Uncertainty in Accepting Determinism

Hi all,

sorry it’s been a really long time, like a week or even longer. The bio reading has been going well, but not fast enough. I’ve covered 500+ pages of a 1250 page book, but I only have 9 days left to review, which is less than half the time to review more than half the book.

Today, I want to do the short follow up not really on the defense of free will that I said I would do after discussing determinism, but more of a denial of blind acceptance of determinism. I’ll try to formulate some arguments from reading and thinking as to why free will is a plausible idea, but right now I need to catch up on some sleep.


This is a moderate viewpoint in support of free will, meaning that it accounts for choice when not under duress, and that although affected by our surroundings, that we as people are free to make each choice.

In order for the world to be governed by determinism, this would mean that every action that has ever occurred has been caused by the circumstances before it. If a single choice was made of something’s own accord in the duration of our universe, then free will exists. Furthermore, free will can be an educated choice based on assessment of one’s surroundings. If we were to strip observation away and call it solely a deterministic trait, then free will could not be proved to exist, and we would be forced to accept determinism as the law of the universe?

This seems unreasonable, to assume that something is incontrovertibly true simply because a differing viewpoint is wrong. We as thinking humans are able to make the conscious choice to reject such a notion and use reason to find the flaw in such an argument. To say that everything can only be viewed from a deterministic or free-will-ian perspective would be like saying everything is white or black. Simply because two things are opposite does not mean that they encompass the entirety of the real world. This means that even if free will isn’t real, we cannot simply accept an alternative.


I’ll try to stay active, but as of now I’ve postponed many aspects of my life such as working out, reading other literature, most youtubing as well…

Thanks for reading,


Late Night Thoughts–Depression as a Virus?

It’s 1 am again, the world around is frozen

Fatigue clashes with drive, passion, bitterness

Keep going, you think, for there is always more to learn

1 more page, 5 more pages, then 10 more

and another hour has vanished forever


The virus is fascinating, is it not?

Neither living nor dead, yet ever present

Sometimes lytic, sometimes lysogenic

Hiding, taking over, and growing outward

until it has consumed the host entirely


The virus is like a feeling of dejection

Neither absent nor fully present

Sometimes you bend to its will, crumbling

Sometimes you raise your head to face it

and stare it down with a sad smile


It’s 2 am now, the stillness has broadened

Windows shuttering closed, fog looming in

Keep going, you think, for there is still more to learn

Gel electrophoresis separates bands by property…

just as the conscious separates sleep from wakefulness


Hey all, this is a poem inspired by my potentially unhealthy study habits over the past few days. Studying bio has become my life as I rush to prepare for a competition in ~17 days time. My reading pace is a little slow because comprehension comes at the price of slowing down for a moment, breathing and reflecting.

Sometimes though, the late hour begins to muddle your thoughts. When I finally hit the section on viruses yesterday, some of these thoughts were beginning to mix with some internal feelings, and I realized simultaneously how dangerous they could be just how unaddressed feelings could spread and consume you.

I’m struggling with a part of my identity––one that reminds me that try as I might, failure is often a result. Because as significant as effort is, at the end of the day it’s not solely the journey, but also the destination that matters. While I know that hard work and cooperation with others can compensate for my weaknesses, it’s challenging to quell the feelings of frustration that sometimes boil up.


Anyways, sorry for missing a post a few days ago…I’ll do my best to be active, but I hope you understand when I’m not.

Thank you for reading, and have a great day

Non-existent book review––why I will be reading a lot and reviewing less for the next 3 weeks

Hi all,

My bad, gotten into the late routine of not posting on time.

I’m currently reading this book called Investing: The Last Liberal Art by Robert Hagstrom. Sorry, I didn’t finish it yet :/

The main theme though is that through being well-versed in the foundations behind multiple fields, one can see common trends and thus become a better investor by applying these trends.

As of now, I enjoy his narration style where Hagstrom has a point to make, and uses anecdotes from history to make it more of a journey. I think if I finish this, perhaps it’ll inspire me to learn more generalities about common fields, not just for becoming better at seeing a bigger picture, but also for being more well-versed in conversation.

I’ll wrap up this review when I actually finish the book.


The main reason I’m writing this post today is because I’m taking up a new project. Being a terrible procrastinator, I realized that I have just under 3 weeks until the USABO, the biology olympiad. Since this test draws upon a massive field of knowledge, I’ve taken it upon myself to cover the entire 1250 pages of content in my textbook.

Clearly, this goal seems pretty absurd, but hear me out. My reading pace is ~2 hrs / 20 pages for in-depth, solid understanding and retention of content. Sometimes, this pace increases if the content is more basic, or slows down when the content is more complex. Seeing as I have already covered a 50 page section, this means that I have 1200 pages left for ~120 hours. Now, seeing as the next 20 days contain a total of 480 hours, it may be a bit extreme to believe that I can spend 1/4 of that time studying bio.

And honestly, you’re right. The idea is moreso of a aim incredibly high, hit as high as possible and then keep going. Can I find 6 hours a day to study bio? Doubtful, unless I convert many of my school hours to it (which I am considering…).

I know it’s unreasonable to expect too much seeing as there are individuals all over the country who have spent years preparing for this competition. In spite of this, I believe that a massive extended cram session should be enough to place in the top 10% to qualify for semifinals. I know for one, that even at my school, fewer than 1/10 of students cover the entire book when preparing for the test.

At the end of the day (3 weeks), even if I don’t qualify for the next level, should I execute this properly, I will learn an incredible amount of biology and have a solid basis of understanding for any future in biochemistry.

I just wanted to make this as an announcement…kind of an excuse as to why I won’t be reading as much in smaller books, because I’ll be expending all of my efforts on learning more in the sciences.

I will try to keep up with the posting schedule, as writing is another important goal to me. Forgive me for the next 3 weeks if I miss occasionally or if I become a bit too obsessive about this pursuit.


Thank you for understanding,


Determinism and Choice (or lack thereof)

Hi all,

I’m really not nailing these posting dates. Sometimes it feels like too much to write days back to back. Then again, I guess that’s the consequence for falling behind.

Today I want to think about how the future plays out. In retrospect, everything appears a lot clearer than it did in the moment. I would like to explore the idea of determinism, the philosophy that all choices are determined by the course of past events. What this means is that each action is simply a ripple of the action before it, and that nothing in the present can occur out of choice––each action is already pre-decided by the past.

When following this thought train further, this implies that free will, the ability to make conscious choices out of many possibilities, cannot exist because every “conscious” choice was already pre-determined.

So…does that imply the future is already decided based on the present? Yes, and no. If you were able to input every single factor that affected a situation into a computer and process the result, assuming you accurately modeled the situation, the expected result would occur in real life as well. For example, if in the future I was to write a philosophical discussion, we could simulate this by accounting for my surroundings, the computer and its keys, music playing in the background, time of day, how I was feeling emotionally that day etc. Even for such as simple case, the possibilities are already countless.

As this example illustrates, even the very near future is challenging to properly assess. As these near futures are combined with other near futures to try to predict a further future, the possible worlds ascend off into infinity. What this means is that even with unlimited computing power, it would only be possible to eliminate failed realities as we got closer and closer to the desired event. Eventually, the computer would be left with only one choice as the event happened in real time.

I’m not sure what this concept is called exactly, but the reasoning implies that predicting the distant future would not only take immense computing power, but also only be capable of producing probabilities rather than certainties.

Continuing onward, since each future is determined by an earlier future, eventually this timeline hits the present. Going further backwards, the present is determined by the past.

Image result for past present future

Eventually, this regression through time leads us back to our births as individuals. From our very first breaths, do we have choice? We aren’t capable of preventing ourselves from breathing, as this instinctual process is automatic. Each moment onward, our surroundings (parents/guardians, household, relationships) end up shaping our decisions. So, from the moment we are born till the moment we die, the idea of choice remains illusory rather than grounded in reality.

Although some may argue that in each moment we are capable of making a choice to change the future, we must consider if this is really a choice? Based on the conditions surrounding the person, their decision has already been made. Whether it’s through assessing all of the traits that impact the result, relying on gut feelings, or simply flipping a coin, all of these results can be determined in the moment of the present leading to the future. The factors leading up to the choice have already occurred/been reasoned out, hence why there is no ambiguity in this regard. Similarly, how the person feels in the moment is determined by all the interactions they have had with the world in the past few moments as well as their entire life. If the coin lands heads and the decider makes a choice, as the coin shakes to a stop, the side which is up has already been determined. Nothing is unpredictable in the immediate future as long as we are willing to assess every factor leading up to it.


That’s my case for determinism and the idea that free will does not exist. I think I’ll cover a case for free will existing in the next post.


Thanks for reading, and have a great day.

Running In Reverse

Hey all, sorry for being late, again. Today (Friday but 2 days late) is poetry day.

I have a weekly reminder on my phone, but the past 2 days have been pretty rough.

There was some inexplicably disastrous friendship drama, and a few of my close friends had a falling out, me included. It really stung, because some fundamental differences in values were revealed. I realized that some people were what I wished they weren’t, and some were surprisingly who they were.

Personally, my belief is that a core value of wanting, and needing to improve after mistakes and pain is necessary to be happy whilst achieving what you desire and more. Attempting to pretend a problem doesn’t exist is not only unacceptable, but grounds for distancing a relationship. This is alright in your own life, even if I disagree with you, but when the problem affects others it must be addressed with honesty and cooperation.

For me, this is because small underlying differences if not discussed bubble up later in larger issues, and with time become explosive eruptions. Rather than pretending the ground isn’t surging beneath our feet, it’s simply better to acknowledge and agree to disagree, or acknowledge and agree to analyze, work together, and grow as people. Agreeing to disagree, however, does not mean that this same issue will be disagreed upon repeatedly in the future…it should be thought about privately, and only confronted when there is insightful discussion to be had.

When I realized that some of these friends simply wished to pretend that everything was alright and normal. Everything was not normal, so I made a choice. This choice was not to be cold and burn ties, but simply to refrain from extending a deeper friendship with these individuals. The choice to bury problems engenders the discussion of honesty…because if we cannot be honest about our values, there is no way we can have honesty on issues constructed upon these values.

Right now, I wish to share a poem on the events of the past few days, just about how I feel based on these experiences.


Running in Reverse

Just a crack in the dirt, they said

Nothing to worry, press onward

Let’s build on this foundation

a friendship.



Just a line in the sand, not in rock

The wind blows, and changes yes?

Protect the weak sprout yet not

the sapling?


Just once, a compromise of value

We all have differences, you know

They said we could laugh and play

in harmony.


But it’s not just a crack in the dirt

Nor simply a line in the sand

Not a singular loss of values

but untruth.


Can we be frank with each other

If we don’t perceive the divide

Constantly bury our principles

for this?

This is toxic––running in reverse


All of these views expressed are not intended to be laid down as fact, in a dogmatic manner, but simply as my world view for building deeper relationships.

Apologies again, for the late post and somber tone.


Thanks for reading,

Take care, and have a great day

Rushing By

Hello all,

First day back, second semester junior year. I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’m headed, what I’ve achieved leading up to now. Sometimes my feelings are challenging to comprehend––jubilation, fear, passionate, pained––fluctuating as the tide.

Some of these milestones are approaching so fast, like the earth rushing up to meet a skydiver (although really, the skydiver is meeting the ground).


In 2 months, I take the March SAT, hopefully for the first and last time as part of the college process.

In 2.5 months, I will assess my results in building relationships and ask a girl to prom. Praying I have the guts to do it, and the friendship to get a yes.

In 3 months, I take the first heavy round of AP tests, with the potential to realize my french est entièrement poubelle among other subjects.

In 5 months, school ends and college apps begin. My future rests on decisions to travel to far away places (not Stanford), and whether a school is willing to accept me.


and before I know it, the first phase of my life will be over. In a blink of an eye, life will change again. It’s times like these that cause us to pause for a moment and realize the indifferent simplicity of reality. The world doesn’t pause or consider the gravity of our personal situations. Time continues to flow, pressing onwards with its insurmountable force. Although we can seize the moment, endeavor to hold it close and swim against time, in the end there is no possibility of gaining ground.

Because of this, perhaps it’s better just to embrace the present. Maybe I should look around, take everything in and live the moment. Even when looking to the future, our only choices are to live in the present, or become lost looking out to the world around us. Yes, we can attempt to observe, predict what comes––and through this process we may navigate to where we wish to be in a future present––but this does not detract from the simple appreciation of the present for what it is.

Tomorrow, I head back to another day of life, pursuing small goals with meaning only to me, working towards larger ones that may hold weight in the eyes of others. But even with how rapidly the moment departs to be replaced by another, I hope to cherish each one, for better or worse.


Thank you for taking part of this contemplation with me,

and have a great day.

Review of Principles by Ray Dalio

Evening y’all,

sorry forgot to post yesterday, but hi I’m here.

I think I’ll add some reminders to my phone to make it harder to forget to post on schedule.

I think most Sundays (Mondays sometimes if I forget lmao) can be something more thoughtful and deep, or the book review every other week.

Today I’m going to talk about the book I’ve been reading since my dad gave it to me for Christmas, called Principles by Ray Dalio. It’s a combination of narrative and reflection from and about Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater (most successful hedge fund worldwide), and how he lived a meaningful life in his eyes whilst creating a lifestyle that promoted wellbeing and achievement.

This book is well-written and offers insights into how to deal with yourself and others, illustrating with real world examples and references to his company. Dalio emphasizes the idea of radical transparency and truth, a type of tough love that breaks convention by casting aside white lies and social politics in favor of thoughtful discussion and disagreement. By separating emotions from logic, he was able to construct a culture where capable people used radical transparency to establish an idea meritocracy––a culture in which ideas are dissected and contrasted, and value of person is determined by their track record and knowledge in the field. A significant portion is devoted to the discussion of principles, values formed and revised from resolving problems and internalizing them into the decision-making process.

Dalio outlines processes and tips to help you move towards your goals by evolving and improving. One process has 5 steps:

  1. Have clear goals
  2. Identify problems, and have 0 tolerance in letting said problems prevent you from reaching your goals
  3. Diagnose the problems to find the root causes
  4. Design solutions to solve or bypass the problems
  5. Execute solutions to reach results, recycle

Processes like these are examples of what Ray Dalio tackles roadblocks in his life, and that he lays down in words for the reader.

Overall, the theme seems to be part self-help, part biography that takes you between the present and Dalio’s life. He does an excellent job of outlining what he finds important and segmenting the book into sections. Most importantly, he establishes that his methods are not the only way to achieve success, but simply that they created an efficient path of feedback loops that allowed him to ascend to the level he did.

The book is structured into two parts, life principles taken from his experiences, and work principles taken from work, and also allows you to easily reference sections if you need to brush up on any of the principles he covers.


Ultimately, I would recommend reading this book extra if you manage people in life or at work, or simply to learn more about the journey to success and what it takes.


Feedback would be great, since I feel a bit shaky about this review. Maybe I should include ratings, or include more critical notes. May read some book reviews before I get around to the next one.

Thanks for reading, and take care