Other people are just as multifaceted as you

February 2nd, 2018

Most people seem to think of themselves as “at the edge" of several communities rather than defined by a single identity. It’s easy to think of yourself as special and that other people are more singularly defined, but that’s a bias stemming from the fact that you’re mostly seeing people in the context of just one of the communities they’re a part of. It can be hard to remember: you just don’t have visibility into their other thoughts and othe...

Empathy for the Devil

October 8th, 2017

History is too often reduced to stories of good versus evil. We get the impression that we are somehow different from the people who were bad, and we take for granted that we would never make similar choices. We should learn to empathize with those who make terrible choices — not to pardon their choices nor to deny ourselves the right to grieve, but to recognize when we might be heading down a similar path. If we see them as people and unders...

Subsidizing Suburbia series

July 30th, 2017

Subsidizing Suburbia: A forgotten history of how the government created suburbiaFinancing Suburbia: How government mortgage policy determined where you liveExempting Suburbia: How suburban sprawl gets special treatment in our tax codePaving Suburbia: How federal projects reshaped your community around the automobile (coming soon!)Zoning Suburbia: How single-use zoning is responsible for your 45-minute commute (coming soon!)

Unambiguous Webpack config with Typescript

June 19th, 2017

You can write your Webpack config in Typescript, and it’ll save you a huge amount of pain. Webpack’s docs would lead you to believe that using Typescript requires a hacky customized set up, but in fact it’s as simple as installing a single module and changing your extensions from .js to .ts! You can find the rest of the post at the Webpack blog.

Ode to Audio: Why You Should Give Podcasts and Audiobooks a Chance

August 25th, 2016

I love doing chores. The more time-consuming they are, the better. I jump at opportunities to empty the dishwasher, and grocery shopping is a highlight of my week. I don’t even mind sorting the trash, as long as I have my phone and some earbuds handy. I used to dread housework as much as the next person. But that all changed when John introduced me to podcasts and audiobooks two years ago. Mundane tasks have become opportunities to learn, to r...

Podcast & Audiobook Starter Kit

August 24th, 2016

In my previous post, I compiled a list of reasons why on-demand audio is great. Evangelism works best when you make it easy to hit the ground running, so here are a few tips and recommendations. Hopefully this will lower the activation energy for getting started. Podcasts You can download my complete list of subscriptions as an opml file or as more readable json.You should be able to load the opml into most podcast apps by going into Settings ...

We Should Be Building Cities for People, Not Cars

August 19th, 2016

The way we live is shaped by our infrastructure—the public spaces, building codes, and utilities that serve a city or region. It can act as the foundation for thriving communities, but it can also establish unhealthy patterns when designed poorly.For decades, San Francisco’s waterfront was dominated by the massive Embarcadero Freeway. The Ferry Building was hidden in the shadow of a grungy overpass, and the double decker highway blocked reside...

Book notes — Walkable City

July 29th, 2016

Notes from reading Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck.Core argument: A walkable city is not just a nice, idealistic notion. Rather, it is a simple, practical-minded solution to a host of complex problems that we face as a society, problems that daily undermine our nation’s economic competitiveness, public welfare, and environmental sustainability.The American health care crisis is at its heart an urb...

Google Maps Convinced Me to Ditch My Car

June 30th, 2016

I am always a little embarrassed when people find out that I had a car in college. I'm a transit geek after all, and I always encourage friends to take public and on-demand transit rather than generate congestion and consume parking spots. Despite all this, I drove multiple times each week last year, because I felt like it was my only real option to get to places I needed to go around the Bay Area. Now, I rarely drive anymore, and I've become ...

The Death and Life of American Company Towns

June 29th, 2016

Google feeds its employees well. No Googler's desk is further than 150 feet from a "micro kitchen" stocked with goodies, and the campus is dotted with over 20 restaurants and cafes. Everything on the menu is free of charge to Googlers and their guests, and it includes specialities like creme brûlée and fresh handmade sushi. The perks of working at Google extend far beyond the free food and snacks. Google HQ contains a bowling alley, bocce ball...

Visual Technology

February 25th, 2016

Technology enables us to see the world in ways that are inaccessible to our natural senses. In opening these new worlds to us, it encourages introspection and discovery, inflates our cosmic egos, and then puts us back in our place. Discovery of perspective Visual technology plays a key role in human cognition and our sense of self. One primitive example is the mirror, which literally enables self reflection. Mirrors are so deeply ingrained in...


August 3rd, 2015

I love the feeling of flow, when I settle into my work and make steady, ruthless progress without distraction. Unfortunately, getting myself into this state is difficult. It usually happens when I am wearing my noise-cancelling headphones and I am at just at that point where my work is challenging but manageable and my mind is fully engaged but not overwhelmed. It also helps to have a bit of time pressure or a due date on the horizon. These c...

Consistency is key: A letter to the Stanford GSC

April 21st, 2014

Richard Dawkins is very clear on his opinion of creationism and its supporters. In an article published by The Guardian, he stated, "Any science teacher who denies that the world is billions ... of years old is teaching children a preposterous, mind-shrinking falsehood." He continues, "Ignorant, closed-minded, false teachers who stand in their way come as close as I can reckon to committing true sacrilege." Student group Atheists, Humanists, ...

Why College Campuses Should Allow Concealed Carry

January 18th, 2013

The news is saturated with stories and opinions on guns, and the attention on the issue is heightened with this past year’s dramatic shootings in Aurora and Newtown. Understandably, the response to these horrors involves great emotion. However, in our dialogue about violence and gun ownership, we need to set aside our fears and biases and look at where the facts lead us. Here in the Bay Area, the general response to gun ownership is an autom...