Complexity of Presidential Speeches

Cool analysis on complexity of Presidential speeches by Vocativ, using the Fleisch-Kincaid reading level score. I’m currently reading 1776 by David McCullough and I’m reminded at just how high brow the discourse was in the era of the Founding Fathers.

Smart takeaway is that the downward trend over the years is more attributed to the wider, more diverse audience of the voting public compared to rich, educated, land-owning, white men at the nation’s founding.


Congrats to John and Rosie!

Last weekend Chrissy and I attended the lovely wedding of our friends John and Rosie.

Chrissy and John were Apple summer interns back in 2007, and I first met John when Chrissy invited me to a game watching party at his house (Stanford vs USC). Must have been 2009. I remembered that John a) he complimented my guacamole and b) liked the same music I liked. We became good friends — I credit him for introducing me to so much good music (Delorean, CHVRCHES, Antlers, etc.). Fast forward, he was roommates with Chrissy in San Francisco and myself when I moved in.  Great roommate! Saved us so many times taking care of the dog when we got home late, and one time went out of his way to go buy bread at Tartine to take back to my family before Thanksgiving because I couldn’t make it home before closing.

I met Rosie for the first time at at Bon Iver concert at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. She was a grad student there, doing her Ph.D in mechanical engineering. John and Rosie were both undergraduates at Stanford and were part of the Stanford Solar Car team together. I still smile when I think about her effect on John.  Incredibly sweet and incredibly smart, she expanded John’s experiences. Every weekend I’d hear about another great outing with those two.

I’m so happy for both of them and wish them all the best for the years to come! Congrats!

Sapana taking it to the N&O

My sister Sapana had a letter published in yesterday’s News & Observer newspaper (the local paper for Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, NC). In it, she takes the N&O editorial board to task for their lazy journalism in profiling US Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) compared to the firebrand Republican Speaker of the (State) House Tom Tillis.

In her bestseller “Lean In,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg notes that the typical media narrative of a woman who succeeds in a field dominated by men focuses on external factors, such as the assistance she received from (usually) male colleagues or family members. In stark contrast, a man who climbs the ranks in the same field is hailed as a capable “natural leader” whose charisma and exceptional qualities earned him his position.

Way to go, Sapana.

Chaos came early this season

I can’t remember a week in college football quite like the one that wrapped up yesterday:

  • #2 Oregon loses to unranked Arizona
  • #3 Alabama loses to #13 Ole Miss
  • #4 Oklahoma loses to #25 TCU
  • #6 Texas A&M loses to #12 Mississippi State
  • #8 UCLA loses to unranked Utah
  • #16 USC loses to unranked Arizona State
  • #17 Wisconsin loses to unranked Northwestern
  • #18 BYU loses to unranked Utah State

#9 Notre Dame squeaked out a win against my #15 Stanford. This was one hurt. Both teams were slugging it out in cold, rainy conditions showcasing some of the league’s best defenses. However, Notre Dame scored their winning touchdown with 61 seconds left on a blown coverage by Stanford. Our linebacker went into the flat, but the safety didn’t pick up the receiver like he should have, leaving the Notre Dame wide receiver wide open in the end zone for an easy pass. I would rather get beat by 20+ points than to lose by a single blown play.

And NC State? Well….they lost  0-41 against an unranked Clemson team. This just one week after leading the #1 team in the country through 3 quarters. C’mon Pack, you gotta win an ACC game sometime!

The Hollow Allure of Wall St.

Michael Lewis writing in a recent Bloomberg op-ed:

Technology entrepreneurship will never have the power to displace big Wall Street banks in the central nervous system of America’s youth, in part because tech entrepreneurship requires the practitioner to have an original idea…but also because entrepreneurship doesn’t offer the sort of people who wind up at elite universities what a lot of them obviously crave: status certainty.

I remember being slack jawed when reading about on the staggering number of Ivy League graduates who go to Wall Street. Vox featured an interview by Ezra Klein of Kevin Roose which sheds light as to how Wall St firms accomplish this, and how Silicon Valley compares.

Reza Aslan destroys dim-witted CNN anchors

This is a must-see. Reza Aslan intellectually destroys two dim-witted CNN anchors on the issue of how the mass media portrays Islam.

It’s like you see almost see the moment that they start to realize their naively constructed world view begins to crack.

Following this clip, I quickly looked up a sampling of population numbers for Muslim majority countries:
Saudi Arabia: 29M
Iran: 75M
Iraq: 34M
Syria: 23M
Afghanistan: 31M
Arab Subtotal: 192M
Pakistan: 182M
Total: 374M

Total number followers of Islam: 1.6B (Wikipedia)
% those countries listed above represent: ~25%.

Yet, as Aslan suggests, the US mass media (and these CNN anchors) can’t shake the idea that they want to portray the actions of those countries as representative of the “common place” of life in Muslim countries.

True Detective

Chrissy and I are halfway through HBO’s True Detective, and so far it’s proved to be the most intriguing and remarkable television show I’ve seen in the past few years.

The story follows Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as a pair of detectives who are interviewed in 2012 about their investigation of a dark, ritualistic murder in the Louisana Bayou seventeen years ago in 1995.


The acting of the two leads in the show — McConaughey in particular — is absolutely stunning, and is fitting of the richly detailed characters they play. The dialogue & writing is surprisingly articulate, sharp, and deep, and the cinematography intense and deliberate. The starked contrast between the 1995 and 2012 versions of McConaughey’s character, and how he brings such utter certainty to both, is a sight to behold.

The result is a show that utterly grabs you and sucks you into its world.

Hong Kong Protests (and shame on US News)

Throughout the day on Sunday, news of massive protests in Hong Kong dominated by Twitter and Google News feeds. There are massive democracy protests going on in Hong Kong, primarily led by youth and student groups. Beijing is enforcing its rule on Hong Kong, and the people of that important city are largely chafing under such heavy handedness.

Tens of thousands of protestors occupied major thoroughfares and blockaged government buildings for much of the evening. The images that flooded by Twitter feed evoked Tahrir Square from Egypt.



Finally, police fired tear gas and used force to remove protestors.



Of course, leave it to the major US broadcast news to barely cover this story. As of Sunday evening, the NBC News and ABC News websites had no mention of the protests, and CBS News  just had 1 story visible after you’ve scrolled down 3 pages. ABC News deserves particular scorn for favoring to report such hard hitting news above the fold like: “What’s next for Derek Jeter?”, “George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin’s Wedding: Other Celebs Who Wed in Italy”, and “American Idol Judge Randy Jackson Loses on Sale of LA Home”.

Embarassing, but expected.

a thought, a spark