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James Lee | In search of more than a flashcard education

(11/20/17 4:08am)

I’m the kind of person who can’t read stuff on a screen for an extended period of time, so I print out most of my readings assigned for class from Canvas. Considering my two majors in philosophy, politics, and economics and English, this means that I spend a good amount of time struggling with jammed staplers and despairing at how expensive toner cartridges are. It also means that by the end of a semester, I end up with a huge stack of paper for each class.

James Lee | The problem with carpe diem

(11/06/17 3:44am)

I often find myself conflicted by what I call “carpe diem” articles, pieces that criticize the mundaneness of everyday life or some other aspect of collective society and instead urge the reader to find happiness in small things. This seems to be a recurring theme especially at Penn, where various columnists, including myself, have come to write about the idea from different perspectives. More specifically, these pieces tend to focus on  — and usually criticize — Penn’s overly pre-professional culture or hyper-competitiveness. They usually call for us to step back and enjoy life more. Don’t care so much about that internship, it’s ok to get a B-plus, and so on.

James Lee | The regressive nature of progressive stacking

(10/23/17 3:18am)

Like many, I first encountered the idea of progressive stacking through the recent case of a Penn Ph.D. student who employed it in a recitation for a history course. The technique seems to refer to a general system of prioritization that gives preference to minority groups when deciding who gets to speak first. In this particular case, the instructor, Stephanie McKellop, tweeted, "I will always call on my Black women students first. Other POC [people of color] get second tier priority. WW [white women] come next. And, if I have to, white men.”

James Lee | On the end of the beginning

(09/11/17 2:08am)

As I begin my last year at Penn, the world seems filled with more uncertainty than ever. I spent my summer working and hoping that the words of an incompetent president on the other side of the world didn’t begin a nuclear war in my country. The recent tragic events around the globe including those in Charlottesville, Va., Barcelona and Turku, Ukraine deepen an ongoing sense of fear, instability and entropy. Things fall apart — the center cannot hold.

James Lee | Look up, stay rooted

(08/28/17 12:09am)

Change is the only constant. We hear this often in today’s world and understand it on some level, but rarely do we consider the saying in the context of our personal selves. While we know that we change, such transformation generally occurs too gradually for us to get a sense of it while it’s happening. But as I near the end of my Penn education, I can’t help but begin to reflect on my time here and the effects it has had on me as a person and as a student.

James Lee | Hate the player, hate the game

(03/13/17 1:46am)

I went through a phase growing up when I was really into the saying “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” I’m not sure where I first picked it up, but it had just the right amounts of flippant attitude and pseudo-profundity that young James was really into. So I said it a lot. Like annoying a lot. In situations when it didn’t really make all that much sense.

James Lee | Humans still need the humanities

(02/27/17 3:00am)

Much has been said and written about Penn’s pre-professional culture, but to me it seems like an inevitable and natural product of Ben Franklin’s emphasis on a practical education. Indeed, three of Penn’s four undergraduate schools are pre-professional in nature, and even within the College, one finds a considerable number of pre-law or pre-med students who are pursuing a particular cursus honorum.