isthisabook.club

tl;dr – I scanned a weird QR code of a football / eye hovering over a book, had a pretty good discussion of Bartleby the Scrivener, and found an even bigger mystery than the one I thought I solved.

So, there I was, walking home from Stata when I see this cool sticker with a QR code. I scan it and I find that it links to isthisabook.club . It was pretty nifty but was advertising an event in SF, so I email out to all of my friends to ask if someone can make it. I also do some further digging into the world, find out one of the organizer’s emails, and break the 4th wall by asking “yo what’s up”. My friend, Danny Ben-David, makes it out to the SF bunker, and indeed, they have a book club discussion. “Ok”, I say to myself, “I think I’ve generally figured it out. Some Media Lab kids who enjoy multimedia weird internet art and they are legit having a book club. That’s cool”.

Today, I went to the advertised event in Cambridge. Sure enough, most of the stuff was a book club and I was thinking “Ok cool. I like books and this discussion is pretty good”. Then, at the end of the meeting, the “organizers” start talking about how they are not actually in control of this and they are getting notes from random higher ups and also RISD kids and I’m just “YO WHAT?”. I thought I had solved one mystery, but it actually seems like it’s much deeper than that (or they’re just pulling my leg really hard)

I’m honestly fascinated by the whole thing, but part of me is really nervous about digging in too deep. I forget which book I read this from, but a character in there says that “you should cherish mysteries, because there’s honestly not that many left in the world”. Part of me feels like that – that if I figure out all of the answers, I”ll be left despondent and disappointed, but most of me just really feels intrigued and fascinated by solving the mystery of this book club. (Perhaps the incessant dynamicism of being a capitalist engineer at MIT? heh).

Regardless, I haven’t had a weird multimedia mystery so enthralling since I successfully internet-stalked someone (with their consent) to find as much personal information about them as I could before I had even met them in person. The sense of discovery and “what happens if I flip over this rock” is very enrapturing.

Below are some (very) raw notes of what I remember from the book club + original email that I sent out + Danny Ben-David’s writeup

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Caldecott Books

Idea on 3/5/2016. Written on 11/2016 and 3/2018.

I was just reading an article about “good children’s lit books with diversity” and they included an image from one – Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say. I looked at the picture and suddenly started tripping really far back.

I loved going to the library as a child and even volunteered helping shelve books in elementary school (which fast forward 11 years later, helped me get my current job at the MIT Libraries haha). Part of doing this caused me to become intimately familiar with Caldecott and Newberry Award winning books.

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Hertz Fellowship Advice

I benefited a lot from online academic blogs for fellowship advice, and wanted to return the favor, especially since I have a bit of a different perspective to how to do well in the Hertz fellowship. I wrote up this post right after my second round interview and I have queued it up to be published after I find out the results of the fellowship.

UPDATE: I got the fellowship! Guess it all worked out in the end as they felt I was “conversant in many different fields of engineering and design”. Don’t really have much to add to this post so it’s all a time capsule from my feelings immediately after the second interview.

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Observe: MIT Libraries Pt. 2

I continued working for the Annex Manics into graduation and graduate school. (Hayden’s hours were a bit too restrictive for me for graduate school). I wanted to work over the summer, but unexpectedly got a job at the Toyota Research Institute so that put a kibosh on it.

Cool Call Numbers (Library of Congress system):

  • CC165 – Archaeology
  • PN212 – Narrative theory
  • PN1997.O – Screenplays
  • PN1997.77 – Analysis of popular TV shows

Interesting Print Magazines:

  • In Theory Only – a surprisingly very cool music journal. There are music crossword puzzles, music trivia games and a shout-out to the first ever electronic music conference (naturally, happening at MIT). The internet tells me that this journal is noteworthy as one of the first grad-student-produced journals in the US.
  • Japan Quarterly – See 5/18
  • Journal of Popular Film and Television – ayyyyyyy
  • Lakota Country TimesNavajo Times – I’m really surprised that MIT gets these because they are very reservation-specific, local newspapers. I guess I’m pretty glad though if this helps the newspaper stay in business. The Lakota one unsurprisingly has a lot of articles about DAPL
  • Meanjin – writing on a variety of topics, but the print version is super interesting and strange
  • Otaku USA – I have no idea why we get this, but yet, here we are.
  • Sing Out – folk song magazine. Booklet / handout style with a lot of songs within it

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MIT Dramatica – Weev

Be advised: I pull direct quotes from the Daily Stormer and Encyclopedia Dramatica in this. A lot of people told me about rel = “nofollow” which I did for those inflammatory links.

I was trying to find a “citation” for the fact that Tony Stark had a 4.0 GPA from MIT (obviously from some comic book writer who doesn’t realize we’re on a 5.0 scale), but was having difficulty finding it. The search terms of “tony stark gpa mit” led me to the Encylopedia Dramatica article for MIT.

I was pretty surprised to find out this existed because like, I wasn’t really sure what there was really to even say. Sure enough, the article was basically (1) people who go here are nerds, (2) only Asians go here, (3) you can’t get in, and  (4) your typical shock Encyclopedia Dramatica writing.

I found myself wondering more about the author though because the guy has a weirdly specific hatred of Anant Agarwal for no apparent reason and extrapolates from an OCW video to just make “hurr durr Indians can’t speak good English” jokes throughout the article. The guy also brings up Star Simpson which meant that he must be either from Boston or was in enough circles to know about the hacking (in the making sense) community at large. She’s not super well known outside of that.

Related articles linked me to MIT OCW, and it was a similar terribly written article with slightly different repeat gags of (1) people keep pretending that they’re taking MIT courses from OCW and (2) humanities are dumb amirite. It again seemed very weird to pick on OCW, which is a very innocuous thing. Sure enough, checking the histories of both pages, the same user “weev” had (within seconds!) been the primary writer of both articles on April 2011.
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Maturing Research Interests

Lately, in both my research and personal endeavors, I’ve definitely felt like I’ve grown up and gained a lot more maturity / discernment in what I do. Ever since I’ve started graduate school in September 2017, I don’t feel like I’m flailing around trying to cram things into my head as fast as possible, but I now have time to think and plan and really dig deep in what I actually want to devote my life to – for the short term of 5+ years, for the long term of my entire research career. I feel a lot more secure in my own identity / self-expression and a lot more ready to explore.

For litchin@, what this means now is that a lot of queued up posts that I had been planning on writing now no longer seem super interesting or relevant. I really like Mehitabel’s phrasing when we were streaming The Stanley Parable together: “Now that I’m no longer in middle school, I no longer feel the need to label everything as meta. I can dig in a little deeper and say ‘yup, this is meta. What effect is it creating?’ rather than being ‘it’s cool because it’s meta’ “.

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Link Roundup

8/5
“Fire” – Arthur Brown – just some classic 60s proto-metal

8/18
“crushcrushcrush” (vocals-only canon) – Paramore – h/t cesium, who showed me when I showed kmli remixes. A serendipitous tumblr canon. IT’S SO GOOD??? I also like the commentary of canons and fugues

9/4
“Tricerahops” – Too many ZOOZ – h/t chencs. I’m a huge fan of the stutter-step horns

9/8
“Leviathan” – Mouse on the Keys – h/t ermain. I really like the name of the band because it really is a kind of unique random style.

9/27
“A Samurai’s Death” – Ricko James – h/t cyqwang.  She got it from the test music that Unbox Therapy was using for testing the $3000 bluetooth speaker. I also like another song they used, “Bangster Shit” – Crux Muzik
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Quotes

a feat requiring years of retraining of the mind and sensory organs, a painstaking human rewiring, or upgrade, if you will, while on the ground the general sees his and disparate other contemporary narratives play out simultaneously, indeed as the emerging market equity trader does, and as the rapid-fire TV remote user and the multiple-computer-window […]

Observe: Summer 2016

Written up in 2/2/2018. All of these are from the Summer of 2016, when I was working at Apple in Cupertino, California. It’s been a while, so some are left unexpanded from the initial thought

  • My close family friend’s daughter, Jackie, is still wearing the silicone wrist band I gave her when she asked for one for a “good luck charm” for getting into colleges since I had done so well on my cycle
  • Saw a car with a Cheesy Poofs 254 sticker. Meanwhile, Jackie’s mom told me about an armed robbery that happened in the parking deck. (This mom is particularly good at tact; she was the one who told me how Luchang died)
  • oooooomg the pokemon go craze is insane. The mountain view park used to be completely empty, but now it’s completely swarmed with people ._.
  • I SAW THE SQUARE R12 IN PUBLIC!!! Kinda freaked out the bubble tea lady when I was like “YOO!! I WORKED ON THIS!”
  • Kevin Morrow and Evie are working at the same drone company, huh.
  • After watching old cringey E3s, I finally found the game that I had seen in a Taiwanese arcade: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_Evolution
  • mailbox shadow moved to ghost
  • I was walking home and saw a guy biking without using his hands, yelling “I feel so alive!!”
  • “Make apps not war”
  • Played through Ada’s game from Interactive Narrative.  Not sure how I feel about my former advisor, John Hart, literally being God >_>”””