This study almost took two years to get published. The paper transformed a lot from the first draft to the later revisions. The first draft was really a mess and I’m grateful for the reviewer’s comments that allowed me to improve the draft considerably. I honestly was anxious throughout the process, always thinking that it could just get rejected at any point. Nevertheless, I’m thankful as I learned a lot from the process. Before this, all my previous publications were in natural science journals and it is a different ball game. In the social sciences, form and theory matter so much more.
With this publication, I can say that I have completed my transition to the management sciences. Looking forward to having more of my research published in the future.
This week, we cooked food from Turkey. I’ve been to Istanbul before and I loved the city. It was so beautiful and the food was great. Miriam’s family were also excited to for this week’s country because they love Mediterranean food. This week, we decided to cook three dishes:
We randomly picked Botswana this week. I only knew two things about Botswana before this week. One is that this country is lauded as a success story in Africa for having good institutions. Another one is that the king of Spain went to a hunting trip in this country amidst the financial crisis. This week, we ended up making the following dishes:
Seswaa – said to be their national dish. It is one of the simplest recipes we’ve done. It is beef that is cooked until it is tender. 6/10. Recipe here.
Pap – their dishes are served with a maize flour porridge. From what I understand this is similar to the Italian polenta. Since we still had this from our previous cook-offs, we just used it. 5/10. We served it with spinach following this Youtube video.
Magwinya – our dessert was this fried dough. It is similar to the Dutch oliebol. 6/10. Recipe here.
Scientific process as red tape – A blog post about how, perhaps, for many researchers, the scientific process is merely an annoyance to get to the results that they have already envisioned beforehand. They already know the truth that they want to come out from their studies. The scientific process is merely a game that everyone has to play to later, advance their careers.
Prestigious journals going political – Nature mentioned this week that they will publish more articles on politics. The editorial in this week’s Science also criticizes Trump against the backdrop of the uninspiring US presidential debate. I just draw parallel with what’s happening with the New York Times, where they are supposed to have been getting more subscribers with the election of Trump. Perhaps, these journals are also moving according to market demands? On another related note, the cryptocurrency company Coinbase decided that they will not be political, offering employees a generous severance if they leave the company if they don’t share its values. I don’t really have much stance on this topic but it is really scary how polarized we are in politics. Before, I never really had much interest this sphere, but seems like politics has taken over everyone’s lives.
This week, we randomly picked to cook food from Taiwan. We ended up making these three recipes throughout the week:
Beef Noodle Soup – the most famous dish from Taiwan. We followed the recipe from Tasty. 8/10. It tasted great.
Braised Pork Rice – I cooked it on a weekday just to sample more dishes from this country (so no photos). It is like the Filipino adobo but with more spices (as it has anise, cinammon, ginger, etc.). 7/10. Recipe here.
Bao Bing – shaved ice with sweets. We did not have an ice shaver machine so we froze milk and grated it with a cheese grater as suggested in this video. I cut my finger in the process. We made a version with mango. I would have wanted to try the one with taro balls but I did not really know where to get it here. 7/10 as it was difficult to do on our own. A week later we went to a cafe that served it and it was 10/10.
Effective Altruism is a growing social movement, aimed at finding the best way to help others. I was first introduced to do this after hearing a thought experiment from the philosopher Bryan Singer. It goes something like this:
You just left home on the way to some event, wearing your newly purchased clothes and shoes. While walking, you came across a pond. When you moved closer, you realize there is a child in the water, struggling for air, drowning. Of course, you think immediately to save the child. Even when you will mess up your new attire, you do not think twice because that child’s life is much more important.
We do not have to imagine ourselves in that situation as we are currently living in it. Millions of children are dying in the poorer parts of the world from causes that could be easily prevented with proper investment. If we are not doing anything, are we then just choosing to walk past the child?
This story really impacted me. I don’t remember anymore how I first came across it. But, since then, I’ve been more fascinated with the movement.
I then started following the relevant websites and podcasts surrounding the movement. The first is the Effective Altruism website, which mostly talks about the philosophy behind the movement itself. The second one is GiveWell which researchers which effective charities to donate to. I then came across 80,000 hours which is more about pursuing high impact careers. 80,000 refers to the number of hours people on average work in their careers. I then started following the relevant podcasts such as 80,000 hours and Vox’s FuturePerfect.
Honestly, I still do not know how I will get involved. I already had dialogues with the community leaders here in Spain. I am hoping to make the Barcelona chapter much more active. We will see.
While I did not come from a privileged background, I have been lucky enough to be born in a family where all my basic needs are met. My family supported me as much as they can so that I can pursue my interests. Every now and then, they would buy me luxuries like the Playstation or a Nokia phone. Beyond this however, my family was always conscious of how much we were spending. We did not eat out often. We never really travelled outside of our city. We never really bought clothes often. The only reason I would attend an elite school from the Philippines is that I received a full scholarship with stipend. The only reason I would go to graduate school in Europe is that I was granted a scholarship from the EU.
Not coming from a rich family, I always have to budget what I spend my money on. Even now that I am working in a top business school, I still have to save and plan so that I can buy a house in the future.
To help me with this, I have been using the app You Need A Budget (YNAB) for the last 5 years. It is a personal finance app that lets you track where you spend your money so that you can save and invest more. It’s based on this philosophy that you have to always dedicate every penny to something. For example, if you end up spending on restaurant, you have to divert that money away from your clothing budget.
I’ve been taking down notes for the longest time using physical notebooks and OneNote. In college, I used to have a large notebook divided into sections for each class. During graduate school, I just printed the relevant papers and organized them into different folders. If I ever needed to, I just wrote my thoughts directly on these papers.
Reflecting back on this approach, I realize that I am prone to never looking at them ever again. In college, after I’ve taken the final exam for a course, I just typically just keep the notebook somewhere, forgetting that it even existed. In graduate school, once I’ve finished writing a paper, I just keep the relevant papers somewhere, never to be seen again. My rationale was that I was not going to use my knowledge in that specific class again. At the same time, my thinking was that I can easily find things when I need it through Google anyway. I have not been able to get much return from taking down notes. That is why I have stopped taking down notes.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the potential of spaced-repetition systems (SRS) in augmenting learning. Michael Nielsen from Y Combinator wrote a great article of how he used it to dig deeper into machine learning. SRS is just a fancy word for flashcards. A famous app that facilitates this is Anki. You can create your cards in this app based on whatever information you come across. Dates, names, equations, pictures, mental models, frameworks… whatever information that you think will be important down the line. Everyday then, you review your cards, marking them as easy or difficult to remember. Anki facilitates what cards to show you based on how easy it was for you to remember the card in the past.
Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been using Anki to learn different fields. I’ve made cards from data science, pharmaceutical sciences, econometrics, sociology, history of management and decision sciences. I’ve written down interesting quotes from speeches, insights from videos and fascinating stories from podcasts.
Since I’ve started, I have added 3,047 cards. It’s become a habit at this point. I spend around 30 minutes per day, reviewing around 80 cards. In my opinion, Anki has really augmented my process of learning new things. It helped me prepare for my PhD defense. Now, it is helping me in my knowledge journey.
In a famous story in Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses and his crew had to sail past an island where the Sirens lived. These sirens were known to sing so beautifully that listeners would lose control of themselves, ultimately luring them to their deaths. Ulysses wanted to hear how the Sirens’ sounded like. However, he knew that he would not be capable of thinking clearly once he was bewitched by their beautiful voice. Thus, he instructed his crew to block their ears with wax. Ulysses also asked his crew to tie him to the ship’s mast so that he would not be able to do anything stupid, once he is under the Sirens’s charm. He also told them to not change the course of the ship whatever happens and even, to attack him in the worst case that he escapes.
This tale is instructive on how we can pursue habits that are just too difficult to achieve with our limited willpower. It’s easy to plan that we will stop eating sweets and start exercising. However, when we are already in the moment, when the temptation is already in front of us, it may just be too difficult to resist.
Thus, we need to find a way to tie ourselves to the mast. In my case, I have resorted to this app Beeminder. It allows you to track your goals for free. The catch is if you do not reach your goal, that is when you have to pay them. The first time you break your pact, you pay $5. The next time, it then becomes $10 and so on.
Three years ago, I was able to lose a lot of weight from the service. However, I’ve regained it since them. I’ve restarted my journey again.
As seen by the plot, I’ve lost weight since I started in the beginning of August. I started at 81.3 kg and now am at 77.3 kg. On my way, I’ve broken my promised rate of losing 0.7 kg per week, two times. I’ll periodically update my blog how it is going.
Design as an Isolating Mechanism for Capturing Value from Innovation: From Cloaks and Traps to Sabotage – To stop others from copying a company’s innovation, top of mind for many is to resort to legal avenues. However, companies also employ other tactics in the design of the innovation itself. The article enumerates these six topics in a 3×2 framework. Three tactics do not require modification of the original innovation: careful coordination to only reveal parts of the innovation, full manifestation of the innovation to the public to establish legal claim and tracking/cloaking through techniques such as watermarks. The remaining tactics require modifying of the underlying innovation such as modifying a part to misdirect competition, rendering the original unintelligible or defective against tweaking and shipping the innovation with additional features to prevent unsanctioned usage.
The failure to fail smartly – a third of clinical candidates fail the phase III to approval phase. The article attributes it to three factors: lack of expertise among the team members in critical areas, poor execution in planning the trials and selecting the end-points and deficient knowledge of the underlying science. It’s a funny coincidence though that this week, Science published an investigative journalism piece on how the FDA has not been enforcing clinical research regulations effectively.
Whether, How, and Why Networks Influence Men’s and Women’s Career Success: Review and Research Agenda – The gender pay gap has been attributed to various factors such as discrimination in the workplace, unfair norms, differences in inclinations, to name a few. Network science also has a perspective to offer. In this review, the researchers explore how networks affect disparately the careers of men and women. They investigate two areas whether they have different network characteristics like structure and composition or they just have different returns from their networks.