The Winding Road of European History

This was my final paper for my European Civilizations class, discussing what I learned over the the course of the quarter.

It is very tempting to view the history of European civilization as a relentless progression towards a perfect society. This temptation is particularly strong for those of us here in the United States, a nation whose own founding document begins, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” This ‘more perfect union’ is envisioned as the natural successor an uninterrupted line of societies dating back to biblical times, from Moses to Jesus to Rome, through to modern Europe and across the Atlantic to the New World. This view, however, is not an accurate assessment of ‘how we got here today’, since it ignores the very parts of history that were responsible for shaping the meaning of a ‘civilized European society’.

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Behind the Curtain

Some people are just born to be on stage. They thrive when the bright lights are bright and focused on them. They draw their energy and motivation from all the eyes upon them. I’m not one of those people. I prefer it when I’m doing everything behind the curtain – that’s not to say I don’t thrive under pressure or anything, but I do my best work when nobody’s looking directly at me. When there are no expectations.

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The Day After

The day after is always really hard for me. I have a great day, go to sleep with a smile on my face, and then wake up. And I wake up with absolutely no motivation to go out and experience the new day.

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An OSS Education

So, as I’m sure you can see from the slide behind me, my name is Samuel Giddins. Normally, I’d start a talk by saying where I work, and the projects I contribute to outside of work. But today, that would ruin the surprise, since I’ll be talking about how I got to be here, standing on a stage at AltConf, talking to y'all.

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I'm Twenty

I know it might come as a shock, but I’m actually twenty years old. This is a fact that I do my best to ignore most of the time, but the past week has shown me there’s been a cost to that. You see, a typical twenty year old is in college, probably working a job on campus in between attending lectures, inviting themselves to parties, and doing countless hours of homework. That life was certainly a lot more familiar to me at nineteen, before I took a year’s leave of absence to work full-time in San Fransisco. Eight months into my tenure in San Fransisco, and eleven months after I drove away from my dorm at the end of my first year at UChicago, I’m ready to take stock of what, exactly, this experience has done to me.

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