Wisdom Teeth Out (28 hours later)

27 05 2009

 

Got my wisdom teeth out .. here are my chipmunk cheeks

Got my wisdom teeth out .. here are my chipmunk cheeks





The Rebirth of My Twitter.

13 04 2009

I shall tweet on the intertweets @ twitter.com/kevinv





new kevinverbael.com

21 03 2009

redesigned http://www.kevinverbael.com tonight.





New photos online!

1 02 2009

54 photos online today: winter formal, trip to new york, trip home to california, birthday celebrations in california and boston, harvard, you know .. take a looksy!

http://flickr.com/photos/kevinv





This Week in Justice: Patriotism – vice or virtue?

1 12 2008

Justice

Justice, as you may recall, is a large 850+ student course at the college that walks through various issues in moral philiosophy from a wide and established variety of approaches. Right now we’re studying communitarianism: (generally speaking) the idea that we are not self-owned as a liberal might argue (Locke, Friedman, Nozick, Rawls) but rather we are not so completely free because we have specific duties regarding our commmunity which has part-ownership in all of us.

Poll question

The poll question this week was: “Patriotism is not a virtue but a vice, a prejudice in favor of one’s own kind that we should try to overcome.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Answer for yourself then see the results below:

Read the rest of this entry »





Stock trading simulator (website)

19 11 2008

For computer science 50..

We had to make an online stock trading simulator where each registered user gets $10,000 in virtual cash to play the stock market. I spent a little extra time making the website look and feel nice. Please visit and have fun.

http://cloud.cs50.net/~kverbael/pset7/login.php





YES!

4 11 2008

So happy I’m crying! CNN calls it for Obama!

 

Fin.





Monkeybread

30 10 2008

the feeling of letting go

stolen from a thought in my mind I see you
slipping through a tree with your arms outstretched,
where are the mornings that I longed to kiss you,
by the banks of the ice river with our names etched

down in the study hall I write, between chairs
and the unworn ties
I watch a girl take eat her sandwich
while another boy catches my eye

cheated on the back of my hands
I take the test, where I am sent
to my parent’s high school
and left in a room with my finger clenched 

systems emerge like a corner
caught between two forced things
I find the rules where I meant to leave them
and I write things about the things I left

 

Hello, world! 

Life update: I am taking these classes:

  1. Justice, a Moral Reasoning core course that focuses on issues of applied philosophy, in particular ethics and political philosophy. Right now we’re reading Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. It’s outstanding; a defense of the legalistic moral attitudes (what mom calls the clear black-and-white) through this notion of the categorical imperative (i.e. should the principle you act on be applied to everyone and would that be good?). Delicious!
  2. Econometrics, a statistics course for Economics majors. We’re going over different methods to reduce omitted variable bias and, despite that this is the last required course for my Econ degree and I have a certain amount of disdain for strict requirements, I am enjoying this class. In particular, I feel more comfortable agreeing with the conclusions derived from Econ papers as I can attest to the reason behind their approach.
  3. Economics tutorial, a junior seminar. This class was once about diving into the research of our professor, Sendhil Mullainathan, while writing our research paper. The focus has shifted to studying our class’ research, extending and learning from the various approaches developed in our classroom in Littauer. I’m writing a paper on library late fees discussing rational reasons why people turn their books in late (e.g. it’s worth the money to hold on to the book as I am maximizing my utility) and psychological reasons discussed in economic terms (e.g. I forget, and when I remember in my room, the cost-benefit analysis leads me to procrastinate the task).
  4. Theories of Violence. Seriously, we take any theory of violence from parental abuse, drugs, psychiatric illness, biology, evolutionary psychology and study it from philosophical, literary, neurobiological, legal and historical perspectives. The broad approach is intended to answer the question: why does violence occur? So far, I’ve enjoyed studying the governmental abuses that occurred at Waco (emergent violence), Andrea Yates (psychiatrically ill), reading a transcript from Osama bin Laden and comparing it to the Battle of Jericho in the Old Testament (where the Israelites killed all the men, women and children in the city once they captured it as per God’s orders). I’m considering writing a paper on Dexter, the Showtime show about a serial killer who only kills other serial killers and the cultural significance although I’m interested in the question and might, should I come up with a good theory, try to answer it directly.
  5. Computer Science 50, a rockin’ class on programming concepts that I’ve watched many of the lectures online over the summer but am enjoying diving into the course, working to robustly solve the problem sets. Currently, the work I’m doing now is writing a program that reads a formatted (i.e. “erased”) disk and searches through the 1’s and 0’s looking for deleted photos (.jpg) and recovers them. We then have to figure out where the photos were taken around campus.

PS The links are _all_ worth taking a look at.

Life update, part two:

I’m working on developing my political and moral philosophy, working out the kinks alongside my reasoning in Justice class. I would like to start writing but am waiting for a breath of air as I have been working non-stop all day with lectures, sections, homework, midterms, soccer practices and games (captaining/coaching the team’s 2-2 season, scored three goals last game, dribbling through all of Lowell House.

                At some point I need to start thinking about where I am going to work next summer, which for the moment only confuses me. I’m also thinking about plans more broadly and am considering taking time off after this year to write down the political philosophy, write a few economics papers (might work with some classmates on this soon), and write a senior thesis that combines computer science and economics. I am currently considering a joint-concentration in computer science.

                Strange; while I was free with loads of time three weeks ago, adding CS50 so late meant I had to work hard to catch up, meaning everything has been on quicker feet since. Funny story: I had thought about whether or not to take the class all weekend and come the Tuesday (Monday was off as it was Columbus Day), I decided in the 0th hour, 5pm, that I would take the class. The Resident Dean wouldn’t sign off unless I took it pass/fail but since I hadn’t gotten the professor’s approval on it, she would either have to let me take it for a grade or not at all. At that point I saw the reluctance in her face and said, “Come on coach, put me in. I can play, just put me in, I can win!” :)

                So, these things being said, I very much miss all my readers in California (and family and friends elsewhere). I am working very hard on my studies and with renewed dedication to making the most of my undergraduate experience. Oh, and I’ve taken to making comic strips. I shall put them up soon.





Two Things

16 03 2008

One, I’m not sure what Larry Summers said wrote all those years ago. I read the transcript today and was kind of hoping for something scandalous. Instead, the worst is that, by a back of the envelope estimate, differences in proportions of women in math and science might be due to differences in variability. “I don’t know the answer, but I think that if people want to move the world on this question, they have to be willing to ask the question in ways that could face any possible answer that came out.” – From “Remarks at NBER Conference on Diversifying the Science and Engineering Workforce” Or: How I Learned to Say Quasi-Offensive Things and Lose My Harvard Presidency.

Two, Taken from xkcd, a webcomic about sarcasm, math, and romance 

*Before I myself become a pariah (not that I’m well-known enough to be one), I want to establish my view of the sentiment of the comic. That is, that group generalizations are made when it comes to women but men are treated as individuals. There’s also an undercurrent of truth, dynamically related between the social perception of girls in high school math (the intro calculus in the comic), the reinforcing experiences of seeing mostly boys in math, and so many other things someone should write an essay or a speech about where to begin studying the issue.





Finals Week. Busy.

17 01 2008

My Window, Dry-Eraseable





Quick Life Post

7 11 2007

Been very busy.

Right now we’re discussing the Big Mac index in International Political Economy, which if you haven’t heard of it I think you’d best check out wikipedia or the Economist (I’m sure they’ve got it covered). We talked about it last year.. And purchasing power parity and yawn. I have to do reading and I’m covering this base before tonight so I don’t procrastinate later. It’s like multitasking my future laziness along with my learning (when I’m not really learning). Let me emphasize that I don’t do this often. And never in multivariable.

I’m considering becoming an Applied Math concentrator. Or Economics. And a secondary definitely in Psychology, although I might be able to switch that into a joint concentration with Econ and get a secondary in pure math (and combine the three). Math bothers me because I both enjoy it and am good at it, but simultaneously not nearly (in any respect) the best. Anyway .. please feel free to input. Oh and the money argument only  works against psychology. Where w(x) is the wage from a major, I’m fairly sure (having seen these investment bankers) is that w(math) > or = w(econ) >> w(psych).Alright, back to the exchange rate. 





Why I Don’t Like Finals Clubs Pt. 1

29 09 2007

Found on Craigslist.
– – – –

My final club has a reunion this fall, and my relationship of two years ended disastrously earlier this summer. I have an invitation for myself plus one, and am willing to show you a great time. It is a private party, in an extremely classy setting. There is no real way to describe how ornate the club is, but I guarantee that it will be the most upscale experience of your life. Think back to your high school prom, take away the terrible music, and multiply the experience by ten. You must be white, 5′6″ – 5′9″, young, blonde, attractive, and intelligent. You must be in school, preferably Tufts or Wellesley but BU and BC are acceptable (definitely not MIT). You should be able to hold a conversation, know when to be quiet, and polite in all your behavior. I have seen unruly guests embarrass members before, and I hope this won’t be a problem. This event is black-tie, and I am willing to procure an evening gown for you. I hate to sound so harsh, but I have expectations to live up to. No Asian, overweight, or unattractive women please. Ages 18-22 only.Picture required.

– – – –





It’s not every day that i mention harvard

18 04 2007

A fight song from the Harvard Band webpage..
Fight Fiercely, Harvard!
First Verse

Fight fiercely, Harvard!
Fight, fight, fight!
Demonstrate to them our skill.
Albeit they possess the might,
Nonetheless we have the will.
How we shall celebrate our victory?
We shall invite the whole team
Up for tea! How jolly!
Hurl that spheroid down the field
And fight! Fight! Fight!

Second Verse

Fight fiercely, Harvard!
Fight, fight, fight!
Impress them with our prowess, do.
Oh, fellows, do not let the Crimson down;,
Be of stout heart, and true.
Fight for Harvard’s glorious name!
Won’t it be peachy if we
Win the game? Oh goody!
Let’s try not to injure them,
But fight! Fight! Fight!

– – – – – – – – –

I’m singing this next year at the Harvard-Yale game.





Leverett House

22 03 2007

This is my new house for next year. I’ve officially been “sorted”Leverett





The Author

17 03 2007

Kevin begins talking, he looks upwards clearly in a deep state of thought. Where do you think our thoughts and feelings go after we say them out loud?

Maddy responds in a similarly quiet, meditative voice as if they are aware that their conversation was scripted. I think they get said and immediately they become a part of ourselves again. When we share a feeling that is a fleeting second or two of what we feel right now, and then that moment kind of passes you know. And eventually, when the time is right it gets said again. They are said because we need to say them; there’s this compulsion inside of us that makes us say these things. Desires, wishes, feelings all of them coming up to the top and when we need to say them we do.

So it’s kind of like breathing or heartbeats.

Maddy misses the small verbal hit. Yes, it’s a cycle. We say it and it comes out and we swallow it back in though we try to share it between us for as long as possible. Kevin, I love you. I say that because it it’s always there brimming at the surface, waiting for a pause in conversation or a dull moment so that all else an be outshined.

Kevin begins talking. And does not stop. I think … when we say something … that what we’re thinking or feeling – it goes to the other person. They own it, it becomes theirs, and we lose control over having said it. And these stores of words representing emotions and thought decay on their own. It is by repeating it that I can make what is said meaningful. I think of love, right, and I see it as this finely tuned garden that I want to maintain. Not just any garden but a Zen sand garden, and there I am with my rake cultivating my sand. My energy goes into it so that the sand and the texture is well-defined, so that the words are clear and the meaning vibrant. I know that what I’ve said to others will erode, but what efforts I make to maintain this garden, this is what defines me. And maybe that’s a part of the reason I don’t tell my friends I love them often enough is because when people meet me I want the them not to browse but to see this one singular part of me, this spectacularly ornate design I have not only managed to make but to keep up. So some of these things I say often so that they never fall apart, so that they never even for the smallest second escape a perfect understanding. Maybe it’s somewhat routine, but there are other things, like telling you how beautiful you are, things that should be cultivated and aren’t. I bet you’re sleeping by now, aren’t you? Maddy is not sleeping, she is smiling, crying quietly with her back to Kevin perfectly still. He begins to stroke her hair carefully with a face that looks up and down trying to recall something. He moves to lean to look at her face; sensing this, she responds:

No, I’m awake. I’m about to fall asleep. She does.

Kevin begins thinking out loud or talking to himself, he can’t decide which and he knows one sounds worse. Why do people concern themselves with profundities? No one is capable to answer anything, only to produce a working model of an imagined solution. An imititation of something imaginary. I need to be in love, or I need to be laid, or cared for, or have a respectable job or degree. I need a family or a few more friends, yes I should spend more time with friends. I should write more, get a novel published. At some point, other people will want to write about me. There’s enough going on in life without contemplating the why. Fuck. The what is enough.

I want to know what it means to be American and also why everyone can lie so much. Or be hypocritical, I’m not sure which is worse. Everyone claims to be American but even though we praise ourselves on the fact that we make ourselves, that this is the closest meritocratic experiment .. whatever, this .. this is boring philosophical things. I should be seeing the bigger picture, getting business cards passed out, being known if not popular. Who cares about popularity. Well, if I want to do politics, I should care. But I’m not charismatic, well. Maybe I am; what about law. You need law to be good with making laws, but then look at Reagan or even that fucker Jackson, both of them weren’t lawyers, though they also weren’t very good people – funny though them not being lawyers and all. I shouldn’t say fuck. It’s out of character. Why do I think of myself as being in or out of character. I am. That’s it, there is no not being me when I’m doing something. Hell, this is the fucking epitome of being me. I need sleep. Or maybe a good movie. Damn this is probably boring the hell out of my roommate. Why do I think out loud?

He opens a computer. The screensaver is an image of a field, vast open, with a small house featured. All is perfect except that there are bloody handprints on the roof. No explanation. He opens a chat dialogue with a “Rebecca.” He begins to type. Maddy turns over and snores semi-loudly. He turns to her and takes a deep breath. She seems to be lying to him. He sends the first real message (after a few hi’s and hello’s).

Kevin: I feel like when she’s sleeping her calmness is a sort of lie. when shes awake shes basically the same.
friend: do you let her sleep enough?
Kevin: she’s not under my mind control, you know. and I don’t mean she’s sedate when she’s walking I just mean she is always calm
friend: so what’s the problem, you’re lucky boy
Kevin: I just don’t understand what that’s like, the security of being loved like that.
friend: you’re sure she’s not just content knowing she loves you. I mean you’re not exactly the reasurring type.
Kevin: you should have heard what I said today. any girl would have fallen in love all over again if they heard that
friend: but you didn’t write it down did you, you forgot, then you complain to me that you’ve got nothing to wirte about
friend: *write
Kevin: let’s talk about something else
friend: okay, about that poem you wrote, the one on your website
Kevin: i write many, be specific
Friend: the one with the tom and anna references
Kevin: maddy i guess in a way
Friend: hmmm
Friend: expand
Friend: please
Kevin: debating the existence of desitny most fitting
Kevin: destiny being real to maddy and not real to me
Kevin: one day though in talking it out with my roommate i figured out that my frustration with a lot of what happened is that i either want the relationship to have a sense of cosmic destiny or i feel it already does
Friend: ah
Friend: i see
Friend: so to you destiny is much more major than perhaps just what meaning you find/are going to find by the end of your life
Friend: but rather
Friend: it going beyond that
Kevin: i feel that destiny has more to do with taking away my ability to excercise free will .. i mean something so special should be pure because it’s the best choice not because so paternalistic deity thought it best for me
Friend: i agree
Kevin: though considering i more or less equate God and love .. i guess having love pick who I fall for isn’t the worst idea

He closes the computer. He flickers the room’s lights repeatedly. He shoots himself. No, too messy. He drinks every ounce of liquor on the fourth floor and dies brazenly holding his beloved copy of Hamlet. No, too pathetic – it isn’t real enough. He falls asleep next to his girlfriend. There, real. Natural, calm. He thinks of something to say to his audience, that burgeoning crowd inside his mind expecting a finale but ultimately prepared for disappointment:

And so the street, being blind, ceased its endless flurry of footsteps for one moment as if it knew that because they shuffled by quietly, a young boy would be able to rest his weary mind; a casual nap, a lenten vacation, a small sanctuary from a long day.





redesign

16 03 2007

redesigned kevinverbael.com





Long Day

7 03 2007

1. Went to sleep at about 12:30 am.
2. Woke up at 4:30am to read a book I was unable to loan out or buy because (it was due today and) there are 350+ people in my class and only five copies in the library at three hour loans.
3. Read, half-awake, half-asleep, half of the book I was supposed to read today from 5:20 to 8:10.
4. Because my phone wont charge properly I had to leave it connected to my computer, coming back before breakfast, I was looking forward to talking with Maddy. I saw a text message that informed me that Maddy’s dad had a stroke this morning, his left side was numb and they were headed to the hospital.
5. Without getting the chance to talk, I had to go to breakfast at about 8:25.
6. First class at 8:30 meaning I ate for about five minutes.
7. Left class at 10 and came back to my cell, no updates.
8. Went to lecture at 11, then over to Sander’s theater for a lecture at noon. Listened to an inane speech that I later summarized in five minutes. He interpreted about 12 clear, well-labeled graphs that-we-had-copies-of for us. Because you know Harvard kids just can’t read graphs.
9. Went to eat again after lecture, trying to beat the 500+ person rush.
10. Came back to my room at about 1:45, packed up some things, no real word yet.
11. 2:00 – 4:00 I had two sections for AP Government (I mean gov-30) and Hist of US Capitalism. I was outspoken. Adamant. Quite notably, I also managed to be awake.
More or less my day…





Harvard is .. Empty?

3 03 2007

So quiet outside, such a nice day





As I Read On And On About Slavery

27 02 2007

Quote from somewhere in the Internets …

Shouldn’t “African Americans” be apologizing for slavery as well, being their ancestors in Africa sold one another to the white slave traders? As for me, none of my ancestors owned slaves so I am offended by this apology cr**! And instead of whining about the past, people should be thankful they were born in and live in this country…they could be in Africa had it not been for slavery, and some of them wouldn’t have even been born had their ancestors not been brought over here. Think about it….the only people in this country who have a right to complain are the American Indians. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

When I can find the time, I will try to put together my particular views on individualism, multiculturalism, and the American creed (or ethos).

Fields

“Energy propagating in a fluctuating way,” I hear, “It moves, feels,” no I mishear, “in fields.”

The girl in front of me is taking notes. She has the chapter highlighted already. Her penmanship is girly, but it has a precision, a fixed dedication. There is a persistence in her writing, she is fervently managing to ignore the lecture.

“Electromagnetic waves; the speed is constant is equal to c, three times ten to the what is it class? Eight. To the eighth meters per second. One and a half seconds to get to the moon, one and a half to get back.”

I think about synaptic transmission and how it pales in comparison to light speed. I think about her penmanship, the curls and swirls, and I imagine that the distance to the moon might one day not be so great.

A prose-poem below:

A Story,

I want to turn this relationship inside out, I want to make it all end, break your heart into pieces on the floor.

Why

Because it’s been months

Of this, of constant bickering, but I’m fine, I’m happy – I love you and you want it to go away.

Currently working on a short-story about a girl named Deborah





A Good Conversation

23 02 2007

Last night at about this time of night a man chose to end his life in a way Tolstoy might have envisioned; he flung his body into or under an oncoming Red Line train. The man, probably middle-aged probably depressed, found some reason surely for it, and committed himself. Above the Harvard T stop was a crowd of police and frustrated subway riders who found themselves confused as to why the trains (for some surely pedestrian reason) were being turned around at Harvard.

Today I sat down to dinner and next to me was certainly a surreal conversation emerging between two freshmen, a boy and a girl. The conversation was more or less:

Boy: “Men are the worst beings imaginable. Their actions constitute the vast majority of suffering throughout history, being a particularly aggressive and irrational race.”

Girl: “I agree.”

Boy: “Furthermore, women did so much for the human race. They were the ones who developed language. While men think about sex 97% of the time, women are more balanced.”

Girl: “The thing is I’ve never met a guy who doesn’t think about sex. Quite honestly, if I could meet a guy who was sensitive, and such”

Boy: “They’re out there yes, but that three percent completely blur the larger problem. While there are a few good men, most are by design imperfect subject to the confusions of the male gender. These inadequacies or deficiencies or what-have-you is subverted today into discussions of the id, or in saying that a superego transcends our society, or that some unconscious tendencies are the sum causal explanations to atrocities in our time.”

From atrocities he shifted to genocide, first Rwanda and then to how Holocaust survivors should counsel the Rwandan survivors. Then he shifted to commiting mass genocide on, quite logically, the male gender as a sort of compensatory gesture for what has happened in the course of human history.

Boy: “Women could, with the technology today, harvest men for their sperm and kill them, continuing genetic diversity but reducing the amount of hatred and violence in the world.”