The first thing I said was, ‘I knew it, I knew it…He’s a monster. He’s the opposite of what people thought he was.
Fernando Colon, speaking to the Times, weighs in on neighbor Ariel Castro and the harrowing details emerging in the case of three women discovered to have been held in a Cleveland home for upwards of 10 years.latimes)
[Sources: Gallup; Natoli et al., Prenatal Diagnosis, Feb. 2012]
Why Study History?
Stanford University History Building
I was very surprised and delighted to open Hacker News today and see this in the top stories:
As someone who spent over $200k (or at least had as many money paid on my behalf) on a history diploma I figured I had better know the answer to this question. I found the article to be pretty simplistic and a little gushy after the first read, but after some reflection I’ve realized exactly how precious my education is history is in my daily life.
Everyone knows that there are only two legitimate applications for a history major: teaching and law school. I was still under the naive impression that being a lawyer was like living an episode of Law and Order or Suits until I realized that: (a) I’ll never be Jack McCoy (b) the paralegals are nowhere near as hot as they are on Suits. Seriously, the principle donor for a special scholarship that I received from Stanford and former university general counsel Mike Roster authored several articles and spoke at numerous conferences about an impending bubble in law (particularly in the salaries of first years). I saw what was happening in the financial sector and decided to read the writing on the wall and so, in my sophomore year decided to abandon the career choice that I had been preparing for.
Wanna be a lawyer? Full disclosure, paralegals don’t look like this
I still had plenty of time to change my major to any of a number of degrees that would improve my job prospects, and I considered them all. Truth be told, I’m not naturally a good fit for the degree: I’m dyslexic and read very slowly, I’m very opinionated and creative (creativity is not a quality most historians would consider a merit), and I will sometimes just fudge details if it makes the story I’m telling better. But my time in the department had allowed me to interact with some of the most brilliant historical minds in the world: Jack Rakove, David Kennedy, Richard White, my adviser Jessica Riskin, etc.. This advantage on top of the fact that I had fallen in love with the history corner (especially sneaking their late at night to smoke and watch movies on the projectors) was important at the time, but I didn’t realize the true benefits until much later.
Attending college in Silicon Valley, it was only a matter of time before I was swept up in the tidal wave of entrepreneurial spirit and decided that I would be taking my talents to North Beach (actually Hayes Valley but that just sounded too cool not to say) and start my own company focused on developing a new age music player for Android and iOS. Excuse me? Go back to that part where you were a history major and decided to start a tech company… WTF? That’s the reaction that I have been getting for years now. What most people can’t seem to understand is how my history degree has benefited me in my career as a designer and front-end engineer. A lot of these points are touched on in the article that prompted this post and I won’t beat a dead horse, but I will try and summarize:
1. Handling EvidenceOne of the most important qualities of a historian is the ability to discern the reliability and objectiveness of the sources that we handle. Unlike mathematicians or engineers, historians evidence is collected through very subjective (non-scientific) methods, and separating the objective “truths” from their human context is the most arduous task. For this reason we, historians, are the ones who read all of the footnotes at the end of the book, or read conflicting accounts of what is presented to better determine the objectivity of the source.
2. A fresh take on old ideasOne of the first lessons that I learned as a history major was that if you think you have something interesting to say, it has already been said a thousand times. How then are you supposed to make novel and insightful contributions in a field when bright minds have been at work for centuries? This is the challenge that excited me the most about History as a subject. For this reason, I am immensely proud of the papers that I wrote.
3. Everything is obvious
Finally, a historical perspective allows you to take a wide angle view of problems and challenges when you approach them. When I am under a lot of pressure to get something huge done and feel that I don’t have the resources or skills to execute it puts me at ease to think back to the many people who have accomplished a great feat largely thought to be impossible at the time. My music start-up set out to reinvent the iPod, and it was a big part of our pitch to remind potential investors and hires about how the iPod came out of nowhere to dominate the market, and how such a small thing catapulted Apple into the world’s most valuable company.
Today, I spend most of my time between Unix and Photoshop and at times even wonder how in the world a degree in history has prepared me for any of this. But something about searching Stack Overflow for a solution through mountains of conflicting solutions reminds me of all those nights spent late in the library searching thousands of pages for one sentence that is going to prove my thesis. When I’m in a meeting with a client and they ask me what’s special about my technology I flash back to my seminar classes while I (without thinking) rattle off the history of the entire industry and why this is the future. I could go on and on about how my degree has helped me in my daily life but I would recommend you reading the article. I only share my two cents because I hope that there is some high school senior or college freshman out there who loves history but still wants to be employed when they graduate.
A story about Kobe Bryant, as told by a professional trainer who worked with Bryant this past Summer, for the Olympics:
I’ve been a professional athletic trainer for about 16 years and have been able to work with a range of athletes from the high school to professional level. Right now I run in a clinic in Cincinnati and have most recently been training with some players on the Bengals.
I activated my reddit account just a moment ago and because I’ve been seeing the videos of Kobe’s most recent dunks and the comments you guys have had to share I decided I might as well chime in what I know about the man. And let me just state by saying that this story doesn’t touch on anything we don’t know about Kobe but rather that he simply is not human when he is working on his craft.
I was invited to Las Vegas this past Summer to help Team USA with their conditioning before they head off to London, and as we know they would eventually bring home the Gold (USA). I’ve had the opportunity to work with Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade in the past but this would be my first interaction with Kobe. We first met three days before the first scrimmage, on the day of the first practice, early July. It was a brief conversation where we talked about conditioning, where he would like to be by the end of the Summer, and we talked a little bit about the hustle of the Select Team. Then he got my number and I let him know that if he ever wanted some extra training he could hit me up any time.
The night before the first scrimmage I remember I was just watched “Casablanca” for the first time and it was about 3:30 AM. I lay in bed, slowly fading away when I hear my cell ring. It was Kobe. I nervously picked up.
“Hey, uhh Rob, I hope I’m not disturbing anything right?”
“Uhh no, what’s up Kob?”
“Just wondering if you could just help me out with some conditioning work, that’s all.”
I checked my clock. 4:15 AM.
“Yeah sure, I’ll see you in the facility in a bit.”
It took me about twenty minutes to get my gear and out of the hotel. When I arrived and opened the room to the main practice floor I saw Kobe. Alone. He was drenched in sweat as if he had just taken a swim. It wasn’t even 5AM.
We did some conditioning work for the next hour and fifteen minutes. Then we entered the weight room, where he would do a multitude of strength training exercises for the next 45 minutes. After that we parted ways and he went back to the practice floor to shoot. I went back to the hotel and crashed. Wow.
I was expected to be at the floor again at about 11 AM. I woke up feeling sleepy, drowsy, and almost pretty much every side effect of sleep deprivation. Thanks, Kobe. I had a bagel and headed to the practice facility.
This next part I remember very vividly. All the Team USA players were there, feeling good for the first scrimmage. LeBron was talking to Carmelo if I remember correctly and Coach Krzyzewski was trying to explain something to Kevin Durant. On the right side of the practice facility was Kobe by himself shooting jumpers. And this is how our next conversation went — I went over to him, patted him on the back and said, “Good work this morning.”
“Like, the conditioning. Good work.”
“Oh. Yeah, thanks Rob. I really appreciate it.”
“So when did you finish?”
“Getting your shots up. What time did you leave the facility?”
“Oh just now. I wanted 800 makes so yeah, just now.”
My jaw dropped. Mother of holy God. It was then that I realized that there’s no surprise to why he’s been as effective as he was last season. Every story about his dedication, every quote that he’s said about hard work all came together and hit me like a train. It’s no surprise to me now that he’s dunking on players ten years younger than him and it wasn’t a surprise to me earlier this year when he led the league in scoring.
Thanks for reading and allowing me to share you my Kobe Bryant story. If anyone has any questions I can clarify. Sorry if the story was at all hard to follow as this is my first time on reddit.
The FuelBand by Nike, which has become an unlikely leader in wearable computing.
As design continues to gain recognition as a necessary ingredient to consumer success, the massive competitive edge that Apple had built during the Steve Jobs era appears to have dwindled more quickly than anyone could have predicted. It’s not that Apple has completely plummeted, its that a digital renaissance is taking place, and the leaders are graduating from places like RISD and Stanford’s D-School. Rest assured, the web is becoming a beautiful thing.
“We’re on the tail end of technology being special,” says John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design. “The automobile was a weird alien technology when it first debuted, then, after a while, it evolved and designers stepped in to add value to it.” …
The worship of design has also taken designers out of the back offices and into top executive jobs. Engineers are still in the mix, to be sure. But they don’t rule the roost in product development, which may also be why tech products are easier to use, more human.