Meaning

Sat through another entrepreneurship talk for 15-300. Here’s my healthcare startup! Here’s my problem: current companies aren’t getting enough of their customer’s revenue! The heartwarming basis of modern startup culture.

Also prompted some reflecting on the various interviews I’ve had, as my main source of exposure to people in corporate America. People who only care about profitability. Leetcode culture in general, where people memorize and test others on problems without caring about the theory. In some sense, CMU culture is that way too - jobs, interviews, ML bandwagon. I suppose this reflects in how people conduct their OH too, since I’m watching mock interviews - what’s more important? Demonstrating your knowledge, or imparting it?


Been reading a lot more HN recently. The average comment quality is a little better than reddit, but there’s also a much more money-focused bent. Mixed feelings on that.

This made me think for a while. I’m fond of the phrasing I encountered: “the conflict between her desire for an exciting life and her desire for a stable life”. In my experience, American college life trends towards the former - excessive drinking, weed and vaping culture, casual hookups, relationships that won’t survive graduation - and people celebrate these as experiences and signs of a well-lived life.

There is a risk of spinning your wheels while you define what meaning is, but I’d like to do something meaningful with my remaining time. TAing was locally meaningful - but most people who can afford tuition here will go on to pursue cushy and meaningless lives. And there’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, or rather it is the norm so you can’t really fault them for that, but well.. it is unsatisfying.

To be meaningful in a way that matters is difficult, though. Missionary-type things are out, I contribute very little to those expeditions and have no desire to voluntour by pretending that I can build houses better or whatever. Teaching is easily my most developed skill, but it is mired heavily in identity politics nowadays. I could polish up my notes and make them open-source, but who would that help? “Only” being locally meaningful is fine, if it would serve a greater purpose. But even that is difficult, hm. Well, failing simply preserves status quo.

One last year here, perhaps another five elsewhere, up to a decade there, and then perhaps by then zip. Call it a decade. What can you do in a decade?

Written on November 30, 2018