Opinions without Names Attached: MIT Communities

In this post, I share my generalized thoughts towards 22 different living communities at MIT, from my experiences interacting with them, without explicitly labeling the descriptions with which community I’m sharing my thoughts on. (This, hopefully, helps dodge influence of judgment in people who aren’t themselves familiar with the described communities.)

1. Reckless and bold. In it to make things interesting by force. Usually consider their brazen attitude towards life positively, yet consistently feel too sketched out to get my personal self involved in their activities. Most of the time smile at the presence of their attitude, but occasionally feel it is too much and hard to stop.

2. Good with the rebellious and anti-establishment spirit, but that’s pretty much it. Mostly people yelling and circlejerking rather than actually doing anything. If more of them would actually bother to get themselves involved in processes rather than just complain about the incompetence of people actually doing the work, maybe they would get more of what they want and maybe people would have more sympathy for them.

3. A beautiful balance of wholesomeness and silliness. Community generally has a great collective sense of humor. Only sometimes gets too carried away with it.

4. Community constantly in search of ways to make there not be nice things. Makes fun of other communities all the time, yet when others make fun of them, complain about how the joke’s not funny and only they should get to make fun of themselves (and of course, others). Has several people that don enough levels of irony to irony-stack overflow. Loves to take a concept where there isn’t a clearly defined boundary of starting when things are not okay and pushing just a tad bit more into uncool territory than everyone else does. Has some members that are nice people to get to know as individuals.

5. Eccentric but cool community. Unfortunately many of its members are hard to get to know, let alone become friends with. Some of the things they do I still don’t really understand.

6. One of the greatest celebrations of nerdiness, a floor that goes far both with exhibiting the awesomeness of nerds and self-aware making fun of the derpiness of nerds. Has respectable dedication to what they bring to the overall community, and carries down ridiculously good running jokes. One of my favorite communities at MIT.

7. A community trying to jump onto the bandwagon of cool rebelliousness, and actually has done pretty well so far. Has slipped up from time to time, and also has had to deal with certain things, but quite has everything together now. Glad they exist.

8. Too small to be much of a community. Sometimes feel sorry for them due to other communities using their space and not taking care of it enough.

Continue reading “Opinions without Names Attached: MIT Communities”

Expanded Overthinking on Elevator Usage

I’ve previously talked about choices regarding elevators in this post.

Many of you have probably experienced or can understand the feeling of being minutely judged upon accidentally hitting the button for the wrong floor on the elevator and/or the feeling of minutely judging someone who you saw pushing the button for the wrong floor.

Today, as I entered an elevator in the MIT student center, alone, I accidentally pressed the wrong destination floor. As no one else was in the elevator, I corrected myself. (See the above link for why I might not have corrected myself otherwise; this situation reduces to the “a nearby floor was already called” case.) As the elevator headed up, I thought about what I would’ve done if at the moment, someone else was rushing to enter the elevator.

I might have actually let the elevator doors close instead of holding them, from embarrassment that I’ve pushed the wrong elevator button. This is arguably not the most commendable action, but I may have justified it to myself with an argument that entering the elevator may very well have not been the best choice for them as my incorrect elevator button push would have contributed to unnecessary time-inefficiency in their travel, and thus the other elevator might have been faster. This justification, sadly, reeks of an issue that seems analogous to the Gettier response to the “justified true belief” definition of knowledge: it seems that we’re really asserting a justification that happens to coincide with truth about the relative acceptability of letting the elevator doors close to an elevator whose ride is likely to visit an extraneous floor (it’s not even destined to visit an extraneous floor: that floor may well have been the floor of interest to the hypothetical person-rushing-in).

It is curious to consider these options, as much as this is an issue of very tiny importance in the grand scheme of life; it could encapsulate the ideas behind choices in decisions that matter much more.

On a higher level, elevator button-pushes really should just be revocable before fulfillment.

(On an even higher level of consideration, floor buttons shouldn’t be inside the elevator cars in the first place; a set should exist outside the elevator on each floor it services. This has actually been implemented, but the force of tradition led to people finding this awkward enough that they managed to successfully resist a better system.)

Let’s See, What Have I Done For SIPB

Yesterday, a certain member of SIPB has accused me of never having contributed anything productive to SIPB. The effect of the outrage of the moment aside, let’s consider this claim, in case people had doubts.

What have I done for SIPB?

Let’s start with serving as Treasurer for a year. I helped people get reimbursed for their events for the board, and I fulfilled office supply requests when they were made. In addition to this, I am currently in my third semester serving as Member at Large.

I have presided over 8 meetings. I have taken minutes for 14 meetings. Both of these are despite never having been elected Chair or Secretary.

I co-organized SIPB’s 45th Reunion with the help of…just kidding, both my co-organizers ditched the effort, so for a substantial time, I was single-handedly organizing SIPB’s 45th Reunion. Fortunately, on the day-of, the Reunion was saved from understaffed disaster due to the wonderful help of A. Carney (as well as some contributions from one of the alums attending the event, J. Kamens). In addition to this, J. Dove credits me upon my nomination for helping with the former year’s LibrePlanet, but I would honestly say that what I helped with there was insignificant enough to not necessarily deserve mentioning, though I appreciate the callout.

Although I must credit M. Ong for the bulk of the work, I contributed to building sipb-door.mit.edu, helping prospective members, visitors, and people seeking computer help evaluate an empirical likelihood that the office will be staffed at a time of day.

I wrote the mu script for easy piping to zsr, which M. Young later developed into his sipb-play script.

I have numerously contributed to the spreading of technical knowledge for SIPB. I have instructed for SIPB IAP as well as Cluedumps, multiple times, including “Introduction to Athena”, which helps orient students with MIT’s computing environment. I have more than once taught for a Cluedump, and afterwards helped file a reimbursement for L. Foner, dedicated Cluedumps organizer who among other things provides food for Cluedumps, thus contributing to SIPB multifacetedly in the same day.

The frequency with which I have worked in the SIPB office has led to me helping dozens of members of the MIT community with computing help, including both people walking in and people calling the office on the phone. Although I have often been unable to answer their questions, I have definitely became more able to as time went on and have been otherwise usually able to redirect them to someone helpful.

Continue reading “Let’s See, What Have I Done For SIPB”

Categories MIT

Five Bostonian Winters

(the latest five winters in Boston, in forward chronological order)

“For the sake of beautiful juxtaposition, I’ll arrive just after the hurricane. Don’t worry, I won’t be in full force until a few months later. But I will be in full force.”
“Ha, scared ya. Time to just chill and watch people needlessly panic.”
“WINTER MAD. WINTER SMASH. WINTER MAD. WINTER MORE SMASH. WINTER MAD. WINTER MOST SMASH. WINTER STILL MAD. WINTER MOSTEST SMASH.”
“I think I’ll pretend I just don’t exist.”
“Oh shit, I’m late! Let’s thoroughly catch up on make-up work.”

Categories MIT

Is MIT’s atmosphere hostile to conservative opinions?

Yes. Unquestionably.

(If you’re going to be among the crowds of people who will now surmise based on that first line that I’m secretly conservative, I will just say that if among the things I have stated, claimed, and supported you have decided to come to the conclusion that I’m probably conservative, I don’t know how to help you and will refuse to address you.)

It would take a serious lack of capability to try others’ shoes to deny that the frequency with which people are presumed to have liberal thought, the visibility with which chatrooms exhibit users taking glee at the suffering of conservatives, and the degree to which statements jokingly or seriously promoting violence against right-wing thinkers are legitimized in general social circles at MIT makes for a community in which conservatives could feel, at the very least, out of place.

What is more of a question is whether or not it is okay or if it should be the case that MIT’s atmosphere is hostile to conservative opinions. To the first approximation, this is a question about whether conservative values interfere with MIT’s goals. This is a question for which neither a pure “yes” nor a pure “no” approximate the nuances of the situation enough. There exist some really important distinctions in forms of value clashing, centrality of values to MIT’s mission, and levels of indirection of effects that should be considered in an analysis of the issue; in fact, separate analyses are probably ideal for the various parts of what makes up the corpus of “conservative opinions”, some of which are really not that related or even that correlated.

But whatever the answer to this question is, MIT’s community should not don the pretense that we are friendly and open to all. It can often be the case that being open to one group of people necessitates being unopen to another group. We make a choice on the groups of people we will try to be friendly to. One might argue otherwise, but this typically involves being open only to thoughts pre-considered okay and thus a filter on the entire domain “openness” is applied to; pre-filtering defeats the point of openmindedness. A declaration that MIT is accepting of people regardless of their political stance is sugarcoating and dismissive.

The MIT Hipster Test

Are you a pretentiously annoyingly sophisticatedly different MIT student always traveling a more enlightened path? Don’t know? Just take this test and find out! Add to your score the specified number of points for each statement true about you.

+2 I am course 11, 12, 17, 22, or 24.
+3 My course number actually even contains a letter*, and the degree I get will actually be different because of it. (*2A, 6M, and 18C don’t count. Those are sooooo mainstream.)
+5 My course number is actually all letters and doesn’t even have a number, bitch.
+13 I am actually course 13.
+1 I have taken a class in twelve different numbered courses.
(+1 more for each additional different numbered course beyond twelve.)
+2 I have had a semester where I took no classes that contribute towards my graduation.
+1 I have had a semester where my coursework spans at least four different course numbers.
(+1 more for each additional different number course beyond four.)
+3 I have had a semester where the number of units I took was not a multiple of 3.
+2 I have had a semester where I took more than one S class (for instance, 6.S082).
+6 I have had a semester where I only took S classes.
+2 I have taken an S class in a course that doesn’t have a course number.
+6 I only take classes you’ve never heard of.
+4 All the classes I take are lit af.
+2 I have had a class I’ve never attended.
+1 I have never taken a class in 32-123.
+1 I have never taken a class in 34-101.
+2 I have never taken a class in 10-250.
+3 I have never taken a class in 26-100.
+1 I have sent an e-mail with no body, just a subject line ending in ‘eom’.
+2 I have sent an e-mail with a body that just contains ‘eom’.
+3 I have sent an e-mail with a body that contains ‘eom’, and then text after the ‘eom’.
+2 I have sent an e-mail with no body and a subject line that is just ‘eom’.
+4 I have sent an e-mail with neither body nor subject line, just a recipient mailing list whose name ends in ‘eom’.
+2 I have, in fact, e-mailed eom@.
+1 I have e-mailed free-food@ requesting food.
+2 I have e-mailed free-food@ with an e-mail irrelevant to food.
+2 I have e-mailed free-food@ about free food more than 1 kilosmoot away from MIT’s campus.
+3 I have e-mailed free-food@ about free food more than 1 megasmoot away from MIT’s campus.
+2 I have made a posting to reuse-condoms@.
+3 I outsource me waking up on time to a mailing list.
+3 I address NSA and FBI agents that may be reading my e-mails in every e-mail I write.
+3 I have used garywang’s subscribe service.
+2 When I am bored, I surf garywang’s subscribe service.
+2 I wrote a script to go through garywang’s subscribe service for me.
+3 When my friends go to get food from Flour, I go to Shaw’s and buy a bag of flour and consume it with them.
+4 When my friends go to get food from Flour, I go to Shaw’s and buy flowers and consume them.
+20 In the above, the antecedent of ‘them’ was ‘my friends’ and not the flowers.
+2 I have eaten at Clover.
+2 I have eaten breakfast at Clover.
+1 I ironically make fun of Chipotle.
+2 I make fun of people ironically making fun of Chipotle.
+2 I ironically make fun of people making fun of Chipotle.
+3 I ironically make fun of people ironically making fun of Chipotle.
+1 I work in an office that I refer to as ‘glorious’.
+3 I sexually identify as a dank meme.
+4 I have engaged in BDSM while hacking.
+6 I like learning modules.
+2 I have used every class of stapler SIPB offers.
+3 I have a Permanent Membership at MITSFS.
+3 I am a member of the Students for a Democratic Society.
+1 I made it all the way through this quiz.

If you scored at least 40, you may be an MIT hipster.
If you scored at least 60, you’re probably an MIT hipster.
If you scored at least 80, you’re definitely an MIT hipster.
If you scored at least 100, you’re fucking scary.

Categories MIT