Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Quote of the day

That said, do you have any ideas for a really scary reality TV show?
“C students from Yale.” It would stand your hair on end.

from an interview with Kurt Vonnegut.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Fun sites

Figured I'd take a break from all this lame serious stuff and link to some of the fun stuff I've run across lately, like the giant lava lamp, in passing, answer bus, the lawsuits against reality tv. Some of these were found in Geeklog, which was kind enough to link to me. Speaking of blogs, the searches for "marijuna the sims" have tapered off. And I continue to enjoy the meta discussions on Seb's Open Research.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003


I've said it before, but I have to say it again. My beloved former publication, the Yale Herald ran a cover story about cultural houses. Although I thought the fact that minorities dropped out at a higher rate than average was interesting, it included this passage:

Both minority student leaders and University officials express the need for minority outreach and support. Garcia feels that minority students, "still face challenges [at Yale]." She said that it can be "very difficult academically to catch up" for incoming students, especially for those who attended high schools that were below the caliber of those attended by the majority of their peers.

I'm really hoping the writer misrepresented the administrator's statements. (Of course, nothing could be as bad as one Harvard dean telling the New York Times Magazine in 2001 that "There's something good about hunger...It is important for our students to be co-investors in their own education." And Yale didn't sound much better...) Why are minorities automatically assumed to be behind academically?

This came on the heels of a freewheeling discussion this weekend about nature/nurture, opportunity, executing child snipers, and racism. At the end of it, I wasn't sure where I stood on blame. But I do know where I stand on using race as a proxy for more accessible and more meaningful traits.

Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Life and happiness

Danyel and I were talking about our experiences with online personals (which both Wired and the Times have praised, but not my friend Sarah), and I mentioned how Brooks's article on The Sims described most users as preferring to live in little kibbutz-like/Friends-ish groups that de-emphasized romance. He said he had read something in the Times about groups of friends that end up dating one another. I couldn't find that article, though I did run across this urban tribes stuff.

Meanwhile, this month's Wired discusses some of the philosophical implications of people's obsession with MMORPGs. Among other gems...

Take a moment now to pause, step back, and consider just what was going on here: Every day, month after month, a man was coming home from a full day of bone-jarringly repetitive work with hammer and nails to put in a full night of finger-numbingly repetitive work with "hammer" and "anvil" - and paying $9.95 per month for the privilege. Ask Stolle to make sense of this, and he has a ready answer: "Well, it's not work if you enjoy it." Which, of course, begs the question: Why would anyone enjoy it?

And then Fast Company had this interesting article about choosing jobs that was very popular on Daypop, claiming...

Asking What Should I Do With My Life? is the modern, secular version of the great timeless questions about our identity. Asking The Question aspires to end the conflict between who you are and what you do. Answering The Question is the way to protect yourself from being lathed into someone you're not. What is freedom for if not the chance to define for yourself who you are?

So what does this all mean? I guess the common thread here is that there are a lot of people unsatisfied with the dating scene, their work life, and life in general. And if I ended it there, it would give more fodder to Sarah, who claims my posts are depressing. But the other half of it is that new norms are evolving that might change things. Still up for grabs is whether our sense of past communities and lifestyles is overly-nostalgic, or if we're only applying patches that will never match the past.