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.

Read More »


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

Read More »

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.
Read More »

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’ “.

Read More »

Link Roundup

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

“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

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

“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.

“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
Read More »


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 >_>”””

Observe: Maine

Written up 2/2/2018.

In March 2016, James and I took a “spring break” trip to Maine, which ended up being more of a winter break trip.


  • Still find it weird that New Hampshire advertises its liquor stores on official government highway signs.
  • Weirdly there was a road sign reporting distances in kilometres
  • I was just telling James how the best road trip food was Cracker Barrel and LO AND BEHOLD WHAT SHOULD COME UP IN THE NEXT EXIT SIGN BUT A CRACKER BARREL!!!
  • We stayed in Ellsworth, Maine. There was a Shaw’s right across the street. We happily took advantage of not being in Puritan Massachusetts by buying wine.
  • Overall, people were really nice and friendly to us – making small talk with us at the supermarket or gas station. Everyone made a big deal out of James’ Texas driver’s license.

Read More »