Hello, how are you? Would you like to engage meaningfully with me? How do you feel about this as-personal-as-you-want-it-to-be, non-threatening, question? Those are the hallmarks of a good ice-breaker, and these are the best ones I’ve created or pilfered in the past three years.
1. Describe your ideal burger, layer by layer.
At the SOAK festival in 2016 I suffered back spasms from an extended Butoh session, and in order not to spoil that last night I made a game of laying still in one public location from dusk to dawn. As I needed to entice people to keep me company among the night’s many attractive options, this little ditty came to me.… Read the rest
The very first time I heard it I was immediately convinced by Killer Mike’s un-festschrift “Reagan”. It’s a lucid, orchestrated, and damning exposé of what Reagan’s legacy has meant for less privileged people in America “[…] thanks to Reaganomics, prisons turned to profits
Cause free labor is the cornerstone of US economics”. However as much I appreciate what Killer Mike spits, and specifically how he’s spitting it, I never felt I could fully connect with the message having never been directly effected by Reagan’s policies – until now.
Yesterday I clicked on a JSTOR link, and a full text PDF popped up – it wasn’t an Aaron Schwarz liberation plan. I was in the academy reading closed access research. I’m in the academy, and I’m on the precipice of taking it for granted.
Last November I asked if I should do my PhD in the open and answered in the affirmative, but at that point I hadn’t even been accepted by any PhD-granting institutions. Only one month into ensconcing myself in the GroupLens lab, at the Univ. of Minnesota, I somehow forgot about the my commitment to openness.… Read the rest
Meeting people can be a slog. “Hello, what’s your name?”, “Where are you from?”, “What do you do?”, “How do you yawn?”. Yawn? Sorry I was nodding off just writing about how repetitive and tiresome modern meeting and greeting can be. Owing to the way that social networks store information about us, we’re used to thinking about people in a list of attributes “forms” structure. Trans-inclusive feminism has already laid out how select-a-value gender is problematic for self-determination, and it has even subtler consequences in meeting people. We’ve come to assume the next person you meet is some combinatoric permutation of drop-down menus.… Read the rest
In my last project I wanted to compare many different Gender Inequality Indexes at once, including the one I had just come up with, called “WIGI”. The problem was that the rank and score data for each index was in a separate DataFrame. I need to perform repeated SQL-style joins. In this case I actually only had to join 5 dataframes, for 5 indices. But later, in helping my partner with her research, she came across the same problem needed to join more than 100. In my mind I saw that we wanted to accomplish this n-ary join.
The “Personal Statement” for the graduate school application, is the attempt to explain how you will make a difference, not just in your research, but in making the University as a organism more equitable.
Luckily, my proposed research is precisely about the kinds of social division that that the instructions to this document ask you to address:
Please describe how your personal background and experiences inform your decision to pursue a graduate degree.
In this section, you may also include any relevant information on how you have overcome barriers to access higher education, evidence of how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities, and individuals from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups.
Board Games do not attract me by default. The closest I have come to enjoying board games is playing Risk, single player on my phone, and reading a lot about Nomic. But when Alfred Twu speaks, I listen, so if when announced his own fresh take on board gaming my ears piqued and my credit card edged ever so slightly out of my pocket. High Speed Rail: The Board Game emerged from High Speed Rail: The Map, of Guardian Fame. Neither the map or game, have rooted in any material claim to reality, but most things that inflame your imagination don’t.… Read the rest