The Great Equalizer and Proselytizer

As many point out, public transit is the great equalizer. That might mean that it gives the poor as much mobility as it does the not-poor. But it’s the great equalizer in another sense: it forces people to share a space with those they wouldn’t otherwise.

I take the BART line from MIllbrae to get to work in San Francisco every day. I live and work with people too intelligent and thoughtful to admit that they are intelligent and thoughtful, so this daily commute is my time to share a space with people who aren’t all geniuses. No offense to my rommates or coworkers, but it’s a nice break.

Sometimes I’m in a pleasant mood and find it fun to people-watch between pages of whatever book I’m reading. Sometimes I have a bad morning and I hate everyone and their fat, flaccid faces. A few times, I get a nice story to tell. 

I was headed home on Saint Patrick’s Day. The streets of the Financial District were filled with the competing cries of bagpipes creeping from corner bars. Although it was early, many of the people walking down with me into the station already looked drunk.

I hopped onto the train, and a sunburned man asked, “How’s it up there? People going crazy?

"Sounds like it, yeah."

"I told my buddies I would be there soon. Haven’t been down to San Francisco in a while," he said.

"Visiting from out of town?" I asked.

Small talk is like vodka. I hate the how it feels, but I’ll take part if offered.

"Sorta. I live up north. I was born and raised there but I used to come to the City a lot. It’s a great place. People are free. Not as narrow-minded as all the people around me."

"San Francisco is definitely not the most conservative."

"Nah, and I’m obnoxious. I ride a Harley. I make noise. I tell ya, you spent your whole life in the military, you’d be obnoxious too. You go out to war, put yourself out there. Come back, the country ain’t changed. It isn’t better. It’s worse.”

"I’m sorry to hear that."

"Yeah, well, what can you do."

"Have a good St. Patrick’s day."

"That you can," he said, and he got off the train.

I left work late, so I had to catch the Millbrae line that detours to the airport. There was a pretty blonde girl sitting with her luggage. Across from her was a much less pretty and much more ragged woman with a large purse and sunglasses perched on her head.

The woman was talking loudly to everyone on the train. Or she was talking to herself. In such situations, there isn’t much difference between the two; her audience was nobody.

A stocky Hawaiian man standing by the doors started to hula dance, much to the entertainment of the pretty blonde girl and the woman. The pretty blond girl smiled. The woman clapped and slapped her feet repeatedly and unrhythmically into the floor. On especially large stomps, the sunglasses fell off the woman’s head.

"FUCK! My glasses."

The man kept dancing, the pretty blonde girl kept smiling, and the woman kept dropping her glasses.

The Hawaiian man eventually unboarded.

"This is South San Francisco Station," the operator announced.

"Fuck you! You don’t need to tell us where we’re at! We already know!" yelled the woman.

"The doors are closing. Please stand clear of the doors."

"What the fuck you think? We’re stupid? We know that, you stupid bitch. Imagine, if everyone would just shut the fuck up for like a year, the world would be a much better place!" the woman yelled. The pretty blonde girl stopped smiling. The woman kept yelling.

"I kill a man ‘cause he tried to kill me first, and I get put away for it, and I get out, and you still keep telling me what to do. Fuck you, State of California! He tried to kill me first, so I killed him, now I’ll kill you. You keep coming up on the speaker, lecturing and preaching and prophetizing… proselytizing?… One of them fucking Merriam Webster words!"

"Proselytizing was correct," I offered.

"Yeah, fuck you, California, you proselytizing bitch. Don’t tell us what to do!"

As we approached SFO, the pretty blonde girl grabbed her luggage. The woman grabbed her bag and her sunglasses, which had fallen off her head again.

"This is San Francisco International Airport," the operator announced.

"Everybody knows where we’re at, you stupid bitch," The pretty blonde girl and the woman quickly got off the train, the pretty blonde girl more quickly than the woman.

Then the woman got back on the train. “Fuck, this isn’t Millbrae.” She sat down, and as she did so, she dropped her sunglasses.

"Next stop, Millbrae Station."

"We know, you dumb bitch!"

We arrived at Millbrae, and the woman once again gathered her belongings. “Where the fuck are my glasses. I just spent a thousand dollars on those things and I fucking lost them. Fuck!”

"They should be in your purse, ma’am. I saw you pick them up," I said.

"No! Fuck! They’re not in here!"

"Maybe they’re under a seat. I’ll help you look," I offered, as I crouched down to search.

She laughed and smiled at me. “No, sweetheart, that’s fine. I’ll be ok.”

: Stanford-StartX Fund Launches with Knotch

knotchworthy:

Stanford University is famous for producing amazing entrepreneurs such as: Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Tom Proulx and Scott Cook of Intuit, and Hewlett and Packard. Being so, when we found out that this great well-spring for entrepreneurs was creating an early stage…

For those who never learned to be cool.

For those who never learned to be cool.

Your Opportunistic Grief Implies That You’re an Asshole

Update: I’ve learned some lessons.

I should’ve included some sort of thesis for this blog post given the length. A few people half read half of what I wrote on drew some conclusions on things I didn’t say. The point I am trying to make is this: Divorcing grief from the source is wrong. In other words, public grief for some reason secondary or tertiary to the actual loss belittles the process of grieving

Also, I can’t say that some people might be assholes and then grant broad exemptions from the status. Way more people assume that I’m calling them assholes than warranted. To be clear, I think most people are not assholes. Additionally, I mostly used the word “asshole” as a rhetorical device. I don’t think much of being called an asshole (telling, perhaps), and I arrogantly forget that some people might. Using such a colorful word felt much more accurate and effective at getting a point across than just saying something like: “Your Opportunistic Grief Implies That You’re Not Super Considerate of the Implications.” Yes, I made an ass of myself in the process, but I learned a bunch of stuff about the way people grieve, so it was totally worth it.

It is a horrible fact of life that people die all the time. Every day, in fact. But judging from the way my friends act online, I could be fooled into thinking that people die much less frequently. It feels like the only times people have died are when airplanes blow up or when it’s an event worthy of Nancy Grace coverage. It is in those times when my Facebook and Twitter news feeds erupt with statements like “My thoughts and prayers are with the deceased.” and “This death is such a tragedy. I am heart broken.”

If you’re making those statements at such times, please stop. You’re making yourself look like an asshole.

The explanation of why is a little hyperbolic, is going to sound ridiculous, and I’m going to come off as a jerk, but I really don’t know how else to say any of it. I hope I don’t offend anyone, and I fully acknowledge that I haven’t considered all angles. But I have watched the manic explosion of public grief time and time again with disappointment and I think that my ideas have some merit. So please bear with my poor explanation, and please disagree and argue with me, because I want to refine the ideas.

Now, I’m not saying that anyone who expresses remorse over the loss of a life is an asshole. And I’m not saying that paying respect or homage makes you an asshole. And I’m not saying that the general informative sharing of news makes you an asshole. What I am saying is that, if you’re expressing your grief online for an event that doesn’t directly affect you, and you’re expressing it to a group of people also unrelated to and generally unaffected by the death, you are very strongly implying that you are an asshole.

The first implication of your statements is that you only feel bereaved for hyper-publicized deaths. If that is true, you are an asshole.

A death is tragic no matter how much news coverage it gets. Most deaths, even the most tragic ones, don’t a lot of news coverage. So if you need some tanning-bed jockey to tell you when you should find a death tragic, you are an asshole.

If tragic death happens every day, does that mean that you should always be upset about people dying?

I think so. That doesn’t mean that you should always be depressed or that mourning should be your dominant state of mind. But if you, even for a day, forget that the grown men kill innocent children using guns and bombs, or if you forget that you too are mortal, you are an asshole.

The second implication of such statements is that you only announce your grief for hyper-publicized deaths. If that is true, you are an asshole.

This second implication is worse than the first. Not everyone is mindful and conscious of how messed up the world is. Ok, fine. But there is something abhorrently gross about the conspicuous consumption of tragedy. When you make those public statements that say “Look at me be sad and offended,” you hijack someone else’s loss and make it your own. That misappropriation is disrespectful to the people that are actually at a loss. You’re implying that you, who have lost nothing, are entitled to the same feelings as those who have lost something irreplaceable. Furthermore, you took their tragedy and pimped it out for your image and for a few Facebook likes.

Not only is that wrong, but it creates perverted cultural norms. When you go to the Internet to take offense about your non-loss tragedy, you participate in a culture where people congratulate each other on how offended they can be. Additionally, you’re signaling to the people that sell things that you will consume tragedy and you will watch Nancy Grace. And anyone willing to finance Nancy Grace is an asshole.

The third implication is that you were unaware of the systematic problems that caused the tragedy in the first place. If the tragedy is a surprise to you, you are an asshole.

When the Internet seizes a hyper-publicized death as its own, I’ll see people wondering aloud if they too can die in the same way as in that hyper-publicized death. Headlines and status updates abound with the question, “Am I safe anymore?”

No, you were never safe. Welcome to the World. If your lack of safety really bothers you that much, you can commit yourself to improving your lot and the lot of others. But you’re not going to. You never have. So stop.

I understand that sometimes very public deaths can have a powerful impact on individuals who have no relation to the deceased. It’s happened to me a couple of times. It’s not that having those feelings is wrong. It’s that the opportunistic expression of those feelings is wrong.

Maybe there are legitimate reasons for going online to voice your grief, but I can’t think of any. Are you showing support and solidarity? Not really. You don’t need to be so publicly grieved to show solidarity. And posting to your super private Facebook feed, you’re not supporting the people who need it.

Are you identifying a systematic problem? Maybe, but when when the tragedy illuminates a systematic problem in society or in law, that’s not a time to be offended, it’s a time to be thoughtful and rational and examine the system for what it is, not for how much it makes you cry when it creates tragic results.

The sentiment of grief and loss and tragedy may be sincere and that’s great, but the implications of the timeliness of your expressions are fucked, so stop it.

Death and tragedy are complex and can be felt in countless ways, and I won’t be arrogant enough to claim considering all of them. So if there’s something I’m missing, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I’m overly proud of this playlist. Over 3 hours of laid back, old-school hip hop.

(Source: Spotify)

Memento mori from an anonymous artist at Stanford Law

Memento mori from an anonymous artist at Stanford Law

He wish’d to please everybody; and, having little to give, he gave expectations.

- Benjamin Franklin, on a man who promised much but delivered little.

Badass Workout Music Cooperative

The biggest motivator to my workouts is music. Science shows that having a properly intense song improves performance in strength and endurance. I believe in science and I want you to do some science with me.

I’ve tailored a few playlists with music ideal for maxing out in weight lifting and for beating my mile time. I don’t spend a whole lot of time discovering new music, however, so these playlists are getting stale.

I’d love to have people contribute badass workout music. I set up two collaborative playlists on Spotify, one for lifting and one for running. If you have any songs that help push you to be crazy strong or crazy fast, drop them in here:

I got the playlists started with the workout music I currently listen to. I grew up on rap, so you’ll see a lot of Eminem and Beastie Boys.

I won’t do any curating in the collaborative playlist so that anyone can pick out songs they like. I will, however, pick the songs I like and add them to my personal, non-collaborative playlists:

I’m pretty picky with workout music, so those personal playlists are highly tested. Even if I hear a song I think might work, I won’t make it a permanent part of the list until I’ve tried it at the gym. If I don’t feel like it’s pushing me, I’ll cut it from the list right away.

(There’s no order to the music. I like to shuffle, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.

- Albert Einstein

A guide on: Using Blue Light to your Benefit

During my first year of law school, I started to struggle with sleep. I had trouble falling asleep, waking up, and always I felt tired. When you have infinity cases to read and hypothetical hooligans to defend, that begins to be a problem.

Stanford Hospital’s awesome sleep specialists diagnosed me with sleep apnea and delayed sleep phase syndrome (that same month, I was also diagnosed with TMJD and a chronic sinus-infection that required surgery, but those are not sleep related, so I’ll save those stories for later). I became very proactive about improving my sleep and I learned quite a few tricks along the way.

I feel it would be selfish to keep this knowledge to myself. Given the amount of work and stress common to law school, I’ve seen many of my classmates similarly struggle with sleep. In an effort to help, I’m writing up guides that other students might find useful. If you’re a student having problems with sleep, I’d love to get your feedback. Feel free to reach out here or through Twitter.

See the guide in the IFrame below.

(I wrote this guide on Evernote, but have had significant problems importing it into Tumblr’s rich-text editor. Fortunately, Evernote’s “share” feature takes notes and renders them perfectly online, so I’ll leave the note in an IFrame until I can find a better text-editing tool for Tumblr. You can go to the Evernote page directly if the IFrame gives you trouble)

(Source: evernote.com)