Thoughts about the world. Politics, philosophy, and anything else that comes to mind.

The Problem with Coming of Age Narratives and The Good Dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur movie poster

The Good Dinosaur is a Pixar coming of age narrative featuring a dinosaur and his human pet going on an adventure.  It is beautiful, cute, and a well-done coming of age narrative.  However, it is extremely archetypal, and the archetype that it follows needs to change.

Technology Development Needs a Culture of Adaptation

I wrote a post for the Harvard Law and Policy Review blog.  Check it out at or read it below.


Jeff Atwood - Why Can't Programmers Program?

Jeff Atwood, who made StackOverflow among other things, wrote a blog post arguing that most programmers can't program.  A lot of people have accepted the conclusions at face value (eg, in this Quora post), but there are some serious problems with it, so I decided to weigh in as well.

The Benefits of an Elite Education, or How to Get the Most Out of College

When I was in high school, the common knowledge was that a stereotypically elite school wasn't much better than any other school, especially at the undergraduate level, so I shouldn't worry too much about where I go to school.  My experience at Stanford has convinced me that there is a large benefit to going to a stereotypically elite school, but I think that a motivated student can thrive at any school.

Do Good Now, or Why Public Service People Should Take Public Service Jobs

A lot of college students who want to save the world end up taking jobs in investment banking or management consulting, and some have asked me for my thoughts on the issue.  I'm not arguing in this article that there is anything wrong with those career choices, but I do think that it is wrong for someone who is primarily interested in public service and who is not passionate about banking or consulting to take one of those jobs.

Do Good Now

On Carbon Offsets

I have two goals in mind with regard to the environment:

On Mourning

Today, 11/18/2013, I buried my grandpa and realized that the process of death has lost its enormity.  

How to Think Like a Computer Scientist

Peter Norvig noticed that a lot of books purported to teach someone how to program in hours or days.  He responded with a post titled "Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years."  Since Norvig's logic has me at half a programmer, I'll refrain from telling you how a computer scientist thinks and instead give you some challenges to try out over the next decade.

Technology and Competitive Debate

I have been involved with competitive debate since 2004, and the last 9 years have probably seen more technological advancement in debate than the last 100 years.  When I started, most evidence didn't exist in an electronic form at all, so it was advantageous for debaters to go to different camps to get a wide variety of paper copies of evidence.  Then, most camps started having PDFs of paper files.  Then, most camps started having text documents available.

Pathways for Service

I wrote a while back on the subject of different focus areas for service.  That answers the question "what must be achieved to help the world?" but it doesn't answer the question of what communities are involved in those struggles.  Thus, it  is useful to consider different pathways for service.  There are many frameworks in existance to help people think about different pathways, but I haven't seen any that help people think about similar communities.  The following is my attempt at such a framework.


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