The Floodgates Open: Variety Show Edition

Most of the rest of my widely-available online work. Some pieces available only on paper, or whose links have broken, will be published later, in full.

Topics include Michael Grunwald’s The New New Dealmy weightlifting routine, potential trespassing, and how I wound up mentoring a stranger in China.

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Letters From Sichuan

A personal essay, in the YDN Magazine, discussing a message in a bottle of sorts. The message-writer involved should hear back from her colleges any day now, and if her essay was any indication, she’ll get in somewhere good.

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“We might be separated by seven thousand miles and a seven-percent admissions rate, but week after week, message after message, we came to realize we share personality traits, high-school experiences, and a mission: get Danting into Yale. Her application will read much like that of any American girl — tutoring in disadvantaged schools, Model UN, interest in psychology and economics — but she’ll have to deal with problems few Americans might imagine. What if the only English-speaking teacher you have is a racist and you have to translate the only praise your closest mentor could give? How will you compete with classmates who transfer to high schools built around test prep and outsourced essay-writing? Why haven’t you seen a single one of these SAT vocabulary words before?”

Review: The New New Deal, and a conversation with author Michael Grunwald

My Politic piece on a book that will only be more important as Obama’s second term rolls on.

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“As Grunwald admits, “There are no more pathetic words in politics than ‘it could have been worse’.” Still, it really could have been worse, by a long shot, and much of the public’s indifference or outright hostility exists because we have trouble perceiving benefit from a loss we never suffer. The stimulus probably kept California from defaulting. It almost certainly kept the nation’s auto industry from collapsing and dragging millions of supply-chain jobs into the same abyss. Its weatherizing efforts save the average American home $400 per year; its other efficiency provisions are slowly reducing energy consumption, and that’s without even factoring in our developing wind and solar industries. It saves both time and lives by boosting Amtrak speeds, filling in costly potholes and repairing bridges that might well have collapsed without it. And it seems that America will never notice—at least not in time for the election.”

Secrets Are No Fun

In which I fail to make it into the Yale Society for the Exploration for Campus Secrets and publicize that failure in the New Journal.

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“All the same, I couldn’t stop myself from seeing mysteries in Payne Whitney that night. Why did male athletes of old wear shorts that went only halfway to their knees? Why doesn’t Yale dispose of its long-retired tackling dummies and rusting World War Two-era weight stations? Why did the school build a cathedral just to stick a gym inside?”

This Could Get Heavy

My adventures, as seen in the New Journal, trying to bench-press my IQ and enhance my wooing muscles.

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“So if you’re ever passing through the basement of Timothy Dwight and hear what sounds like a werewolf transforming, it’s just me on the leg press, getting ready for my next tête-à-tête with my favorite mirror. And of course, working toward my latest goal: Just be a decent person without letting life get me down. Also, become an underwear model.”

Enter Cupid. Maybe.

Freshman Aaron, undercover at the senior dance: My first professional news adventure, under the aegis of the Yale Alumni Magazine.

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“Since mutual crushes are more common in Jane Austen novels than reality, singles abound. Some are content with the company of their secret societies; others go on the prowl. One pack of athletic-looking men stands ready as their leader peers into a room—but he waves them on: ‘Nothing but dudes in here! Keep going!’ Elsewhere, future dynamos of the tech world maintain stiff upper lips. A conversation with two, condensed: ‘Isn’t it great how we’re engineers with jobs? Date? Who needs dates?’”

Review: The End of Men, by Hannah Rosin

I discuss the rumored fall of my half of humanity for Yale’s premier feminist blog.

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“When factories close, we feel the implicit blow to America’s manhood; when women read books on forcefulness and learn to beat men at their own corporate games, we wince at the near-obsolescence of a Y chromosome. (Thankfully, Rosin never brings up artificial insemination; men need to be good for something). She casts aspersions on studies showing differences between the genders’ brains, but showers us with data on female mastery of every life skill but the bench press (though women are supposedly getting into—and winning—more fights with men than ever before).”

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