First Impression on All New Kindle Oasis

I pre-ordered the new Kindle Oasis right after its release, as Amazon offered a 5-month payment promotion during the first week or two. It has some requirements for someone to be eligible for this promotion, but it is very easy to meet. And you could split the payment into five months without interest. In this way, I chose the top model, the LTE version with 32 GB memory and no special offer. After 3-week waiting, I finally received it today. I should have received it yesterday if UPS hadn’t screwed the shipment. I was quite unhappy with that, so I complained it to Amazon and they offered me a 10$ compensate. And in the evening I spent that money with additional 10$ to remove the Special Offer from my old Oasis. I just cannot stop myself from giving money to this company. LOL.

Unfortunately, I haven’t received the Merlot Leather cover yet. I pre-ordered it quite late, almost near the release date. Clearly, Amazon didn’t expect the demand—currently, it will be in stock on Dec. 12th. The other good-looking one, which is the Fabric version in Charcoal, will be in stock on Nov. 24th. The rest covers are all in stock currently. It seems that other colors are, in some sense, totally a failure… Indeed, they are quite, hmm, ugly, I would say. So I am currently using my old Oasis Battery Cover to protect the screen whenever I go out. It’s not an elegant solution, but as long as I want to protect the screen a little bit when keeping the new one in my bag, it works. 

I am quite satisfied with the new Oasis as a traditional E-Reader, it works perfectly. The new 7-inch display is gorgeous. It is larger, and I can keep the same amount of contents on the same screen with larger fonts. And the light distributes is much more even than the previous one. The old Oasis (the one I owned, of course) is terrible compared in background light compared with this version. I like the new metal design. Although heavier than the previous generation, it is somehow easier to hold than the previous generation. The center of gravity is closer to your hand. Therefore, when you lie on the bed, it is less likely that the Kindle will flip over your hand. Also, I think I like the weight in general and it just feels good.

However, there are some dissatisfactions as well. First of all, it is quite easy for me to mis-touch the screen when I am holding the device, and this never happens in the previous one. I don’t know why. Second, I think they should re-distribute the regions of functions for the whole screen reading since the screen is larger, namely making the area that lets you call out the menu larger and lower. It is very a little bit difficult for me to call out the menu during reading without changing the position of my hand.

Unfortunately, I think most of the new features the new Kindle Oasis has are literally shit. You cannot download Audible via cellular, which is very disappointing. You cannot listen to the audiobook while reading the text and the audio does not support background play—if you want to change some settings in the Setting or view the Goodreads, the audio will stop. The experience of invert black and white is also horrible, I just constantly see large white blank appear and disappear when turning the pages. And the Bluetooth connection seems not that good. I tested it using my AirPods, and I feel like the connection is not as good as the iPhone (of course iPhone gets the buff, but anyway), and I sometimes hear small noises caused by unstable connections from the AirPods. 

In general, if you read a lot and want a larger display, it definitely worths upgrading. It just feels so good. But if you are interested in the new functions, I don’t think it is a good idea. The old Oasis will receive Audible support soon (I think it’s this month) and the invert black and white just doesn’t work that well. I probably will write a detailed feedback to Amazon when I get time, hoping that they can improve the experience of Audible a little bit.

A Quick Update:

About battery life, I think the battery drains super fast for audible feature. Although I haven’t tested it, I suspect it won’t last for half a day.

October 14th

The past weekdays is horrible. I did suffered a little bit from being sick, as well as a sense of depression and the resulting insomnia. It feels like yourself is trapped in the body. Yep, all the physical parts are functioning but you just can’t feel yourself. Usually during this period of time, I don’t think too much, which leads to an interesting question that which is the cause and which is the outcome.

I guess the real situation is more complicated than the question above. After all, thinking is just one aspect of life and during the long dark night, there are indeed other things disturbing my mind.

During these days I read a little bit of American Gods. I do love the book and it makes me re-think about the religion. Sometimes I believe in Odin and prey to him, although with a Chinese background I really don’t know how to prey properly. I prey for knowledge, rather than a better life. I guess most people don’t believe in religion in this way.

As Zoe Kazan said in a interview, life is hard and people create heaven to delay the happiness. And success and fame is the heaven people create for their careers. Maybe reaching there indeed gives you a feeling of ecstasy, but to me, they are so superficial that I cannot even quite remember the feeling during the past. The impression is negative rather than positive. I feels like I am trapped in the feeling-good and no longer feel myself. What makes it worse than feeling depressed is exactly I am feeling good rather than bad.

I don’t want the success or the fame or whatever, as I want to see beyond the present society. I don’t want the happiness or desires or whatever, as I want to transcend myself as a body controlled by all these chemical substances. I want to be the soul trapped in this body. I want to see how such soul could live in this universe and see what it deserves. I want to understand myself.

Who am I?

Don’t what I am talking about

As time goes by, I see more and more similarities among the people at different ages and the different societies. At some level, I think there aren’t too many differences between myself and the society I came from. We both made mistakes because we are young, and we both became cynicism after that. But this similarity does not come out of nothing. On the contrary, it can be traced. At the beginning, we both believed that there is a way leads to salvation, easing all the pains and healing all the wounds. But the fact is, that life is hard is a universal truth—no matter how time changes and the technology develops, life for individuals will always be hard. But many of us won’t realize this until we actually experience this. It takes time and efforts to learn. Finally, we understand that the paradise does not exist and we start to think maybe all these dreams, values and believes we used to talking about do not exist at all. And maybe some of us have convinced ourselves on this point. But that’s exactly how these dreams, values and believes work—they are not defined by what we see but by how we act. Societies are always chaos, nothing exists and everything exists. At the end of the day, what matters is what we believe and how we act—we don’t need to work out a society without darkness, but we, ourselves, can try to be as bright as possible. Why the belief matters? Why the God matters? Because it’s not about the God or the truth, it’s about ourselves, the way we choose to live.

First Impression of 10.5 Inch iPad Pro

This title is a little bit cheating, since this is my second time to fiddle with the newest 10.5 inch iPad Pro. The truly first time is when I was in Nanjing IST, and at that time the iPad Pro is still in iOS 10. I don’t think the truly first impression is positive, simply because the Pro Motion made me feel dizzy when scrolling home screen or, especially, a web page. Such negative impression prevails for such a long time, that until a few days before, I still didn’t think I liked this iPad. 

But my need for a small size iPad around 10 inch is still there. And in fact, I love my iPad Air 2 pretty much. Even after I bought the 12.9 inch iPad Pro, I still love it, despite the fact that lacking support for Apple Pencil limits its usages. I think 10 inch iPad is like the true iPhone to me, where I could accomplish all the basic tasks—reading, writing, note-taking with either virtual keyboard or Apple Pencil. And to tell the truth, I have no appeal to iPhone right now whatsoever, simply because I think it’s more like a toy to me rather than a productive tool, which is, of course, a direct outcome of my personal interests.(If you are a photographer, I believe they are amazing to you.) Whatever I need to do on the iPhone, iPad can handle it better without compromising the efficiency and comfortability. I can type comfortably sitting on the bed as if I am typing on a real keyboard and I can hold the iPad with one hand and read papers or books without struggling with dizzily small fonts on iPhone. What’s more, an 12.9 inch iPad Pro can not handle these tasks as good as the 10.5 inch one, the large screen size worsen the typing experience and the heavy weight leaves holding it with one hand impossible. That’s why I love small size iPad.

Today, Apple also officially release iOS 11, which in Federico’s words, “an iPad release”. There is no way I could express my affection to this version of iOS. I upgraded my new iPad Pro to it right after I received it. Although the upgrading experience is somewhat terrible—the battery info does not show correctly until I reboot the system, the Cellular Tab in the Settings disappeared and only came back only after I reset the iPad and reinstalled all the apps, Ulysses quit unexpectedly after switching to Safari and back(Later I discovered that after I switched to the Subscription version of Ulysses, everything fixed. Hmm)—I still love this iOS. But it is also true, that the dock and the new split screen lose half of their power because of the screen size. In fact, I am reluctant to use split screen on this iPad because the app will become uncomfortably small. Therefore, unfortunately, the usage of this iPad is quite limited in some sense again, that is, it can never replace the 12.9 inch one.

True Tone and Pro Motion are amazing in general, despite I still feel uncomfortably dizzy when scrolling. But the size, the weight, the Pencil and all the other features unique to iPad Pro altogether deliver an overall amazing experience. And I believe I will spend most of my iPhone time on it in the future.

Comments on Apple's September Event

Here are some thoughts popping up immediately after I watched this year keynote. And I will briefly demonstrate them here. But these ideas have not been carefully investigated and evaluated yet, and in fact, I think they are my major directions in the upcoming month.

First of all, I am not excited about iPhone X that much, because, to me, it’s more like a triumph of industrial design, understanding of user interference and the rapid development of Machine learning, but not like something that people can use to do creative things better unless you are a photographer. Whatever you can accomplish with this generation of iPhone X, you can do it in the previous version. I don’t think OLED display and Face ID open up that many possibilities as the introduction of Multi-touch display ten years ago. Therefore, I don’t think the new iPhone is a better tool for the purpose of changing the world, and as a result, I am not enthusiastic at all.

Next thing is about AR. Apple introduces many technologies and features that could combine the reality with the virtual world, like AR and the Animoji. I think this indicates that what Apple believes the current technology could bring us to, that is, a combination of reality and virtual world. I sense this might a very interesting topic. Topics such as whether people are comfortable with this and how it will affect people’s identifications towards each other(If people get more and more relied on Animoji, then does the animation truly reflect ourselves?) are, at least to me, worth discussion.

Finally, the Watch. And this is probably the first time that I truly want to buy an Apple Watch. And it’s all because of cellular. Now, Apple watch is more like a minimal version of the iPhone, which contains almost all the functions I need but cannot be achieved by iPad, like music, Apple Pay, call and text message, and the Map. Other functions provided by iPhone seems a distraction to me rather than something helpful.

These three points are what I’ve come up with yet. And it will be fascinating to see discussions on these points and others which I haven’t noticed yet.


I did figure out something important which I want to share with you. About a year ago, I found a YouTube Channel starting to upload a series of seminars on algebraic geometry. And I began to follow that series immediately after I discovered it. After a few lectures, I felt it is a little bit slow so I started to read the book. And like everything I attempted to learn but itself does not have immediately usage, I soon put the whole thing on the table. Recently I happened to notice that they’ve uploaded nearly 30 lectures, and I am thinking if I just follow it during the past year, I would have actually learnt that many things.

So the moral lesson, at least, could be that if you want to learn something without immediate use, just try to be patient and learn a little bit each time but do learn constantly. I used to be quite hasty and impatient, probably because I was young, and I constantly felt that I was running out of time. But damn, Witten didn’t start to do all the fancy staffs at the very beginning, and he didn’t make too much progress on the Langlands Conjectures until 21 century. My point is that these topics are like the Bebbanburg, (Bebbanburg is castle where Uhtred was born and he was the rightful lord of it. But his thorne was usurped by his uncle and his cousin and he dreamed to recapture the fortress all his life. But he wasn’t able to do it until he was almost 60 I think.) and they are so attractive to me. But the reality is that they are difficult and it will require tons of time and effort to understand. Now I will be an idiot if I put all my efforts on them right now because I do not possess enough knowledge to let myself guide by questions. And I reckon that one learns best only when he gets confused first. And at the same time, I will also be an idiot if I do nothing, because I will certainly end up with nothing. I would say the right tactic is to try to learn these things as they are my hobby, and most importantly, learn them in a slow but steady pace. And I am only 21 and why should I be hasty anyway.

So I present you my conclusion and my reason, and I wish these things might be helpful. I don’t expect these shallow thoughts and ideas could provide any illumination, so I won’t do what Megabits said, that is to post the link on the Telegram Channel. LOL.


Lying in the bed, I have a strange feeling. All these days, I’ve constantly asked myself what I’ve created. I remember almost exact one year ago, I talked to Megabits and I said, I wanted to spend more time to create contents. But what kinds of contents do I truly want to create? This blog post, among thousands of others, eventually will be buried, deep in Abyss of history. I want to create something immortal, transcending myself as an ordinary life. Yet, I don’t know what it is. 

And myself get amused by this idea. Trying to judge this idea even with values most Chinese hold, I have no idea whether it is I am actually growing up or the contrary. Caring more about great things and less about which softwares to use  sounds more matural. But going from cynicism to the idealism sounds naive as well.

There is no way I could judge this thought, not do I possess the knowledge and power to know how to realize it. All I know and all I am concerned is, if there is such greatness and immortality, and if there is a way to this place, it must be to learn, to think and to express. Only in this way, we truly live in this world, not lose ourselves and, finally, live in this world again. At the end of the day, what I believe is the power of interacting with the world as deeply as possible. And I love this way as well. 

So in the end, the desire for achieving greatness and this argument leading to deeply interact with the world and understand it could probably just something I come up with to justify the way of living I love.


I really love California’s weather, although I just escaped Moffitt Library because it is so cold out there. After all, that’s 20 meters underground and there is no reason it is not freezing out there. So I went out to enjoy the sunshine. And it’s Saturday and you can see people playing Frisbee in the grassland, running and jumping after the white spinning disc. It has been 3 years, I guess, since the last time I chasing it in High School. I can’t stop thinking 40 or 60 years later when I no longer have the energy to play this even if I wish to, at the place I will be sitting at that time, will there be a group of youth running and shouting under the afternoon sunshine, playing Frisbee? To be honest, I don’t know. Everyone can see how rapid the word has developed and how Internet has changed us. Maybe even 10 years later, we could only see such games on Wikipedia. Or maybe ten years later I can even play Frisbee here with my old friends. Sometimes your instinct tells how things will change and life will become, but you are just reluctantly to believe this is the case and use the uncertainty of life itself to convince yourself otherwise is also possible. Probably it really doesn’t matter to you which is the future, but it just makes you feel good thinking in this way. 


尽管有才对我说,写文章不是社交网络,但是作为一个话痨,140 字的限制和其他一些不太优雅的解决方案(比如说长图)让我暂时想不出不在 Blog 上发些社交网络文的方案。这时候我脑子里浮现出来的,却是蒋方舟的《东京一年》,尽管我觉得这书卖 34 块钱简直骗钱,但是我想我这一系列以日期命名的文章,恐怕也会不可避免地变成这种文章。

最近在想的一件事情,是一个现象的两种表述。在我以前的文章和 UTT 中我都提到过,我发觉中国社会上的一些问题和我身上的一些问题有共通之处。而这两天我在思考的时候,无意中想出了一种这样的表述:理解中国社会的意义是为了更好地理解我自己,因为作为被这个社会所塑造的一个人,我身上不可避免地会带有这个社会的特点。但我自己对这个观点充满警惕,我非常担心这会演化成一种借口:把自己身上的缺陷归咎于自己所处的社会是否会助长自己满足现状的懒惰?我觉得这种担心源于我自己意识到自己的怠慢;与此同时,我常常可以对自己“证明”一些决定的“合理性”。这就不得不使我自己警惕,这个想法本身是不是我下意识地维护自己错误行为的本能做法。我更想用的另一种表述是:我与这个社会经历了具有类似特征的阶段,因此会共有一些类似的特征。尽管我更倾向于使用后面一种表述,我更愿意相信,诚然过去的经历果然导致了我身上的缺陷,但其中有一些归根结底不是社会造成的,而是我自己在做出决定的时候,没有相对全面的分析和坚持原则所造成的:如果最终的选择权在我自己手里,那么无论什么样的结果,都不能归罪于其他。但理性上来说,我不得不承认,这两种表述实则代表了两种不同的缺陷,后者反应了思维方式和人格上的缺点,前者则更像是思维结果的偏差。墙的存在造成信息的缺失,而即便是没有墙的情况下,我们仍然有可能阴差阳错地而错过信息,或者因为信息太多而最终无法筛选到真实的、关键的信息,甚至是由于受到这个时代科学认知的限制而得到了错误的信息,因此得到不正确的结论是在所难免的。这种情况的确是受环境所限,但也并非是中国社会所独有的。当然,了解这些缺失的信息,就可以改变很多我们的误解。而第二种表述所代表的,更多是因为过去的经历而造成了一些心理上的影响或者思维方式上的影响,使得我们在思考上不能做到全面,甚至不愿意去思考一些问题而仅仅希望简单回避。我与社会的这种共性体现在一种 Cynicism 上:中国社会对于政治普遍缺乏关心,认为中国政治无法改变;而我曾经一度认为既然受到自然规则的限制,自由作为一个人想做他想做的事情是绝对不存在的,因此讨论自由也就毫无意义上。这两种观点仔细推敲都是无稽之谈:如果我们愿意,我们总得到一些微小的改变;尽管 100% 的自由不存在,但在某一件事情上有了选择的权利毫无疑问就使自由多了一点,当然别人可能不在乎,但是我不能欺骗自己,因为确实有一些事情,尽管微小,但我在乎。但这两种观点都存在了一定时间,因此它们并不是偶然出现的;我想它们都与某种理想的破灭多多少少有些关系:对中国来说可能是天安门,对于我来说可能是个人的一些理想。从这个意义上,我和这个社会有一些类似的缺陷仅仅是因为我们之前具有相似的经历,而于我是否居住在这个社会中无关。因此,这两种表述,实则代表了两种不同的缺陷。

在写这篇文章的时候,我其实挺高兴的。因为在这之前我认为只有第二种表述是有意义的,但我想这其实是源于我非理性的判断,甚至是源于我对于为自己找理由的恐惧;但追随着 reason 我至少在这个意义上超越了我自己人性上的一些东西。我想这其实就是写作、哪怕是随便写写的意义,以及思考的乐趣。


刚才 Lincoln Guang 在 Telegram 上跟我说好久没更新 Blog 了,这才有了去更新的动力。这个星期刚到美国,前两天忙着租房子,后面几天忙着各种琐事,中间的空闲时间倒也能看看书,只是看不进去太多东西,所以也没有什么书里的东西能拿来分享。

讲点什么呢?我其实还挺拿不准的。我挺喜欢这个地方,喜欢到我对这个地方没有什么看法,也不觉得有什么特别值得提起的,仿佛一切本来就该如此。租来的公寓是裸的,家具是几个人一点点买起来的,前两天没有床垫,就垫了个床单睡了两天地板。我对于硬度没什么不适,只是来之前听说最冷的冬天是加州的夏天,这下真的应验了,在半夜会觉得后背发凉。等了两天等来了床垫,惊叹于真空包装的魔力,能把一个 Twin Size 的床垫卷成只有电线杆那么粗。

说起来,这里的电线杆都是拿树干做的,矗立在老旧的街道上,路也颇有些坑坑洼洼,离开了 Downtown 就几乎看不见什么高楼。而我却有了一种终于得以逃离中国的喧嚣的感觉:在这里哪怕是市中心,也不会喧闹。在徐州的市中心我常常有这样一种感觉,噪音在背后追着我,无论我跑到哪里,似乎都逃不过。而略显古老的路与旁边有些斑驳的墙,于我而言不是一种破败和支离破碎,相反恰恰代表了完整与和谐:这种一致不是空间上的,民居与高楼仍然有着相当大的反差;这是一种时间上的一致,走在路上就好像走在时光长河的岸边,过去的记忆是可以轻易触摸的到的。中国人喜欢向前看,但有时我在想也许这并不是真的想要向前看,只是不敢回头向后看,也不愿回头向后看。或许过去的记忆,对于每一个人来说都有些支离破碎,但失去回忆才是真正的支离破碎:过去塑造了我们;因此忽视过去,就会变得很难理解现在的自己,于是向前看就变成了只是跌跌撞撞地向前走。我难以接受这样的生活。太多的人想要向前走,但我愈发觉得,知识与创造并非来源于对创新的渴望,相反它们来源于原则。这就好像,想要走出圆圈最好的办法不是往前走,而是直着走。未来对于我仍是不可捉摸的事情,我依然相信造化弄人,我们看到的、我们想要到的和我们努力去得到的,在我看来是很不一致的。五年的时光转瞬即逝,在渴望与追逐中,我得到的,反倒是愈加僵化的思维。看到一个既定的未来,然后向那里走,终究不是我所擅长的,也不是我所愿意的。我所想要的,不过是坚持一个原则(这样我就不会漂泊),然后去生活(这样我就时刻都在流浪)。

去生活,仿佛成为了我现在最想做的事情,和我对于诸如我们将要到哪里去这类终极问题的一种回答。不知道从那一刻起,我忽然觉得时光在飞快地流逝,不再愿意像以前一样幻想,不再愿意像以前一样感伤,不再愿意像以前一样谈天说地。我更愿意打开 Kindle 看看书,去超市买东西做饭吃,坐在床垫上写点东西。不愿意去想我要实现什么目标,只是用每天花多长时间什么事情上来激励自己。我不在望向远方,只是想要在奔流的江水中沉淀出一些东西出来;但究竟是什么,我也说不清。

现在的我,究竟是一个怎样的自己?坦白地讲,我看到了青春期之前的理性与宁静,但也看到了青春期时的理想与犬儒,就好像在历经了一个必然的 Detour 后终于艰难地回到了大路上,但粘在鞋底的泥泞却不可避免地下来。














































「你們自己都沒有抗爭過,憑什麽覺得一家美國跨國公司應該來幫你抗爭?」— John Gruber,在 NYT App 被強制下架後在 Talk Show 里說過的話,到今天仍然 true,我們就是活該,活該任他們宰割。     — 有才


坦白地说,看到这句话的时候我愣了一下,因为我觉得我看到了一点点自己的影子。这样一种心理,我想用 Shadowsocks 原作者所说过的一段话来说,是最为合适的:


 我想我的潜意识里经历过这么一个阶段。但有趣的是,在这段经历中,所谓的“大大”恰好是 iBuick。他碰巧是一个极力反对伸手党的人,甚至不惜开口大骂;同时吸引我的也正是这一特质。于是相较于上文中围绕着大大转圈,我的真实表现是成为了有点”有事Google“原教旨主义者。我之所以用”有点“,是因为我仍然乐于回答朋友们问的问题(虽然时常结果是我自己去 Google),但我却没少宣扬这一观点。但大概半年过后,我就不怎么粉 iBuick 了,可能是因为他沉迷屁股不能自拔,也可能是因为我觉得我从他身上看不到更深的东西。

我对 Apple 有没有这样一种心态呢?其实我自己也说不清楚。我唯一能想到的相关的线索,是我在有一刻听到了,也许是有才讲的,”Apple 作为一家美国公司在维护我们的隐私“时候的想法。我说不清那时候的我有没有潜在的依赖感,因为据我现在的回忆,那时的我更多的是在震撼,震撼于 Apple 对于这样一种价值的追求。但我想我愣了的那一秒钟,恐怕还是说明了,这种潜在的依赖感,一定是存在的。




但我今天对于 Apple 的一丝丝失望,并不来源于这种依赖感的落空。我不觉得 Apple 有义务为国人争取这种自由,我下午在 UTT 群里发牢骚的时候,也只是说了一句”恍惚间觉得 Apple 还不如 Google“。我觉得这是一种价值观上的妥协。当然你可以说,商业公司的目的就是为了挣钱;但假如 Apple 为了中国市场的利润,可以做到在价值观上妥协,那么谁又能保证他,不会因为利益在其他国家、甚至美国妥协呢?

于是在这一刻,我突然对那个退出中国市场的 Google 有了很多好感。


另一件让我发愣的事情是,怎么抗争?一瞬间飘过脑海的却是天安门。但我忽然明白,这种困惑来源于「你們自己都沒有抗爭過,憑什麽覺得一家美國跨國公司應該來幫你抗爭?」中的”你们“。诚然 John Gruber 可以说,”你们“;但对于”你们“中很少一部分,真正在乎的人而言,很难把自己放在这个”你们“当中。晓波离开那晚的平静,或许就真的说明,绝大多数人,根本上是不在乎的。这个国家,是我们的,也是他们的。既然自由本质上是一种负担,我们就无权要求不在乎的人在乎,我们也必须尊重他们的选择。我有些想说丧气的话,但在此刻我确实觉得,在可见的将来,任何有关于尝试改变这个国家和社会的抗争都是不明智的甚至不合理的,因为绝大多数人恐怕真的不在乎。


Limits of Possibilities

(AD) I wrote this essay as a reply to 有才's post on his band. To read the original post, join his band. LOL.

I really have no idea on how I shall start. The limit of possibilities in life probably even makes no sense to us, unless we have some goals in our life, consciously or sub-consciously. If life is a game and we are the participants, then the rules will be no longer important to us if we don’t want anything whatsoever. I have no ideas whether such insouciant gamer exists since to want to remain status quo is a desire after all. Therefore, to most of us who have desires, the existence of limits matters in the sense that they probably will prevent us from achieving what we want. 

But what really matters is that we will never know the existence of such limitations unless we try. And, in principle, we will never know that certain limitations cannot be overcome unless we die trying. But in practice we seldom do so—after many attempts which all lead to failures we would simply conclude that these limitations are among those we cannot bypass and never try the same thing again. And not only we learn from our own conclusions, but also we learn from the conclusions acquired by others. Such conclusions, if states only the past experiences, could be reliable, at least in principle, since they state simply facts which once happened in the past. But when we use them to guide our own lives then we inevitably generalize them which means we assume that we will get the same outcome given the same conditions. 

Up to now, I haven’t discussed about whether limits of possibilities exist or not. But based on our past experiences, we all know such limitations do exist, and in some sense, even prevail. For example, the girl I adore will clearly not appear in front of me next couple minutes, although I certainly hope so. So the next question will be which part of them can be overcome and which cannot. We could start to classify all the limits, examine them case by case and put them into two classes. But I reckon this would be fruitless since as I discussed just now, it is impossible to say I cannot bypass some limits unless I die trying. And even if I devote the rest of my life doing this, then the conclusion I can draw is merely myself cannot bypass this limitation. And since I am sitting here and writing this essay instead of going somewhere to test whether I can overcome the limit, I want to analyze this problem in a different way. 

Let us assume that the limitations which we cannot overcome exist. Then the problem will be that how they will affect our lives. If we only look at the impossibilities that they bring to us, then we can probably end this discussion since, by definition, we cannot overcome these impossibilities. To achieve something meaningful, we must examine things more thoroughly. To be more specific, what we want to examine is to see some typical types of limitations, which themselves can be overcome, but accompanied by the limitations which are cannot be bypassed, therefore easily leads to misjudgments.

First of all, we must realize that such limitations can bring other effects to us besides certain impossibilities in our life. For example, if traveling faster than light is my childhood dream, and all of sudden I realize or am told by others that I cannot do so, I probably feel despair and disappointed. In this way, limitations bring emotions. And with these emotions, I will behave differently and probably unable to accomplish other things which I used to be able to. Therefore, in this way, such limitations bring new limitations. We must realize that these byproducts, although themselves are produced by limitations which cannot be overcome, at least part of them, can be conquered. If I have a strong mind, therefore, be able to resist the effects of negative emotions, then I probably can overcome some byproduct limitations. But if they can be overcome, then they simply belong to those which can be overcome, what’s the point of even mentioning them? The key is that people, at least myself and many people around me, have the tendency to believe all the outcomes brought by the unbeatable limitations are unbeatable as well and therefore refuse to see the weakness of themselves and further more to change themselves to achieve a better result. We may be inundated by the emotions so that the reasoning part of our brain simply does not function. We may be hurt by the past failure so much that we don’t even want to examine the memory to analyze ourselves. At this point, a term like the limitations which cannot be overcome become an extremely plausible excuse, so plausible that we even use it to deceive ourselves. I am not going to vilify such potential “treachery” since I believe sometimes it does have a positive effect, but merely want to point it out to those who haven’t realized this. 

Next, we must examine the procedure that we realize such limitations and use them to guide our life. As I mentioned above, we either notice such limitations from our own experiences or learn from others. Now suppose such experiences are expressed with certain statements. We must stay alerted that during this process, mis-expressions and misinterpretations always occur and, therefore, lead to limitations that actually can be overcome. And when we use these experiences to guide our lives, we implicitly make the assumptions that similar conditions lead to similar outcomes. We simply cannot require the conditions to be exactly the same because it is simply impossible in real life. But here comes the problem. What do we mean by similar? Of course, when making the decisions we must judge by ourselves whether the conditions are similar or not, but that’s exactly the time when our judgments could go wrong and therefore cause us to mistake some limitations that can be overcome as the unconquerable ones. And the large part of these mistakes is due to ourselves, for example, own biases and irrationalities or own carelessness during the observations. Such mistakes won’t lead to failures, but they will stop us from being successful, since after mistaking something as being impossible we won’t even give a try and probably even educate our children such impossibilities. Sometimes we are so eager to believe that we are animals with reasons and let down our guards. So our own illogicalness crept back into us.

If the unconquerable limits simply bring impossibilities, then life will be much easier. But I doubt life would be that merciful towards us. And in fact, they also bring us other limits which are partly conquerable. These byproducts, lying on the boundary of possibilities, are really subtle and we are easy to limit ourselves with the unconquerable limits in the sense that we do not recognize these byproducts as conquerable, consciously—we deceive ourselves certain limits cannot be overcome so we no long examine ourselves—or unconsciously—we are deceived by our own biases and other weakness. And I guess to individuals’ life, these limitations, coming as byproducts, are of extreme importance.

Notes on Chap. 4 of Capitalism and Freedom

Notes on Chapter 4 International Financial and Trade Arrangement

The Importance of International Monetary Arrangements for Economic Freedom 

Although many people who support free market reckon the interference with international trades innocuous, such interferences are capable of destroying free enterprises. The government can, for example, control the enterprises that use imported products or produces substitutes for imports by controlling imports. 

The term “inconvertibility of currency” has various meanings. During the Civil War and for a decade and a half thereafter, U.S. currency is inconvertible in the sense that someone’s dollar cannot be exchanged with the gold in the Treasury, although it can still be used to buy gold at the market price or buy foreign currency. But nowadays, the dollar has been inconvertible in the sense as it originally was, which means the individuals are forbidden to hold or buy or sell gold ever since 1933. In fact, this use of “inconvertibility” was first invented by Hjalmar Schacht in Nazi regime.

The Role of Gold in the U.S. Monetary System

The role of gold in the U.S. policy should be considered as a commodity whose price is supported by government, although different in the following perspectives. First of all, the support price is paid to both foreign and domestic producer. Second, the gold is only sold freely to foreign producers not domestic. Finally, the Treasury is authorized to create money to pay for the gold it buys, meaning that the purchase or sell of gold will not appear in the budget.

If the gold price is held higher than the market price, then the gold will flow in; otherwise, the gold will flow out.

The government control over the gold price is inconsistent with the free market. What’s more, during the presidency of Roosevelt, the nationalization of the gold stock, the prohibition of private possession of gold for monetary purposes(In 1933 and 1934, private holders were forced to sell gold to government with a price lower than the market price by the newly legislated law that states the private ownership of gold is illegal), and the abrogation of gold clauses in public and private contracts further damage the economic freedom. 

Current Payments and Capital Flight

The balance of payments and the danger of a run on gold(foreign holder of dollars converts his dollar balances into gold), although not unrelated, reveals different features—the former is usually slow to rise and leaves a considerable amount of time to solve while the latter often comes as a sudden surprise. The two problems relate in two ways. When people lose confidence in the balance of payments, they might want to convert the balance into gold. And the flows of gold are the device adopted to resolve the problems in the payment balance.

Alternative Mechanisms for Achieving Balance Foreign Payments

There are four methods to achieve payment balance. Let’s say U. S. is in the situation where something threatens to produce a deficit in U. S. payments, for example, a reduction of dollars foreigners want to buy compared with the residents want to sell. 

The first method is simply to draw down the U. S. reserves of foreign currencies or to build up foreign reserves of U. S. currency. In practice, drawing down reserves of foreign currency is achieved by letting the U. S. stock of gold go down or borrowing foreign currency and building up foreign reserves of U. S. currency is realized by selling foreign currency to U. S. citizens. This method is only a temporary expedient. 

The second method is to force down the domestic price compared with the foreign price. This is the main adjustment under the full-fledge gold standard. The method 1 will make gold flow out of U. S. and flow into foreign countries. And the process of reduction in the relative price is then possible since the price is positively relevant to the stock of money which is positively relevant to the stock of gold. But the process is not automatic under the current monetary system, since the authorities, instead of purely the stock of gold, will decide whether to change the stock of money or not.

The third method is to change the exchange rate to achieve the same result as method 2. There are many ways to achieve this in practice, including the pegged exchange rate where the change is achieved through government declarations, a free market rate or a one with government speculation.

The fourth method is to simply control the international trade. For example, the government can take action to stimulate exports or reduce the import. Since this would require government control over private enterprises, it can be considered as the worst option.

Floating Exchange Rates as the Free Market Solution 

There are only two mechanisms which are consistent with the free market, the fully automatic international gold standard, which is unfortunately not feasible or desirable, and the freely floating exchange rate, which is most appropriate one. But the latter is only supported by a few amount of liberals. And the reasons are given by the following. In the first place, people have the tendency to remain status quo. Next is the confusion between the true gold standard and the pseudo gold standard. In the former case, the rate would be quite rigid, since they are different labels of a certain amount of gold but unfortunately we are in the latter case. “A third reason is the inevitable tendency for everyone to be in favor of a free market for everyone else, while regarding himself as deserving of special treatment. This particularly affects bankers in respect of exchange rates.” Most important reason is a bias, that many countries which have gotten into severe economic trouble by other reasons eventually resort to floating exchange rates means that floating exchange rates produce instabilities. 

Freely floating exchange rates do not mean an unstable exchange rate, in fact, they are actually stable because the economic structures and conditions are stable. 

The Policy Measures Necessary For a Free Market in Gold and Foreign Exchange 

See the book.

Eliminating U.S. Restrictions on Trade

The discussion on tariffs assumes certain amount backgrounds knowledge, therefore, I do not understand clearly. 

To end this summary, consider certain approach towards the free trade, which is to reciprocal negotiate with other countries. This is not a good idea because, first, this is slow and it makes people feel that removing restrictions on trade is essentially something benefits themselves but hurts others. This is not true since tariffs hurt both sides. The principle, therefore, should be: 

“We believe in freedom and intend to practice it. No one can force you to be free. That is your business. But we can offer you full co-operation on equal terms to all. Our market is open to you. Sell here what you can and wish to. Use the proceeds to buy what you wish.”

Notes on Chap. 3 of Capitalism and Freedom

Notes on Chapter 3 The Control of Money

Government policies relevant to economic stability include monetary policy and fiscal or budgetary policy. In this chapter, we shall focus on demotic monetary policy.

First, we shall discuss two views, the Scylla, which favors a purely automatic gold standard, and the Charybdis, in which some bureaucratic body, such as an independent central bank, assigned with certain powers, is considered necessary. However, both views didn’t provide a satisfying solution in the past and will not in the future.

The major goals for a monetary framework are stability and being free from the danger of the irresponsible exercise of monetary powers. The first point is easy to understand. To the second point, a concrete example would be that the control of the money could enable sovereigns to exact heavy taxes from the populace without the explicit agreement of the legislature (if there is any).

Actual commodity standards would solve the dilemma since there is no need for the government intervention. But the difficulty is clear as well, that it requires the use of real resources to add to the stock of money. Also, such an automatic system has historically never been feasible, in the sense that such a system has always tended to develop in the direction of a mixed system containing fiduciary elements, where the government intervention seems unavoidable. Thus an automatic commodity standard is neither a feasible nor a desirable solution.

Therefore, although many people speak of favoring the gold standard, almost no one literally means the full gold standard. They mean “a gold standard managed by a central bank or other governmental bureaus, which holds a small amount of gold ‘backing’ for fiduciary money”.

To discuss why assigning such responsibility on monetary affairs on an independent central bank or other bureaus does not provide a satisfying solution, Freedman uses the Great Depression for an example. For a wonderful discussion, see the book by yourself. Here I will pick up only what I think is essential. The Great Depression would not involve into such a catastrophe, if the Federal Reserve System, which is assigned the responsibility for the monetary affairs, had done their duty. 

In a fractional reserve banking system, a bank does not have a dollar of currency for a dollar of deposits. On the contrary, the bank only holds fifteen or twenty cents of a dollar to its cash while the rest is lent out through another window. As this procedure repeats, the result is that “the total stock of money–cash plus deposits–for a given amount of cash is therefore higher the larger the fraction of its money the public is willing to hold as deposits”. “Any widespread attempt on the part of depositors to ‘get their money’ must therefore mean a decline in the total amount of money unless there is some way in which additional cash can be created and some way for banks to get it.” Otherwise, this will start a vicious cycle, in which one bank, in order to satisfy its depositors, forcing other banks to put pressure on other banks by asking them to pay back its loan. Such cycles, shaking the confidence of depositors, will start the cycle over again. 

This is precisely the situation under the pre-Federal-Reserve banking system, which also leads to the establishment of the Federal Reserve System. But clearly it does not fulfill its duty during the Great Depression, including allowing the money stock to decline by nearly 3 percent from August 1929 to October 1930, turning a common contraction to a disaster. 

"The Great Depression in the United States, far from being a sign of the inherent instability of the private enterprise system, is a testament to how much harm can be done by mistakes on the part of a few men when they wield vast power over the monetary system of a country."

The past experience therefore indicates that any system which gives so much power and discretion to a few men where mistakes can lead to catastrophe is literally a bad system. Money, is simply too much serious a matter to be left to the Central Bankers.

With both methods unreliable, the only way that has yet been suggested that sounds promising is to do so via legislating. Then two questions must be answered–why shouldn’t we consider each case by its own merit instead of legislating and what should the rule consist. The answer to the first question is that if each case is considered by its own merits, the decision-makers, examining only finite scopes and not taking into account the cumulative consequences, are likely to make mistakes. The answer to the second answer is more difficult to answer. The author himself suggests that, in the present state of our knowledge, the rule should be stated in terms of the behavior of the stock of money. The choice would be “a legislated rule instructing the monetary authority to achieve a specified rate of growth in the stock of money” where the stock of the money is defined to be “the sum of currency outside commercial banks plus all deposits of commercial banks”.

Notes on Chap. 2 of Capitalism and Freedom

Notes on Chapter 2 The Role of Government in a Free Society

To liberal, the appropriate means consist of free discussion and voluntary co-operation, free of coercion. The markets permit unanimity without conformity while the optical channels do not. But matters which effective proportional representation does not exist, such as the amount of national defenses, require us to employ political channels to reconcile differences. 

Also, the unanimity, although considered as the ideal, sometimes is not practical, since we cannot afford the time and afford required on every issue. Therefore, the majority rule, which itself is not a basic principle, is adopted. Different matters require different types of majority. For example, people will want the minimal concessions on issues embodied in the Constitution.

The role of the government in a free society is reflected in the following prospectives. 

As the rule-maker and umpire, the government provides a means whereby we can modify the rules, mediates differences among us on the meaning of the rules, and enforces compliance with the rules. Such need for government in this perspective arises for that the absolute freedom is impossible, since man’s freedom conflicts and there must be compromises, leaving government the responsibility to resolve such conflicts. This can be extremely difficult sometimes. For example, in economic areas, there is no consensus on the interpretation of “free” for “enterprise”. In the United States, existing enterprises are not free to keep out competitors except by selling a better product at the same price or the same product at a lower price, while in the continental tradition the enterprises are generally free to do what they want. 

More basic economic areas in which the answer is difficult yet also important include the definition of property rights and monetary system. What consists of property rights can be extremely complicated in some cases, which suggests that, in these cases, the existence of a well specified and generally accepted definition of property is far more important than just what the definition is.

Other things we want to vis government instead of market are those which can be done through market, only are rendered difficult by technical or similar conditions. These are decided into two categories by their causes: the technical monopoly and neighborhood effect.

The existence of equivalent alternatives is indispensable for true voluntary exchange. Therefore, monopoly, which implies alternatives do not exist, will weaken the freedom of exchange. Technical monopoly refers to the monopoly caused by the fact that, in some situations, technically one producer is sufficient. There are only three types of alternatives for technical monopoly: private monopoly, public monopoly, or public regulation. Depending on the particular cases, the most suitable alternative could be quite different. In a situation where society is rapidly changed, private monopoly, as being more responsive therefore easier to be eliminated, is the most suitable. But if the technical monopoly is of a service or commodity that is essential, then public monopoly or public regulation will be better choices.

The neighborhood effects make the strictly voluntary exchange impossible in the way that the actions of individuals have effects on other individuals for which it is not feasible to charge or recompense them. However, when the government takes action to overcome the neighborhood effects, it introduces additional neighborhood effects through their actions, making it difficult to adjust. Therefore we must analyze particular cases, list the pros and cons, and attach weights to different items.

Finally, since freedom is a tenable objective only for the responsible individuals, action through government on paternalistic grounds is unavoidable for those are reckoned to be not responsible, such as madman and children. Such action, however, is troublesome to a liberal, for it involves the acceptance that some shall decide for others. And we must not go too far otherwise the individual liberty will be greatly disturbed.

As a summary, government plays a crucial role in a free society, yet such a government clearly has limited functions.

Notes on Chap. 1 of Capitalism and Freedom

Notes on Chapter 1 The Relation between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom

There exist connections between economy and politic, therefore allowing only certain types of combinations of political and economic arrangements. The economy plays a dual role in the promotion of a free society. In the first place, economical freedom is part of the general freedom. Although often dismissed as being unimportant, economical freedom, as part of the general freedom, is no less critical than the political freedom. On the other hand, economical freedom promotes political freedom in the way that it separates economic power from political power. Freedman claims that political freedom only comes with free markets as history shows. Despite the intertwining nature of the relationship between economic freedom and political freedom, the connection, as well as an ideal economic arrangement for a free society, can be made clear by considering first the market as a proponent of freedom and then the indirect relation between market arrangements and political freedom.

To continue the investigation, one must first make clear the concept of freedom. If we take freedom of the individual as our ultimate goal in judging social arrangements, then it as a value in this sense has to do with the interrelations among people. (For example, without his Man Friday, it has no meaning whatsoever to a Robinson Crusoe — he has limited “power” and is subject to “constraint” but there is no problem of freedom in the sense that is relevant to our discussion.) 

The fundamental problem of social organization is how to coordinate the economic activities of large numbers of people, and this can only be done in two ways—the use of coercion and the voluntary cooperation, namely the technique of the market place. The later one rests on the elementary but frequently denied proposition that both parties to an economic transaction benefit from it, as long as the transaction is bilaterally voluntary and informed. This leads to the concept competitive capitalism (or /free private enterprise exchange economy/), representing a working model of a society organized through voluntary exchange. 

In its simplest form, such a society consists of a number of independent households, using the resources to produce goods and services which are used to exchange for other goods and services produced by others, on terms mutually acceptable to the two parties to the bargain. In this way, the satisfaction of its wants is realized indirectly by producing goods and services for others, rather than directly by producing goods for its own immediate use. The reason for adopting this indirect route is the increased product made possible by division of labor and specialization of function. The bi-winning property is guaranteed by the fact the household has the ability to produce for itself. Introducing the enterprises and money allows specialization of function and division of labor to go even further.

During this process, every transaction remains strictly voluntary since the enterprises are private and the individuals are effectively free to enter or not to enter into any particular exchange. But to spell them out are very difficult, which will be the topics in next chapter.

Once the effective freedom of exchange is maintained, the central feature of the market which prevents one person from interfering with another is realized, especially impersonally and without centralized authority. The existence of free markets does not eliminate the need for government, but rather reduce the range of issues that have to be decided through political means, while the government is still an essential role in both making the rules and enforcing the rules. 

In order to consider the implication of free market on the political freedom, first, we must clarify that the political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men. One of the fundamental threat to such freedom is the power to coerce, therefore the preservation of freedom requires the elimination and dispersion of such power. Economical power, compared with political power, is relatively easy to decentralize. Then if the economical power is tight to political power, then it will be very difficult to decentralize. But if economical power is separated from the political power, then the economical power can be served as a check.




我过去五年内时常陷入一种精神上的困境,茫然、恐慌,伴随着理性的坍塌而不知所措。这一切的开始往往是我沉溺于自己的幻想,而这种幻想同时源于心灵上的脆弱和内心的渴望。我有时在想,是否天安门 也是如此:起源于少部分人的渴望,却因为自身的脆弱而进而演化成一种狂热而非理性,最终从某种程度上摧毁了渴望。

与此同时,我同这个社会一样缺乏耐心。十年真的足够民主与自由在一个刚刚经历过文革的地方站得住脚么?如果不,那么天安门的失败或许是必然的。就算它真的“成功”了,一个由狂热支撑起来的成功,真的能带来它所追求的民主与自由么?无论哪一种结局,我想这个社会都会付出惨重的代价。或是这种结果下天安门上的亡灵;或是另一种结果下另一种代价。 我并不想洗地,但过度的狂热总会带来伤害。这就好像在我躁动的青春中 一念而起的改变,决心来的汹涌,却从未持久。我明白那是一种潜藏着的渴望,但我却从未好好端详过那种渴望本身 ,或许我甚至不知道那种渴望源于本性,还是源于对于随之而来的激情的追求。我在这种盲目奔波中浪费精力,却从未想过一件事:就算这种渴望发自内心,明天我真的就能焕然一新,成为我幻想中的那个人么?


与其沉溺于不能一蹴而就 的幻想并一次次的被击垮,不如想想怎么能比现在更好一点。