spans over thousands of years. Knowledge of ourselves and our world has grown exponentially.

Our Ruins
Technology advances the most in times of war where research and manpower is devoted to weapon and defence development. With nuclear weapons, the Earth can be destroyed within a few hours. Warfare is always a threat. That is, war between humans and humans; a race to destroy each other.

The End
Our technology enables us to destroy each other. When we attack each other with such great power, we are destroying ourselves. War has its consequences. When we no longer exist and our ruins are discovered by some future intelligent species, not only will we look idiotic, but they would think, “What a waste of history, technology, and culture!”

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Max Effort Psych Up Psychological Review

June 18th, 2009 by Puissance

The video shown above is one of my favourite videos. It displays training at the gym with psychological, behavioural and physical factors. In this review, I will be commenting solely on the psychological factor of self-efficacy expectations (confidence). After all, the title is suggesting that it’s a psych up. For a behavioural review from a coach’s perspective, read Dave Tate’s review.

From what I gather from the video, the person performing the squat is Matt. He is attempting to set a personal record (PR) of weight squatted. His goals are clearly documented in the video. Frank Yang is the man who is doing most of the psych up, especially at 1:32 in the video.

There are 4 sources of self-efficacy expectations:
1) Personal Accomplishment
2) Vicarious Experience (Watching similar others perform successfully)
3) Social Persuasion
4) Emotional Arousal

Matt’s performance goals are set and are illustrated in the video prior to his attempt. This goal is in his mind before and while he is performing the squat.

Here’s how Matt performed with my comments:

  • 215 lbs -- Matt -- Easy warm up
  • 245 lbs x 1 -- Martin -- Success (Vicarious Experience)
  • 255 lbs x 1 -- Martin -- Success (Vicarious Experience)
  • 235 lbs x 2 -- Matt -- Success (Personal Accomplishment)
  • 245 lbs x 2 -- Matt -- Success (Personal Accomplishment)
  • 275 lbs PR -- Martin -- Way too heavy, Frank attempts to psych up Martin by screaming (Emotional Arousal)
  • 255 lbs PR -- Matt -- Again psych up from Frank, but failure to complete squat (Emotional Arousal)
  • 255 lbs PR -- Matt -- Second try -- Matt looks in mirror, engages in self-talk with social persuasion from Frank -- Successful -- Big achievement (Self-talk + social persuasion + emotional arousal)
  • 265 lbs PR -- Matt -- More screaming psych up, but failure (Emotional Arousal + Previous Accomplishment)

Why was this psych up so effective and how did Matt reach a new PR?
Matt had all 4 sources that enhanced his self-efficacy expectations. He started with a warm up and then watched Martin successfully complete a few heavy repetitions. Matt successfully completes several repetitions, increasing his confidence. Personal accomplishment is most significant in increasing self-efficacy expectations. Emotional arousal can only do so much, but Frank does a wonderful job at this by maximizing the use of it. Frank is also consistently persuading Matt that he can do it.

What could have increased Matt’s self-efficacy expectations (confidence)?
By not having Martin attempt the 275 lbs PR, Matt may have done better. Consequently, Matt observed failure from someone similar and it also lowered Frank’s social persuasion value.

In brief, the video demonstrates a successful psych up. When training, it’s about pushing yourself and putting in effort. To be successful (in the gym), you need to work hard to gain personal accomplishments and have others psych you up. That’s why spotters are good. They ensure safety and help you improve.

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Motivation and Goal Setting

June 11th, 2009 by Puissance

PumpedHalf of the summer school term has already passed. There is one textbook that I haven’t opened yet and it is the Organizational Behaviour textbook for PSYCH 338. Today, in the PSYCH 338 lecture, we learnt about goal setting. This is the same goal setting lecture that I have once paid attention to in my Winter 2008 term in PSYCH 339 (Personnel Selection) where I had the same professor. It’s based on Locke and Latham’s theory of goal setting. It’s very similar to the SMART criteria of goal setting.

For most of this term, I have not done much for school. I have been studying and completing assignments on a last-minute basis. My goal that I set at the beginning of the term for all my courses was a jokingly 100% and that is what I told my parents as well. I have already completed two midterms and have three next week. Failing to reach my goals and listening to another goal setting lecture, I think that it is time to set new goals… realistic goals. One thing that I was missing this term was progress tracking, which is an important feedback component of goal achievement. I also find that I have been too focused on getting marks and did not really care about the material (uh oh… too much extrinsic value and too little intrinsic value). I only find the material in my Intro to Tourism course interesting because it’s more business related.
Psyched
So, here’s my new focus: learning. Knowledge is power. With knowledge, you make better decisions. For example, with goal setting knowledge, you can now set some goals that will increase the probability of positive outcomes!

Ever since the PSYCH 339 course, I have created a spreadsheet to track my progress. I mainly used them for predicting final marks and the total term average during the final examination period to gauge how much I have to study. This term, I only have two final exams, so I decided to create the spreadsheet today. With the ability to track my progress and a new focus on learning, the second half of this term should be much more interesting.

Compared to my other school terms, I have been doing rather poorly. By making this public (another component of goal setting), I am now accountable for what I have said and posted. It’s time for academic success. For those who are lacking motivation, feel free to do the same and create a spreadsheet to track your progress. It gives you an overview of how you’re doing academically and it’ll help you set/adjust your goals. And remember, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

Winter 2008 -- 3A Term
Fall 2008 -- 3B Term
Spring 2009 -- 4A Current Term

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Beatboxing in Hong Kong

May 10th, 2009 by Puissance

TVB Sunday Report
TVB recently did a Sunday Report on a cappella groups and vocal percussion (beatboxing). To summarize, it said that a cappella is gaining popularity among youths in Hong Kong. I wish a cappella was more popular in North America, but it’s all about the mainstream music here. A friend of mine told me that my video was on TV, so my brother found it online and sent it to me. In the report, it mentions that the interviewee practiced for 3 hours a day while in school. That is a lot of practicing and if you want to learn how to beatbox, that’s what it takes. Props to Rahzel for pioneering the “beatboxing and singing at the same time” technique. The report also featured my If Your Mother Only Knew Tutorial and the interviewee said that it took him a long time just to learn a phrase. Well, I’m glad that I could help. Maybe I should make a Cantonese version of the tutorial.

My video was only on there for a few seconds, but it’s cool that people are learning from it. Check out the full report at the link below. My video appears around 9 minutes.

Link: TVB News – Sunday Report (2009-04-12)

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My YouTube Audience

April 5th, 2009 by Puissance

My YouTube Channel consists of many beatboxing and random videos. Apparently, YouTube Insight reveals that it attracts a predominately male audience. This makes sense because the beatboxing scene is mostly male. I have a video of someone singing a Chinese song that I recorded from television and the male-female viewer ratio for that particular video is about 1:1. Videos with singing or a full band have more female viewers than beatboxing videos. I didn’t even bother looking at my random videos.

YouTube Insight Demographics

My goal is to achieve a more balanced audience. Seriously, too many dudes are watching me, haha. As a result, upcoming videos will have less beatboxing and more singing. Will there be less clothes you ask? You wish! I prefer to keep my videos at a G rating. So stay tuned!

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Face Transformer

April 5th, 2009 by Puissance

A project called Face of the Future aims to explore computer facial recognition and manipulation. Their website features several interactive tools to showcase this technology.

Here are some examples:
East Asian (Original)
Original

Afro-Caribbean
Afro-Caribbean

Caucasian
Caucasian

West Asian
West Asian

Check it out for yourself!

Link: Face of the Future

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Pre-Puberty Singing and Trouble Making

February 8th, 2009 by Puissance

Memorex Cassette TapeA few years ago, I remember finding an old cassette tape and playing it. It was a recording of myself playing around with a radio that had a microphone and a cassette recording functionality. Then it was put away somewhere. A few years fly by and this memory of the cassette is back probably because I started taking voice lessons three weeks ago. To justify my decision, I had to think about why I wanted to take voice lessons. Here are my core reasons:

  • I enjoy singing
  • I’m not good at it
  • It would complement my beatboxing skills

Thinking back to the old days, I actually liked to make a lot of noise and sing random songs on KISS 98.5, a radio station in Buffalo that still exists today. They still play great music, too. Now I had to find this old cassette tape because it would bring back fun memories. I spent a few hours looking through boxes and listening to a few cassette tapes. In one of them, I heard my dad practicing English. It was very funny, indeed. After searching through more boxes, I have finally found the tape with great excitement.

I converted it into a digital format (MP3) by using an old Walkman and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm stereo cable. I connected the Walkman’s output to the line-in of my computer. I simply had to play the cassette tape and press record on the computer.

My brother listened to it and noticed that we haven’t changed much. I still make a lot of noise, sing, and play with audio equipment. With my singing, I am still really bad with lyrics. In some ways, I am still a trouble maker. The song “Love You Down” by INOJ was released in 1997, which means that this cassette tape is 12 years old. I was around 9 years old and I was in grade 4 or 5. Without further ado, I present to you Side B of the colourful Memorex cassette tape.

Pre-Puberty Singing

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The Entire Side B of the Cassette Tape (Warning: Contains immature use of language)

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Listen to my mom yell at us at 2:15. Haha!

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Environmentalism

January 10th, 2009 by Puissance

BiodomeAfter reading a special report on the sea in The Economist, I thought to myself on the subway ride home that, “If I am to own a vast piece of land and build a biodome with a perfect ecosystem, I would need help. Some people would help by constructing ‘green’ projects, conserving energy, recycling, and reducing waste. Resources would not be over exploited. Plants would flourish and animals would thrive.

Then, when the Earth begins to warm, when the water is no longer clean to drink, when there are no fish in the sea, when there is no evidence of beautiful corals, when it becomes difficult to breath, and when the grass is no longer green, what will those people outside of the biodome do? They will want admittance. It is likely that they will force entry as their lives are at risk. But no, they are not invited. Entering the biodome will cause a disequilibrium. They did not take action. They exploited, they consumed, and they depleted the Earth’s resources. Their lifestyle was unsustainable. It will be too late.”

You need to take action. We need to take action. Now.

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Video Friday: The Bot Fly

December 19th, 2008 by Puissance

Popular Science has a gallery of “Nature’s Grossest Creatures” and of particular interest was the Bot Fly. Botflies lay eggs into a host’s skin where the larvae will grow:

If you like this one, take a look at some other interesting creatures at their website:
PopSci.com -- Nature’s Grossest Creatures

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Emotions – How it Makes Us Do Wrong

December 11th, 2008 by Puissance

Man after making a poor decisionI’ve written something about managing emotions before, but this time I’m going to focus on how emotions make us do controversial things using an example from a recent episode of Chuck.

Emotions bind people together. When we have strong emotional ties, our choices and decisions are influenced by our emotions. Does it lead to poorer decisions? That is debatable. It becomes an ethics debate.

For example, from Chuck, season 2, episode 10, despite being a CIA agent, Sarah lets her father escape from doing jail time. She had a disappointing father, yet she had strong emotional ties. This lead her to do something wrong in others’ eyes. Some people will think, “How could she let a criminal escape?” However, being emotionless is also frowned upon. Some people will think, “How could she do that to her own father?”

We are all influenced by our emotions, some more than others. That is why I encourage you to read my post on managing emotions. I list several important questions that we should ask ourselves when making decisions that affect others. For a more detailed paper on how to make decisions, check out How to Make Decisions: Coherence, Emotion, and Practical Inference by Paul Thagard, a professor at the University of Waterloo.

Links: Puissance – Managing Emotions
Emotion Articles by Dr. Paul Thagard
How to Make Decisions: Coherence, Emotion, and Practical Inference by Paul Thagard

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