Pique

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12/11/18

I was walking to my dorm when I passed a girl who was bawling… From what I made out, she had taken a final today that didn’t go well, and was apologizing to her mom at the prospect of getting a B- in the class… She said she had stayed up until 6am studying, etc…

It’s not my place to judge, but I think this is a real indicator something is going wrong with college…

Unrelated, here is an excerpt from one of my favorite poems. It’s part of an ad for Tourism Melbourne that airs whenever the Australian Open is on.

Let me watch the sea-rain falling,

Smell the salt, deck-driven spray;

Let me hear the bush-birds calling

At the dawning of the day.

*

Let me see the sun-bars streaming

Down the valleys, ere the night

Fills the world with pleasant dreaming

Love and coolness and delight

“Far and Wide”

E.J. Brady

Link + Lines

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-american-meme-a-new-netflix-documentary-records-the-angst-of-social-media-influencers

Don’t watch much TV, but this one might get me. From my personal experience (knowing those with large social media followings…), attempting to be an “influencer” can be an incessant grind. Every outing is dominated by pictures and there’s a lot of stress over if a post is doing well or not.

On an unrelated note, I was thinking about something my roommate said a little bit ago. He is a transfer from the University of Denver and said he’s never seen more lines for things than he has at UCLA. There are lines to get in to lecture, lines to get into dining halls, lines for food etc…

He’s right. There’s a pair of take-out restaurants on the residential side of campus that frequently get lines of 80+ people. The average time for the line to advance one person is probably around 45 seconds, so these people are waiting (80x45)/60 = 60 minutes to get a burrito/chicken bowl when there are numerous other (more expedient) options available!

Prima facie waiting an hour for a dining hall burrito seems ridiculous (I would probably only wait that long for a chipotle burrito if I was starving) but people still get in the massive line, and the big reason why I think they do is technology. When we’re able to distract ourselves at will, we’re willing to tolerate waiting an hour to get a burrito or a free t-shirt. I believe this more and more whenever I walk past one of the lines on campus and see everyone looking down at their phones.

The point above is probably pretty obvious, but I think it’s funny because it shows how bizarre our behavior can be. Somehow, we’ve reached a point where we can tolerate incredible inefficiency or wait times in real life, but get frustrated whenever a web page takes longer than four or five seconds to load. It seems to me that as long as our distractions are quick and timely, it doesn’t matter if the rest of our life is because we can retreat into the former at our convenience.

This reminds me of one of the main ideas driving Sherry Turkle’s book, “Reclaiming Conversation.” To paraphrase, she says that now we expect less and less out of our significant others, and more from our technology. We can see this clearly in the line example. I know boredom isn’t ideal and it’s bad practice to romanticize the past, but what would students in the 80’s or 90’s have done? Maybe they would have thought about something silly, whistled a tune, or made a joke with the person beside them. Maybe they would have taken the time to relax, or perhaps they would have skipped the line altogether, realizing how valuable their time was.

12/06/18

https://danwang.co/college-girardian-terror/

Interesting application of Girard’s ideas to explain why college seems to be such an incredibly fraught place. I’ve heard the conclusion many times before (all people want is money/power/prestige) but hearing about how the similarity of all of the actors in a situation plays into it is interesting.

https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2018/12/05/minerva-project-draws-notice-its-practical-rigorous-curriculum?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=768e921e12-DNU_WO20181203_PREV_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-768e921e12-197603613&mc_cid=768e921e12&mc_eid=495c6bd417

Also interesting to hear that the Minerva curriculum is going well. I was skeptical of a university that has only online classes (considering how terrible I think many MOOCs are) but it seems like they got something right with the design. The fact that they students they have are exceptional could also help. I e-met a couple of them during my time in the Edsurge independent cohort and they were incredible. I personally still think a more traditional, personal education with heaps of face-to-face time with your teachers is the most valuable, but Miverva’s success could convince me otherwise.

12/5/18

I recently found a podcast with Malcolm Gladwell that I really enjoyed.

https://www.mercatus.org/events/conversations-tyler-conversation-malcolm-gladwell

I’m starting to read more of Cowen’s blog, Marginal Revolution, and I’ve been loving it so far. It’s the perfect combination of high-powered academic mixed with your cool neighbor across the street who’s interested in a ton of things. His daily links are also guaranteed to lead you to something current and interesting, too.

The podcast I enjoy for a couple of reasons. One, it brings up so much personal information about Gladwell that I didn’t know beforehand. He’s Jamaican (I had no clue), enjoyed a brief stint as one of the fastest runners in Canada, and makes a career telling stories in part because stories weren’t told in his household growing up.

Two, you really get to hear Malcolm stumped. I’ve always thought of Gladwell as a type of hyper-eloquent super person, but there are so many times when Tyler asks him a question and he stumbles with his words for a bit before giving an answer. I read something great a little bit ago about the value of watching other people think on their feet (can’t remember exactly where though…) and this is something you can really hear in this episode. Sometimes, he sounds exactly like you and me!

First "daily"

For a period of time I was experimenting with having another page that I used as a blog because I felt like not everything deserved a pretty image. However, Squarespace will not allow me to have one blog with a “grid style” like this page and another with the “list” style you see on most other blogs. As a result, I’m going to start putting some of my less polished stuff on this page in order to keep everything together.

Here are the two “posts” I made on a plaintext webpage that I used as a blog before switching over to this format.

12/03/18

Finals week is approaching and my obligations are piling up. There are a ton of articles I want to read and I recently stumbled across a couple of blogs I wouldn’t mind exploring, but I fear I will not get to them for a while.

To remind myself of these, I’ll post the links below.

https://danwang.co/college-girardian-terror/

https://putanumonit.com/2018/11/07/mandatory-obsessions/

https://srconstantin.wordpress.com/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/16/magazine/tech-design-economics-genes.html

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/11/19/how-podcasts-became-a-seductive-and-sometimes-slippery-mode-of-storytelling

http://jsomers.net/

http://peterlevine.ws/?p=13078

Part of me wants to abandon all my work and dive into them. The last one seems especially interesting as I’m currently working on an essay for Pique about cliché that builds off of a paper I wrote last year for a philosophy class.

Above all, I’m impressed at the number of well-written blogs I’m finding. I never would have guessed men and women in industry (putanumonit, constantin, danwang) would have enough time to give serious thought to the ideas they’re writing about. Props to them. It gives some real inspiration to people like me.

12/02/18

Because I don’t want to mess up the formatting of the homepage (thanks, squarespace) this page of the website will function more like a traditional blog being updated semi-regularly and consisting almost entirely of half-baked ideas. Anything more polished will appear on the homepage.