Made for me

February 9, 2008 at 3:01 am | Posted in design, harvard, internet, programming, rambling, school, science | Leave a comment
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Birds!
[via flight404]

I love shopping week at the beginning of every semester, because it is a time of beautiful leisure and carefree distraction.

Okay, so I skip class for a couple days. But consider this–other, much more ambitious students will go to 20 classes that they don’t end up taking. And guess what? I also end up not taking those same 20 classes! I’ve effectively simulated Ivy-league-grade ambition by sitting in my room and surfing YouTube, and nobody is the wiser. A pareto-efficient transaction of sorts, between myself and The Man. (Maybe you question the correctness of my econ verbiage here. Maybe you’re right. Maybe I never sat in on any econ classes.)

Ah! But even without me once having to go outside, that perfect someone or something (but actually some thing) still strikes me like a thunderbolt between the eyes. Continue Reading Made for me…

Day at the museum

January 23, 2008 at 11:14 am | Posted in artsy, harvard, life | Leave a comment
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Mountains, Streams, Sun, Moon (1972) Untitled (1973) Rugged Hills of North America (1989)
The Sackler Museum on campus has an interesting exhibition up right now (which, unfortunately, ends in 4 days). The title of the exhibit is “Tradition Redefined,” an appropriate but rather flat description for what are essentially paintings that defy categorization. A note on the wall of the exhibit explains:

In their inscriptions, older artists note their determined adherence to traditions of expression that go unappreciated in their present surroundings. Younger artists, who have lived and worked for most of their lives in transition between cultural spheres, exhibit a more detached, even ironic view of their place in the world. Past definitions of ethnic or geopolitical identity yield their influence to technology, art markets, and globalization. The customary division between two schools–Chinese and foreign–no longer holds.

The paintings are Chinese not just in the trivial sense of having been made by Chinese artists, but also in the way they make conspicuous use of Chinese artistic techniques, all the while displaying the distinctly non-traditional (read: Western) styles that have made their influence in post-Cultural Revolution China. Of course, whether the results are really a “redefinition” of traditional aesthetics is a matter of debate. All the paintings clearly combine Asian and Western influences, but not all of them use the combination as a way to achieve something novel or meaningful in itself. Continue Reading Day at the museum…

Harvard UC: 2. Evil and injustice: 0.

October 4, 2007 at 2:15 pm | Posted in arguments, crimson, harvard, humor, news, school | 1 Comment
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If it seems like the CrimsonReading debacle has cooled down in the wake of class-shopping week, fret no more. Looks like another opportunity has come up for the Harvard Undergraduate Council to stick it to the man. An out-of-touch, grouchy man, that is, one hired by our friend Drew Faust last month to cut his administrative teeth serving as the new Dean of Harvard College. So far, the only thing he’s managed to cut are his own legs from beneath him. Faust should be pleased. Even Larry Summers wasn’t principled enough to alienate the entire student body in his first two weeks on the job.

The facts of the matter aren’t exactly earthshaking. The college has decided it would no longer allow the UC to give out party grants, or small sums of money to fund weekend social activities organized by students. We are all complaining, of course, because we have been spoiled by the grants into ignoring the fact that no other school pays for their students to have parties. On the other hand, no other school has as inherently anemic of a social scene either, or as humorless of an administration. Our Nobel laureates are not our only world-record holders here.

Even if you weren’t bothered by the fact that you now have to pay for your own booze, you’d probably find the particular tone of the announcement perplexing. In a surprise letter directed to the UC two days ago, Dean Pilbeam displays the light-hearted charm for which he must have been hired:

the UC Party Grant program is inherently flawed, and must be ended immediately. From this date forward no further funds can be dispersed for private parties, including any that may have already been approved for forthcoming dates.

The letter that follows is a lecture on the dangers of alcohol abuse and an admonition to the UC for not having cracked down on recipients of party grants who drank with their underage friends. Thanks Papa Dean, before we read your letter we all just thought vodka made us smarter.

Of course, what the Crimson does not report on, and which I now know from my top-secret sources, is that after writing the letter, Dean Pilbeam went to the UC meeting and tried to bottle-feed VC Matt Sundquist. Upon realizing that Matt, like the rest of the student body, was not in fact 3 years old, the Dean returned to his office in confusion, mustered up all of the tact that he has acquired over the years, and began to work on his next letter to the students. We eagerly await his much-needed guidance on behaving safely, especially those of us not fortunate enough to attend more scrupulously policed venues such as final clubs.

In the meantime, the UC has voted unanimously to continue disbursing party funds in defiance of the administration’s policies. Not even the (much more meaningful) Harvard College Book Information System proposal got this much support. Just goes to show that alcohol withdrawal can be a wonderful stimulus to progressive campus politics. Why don’t we invite the Dean over for a few drinks this weekend, and congratulate him on a job well done? Just don’t forget to apply for a party grant first.

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