Thursday, February 26, 2015

* Lone Wolf

Thursday, February 19, 2015

* The Digital Inquisition



Onward STEM majors
Marching as to war
With the flag of Data
Going.on before.

Yale the royal master
Does the word proclaim
"Down with Bloom and Shakespeare
Humanities go in shame"

Onward giga-soldiers
Crowns and thrones must go;
Let the flag of Data
From the Cloud above us
Ever wave and flow.


TIRUMALA: Theory in practice

Rhyme and Reason

staff columnist
The Yale Daily News

Let’s put college into perspective. We spend roughly four years here at Yale. For those of us who opt not to attend graduate school, this is the last formal education that we will ever receive. The vast majority of Yalies will spend the rest of their lives working in industry. This is precisely why I’m stunned by the movement toward more “practical” or “industry-oriented” curriculums in colleges across the nation — particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Theory” has become a dirty word, and the reputations of the liberal arts colleges that espouse its virtues have been questioned. But we should reject the notion that an education without practical significance is an education not worth receiving. Let’s not turn college into vocational school.

Now, the past few years have created a pretty tough, if not cutthroat, job market. I sympathize with the idea that we need practical skills in order for our resumes stand out amidst a sea of applicants. But it is not the purpose of a college education to provide these skills.

This mentality is pervasive in computer science; there’s such a huge push for pre-professionalism in America today that one of the first questions that I’m asked by prefrosh interested in computer science is always, “What’s the startup culture like at Yale?” This is, of course, followed by, “Does Yale help you find internships in Silicon Valley?” Some students even choose to forsake college degrees, with programs such as the Thiel Fellowship helping them do it.

Colleges have picked up on this zeitgeist. The buzzwords of choice these days are “entrepreneurial” and “project-based learning.”

According to The New Yorker’s Nicholas Thompson, Stanford University — famous for students dropping out to join startups — is now less of a university, and more of a “giant tech incubator with a football team.”

The value of a college education comes from its ability to shape how we think. Education ought to give us an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of the world we live in, not necessarily land us jobs at Fortune 500 companies.

Asking the “big questions” is more than a cliché. Revolutionary ideas don’t come from learning more efficient ways to crunch numbers in Excel or figuring out how to code a Snapchat-for-dogs app. We change the world by questioning the assumptions that undergird the way we live and do business already.

Steve Jobs transformed the way we appreciate aesthetics by introducing design elements he gleaned from calligraphy classes at Reed College. Google was founded because two computer scientists realized that there was a more effective method to catalog and search Web pages than to simply filter keywords. Mark Zuckerberg used social network theory and graph theory to create a better way to interact with friends online. Theoretical knowledge enabled these companies to get started. Practical knowledge is important, but theory allows us to step back and see the big picture.

It’s more valuable to become a thinker than a worker bee — mindlessly learning how to solve problems that countless other people have solved before.

One of the most common complaints students had about CPSC 201, Introduction to Computer Science, was that we used Racket, a programming language that is all but useless in industry. I can’t count the number of times that my engineering friends have grumbled about learning something that they will “literally never use” in their lives again.

We probably won’t need half the material we pick up in our classes ever again. What will be valuable, however, is the mindset that we’ve picked up.

Now, we certainly need some practical skills — but acquiring them is not the primary purpose of a college class. This is where student organizations such as HackYale and summer internships hold a comparative advantage. We should be learning these types of skills on our own time. Let’s not waste the one time in our lives when we can learn theory without the pressure of producing deliverables.

Non-STEM majors seem to have this all figured out. These arguments are quite similar to the rationale held by many for studying the liberal arts. And there’s a good reason why. Anybody can intern at a company: Some of us did so in high school. Anybody can learn how to program or learn the ins and outs of corporate America. We have plenty of time to do that, the majority of our lifetimes, in fact. Let’s ignore our professional lives for just a moment and learn for the sake of learning. Perhaps it will even help us stumble onto the next big idea.

Shreyas Tirumala is a freshman in Trumbull College. His column runs on alternate Thursdays. Contact him at

Monday, February 16, 2015

* There is Something Rotten in the State of Yale

Yale Appeasement Leads  Inexorably to Blood  at Charlie Hebdo
and a
Danish Cafe

No cartoons in this book, thanks to Yale Press cowardice.


"The book’s author, Jytte Klausen, a professor of politics at Brandeis University, has revisited the episode and condemned the Yale press’s decision in a Yale Daily News interview. In a January 7 Time magazine op-ed Klausen argued that the Yale press had censored her book in response to 'imagined' danger.

"There were no known threats against the press or against myself at the time, and there never have been any," her Time article argued.

Jonathan Brent, who was Yale University Press’s editorial director and the book’s commissioning editor, opposed redacting the cartoons at the time. He said on Wednesday, "The lesson it taught by caving in cannot be undone or papered over by all the volumes" in Yale’s main library.

"If the major educational institutions of the Western world cannot summon the courage to defend freedom of speech, who will?" asked Brent, who is now executive director of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research in New York. He said he suspected the Yale press had acted to protect its corporate interests rather than in response to any real danger."

Friday, February 13, 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

* Winter Carnival


Monday, February 9, 2015

* Anotherr foot of snow shovelled

* Cabin Fever Relief





Friday, February 6, 2015

* Steam in the Hills : -17 degrees


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015

* Dr. Spock for the Aged


I was born in what is now called Yale-New Haven Hospital in 1944.  Ten blocks away Dr. Benjamin Spock was busy writing his famous 1946 baby book in his own childhood home on  New Haven’s Cold Spring Street.  The hospital threw me into what today looks like a heated breadbox (a 1944 incubator) to try to save my life. I was two months premature and my skin was the color of Guilden’s mustard.  I lived.

Seventy years later medical techniques are far beyond heated breadboxes.  Today’s doctors don’t just save lives, they stretch out death like warm gooey toffey, longer and longer, thinner and thinner, stickier and stickier.

Since the day I turned 70 I’ve been digging out  travel tips for this gooey journey into old age, the one from which nobody sends postcards.   If you're looking for a pick-me-upper  in the next few paragraphs here, don't read on. These are let -me – downers , summaries of tidbits I’ve discovered about old age and dying, both of which I have no way of escaping, and one of which has already taken me prisoner.   They are seeds of a Dr. Spock book of tips on how not to nervously lower your coffin, not confidently raise your baby.

The first tip comes from Being Mortal a book by a gerontology specialist, Atul Gawande, M.D.  He says that even if they already have a terminal illness,  the very first thing to check in an old person is not their heart, but their feet. That sounds crazy. Feet?   Here's why. If they have bunions or in-grown nails they are more likely to stumble and fall  ---- and if they break a bone they risk  life-threatening complications a younger person might not have to fear. First things first: Make sure your old patients can be steady on their feet.

How practical. Why didn’t anybody tell me that when my parents were growing old? I guess because there’s no Dr. Spock book for winding down what baby wound up.

Here's another tip for travelers in old age which I found in a New York Times opinion piece by another gerontology doctor, Ira Byock, at Dartmouth entitled "Dying shouldn’t be so brutal. "  If your old  patient is on palliative care (pain drugs ) make sure they are given proper doses of laxatives adjusted correctly for the changing constipation which is caused by those drugs.  Otherwise you are just swapping one pain for another. How come I didn’t I know that useful information?  No Dr. Spock again.

Not one but a  whole series of old age sightseeing tips appeared in an Atlantic article recently  entitled “Why I hope to die at 75”, also by an MD, Ezekial J. Emanuel;  “But 65 will be my last colonoscopy. No screening for prostate cancer at any age . . . After 75 if I develop cancer I will refuse treatment. Similarly no cardiac stress test, no pacemaker, and certainly no implanted defibrillator. No heart valve replacement or bypass surgery.”  You can bet no  Dr. Spock is cooing this lullaby over his patient’s  living will.

 If there’s a gerontology Dr. Spock-in-waiting at my birthplace, Yale/New Haven Hospital, reading this article, maybe s/he’d like to join me in writing
A Hitchiker’s Guide for the Aged for all of us,  hitch-hikers on a one-way highway.

 Actually, I’d rather create an entire  curriculum for old age. Like college.  You pass the courses and then you, ah, you ---- graduate.


ronricho has left a new comment on your post "* Dr. Spock for the Aged":

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Posted by ronricho to The Anti-Yale at February 3, 2015 at 8:17 PM