With the fall semester imminent, and by popular request, I figured I’d do another Ask Me Anything (see here for the previous editions). This one has a special focus: I’m looking for questions from readers who consider themselves members of groups that have historically been underrepresented in the Shtetl-Optimized comments section. Besides the “obvious”—e.g., women and underrepresented ethnic groups—other examples might include children, traditionally religious people, jocks, liberal-arts majors… (but any group that includes John Sidles is probably not an example). If I left out your group, please go ahead and bring it to my and your fellow readers’ attention!
My overriding ideal in life—what is to me as Communism was to Lenin, as Frosted Flakes are to Tony the Tiger—is people of every background coming together to discover and debate universal truths that transcend their backgrounds. So few things have ever stung me more than accusations of being a closed-minded ivory-tower elitist white male nerd etc. etc. Anyway, to anyone who’s ever felt excluded here for whatever reason, I hope this AMA will be taken as a small token of goodwill.
Similar rules apply as to my previous AMAs:
- Only one question per person.
- No multi-part questions, or questions that require me to read a document or watch a video and then comment on it.
- Questions need not have anything to do with your underrepresented group (though they could). Math, science, futurology, academic career advice, etc. are all fine. But please be courteous; anything gratuitously nosy or hostile will be left in the moderation queue.
- I’ll stop taking further questions most likely after 24 hours (I’ll post a warning before closing the thread).
Update (Sep. 6): For anyone from the Boston area, or planning to visit it, I have an important piece of advice. Do not ever, under any circumstances, attempt to visit Walden Pond, and tell everyone you know to stay away. After we spent 40 minutes driving there with a toddler, the warden literally screamed at us to go away, that the park was at capacity. It wasn’t an issue of parking: even if we’d parked elsewhere, we just couldn’t go. Exceptions were made for the people in front of us, but not for us, the ones with the 2-year-old who’d been promised her weekend outing would be to meet her best friend at Walden Pond. It’s strangely fitting that what for Thoreau was a place of quiet contemplation, is today purely a site of overcrowding and frustration.
Another Update: OK, no new questions please, only comments on existing questions! I’ll deal with the backlog later today. Thanks to everyone who contributed.