James Tang

Month: August, 2009





On skepticism:

“I realized that if the universe was actually subjective, I’d never recognize it as such if I believed it was objective, since I’d simply manifest an objective universe….” Steve Pavlina

Having just read Tyler Cowen’s Create Your Own Economy and accounts of so many other intelligent perspectives, I have never been hit harder by the phrase “life is what we make it.” Tyler brings up the idea of placebos in our lives and how framing can change our values. I’ve long been a fan of understanding the incompatibilities of the mind with rationality, and now the idea that my mind is simply too weak to understand its own consciousness is really hitting me. It seems like seeing the universe as subjective to my own consciousness has only upsides.

Los Cabos


Date: 7/31/09-8/5/09

Cost: $250 (flight) + $500 (5 nights at all-inclusive Royal Solaris)


Beach: Not quite as “Photoshopped” as Cancun beaches, but still better than anything I’ve ever seen in the States. They aren’t crowded and the waves can get high enough for body surfing. Not much “scenery” though.

Resort: The all-inclusive package is really an amazing deal. All drinks and food covered and the quality is great. Royal Solaris has 4 restaurants and from 6:30 am to 1 am at least one is guaranteed to be open (usually the buffet at the weird hours). Standard liquors are found (Bacardi Rum, Stoli Vodka, Jose Cuervo). Food is pretty much endless. Also, no tipping expected which is one less thing to worry about. Once you get there, you can pretty much put your wallet away. One annoyance was the lack of wifi in the room; you had to go to the lobby to use it. Service with a smile is available everywhere and at the American-owned Royal Solaris they are required to know English. Their main goal is to ensure that you have a good time and to be professional enough to never give you attitude even if you probably deserve it. My opinion is to just enjoy life at the resort as much as possible, the area around it is beautiful and there isn’t much of a reason to step off it to see sights. If you do leave to go somewhere, do something exciting like ATV riding or parasailing.

Baja: I came here for a morning of ATV (All-terrain vehicle) riding with my sister. Apparently, no licenses are necessary and it is sort of like a slower motorcycle designed to go up mountains, accross beaches, and through forestry. It does carry some dangers (I saw one guy flip his ATV over trying to go up a hill at a wrong angle and it almost landed on him), but that just adds to the fun. My sister described riding in the back as a rollercoaster through the landscape without any assurances that the person driving is qualified or even competent.


Mexican people expect tips. The moment I stepped outside of the resort, many people approached me to try to help me without my asking and with the implicit understanding that I was supposed to tip them. This is part of the reason why I liked the resort so much since I never had to fend off any help, it was just part of the package I bought. The difference is so dramatic that signs are posted everywhere to remind tourists to tip. Be sure to add this into the costs of going anywhere.

Mexican food is unpretentious and delicious. The foods served appealed much to me because there was very little processing involved and it was fresh. You can pretty much look at the food you’re eating and identify all the ingredients except spices. The food is very satisfying and at the resort it was endless.

The resorts give gifts to entice you to purchase a timeshare. From our Cancun experience, we knew that they would give us a gift (this time it was the ATV deal) to have the opportunity to speak with us during breakfast about timesharing. The deal as far as I can tell is a pretty fair one, but requires a strong committment. You get to stay at any one of the RCI-owned resorts located from all over the world for 4 weeks a year (food not included), for 30 years. They really want to get you committed because then it ensures steady business and they can use that money to invest in other properties. We weren’t ready for it this year either since our family is rather small and vacation time not used one year, doesn’t roll-over. You still get the free gifts though. Since we knew the procedures this time, it was easy just to break off the discussion early and tell them we weren’t interested.

The weather is hot and humid. Beautiful skys, few clouds, and a bright sun. However, the moment I leave my air conditioned room, my glasses fog up.