Stoner (1965) is a novel by John Williams about the life of a man with humble beginnings who pursues a degree in agriculture to improve his family's farm. His plans, however, quickly change when he discovers the beauty of the English language and the humanities in a required English course taught by the unforgiving yet warm Arthur Sloane. Encouraged by his mentor and his fascination for the structure found in texts of the past, he forgoes his agricultural destiny and becomes an instructor of English at the University of Missouri. Over the course of this novel, which occurs during two World Wars and the Great Depression, we see William Stoner grow and learn about himself and the world around him. His life takes a unfortunate tragic course with tantalizing honest and hopeful moments. Stoner never fails to try his best given the circumstances. His passion towards for his work and his principled approach to his life stand in grave contrast to the people around him and the unfortunate circumstances he finds himself in. This is the tale of a good man, of unsung heroes, of the injustice the world can incur on those who are truly Good. I cannot recommend this heart-wrenching novel enough.
This little blog chronicles my thoughts and feelings
Thoughts on advice
I've been thinking about a phenomenon that I'm certain happens to everyone. A wise soul gives you advice, you don't heed it for various reasons, and after a period of time (days, months, years) you have an insight about your life or a problem that turns out is equivalent to the advice that was handed to you. You regret your foolishness at ignoring the wise soul and tell yourself that it won't happen again. And it happens again.
scheme-bytestructures: Guile library spotlight
In this post, we will take a quick look at
scheme-bytestructures, a library for reading and writing
structured binary data in Guile and other schemes.
Error handling in GNU Guile
In this post, I will outline how to create your own exception types in GNU Guile and how to handle exceptions and errors in general. This can be a difficult thing to learn using the Guile manual, which provides the building blocks for the system and leaves it up to the reader to bring it together.
Reflections of 2020-2021, a review of this website, and what's to come
A global pandemic had occurred, and there have been crickets on this website. Here's what happened.
Updated GPG key
I have updated my GPG key. It expires on 2022-12-08. It is now available on my home page, and the popular keyservers.
Thoughts on this controversial human.
The end of a decade, reflections on the past and future
In a few days, it'll be 2020. This'll be a mess of a post.
Best of 2019
Notable pieces of music this year
What gives someone the right to complain?
Thoughts in anger
The world is rotting.
Thoughts on my first semester of life in graduate school.
More clouds arrive. The moon is not in sight.
A reflection on this website's past, present, and future
Why do I spend time and effort on this place?
There was a field.
The difficulty with "having fun"
Reflecting on the sense of guilt that comes with having fun, and why I don't have much of it.
Faith in strangers
Why do I greet people who show up here with a long face?
My fellow humans, please. Read the news. People need help.
A fear of judgment
I wanted to discuss a fear of mine.
Why do I like music?
Teaching undergraduates important technologies for science and life
As an student, I've been taught many pieces of software to aid me on my academic journey. Since I have not attended any class specifically to learn software or technology, all of the things I have been taught were intended for high school biology or an undergraduate psychology student audience. Unfortunately, I've had it disregard most of that instruction on ethical or practical grounds. Students are being taught skills that they will probably never use after they leave college or the class itself. I'm listing some of what I've been taught (or haven't), outlining better alternatives and providing my reasons for why they are better.
Reflections about my experience at UW-Madison
While my last post focused on my time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I'd like to write more about my experience there. It can be incredibly hard to design an institutional system which can process a large number of students, while simultaneously ensuring that they are feeling intellectually and emotionally engaged in the activities they are required to or choose to perform. With over 30,000 students and a budget of $3,000,000,000, the difficulty of the problem only begins with the numbers. Administrators have to deal with a range of priorities which include research, employment, service to the state, collaborations, governmental duties, etc. Education and student experience is one of these priorities, and might not necessarily be at the top of the list. Nor does it need to. As a public university in the United States of America, it's priorities are determined by the stakeholders in the state and the nation. Ideally I would hope that education is the highest priority, because I see no better investment, balancing for opportunity costs and diminishing returns of course.
Thought as a technology
I just wanted to draw attention to this wonderful article. http://cognitivemedium.com/tat/index.html. I've always cared about user interfaces and viewed them as instrumental to guiding how people dealt with tasks and issues. My post about tools discusses how important they are. This article makes an argument that user interfaces for those tools fundamentally change how we think, which is a very interesting one to make.
Reflections about my time at UW-Madison
I only have a semester left to acquire my Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology and Neurobiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I've seen myself change as a person and a member of society in the 3.5 years spent in Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America. I'd to reflect upon my experience in order to condense important lessons and views I have acquired and retained, and to challenge them. I haven't had the time to think critically about myself since a year, and would like to do to now.
When in moments of emotional pain, I find myself going to many different types of music. I want to discuss those types, and try to understand why I do so.
When people are given a task to complete, be it read the news or write a paper for a class, they use a tool for the job. The tool can be a pen, pencil, news app, website, or a word processor like Microsoft Word. Most people don't seem to consciously care about the tools they use for the job. They want to get the job done, and will use anything that will get it done. I think this type of thinking should change.
GPG key change
I am changing my GPG key.
The beauty of SMBC
There are very few websites online that I follow with dedication, and Saturday Morning Breakfast Comics is one of them. A lot of the humor in those comics is very tongue in check and light-hearted, in a deep way. They are comics which make you feel better after reading them, and then make you think. That's not to say that they're all happy. The dark ones simply make you realize how absurd the world is and frame it in a healthy way.
The horror of disability
This is a topic that has been on the top of my mind for a long time. I'm only recently started to realize how much I use my senses to navigate and appreciate my daily life.
The biggest question we encounter during our lifetimes is "What should I aim for?" It's a question that I expect will plague people till the day they die, because I don't think there are many people out there who have achieved all their goals. There's no reason to live without a goal. Once we're done with a specific goal, maybe we'll make a new one and aim for that. Or maybe there's an ultimate goal that all these tiny goals are stepping stones for. Imagine you reach this goal. You have become everything you've wanted. What will you do next?
The problem with charity
Giving to charity has been considered a noble deed by almost everybody in society, regardless of political affiliation or personal beliefs. I personally used to think highly of any person who gave money to charity, cause they did something they didn't have to in order to help others. I no longer hold this belief and have started to judge people based on what they give money to and how much they give. The type of charity you give to and the reason you are giving to charity is very important, because it plays a role in the sustainability of the work at question, the effectiveness at improving the world, and the morality of your actions.
Today's world needs to change a lot. We have a lot of areas in which we are lacking; Humans rights, feminism, racial equality, economic stability, etc. are a few. Many people work round the clock trying to solve these issues by conducting research, protesting, or debating others to change their opinions and perspective about things. On the other hand, we have the capitalist progressive.
Opinions on the Unabomber Manifesto
Theodore Kaczynski was a person who sent a bunch of bombs to people by mail in hopes of getting media coverage on what he thought was the only solution to the world's problems. He blackmailed media organizations, stating that he would continue to bomb more people unless a major media organization published an essay written by him. After considerations for public safety, both the New York Times and the Washington Post published his essay titled Industrial Society and Its Future.
Anchoring, a bias to watch out for
Anchoring is a cognitive bias that defines the human tendency to rely on the first piece of information about a choice that is provided to them and judge other choices relatively when making a decision. In simple terms, the first thing you see changes your thoughts about other choices although they might be different if you were thinking objectively and rationally.
Maids and privilege in India
Today, I want to discuss the recent New York Times article titled "At a Luxury Complex in India, the Maids and the Madams Go to War". First of all, I would like to thank the NYT for publishing this story. This article highlights a part of Indian society that is assumed to be a normal part of life, disregarding the mass violations of human rights.
5 years ago, I agreed to video chat with my penpal. We've been sending emails back and forth for 2 years, and I guess they thought they knew me enough to talk. I didn't expect the proposal; I expected this interaction to stay anonymous forever, sending emails across the world without knowing who the other person was. I liked the anonymity of it, prevented any judgement or assumptions. However, I didn't want to go against the wishes of my penpal, who I considered one of my few true friends.
Why this website?
Well, I have to admit, speech is not my thing. Ever since I was a child, I have preferred reading books over watching movies. Text is so much more efficient to process. I could spend 15 minutes reading an article and get going with my day than reserve 1.5 hours to watch a documentary that says the same thing, just more slowly and more dramatically. I've got places to be and things to do goddamn it!