Sunday, January 29, 2012

F. Aniversário

A few conclusions from tonight:
  • Soaking calamari in milk before frying helps make it more tender.
  • There are only about 1.5 degrees of separation at a place like Yale.
  • These boots are made for walking.
  • Rob McElhenney may have been on to something.
  • Dio salvi l'Etiopia.

Listening to:
"Idilio" - Willie Colón

P.S. Officially on my list of places to visit this summer: Cali, Colombia

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happiness Hypothesis

Had the opportunity this morning to listen to a guest lecture by Jonathan Haidt, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and author of The Happiness Hypothesis.

Professor Haidt argued that the question we should be asking ourselves is not "What is the meaning of life?" but rather "How can I live a full, rich, satisfying life? How can I find purpose and meaning within life?"

His primary thesis was that "happiness comes from between," that is, from interpersonal relationships. Indeed, the importance of relationships is a theme throughout The Happiness Hypothesis. He urged us to work on existing relationships, cultivate new relationships (especially in groups), and engage in happiness-boosting activities based on our relationships, such as writing gratitude letters, which have been shown to raise self-reported well-being for longer periods of time than material pursuits.

He also encouraged us to "lose ourselves" in something larger than our individual interests, whether through nature, social causes, academia, or any number of pursuits that lead us to abandon pure self-interest and instead behave as humans sometimes do according to his "conditional hive psychology" hypothesis. Here, he quoted Willa Cather, which, incidentally, transported me back several years to a certain Massachusetts farmhouse in late winter:
I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness: to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." (Willa Cather, My Ántonia)
It was particularly interesting to hear from Professor Haidt in person today, as I am planning to include a discussion of his moral foundations theory in my cognitive science senior thesis. But more on that another day...

Monday, January 23, 2012

새해 福 많이 받으세요

灯火数添油 / 未厭冬夜長 -良寛

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Es gibt so wunderweiße Nächte,
drin alle Dinge Silber sind.
Da schimmert mancher Stern so lind,
als ob er fromme Hirten brächte
zu einem neuen Jesuskind.
Weit wie mit dichtem Demantstaube
bestreut, erscheinen Flur und Flut,
und in die Herzen, traumgemut,
steigt ein kapellenloser Glaube,
der leise seine Wunder tut. 
- Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Houston's Economy

More sunny economic news for Houston:

The economy of Houston grew faster than that of any other metropolitan area in North America last year, according to the Brookings Institution's Global MetroMonitor report released on Wednesday.

Study co-author Alan Berube notes that Houston's $311 billion economy is witnessing impressive growth in local incomes and employment accompanied by steady growth in the housing market.

The study also highlights the importance of economic diversification, particularly at a time of economic uncertainty around the world. In the case of Houston, the regional economy is benefitting from robust performance in the technology, medical, energy, and manufacturing sectors. Citing the Brookings study, the Houston Chronicle also adds:
The Port of Houston is one of the world's largest, with bright prospects for growth once widening of the Panama Canal is completed in 2014, doubling the famed canal's capacity. A lot of that tonnage is expected to pass through the Port of Houston.  
We're also a major base for two growing airlines, Southwest and Continental/United, and we have a growing arts tourism economy that's being carefully nurtured and grown.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sh*t Houstonians Say

LOL. But seriously, the ice at Anvil is unnecessarily large.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spring 2012 Courses

Finally managed to whittle down the list:

CGSC 491 Senior Colloquium and Project
Topic: The Cognitive Science of Corruption
Joshua Knobe
A research colloquium leading to the selection of a topic for, and the completion of, the senior essay. Students attend regular colloquium presentations by outside scholars. By the end of the fall term students choose an essay topic. During the spring term presentations become more narrowly focused on students' senior projects.

CGSC 474 Directed Reading
Marvin Chun
Individual study for qualified students who wish to investigate an area of cognitive science not covered in regular courses. The student must be supervised by a member of the Cognitive Science faculty, who sets the requirements and meets regularly with the student.

CGSC 281 Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature
Tamar Gendler
Central texts from the Western philosophical tradition paired with recent findings in cognitive science and related fields. Possible topics include Plato's discussion of innate ideas and current research on infant development; Aristotle's conception of character and modern research in social psychology; Epictetus's writings on human flourishing and contemporary work on happiness; Nietzsche's genealogy of morals and findings from cognitive science.

HSAR 115 Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present
Alexander Nemerov
Painting, sculpture, and graphic arts, with some reference to architecture. Major works and artists treated in terms of form, function, and historical context.

KREN 154 Advanced Korean III
Seungja Choi
An advanced language course designed to develop reading and writing skills using Web-based texts in a variety of genres. Students read texts independently and complete comprehension and vocabulary exercises through the Web. Discussions, tests, and intensive writing training in class.

Final semester—here we go!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dear Jobseekers

The national economy may still be lagging, but the good news is that there are always exceptions.

18 U.S. metros have seen wage growth over the past year, with Houston's 2.2% increase leading the pack. In fact, with an index value of 108.3 (compared to wages in 2006, the baseline figure), salaries in Houston have grown more than in any other city over the past half-decade.

In related news, national financial magazine MainStreet has listed Houston as a city "poised for greatness" in 2012. Below is their justification, complete with a fantastic metaphor for the Houston-Austin rivalry:
Throughout the economic crisis, Houston has been the buttoned-down older brother to Austin's hippie slacker.

While college-boy Austin coasts by on education and arts, Houston shrugs off the cool kids, goes to work every day with its buddies in the energy industry and does what it can to keep unemployment below 8%. Unlike Austin, though, Houston doesn't have to drop its home prices to draw new blood.

"The bloom's not off the yellow rose of Texas," Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko says. "Texas isn't hung over from the housing boom like the other big states of the South and West, so there's little to hold back growth."

Home prices in Houston have remained level since 2010 and are among the few in America that have risen since 2008. There's economic life to the city that's only improving as the year goes on.
Fellow seniors, consider finding a job outside the Tri-State area/D.C. next year!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Palavra de Madeira

Professor Nemerov really likes the letter O. Peinlich Schildkröte.

Listening to:
"Bem Leve" by Marisa Monte

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

마지막 학기란 이런 것이구나

Random news: Laptop is still being repaired. It has been surprisingly liberating to sit through lectures with only pen and an actual notebook—a lot more space and freedom to take more interestingly organized notes, not to mention the lack of email/Facebook/news distractions. Perhaps I should actually ditch the laptop for lectures this semester?

"There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life that he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure."
- Mark Twain

That's still me!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Last Second Day Back

Yes, I actually heard a senior this morning call it "our last second day back." For now, I think I'd prefer to pretend that May 21 doesn't mean anything...

Shopped CGSC 281 Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature today. Unofficially dubbed "Dead guy on Tuesday, cog sci on Thursday," it's a course I've been looking forward to for several years now. At this point, Thursdays should (hopefully) be a review of cognitive science concepts I've studied during my time at Yale, but the connections between traditional philosophical concepts and cog sci research should make the class worth taking. It also helps that Professor Gendler is a fantastic lecturer—they should really make more professors go back to school before teaching students.

I then headed to HSAR 115 Introduction to the History of Art with Alexander Nemerov, the quintessential "must-take" course for every Yale student. The lecture—today's topic was Duccio's Maestà—seemed a bit theatrical, but I did enjoy Professor Nemerov's discussion of the visual and theological connections between the piece and its surroundings. A nice fifth course, perhaps?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Last First Day Back

Professor Szabó explained this morning that philosophy is like a swamp. I think I agree, though it seems to be one inhabited by exceptionally smooth-talking, well-dressed individuals with vintage glasses.

Also shopped SPAN 224 Spanish in International Politics and Media today. The good news is that I could understand everything Profesora Carballal was saying about the course requirements; the not-so-good news is that, after several years of Portuguese but no Spanish, I felt like I was listening to 사투리 (rural dialect) the entire time...