Highlights: Feb 13 - Mar 3, 2017

Here's my update from the past few weeks - this one includes February break, so there's a lot!

Why? To push myself to be a more thoughtful consumer of information, I want to process and highlight content that I read, watch, make, play, listen to, and talk about. I’ve modified my daily journal form to help me keep track of these things, and I want to post a weekly best-of. It’s mostly for myself, but I want to share it in case it might be interesting to anyone else.

 

I watched...

  • ... a short video of Justin Trudeau trying his best to respectfully handle protesters at a town hall meeting. It seemed like a perfect microcosm of the challenge of being genuinely respectful of dissenting opinions without coming across as authoritarian.

 

  • ... the NASA Announcement of exoplanets! The possibility of having definitive proof that we are not the only intelligent life in the universe thrills me, and I'm hopeful about its potential to humble our species.

 

I went to...

  • ... Convocation, at Carleton! This one, I saw in person (you can see Leaf and me at 52:50)! The speaker was Ainissa Ramirez, a materials scientist-turned-science evangelist. I appreciated her purposeful creation of narratives around science content. More and more, I believe that science should be taught in the context of real and compelling phenomena rather than being compartmentalized into chapters of similar content (e.g. Forces, Energy, Momentum).

 

  • ... the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (The Wing, for short). I don't know if I'm Asian, Asian-American, Indian-American, South Asian, or just Indian, but I felt like my history was welcomed at this museum, and I learned a lot while walking around. They also had a powerful and relevant exhibit about Japanese internment. The day we visited happened to be the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which eventually put 120,000+ men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry into concentration camps. Seventy-thousand of them were American citizens, which I find absolutely outrageous. Many of the historic headlines were frighteningly similar to words slung today about Muslims and Mexican immigrants, and I hope Americans don't enact the same cruelties again.

 

 

I made...

  • ... three dishes from the cookbook Palestine on a Plate with Leaf and her dad. I enjoyed cooking with a family of ingredients and flavors that I don't have a lot of experience with. Sumac was new to me as a cook, and I loved its rich red color and lemony tartness. My favorite dish was the soup made almost entirely of spinach, onions, and garlic.

 

I listened to...

  • ... Freakonomics again - I finally finished the episode on mountaintop coal mining. The takeaway at the end seemed to be a cautionary tale about creating unintended circumstances with policy, and Dubner also pointed to the Endangered Species Act as an example. It turns out there is a delay between declaring a species endangered and getting legal protection of its critical habitat. The intent is for local governments to have time to define appropriate boundaries, but what it's really doing is giving developers an incentive to buy and develop the land of the endangered species before it gets protection!

 

I read...

  • ... a little more Sapiens. Harari's argument seems to be that the agricultural revolution was sort of a trap - a progression that, once catalyzed, was unstoppable and overall worse for human health, happiness, and peace.

 

  • ... about 60% of Between the World and Me.  I'm beginning to understand why Coates has such an emphasis on the body. It's visceral. Flesh and bones wake me as a reader to the reality he's describing more than socioeconomic struggle and opportunity gaps could possibly do. His writing is beautiful, the content is critically important to understanding America today, and I recommend it to anyone who's willing to listen to what Ta-Nehisi Coates needs to tell his son.

 

  • ... Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools? (NYT Magazine, ~1500 words). Nikole Hannah-Jones puts down a proud and hopeful defense of public schools as a counter to the forces championed by our current Secretary of Education. If her name sounds familiar, she's written a ton about education and de-/segregation, and she was the main journalist on This American Life's two-parter, The Problem We All Live With.

 

  • ... My Parents May Be 'Acceptable' Immigrants, But None Of Us Is Safe (WBUR Cognoscenti, ~750 words). If you're an educator in Boston, then you've probably seen this article in one of the 32 shares it has accrued on Facebook. Neema is a powerful writer, activist, and teacher, and in this essay, she expresses what many brown-skinned Americans are feeling right now. I'd appreciate if my friends and allies read this.

 

I talked about...

  • ... the philosophy of Carleton and liberal arts schools in general. Leaf and I visited her alma mater last week, and we had many conversations with faculty and alumni trying to hone in on the goal or value of a liberal arts education. One thing we named was a sense of anti-vocationalism. Many liberal arts schools don't have engineering majors, for example, and some departments at Carleton like Educational Studies or Computer Science face resistance if they move too far in the direction of preparing students for the workforce. We noticed that this philosophy selects for students from more privileged backgrounds who don't have to plan on being financially independent right after college, and that's reflected in the socioeconomic data at elite liberal arts schools. If you're interested in this, I have lots more to talk about!

 

  • ... the possibility of Mark Zuckerberg running for president. Speculation is one thing (Google "Mark Zuckerberg president"), but the question Leaf and I ended up talking about was more like, "What experiences should be necessary for or prohibitive of a presidential candidate?" We focused on the strengths and weaknesses of experience in civil service and private industry, but it's a big question!

 

I played...

  • ... Galaga, Frogger, Skee-ball and a few other games at the Up-Down Arcade in Minneapolis. I wish there was an arcade that had N64 and Playstation 1 and 2 games...

 

  • ... a new champion in Overwatch! She's fun to play and has a cool story.

 

And that's all! Hope you enjoyed the read!