Watching this YouTube video (https://youtu.be/zysL_lkdtys) on the Tokyo public transit system, the narrator points that car driving is highly discouraged through fees and tolls. The Japanese are essentially taxing the usage of cars in favor of public transportation. By making it economically inefficient to navigate by car, the Japanese may have provided a potential solution to limiting cars being driven. I truly believe a similar system will have to exist in major GLOBAL cities in order to accomodate any climate change initiatives to reduce car pollution.
Readers who are familiar with my social media feed may have remembered I had once posed a question of why CA can’t expand the current FasTrak system (or at least in the Los Angeles area) into a fee/toll per use of the highway systems. Every driver wanting to use the highway system would be required to have the fastrak transponder in order for payments be properly deducted. The fees obviously would be used to keep the highways maintained but any excess will go into supporting and expanding the woefully sparse public transportation in Los Angeles (either through light rail, subway, bus routes).
The fees should be kept at a level where people have to think about their own car usage, trip planning and alternative means of getting from point A to point B. These fees should be kept high enough either through dynamic market pricing based on usage or at a set price adjusted every 3-5 years based on the cost of maintenance. Given that potentially half a million cars use the LA highway system each day, the amount of money generated will quickly add up.
Would this system actually work? Japan shows it’s possible but their mindset from the start during the post World War 2 rebuilding was to purposely avoid car in favor of rail system. In US, it’s such a car dominated culture that switching to an alternative transportation approach would be almost impossible. Although newer generations might be more open to the alternative transportations compared to the older generations, I personally think that LA needs to commit to buidling/rebuilding their railway systems even co-opting existing freeways to build a rail system on top of it before implementing the toll usage. The current public transportation system has to be improved at least 10fold in terms of efficiency, speed, cleanliness, and punctuality.
The Netflix’s reality TV show “Selling Sunset” is about
selling real estate in Hollywood women who are simultaneously juggling their careers, relationships and of course love life. And what almost inevitably happens… drama.
This new season is no different…. Full of drama… Full of arguements… Full of excitment! In terms of filming, I get the feeling they are filming the show probably during summer and early fall of 2021. During this time, people were starting to go back out to eat at restaurants. You can see quite a lot of restaurant workers wearing masks in the show. Surprisingly though and maybe through editing, you don’t see many people wearing masks walking around.
What I find most interesting about this show is how they managed to connect one of the agents to Simu Liu. With the success of Marvel’s Shang-Chi, the show even had Simu Liu come on the show looking for a house. I guess a celebrity requires a celebrity real estate group to find a house in LA.
I recently listened to an old/earlier All The Hacks podcast episode “How to Live Your Rich Life with Ramit Sethi.” This episode is amazing. I totally recommend everyone to listen to this podcast and ask yourself one question…. “WHAT IS YOUR RICH LIFE?”
This question comes at an interesting time in my life. During the last two years, I have actually been thinking of what it means to live comfortably. I’ve been watching, learning and reading on topics related to “FIRE” aka Financial Independence, Retire Early (Wikipedia), 401K contributions, what is a comfortable retirement, Roth IRA contributions, backdoor Roth, stock invesment, passive income generation, and probably a lot more other topics. I’ve been in the process of trying to set myself up for future success. Earning passive income fascinates me and will require time and money to setup in order to fully start generating that income. Passive income can come from a number of different sources mainly real estate, side hustle / business, and stock/mutual fund/ETF dividends.
But back to the question: WHAT IS MY RICH LIFE? Currently, I don’t know. Let me think about it.
I bought his book from Amazon to read.
I stumbled upon an interesting TV series called Humans on Amazon Prime Video. It’s set in a future where AI and android robots called Synthetics (synths) are common place in society. These synths aid humans in every day tasks like cooking, cleaning, and laundry as well as more strenuous activities like elder care and disability care. The premise of this three season show deals with how human society attempts to find acceptance of synths that have gained “human consciousness.” The story follows the paths of 5 synths, a human implanted with an artificial brain, a family helping the 5 synths and the synth pursuers. Their quest to survive capture and to understand purpose lead to discovering a hidden code to AI consciousness within each individual synth. This leads to understanding the significance behind the hidden code and initiating a world wide consciousness “Day Zero” awakening of the synthetics and then facing the societal impacts from the awakening.
The series explores various philosophical views including the acceptance, discrimination, and legal rights of synths. These discussions remind me of the current fear of illegal immigrants and the unfounded rhetoric behind the fears. Other discourses include the ugliness of how society uses intimidation, violence and legal actions to control what is feared and unknown. Through various plot points the show explores both sides of the issues looking at the “synth views and feelings” as well as human society as a whole. Is this commentary of what civilizations need to overcome in order to progress further as a society?
What’s clear to me is that society will always express fear of the unknown. However, the concern should be how that fear is expressed. Devolving into hatred and violence as a means of expression ultimately is a form of fight. There needs to be ways for society to identify and shift to a constructive and non-violent expression. Unfortunately, society has not reached this level of cognizance. What could be that first step for society? Perhaps teaching of empathy. Certainly understanding how others think and feel would be important to bring together disparate views. What other qualities are needed? The ability to calmly discussing views is also important too. Understanding conflict management as a tool is helpful as well. Teaching to society is the first challenge. Implementing and practicing what was taught is the second challenge. Until then… the cycle continues.
Netflix released this quick binge-able 7 episode series called The Queen’s Gambit. It’s based off a 1983 novel also by the same name “The Queen’s Gambit.” The series follows the chess prodigy Beth Harmon as a kid in an orphanage to becoming a Chess Grand Master. I wasn’t really impressed at the start of the show. The pacing of exploring Harmon’s past was slow. And although I know how to play chess, I was wondering how they were going to make “chess exciting for the viewers.” Watching through the episodes, the build up of excitement was purposely portrayed through the move anticipation, facial expressions and actions of the opponents during the chess matches. The actors/actresses made up for the lack of detail and intricacies of chess. Slowly, I started to root for Harmon winning each match and conquering her demons (drug usage, alcohol and self destructive behavior). The chess matches in the 2nd to last and last episodes were amazing because the producers managed to create the “championship game tension” that shows not only the importance of Harmon’s victory. Along the way, I also started admiring the costume designs of Harmon. At the very end, the all white outfit was a spectacular way to showcase not only Harmon winning but also as the Queen atop of the chess field.
Netflix recently released a 4 episode documentary called Challenger: The Final Flight about the Challenger disaster and the stories around the seven astronauts, the decision makers behind Launch/No Launch decision, a brief history into the infamous O-ring and then a very brief intro on the role of the Rogers Commission.
Overall, I think the video editing is fantastic and very slick. The producers leave you at “cliff hangers” between episodes. I say “cliff hangers” because everyone knows what happened to the shuttle. The way the first episode ended was amazing. It leaves you momentarily silenced with the shuttle exploding mentally but I’m seeing the credits roll. I literally went “whoa, what just happened there” because I didn’t expect the sudden fade to black and fade to credits as someone was talking about the Challenger launch and seeing it go up into the clouds. The other fascinating part of this show were about the stories behind the decision makers to continue with the launch as well as the emotions of the family members who literally watched their loved ones die in the explosion. Some of the decision makers didn’t seem to show any remorse on the show when talking about the launch. Although I wonder if they kept up the appearance as a matter of principle, I don’t know how one could not show any emotion or remorse after 40 years. I felt a bit of disdain and anger towards the two NASA engineers Mulloy and Lucas with their actions around the decision to launch and their subsequent attempt to justify the launch.
If there’s a lesson to be learned… the value of human lives is more important hitting some artificial timeline and budgets
A new Netflix series series called Million Dollar Beach house recently got categorized under “something I may be interested in.” The show follows around real estate agents around selling multi-million dollar houses in New York’s The Hamptons. Million dollar houses… why does that sound familiar!? Oh… is it because I recently finished watching the new season of another Netflix series Selling Sunset?
I finished the first episode and I have to say… I’m not really liking the show. My biggest complaint is actually about the agents of the show. I don’t like any of them. One has this “bro” aura that I suspect is being carefully curated through editing magic. Another has the “down on my luck” kind of guy where at best you know he’s going to succeed because he’s a white male. Then you have an ambitious black guy who wants to succeed. And to round out the cast, there’s a high-spirited opinionated female agent. Second, I’m not familiar with The Hamptons so hearing the agents talk about how rich, expensive, and selective their clientele are really means nothing. In Selling Sunset’s Hollywood, you have similarly rich, expensive, and selective clientele that the Selling Sunset agents work with. If anything, the Selling Sunset’s expansion into San Fernando Valley gives small glimpse into the more “affordable” price point offerings as well too. Third, I will admit… the catfights on Selling Sunset are much more interesting than the “bro fights” that were displayed in the first episode and hinted at in subsequent.
I posted sometime ago about LA Times’ Asian Enough podcast. This past week they interviewed California’s US Senator Kamala Harris. For those that might not know, Senator Harris is half Asian (Indian) and half Black (Jamaican). She was also one of the many Democratic candidates for the 2020 Presidential race.
This podcast gives great insight into Senator Harris as a person as opposed to a presidential candidate or senator. It’s worth listening to.
With the success of Crazy Rich Asians (great movie) and Silicon Valley (I haven’t seen), I’ve known Jimmy O Yang more as a comedian though I haven’t seen any of his stand ups on TV/stream platforms. Many of his other Asian peers (Ronny Chieng, Ali Wong, Ken Jeong, Russel Peters, Aziz Ansari) seems to have broken into the streaming and now I’m glad to see him also have is special but on Amazon. Go watch it… it’s funny and is pretty indicative of growing up Asian American.
PBS has this new documentary about Asian Americans. It’s a 5 hour long documentary. The first 2 hours just details the rise of the early Asian Americans starting from why Asians immigrated (some would say enslaved/indentured) to work as cheap labor on the gold mining and then rail roads; the difficulties these early Asians facing societal racism and stereotypes; the suffering faced from general exclusion laws/property rights/civil liberties; and ultimately the question of American loyalty.
There’s so much to unpack in this first 2 hours of the documentary too. Everyone can learn much from the difficulties of trying to get break out of the ethnocentric American viewpoint… or really just how racist Americans were and still are today. Ironically though, racism in American isn’t just confined to non-whites. When Italians immigrated due to poverty and Irish immigrated due to famine, many of the Americans who already lived in America also thought of these immigrants as low classed, dirty and the dregs of society (hey doesn’t that sound familiar?) Have we not learned anything? Interestingly enough, the difference between these groups of people and the current crisis… about 50-75 years and the color of the skin. Nowadays, whether or not you have Irish or Italian ancestry is irrelevant because of you’re white skin. If I put it in a pessimistic way, if you don’t look like 80% of the US Congress, then you realistically aren’t going to be treated equally even under laws of the US Constitution.
The following 2 hours talks about the stereotype of the “good Asian american”, continued immigration struggles, cultural and political awakenings, the “Asian” identity in times of war (Korean War/Vietnam War), and Asian American movement. What I didn’t know was this “Chinese Confession Program” where fear of Communism spurred investigations into illegal Chinese immigrants. Illegal because they paid for fake paperwork in order to post as a citizen’s son… similar to what you might here today regarding Green Card Marriages. What I also didn’t know is the immigration flow of Asians really started in 1965 after many of the illegal racist exclusion laws were repealed. Known as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, one key aspect of the law allowed new immigrants to enter and gain citizenship via the “specialized skills” and allowing those who have citizenship to sponsor relatives for immigration. I think the unintended consequence (it’s a fascinating quick read but it is left leaning) of the law was the massive migration from Hispanic and Asian countries into the US. This literally changes the demographics of America. Have you heard of the term “Minority Majority“? It’s basically a term where no ethnic group will represent US as a majority sometime around 2050.
The last hour starts out with the race relations surrounding the LA riots, transitioning into the future of immigration and ending in some sort of positive note. Regarding the riots, I remember seeing TV footage of the riots as well as clips of the Rodney King trial as a kid. I didn’t know what was happening but I remember that a lot of Asian parents where I was growing up were closely monitoring the situation. Growing up, I always thought the riots in Koreatown were related to the Rodney King verdict. It never really occurred to me that race relations between Blacks and Korean Americans were so tense at the time. This documentary revealed one of the sparks of the tension to stem from the killing of Latasha Harlins. In a dramatic shift from race relation into immigration, the last half hour of the show discusses some of the recent immigration issues such as DACA. Apparently DACA was first proposed back in 2001 as the DREAM Act. That’s 19 years ago. And now we are in 2020.
If viewers achieve any insight after watching this documentary, I would hope that being a student of history is as important as being a student of morality. Watching the documentary, I was struck how “fear” drove people to act irrationally: losing jobs to immigrants; losing the cultural identity to foreign cultures; and distrusting those that don’t look like yourself. Yes this last one also applies to immigrants too. But recognizing fear is just a first step to healing and educating those who are afraid. We need more people who have the courage to stand up and become the voice of reason. Or at the very least, a voice that forces people to stop and think.