Vincent Tran

I'm currently a freshman to UChicago who's aspiring to be a mathematician. I'll be documenting my journey for future ideas, reference, and self-reflection/analysis. I'll also be blogging about my philosophy and other assorted things. #100Days Daily Streak Length: 100

Nietzche's The Genealogy of Morality

This isn't just going to be a book review, since I have Library Thing now. Instead, this is my interpretation of his philosophy and how it relates to my own philosophy. Still though, it is eloquent, profound, and enlightening. I would strongly recommend reading it—my writing style won't be close to emulating his. Be prepared to have your vocabulary tested though. Ontology The first key idea in how Nietzsche thinks is how he thinks of actions. To him, there is no such thing as an "independent" ...
Read post

Optimism and Idealism

I read an article defending the BSD license for open-source software and it got me thinking about the relation between optimism and idealism. Basically, the BSD and GPL are copyright licenses for open-source code that differ in that BSD allows for anyone to share new programs using that code without releasing the changes, while GPL legally requires you to share the changes, i.e. if I made some modifications to Wordpress (GPL) and release it publicly, I'm legally obliged to share the changes I ma...
Read post

FIrst Math Update in UChicago

There are a lot of math majors here! Honors analysis has been alright. Prof Wilkinson is a great professor, but the class is organized a bit weirdly. First off, she isn't using Rudin, which is the classic and canonical text for learning undergrad real analysis from. Instead, she is using Pugh's book, who was her thesis advisor. The book is a bit unconventional in that it treats topology as very subservant to the analysis. Instead of learning things in the typical perspective towards topology (i....
Read post

Orientation Week part 2

Day 5 W day. I slept in, although in doing so, I missed a hike through Chicago (idk if I could even walk that much anyways so...). At ~11, I went to a bookstore with the English-Math major, who I'll call E, and one of her friends. The book store was nice in that they sold used books for quite cheap. I couldn't find the books on the reading list for my class, but I bought a different book. It was an anthropological look at creativity. I was wowed by how passionate E was for reading. She reads so...
Read post

Orientation Week part 1

Day 1 My move in was kinda disappointing. At around 10, I wanted my family to go to Millenium Park for them to see the famous bean thing. But my dad kept resisting going, claiming that we had to go to campus to move in. My move in appointment was at 2. We ended up not going. Then we went to some suburban asian supermarket, where I got the wonderful experience of hearing my parents profess their love for suburbia /s (I hate the suburbs—they're so devoid of life and are so selfish). My mom also s...
Read post

How to Use RSS

What is RSS and why should I use it? RSS is a software protocal used to retrieve news/updates. So think Apple News or the Google News Feed. The primary difference is that you add your own feeds and getting news is pretty much all it does. So while it is a little bit more work to manage your feed, this allows for you to create a less biased feed. Any corporation wants to keep you on their app for as long as possible. So they will tend to collect data and personalize feeds. To quote the Apple New...
Read post

PROMYS Year 3

I got back from another summer at PROMYS last week. A really quick summary of my experience was that it was a lot of fun, maybe even too much. Let me explain: I had a ton of fun this year hanging out with friends and meeting new people, but the math was honestly underwhelming. This year the advanced seminars were on Modular Forms, Primes and Zeta Functions, and Algebra. I didn't do Algebra, since I figured I already knew a lot of the material (it also happened to be low-quality, in the sense of...
Read post

Review of Beautiful World Where Are You

★★.5☆☆ (the half-star unicode symbol isn't working for me 😭) This book is pretty mid. The writing style is strangely homogeneous considering there's dialogue between different characters. The themes of the book seem pretty overt and explicit to me, but it is integrated cleanly into the story. The plot is about 4 pretty depressed people finding romance and the "beautiful world" that has been absent in their lives up to that point. But this theme isn't a super big focus of the novel as interperso...
Read post

Senior Year Review

It probably won't sink in until I'm in Chicago, but I don't feel like I'm a high school graduate. My year's been a lot of fun. I got into my top college through early decision, so I was just done after the first semester. This plus easy classes just made life so chill. One of my recently had the good idea of doing circle times with our friends to get closer with them before leaving for college. Personally I feel like a lot of my friendships are pretty surface level, so these were a good oppor...
Read post

My Speech

Here's a text copy of my speech (and a video is here: https://www.youtube.com/@hebcenteratcedarpark) As raiders, we’re no strangers to love: the love for our community, friends, and family. But you know the rules and so do I: you can’t put the community too far above yourself. This balance between serving the community and serving yourself is important to keep in mind as y’all move forward into your careers. Sure, the CEO of Exxon may make a lot of money for themself, but is it really worth it?...
Read post

Book Tracking

I am using librarything.com to track my books/read list/reviews. Here's my profile: https://www.librarything.com/profile/vincenttran ...
Read post

Review of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Incredible. I choose this book expecting a dive into ideas about intellectual beauty, but was pleasantly surprised. The characters are so, so interesting, the plot is unique and well-executed, and the writing is fantastic. I don't know how it happened, but Wilde somehow makes hedonism beautiful and intellectual. For context, I hate hedonism, so this is really impressive. The characters are perfect for the story: Henry is the immoral "devil" while Basil is the moral "angel" on Dorian's shoulder. ...
Read post

Review of Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

I really liked Cat's Cradle. The book works well on two levels: as a book and as a message. The plot and story are interesting in its own right. But there is also a deep message behind it all. Balancing the two is a difficult task 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘕𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩. It's a satire, but I don't think it's a "haha" satire. It mostly uses irony to convey the message. To be honest, on my first read through it, I felt that there was a very deep message that I simply wasn't getting. I used Spark Notes to ...
Read post

Book Rankings

(obviously not complete as of yet) The Great Gatsby Ender's Game Exhalation (the collection of short stories) The Hunger Artist The Picture of Dorian Gray big difference Cat's Cradle Stories of Your Life and Others Recursion Crime and Punishment The Martian The Dark Forest World War Z Brave New World Sapiens Guns Germs and Steel Nausea (first half really holds this book back) Siddhartha Fahrenheit 451 Beautiful World Where Are You 1984 ...
Read post

Review of Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

This book was pretty mediocre. It was very repetitive: it simply seemed like Siddhartha "learned" something, then realized it was bad, then "learned" more stuff constantly. Admittedly, this parallels most plots, but in this book it felt particularly pronounced in that Siddhartha's speech repeats itself a lot after each "enlightenment", an especially obvious one is the spamming of asyndetons (i.e. excluding the last and in a list). I think the best way to describe it was that it did too much tel...
Read post

Religion and Morality

Just a random thought I had the other day: the contrast between organized religion and unorganized is similar to Kohlberg's stages of moral development. I've used this psychology concept/theory before, so I guess I'm a believer in it, but it basically says that as we develop, our moral reasoning moves from looking at the direct external consequences of it (1-2); to looking at what society will think of it (3-4); to an abstract, more universal sense of goodness (5-6). People are obliged to belie...
Read post

Chainsaw Man Review

I thought this anime was pretty good, definitely above average. I'll keep this spoiler free. I think that the non-Denji characters are pretty interesting. I like how we are kept in secret of Makima's powers and how she keeps control of her power even within the organization (she blindfolds even devil hunters): very in line with her controlling personality. Power is also just very funny—the way she talks cracks me up so much. It's also wholesome to see her bond with Denji form so well (even desp...
Read post

Death Note Review

OK so I watched Death Note quite a while ago, but I'm reviewing it for a friend. I'm going to keep it spoiler free for him. I thought it was very good. The story was very uniformly tense—it feels like Light is just constantly one slip-up away from getting caught. A good example of this (and one of my favorite episodes) is when another character starts to solve the mystery. They were intelligent, but not just intelligent but had their own backstory demonstrating it. She was also just in her caus...
Read post

Thoughts on UChicago

I figured I'd share my thoughts on aspects of UChicago: Things I really like -free speech emphasis -intellectual culture -core, hum/sosc classes based on Great Books program -Unique, school-defining traditions replacing sports as a source of school spirit and pride (Scav, HvZ, Kuvia, bagpipe procession etc. etc.) [Less about school defining and more about no sports] -lots and lots of grad students around -basically no engineering -Theoretical, rather than professional, oriented academics -Very ...
Read post

UChicago Essays

Since I got in, I figured I'd upload the essays I used. Prompt: How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago. I’m a person who really dislikes closed-mindedness. My parents, as immigrants, were inexperienced with the nuances of English, creating a struggle for me to communicate particularly complex and thorny ideas to them...
Read post

College Update

I got into my top choice (UChicago)!!🎉🎉🎉🎉 I applied ED, so I'm done with college apps now!🎉 What a relief. ...
Read post

PROMYS

So this is extremely late, but I wanted to make a post talking about my time this summer at the math camp PROMYS. For a bit of context, this was my second year doing this camp, but it was my first time in-person as last year was virtual. Overall, it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot of interesting math. PROMYS gives a lot of freedom to the campers, so it was a lot of fun to get to hang out with friends that I made virtually irl. NGL I wish I did a daily post instead of trying to remember it a...
Read post

One Punch Man Review

I really liked OPM. Its writing is so well executed, despite it being traditional in structure: exposition to a climax. The struggle of the weak (relative to Saitama) characters keep us on our toes and wondering what will actually happen. They execute this struggle really well, which makes Saitama one-punching the enemy that much more anti-climatic and revealing of his power. For example, one of the scenes with Mumen rider nearly made me cry (for context I really rarely cry at movies; I don't ev...
Read post

Komi Can't Communicate Review

I try not to spoil anything here: This anime is very cute. The animation, the scenarios, it's all very heart-warming. Tadano is such a perfect match for Komi. Most of the other characters are pretty annoying though. Literally the vast, vast majority of interactions between Komi and classmates are just the classmates simping hard for Komi. But ig it makes sense in universe, since the students of the high school are selected to be abnormal. Although Yamai is abnormally abnormal. Like she literally...
Read post

Science Fell in Love Review

I recently watched the first season of Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove It. I think the science of the show was pretty dumb. For instance, a fourth year undergrad in science and grad students should definitely know what a control group and complex/prime numbers is/are. They should also know about unnecessary precision. This also might be too philosophical, but the goal of the first few episodes is also dubious. They measure things, but don't doubt that it actually corresponds to "love"....
Read post

A Dream

I don't dream very often, but today while I was in the library for my off period, I took a nap and dreamt. It was unusual in that it was a complex one too. This will make sense later, but the Standard Notes app recently released a new update that makes the UX really bad, so I uninstalled it. So the first thing that happened in the dream was that I headed out of the library to office aid, my flex period for that day. But in the cafeteria, there was a science fair, and apparently I needed to help...
Read post

Class Tier Lists

I've taken a bunch of ap classes/tests, so ig my opinion has some weight. Here is my tier list for least meritocratic (A to the left is very productive to study for): https://drive.google.com/file/d/10KdGdi4B0NszdbNSLFSnkFZBPAUfHaw0/view?usp=sharing notes: I equated all the ap arts, ap languages, most of the social studies (except macro is very straightforward/regurgitation-y, and I assume micro is too) in the same category. If you want to know about the amount of homework, leave a comment in t...
Read post

The Sell Out

Push, Push, Puuush, I'm born TAG, skipping classes, AP credits, summer classes I zooom through education Proud - a degree in math To quant I go I work; 6 figs from the get go I die. More concretely, I can imagine something being born, joining TAG (a program at my school that (if placed in TAG math) you up 2 grades in math and groups together other TAG kids—it's kinda like an "honors" program). Then they could skip a grade in elementary or middle school (ik someone who did this) and then farm s...
Read post

Sartre's "The Look"

I have recently learned about Jean Paul Sartre's idea of "The Look", and it kinda bothered me. Sartre's thought experiment was to imagine a person who was just stuck to a door - looking through the peep hole and listening in. They're just watching, expecting something to happen, but then they hear a creaking noise behind them. They suddenly realize that other people exist. In general, imagine you were some being with no interaction (real or imagined) with other people. Thus you wouldn't use word...
Read post

A Poem Blackouted from Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye"

Blackouting a poem is when you take a piece of existing text, and blackout text from it to create your own text. Here is one I tried to imbue with meaning and made in English a few days ago (grammar slightly edited), as best I can recall it. It had begun with Christmas Mother wanted me great pleasure It resisted my flesh. I had only one desire to find Beauty "Here" they said, this is beauty: love it was dying rusty sawdust Grown people frowned What's the matter with you?...
Read post