Archive for September, 2007

Do You Know the Soulja Boy Dance?

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

I’ve noticed that in general, rap songs that have dance moves associated with them end up being more popular – Lean Back, Pop, Lock and Drop it, 1,2 Step, and others. One of the newest hip-hop dance songs on the scene is Soulja Boy’s – “Crank That (Soulja Boy)”, which returned to the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Crank That” (wp) has a dance associated with it, some might call it snap music, and a quick youtube search of “Soulja Boy dance” returns 5,400 video results of people demonstrating their version of the dance. I personally know of two athletic teams who have choreographed and performed dances based on the song as well. I’ll leave with you some dance videos, so you’ll be able to bust out the Soulja Boy dance at the next frat party. Cheers.

Photowalk with Robert Scoble and Thomas Hawk: Monday, Oct. 1

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

I’m organizing a photowalk around campus with super-bloggers Robert Scoble and Thomas Hawk next Monday, October 1. Basically, we’ll walk around campus together taking photos of whatever strikes our fancy. Everyone’s invited, just bring your camera — point-and-shoot, Polaroid, digital SLR, lomo, cameraphone, pinhole, or whatever strikes your fancy.
We’ll be meeting in the Main Quad at 4pm. Tom Seligman, Director of the Cantor Art Center, will be on hand to talk about campus art. Gabe Hoffmann from the Hybrid Systems Lab will show off an autonomous robotic helicopter. Other stops on the photowalk will include MemChu, the Rodin Sculpture Garden, Bio-X, and the New Guinea Sculpture Garden.
At 7:30pm, we’ll head over to Kresge Auditorium to catch the free Aurora Forum / National Geographic panel discussion entitled Making Connections: Photographic Storytellers from around the World: “The National Geographic Society’s All Roads Film Project recognizes and supports indigenous and underrepresented storytellers from around the world who are documenting their changing cultures and communities through photography and film. We present talented artists from Israel, Kashmir, Lapland, Mongolia, Nigeria, and the United States who have been selected by the National Geographic Society to present their work and reflect on ways their images and stories make connections that help create a more just and beautiful world. The All Roads photographers will be joined by Chris Rainier of the National Geographic Society and photographer Shahidul Alam, founder of the Drik photo agency in Bangladesh.”
If you can’t stay for the entire time, feel free to drop by for a little while. So far, over 40 people have signed up. You can RSVP via Facebook or Upcoming. Or just show up for the fun.
Photo credit: Josefina Takes a Picture by carlosluis

Losing My Faith in SU Humanity?

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

For the last 3 years I’ve spend the first couple of weeks before school starts working at the Graduate Student Information Center trying to help new students get oriented to campus. I enjoy the work, and hey, I get paid for something I enjoy.
Because of this, I’ve parked my bike in front of the GCC. Yesterday afternoon, while strolling past the GCC, I checked on my bike, to make sure that I could ride it into campus the next day, when I encountered this piece of pointless vandalism:
That’s right, someone took the time to snip all the rip ties on the back of my bike and “liberate” the basket/crate that I use to hold my books while I peddle around campus. Except they obviously didn’t want the crate (since it’s lying on the ground there). My bike is a piece of crap bike (hey it’s what you get for $25) that’s slowely rusting apart so I’m assuming that this wasn’t the bike thieves that took apart the (obviously much better) bike next to mine. Or maybe it was, however, my money is on someone bored, or drunk.


A Happiness Gap Between Men and Women

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

According to the New York Times, men feel happier than women and the gap is growing. According to some surveys, women were slightly happier than men in the 1970’s, but today guys have switched with gals.
Why? Everyone has a different reason. Here’s one I like:

When Ms. Stevenson and I were talking last week about possible explanations, she mentioned her “hottie theory.” It’s based on an April article in this newspaper by Sara Rimer, about a group of incredibly impressive teenage girls in Newton, Mass [incidentally, the high school I went to – Jason]. The girls were getting better grades than the boys, playing varsity sports, helping to run the student government and doing community service. Yet one girl who had gotten a perfect 2,400 on her college entrance exams noted that she and her friends still felt pressure to be “effortlessly hot.”

I feel like that same reasoning might work at Stanford. I know I don’t feel a particular need to keep my room clean, or wear nice clothes (although for the most part I do anyway). Girls at Stanford – trying to achieve academically AND look hot. No wonder they’re feeling down.
Am I totally off on this? Tell me in the comments.

Junior Convocation Featuring iPhone’s Scott Forstall

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Today’s Junior Convocation was notable for two reasons. It took place in the new (and beautiful) Old Union, and the keynote speaker was a very engaging Scott Forstall ’91 (Symbolic Systems) and MS ’92 (Computer Science).
Old Union looked great. To be honest, earlier today it looked kinda ominous out, so I was worried about sitting in the Union courtyard. But by the afternoon it was sunny, and that made it a lot of fun listening to VPUE John Bravman, Forstall and the heads of the three Schools (Earth Sciences, Humanities and Sciences, and Engineering).
Forstall’s talk was wonderful. He talked about his Stanford days and even made a joke about Azia Kim! He described how when he was deciding between Stanford and Cal, a Cal professor with whom he met told Forstall to go to Stanford: “not all Berkeley professors are evil.” He then went on to discuss a motto he likes, Plus est en vous, meaning There is more in you. He used that motto to show how that idea applies to the iPhone, enabling people to do more than they thought they could. This includes the iPhone team, which he said was spurred on to greater work than they thought possible. He even described the squabbling within the group (the iPhone dorm since people even slept there) about the most minute of details.
One of Forstall’s primary points, though, was about two types of people: roughly, those who believe they can become smarter, and those who have a more deterministic view of themselves. He said that those in the former group are better off because they look for challenges. The way he built his iPhone team (all exclusively transfers from other Apple divisions at the beginning) was by attracting primarily those types. Forstall chastised the latter group for seeking only to look smart or appear capable, and said those people were not as willing to expand their minds or abilities.
After the talk, Forstall defended the iPhone to me, when I asked him about the nature of its platform. I asked him– politely– why the iPhone was not exactly an “open platform” despite his charge that the iPhone encourages innovation and finding the more inside each of us (think: that motto he had). Forstall countered by saying that with the wide array of applications for the iPhone, the device really is an open platform. I asked about the rumored gPhone from Google, supposedly a Linux-based hand-held mobile device which will be a fully open platform. He said that the reason for a closed root-level API was not for lack of sharing but simply to protect both the user and the network (AT&T) from possible viruses. Interesting.
Tomorrow classes start. That means for some students, “Woo Hoo.” And for others, “Oh crap.” Depends on which group of people you’re in.

Your Internet Service Plan under a Closed Internet

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

What would the Internet begin to look like if net neutrality became a thing of the past? Although somewhat of a parody, this mockup isn’t that far off the mark:
Source: Josiah Roe

NYTimes picks up Rumsfeld Hoover Hubbub

Friday, September 21st, 2007

According to the New York Times, people at Stanford are angry about Rummy’s appointment to the Hoover Institution as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow.
Get out.
Protesting profs, including Eric Roberts, Charlotte Fonrobert, and Phil Zimbardo.
From the Times:
Some 2,100 professors, staff members, students and alumni have signed an online petition protesting Mr. Rumsfeld’s appointment, which will involve advising a task force on ideology and terrorism. Faculty members say he should not have been offered the post because of his role in the Bush administration’s prosecution of the Iraq war.
“We view the appointment as fundamentally incompatible with the ethical values of truthfulness, tolerance, disinterested enquiry, respect for national and international laws and care for the opinions, property and lives of others to which Stanford is inalienably committed,” the petition reads.

The university is taking a “free speech” stance on the issue because, you know, it’s not like he’s a war criminal or something. Either way, I think it’s going to be fun to have Rummy on campus. Imagine the creative protests that will come out of this experience. And maybe if we’re nice (you know, if we actually let him walk into his office), he’ll want to talk to us.
I have to admit, I’m kind of curious.

Campus Entrepreneurship Reaches New Low (or High or Whatever)

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

(From the Facebook bulletin board thing.)
I’m not sure if this is real or not, but it’s pretty good either way.

Stanford Student IKEA Shopping Spree! (palo alto)
Reply to: [redacted]
Date: 2007-09-18, 11:56PM PDT
Are you moving into a new dorm or house at Stanford? Is it horribly tacky and in dire need of decoration? Do you not have a truck? Then this is for you.
For a flat fee, this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we provide:

  • pickup at your dorm
  • chauffered drive in a late model Jaguar to Palo Alto IKEA
  • 3 hours of shopping time for you to get EVERYTHING you could want
  • design advice for your living space (caveat: no promises here, we’re 2 guys)
  • pickup of all materials, no matter how big and unwieldy
  • chauffered drive in late model Jaguar back to your dorm room
  • delivery of said items TO YOUR DORM ROOM in our truck/trailer
  • ACTUALLY SETTING UP ALL YOUR STUFF so you don’t have to touch a screwdriver

Meaning that you don’t have to think about a thing, just getting what you want, in your dorm, in one day. No gas, no hidden fees, no tax, no nothing, just peace of mind.
I am a current Stanford Junior, and my colleague is a recent Stanford alum (with a truck) looking for a little manual labor on the side when he isn’t designing Facebook applications. I worked on campus this entire summer, and have LOADS of previous moving experience, both intra-California and cross country. We know the area and the people at Stanford like the back of our hands.
$150 includes absolutely everything: our time, our delivery, our setup, and you can even listen to whatever music you want on the drive to/from IKEA.
Email with questions. Come on people, I need to pay for my books too! Help a fellow student out, and save yourself from a drab room!

I wouldn’t take design advice from these fellows if their “services” were free. And why exactly does one need “LOADS” of previous moving experience to set up an Ikea hemispherical chair thing? And how did he get that Jag/where can I get one?

NSO Nostalgia… and Why I Love NSO!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

This is just a little post about why I love New Student Orientation week, or NSO. I wanted to show the other side of an NSO experience, and why six years later, I still love Stanford and want to thank the NSO coordinators and volunteers for all their hard work and energy.
NSO Volunteers looking exhausted.
Hang in there NSO Volunteers! You are what makes NSO great!
A sea of frosh and parents at Opening Convocation today.


When I was a freshmen, back in 2002 (yeah, I’m getting dated…’06!), I remember vividly driving up University Avenue for the first time with my dad in his big truck. All my things were piled in the back and spilling over into my lap. I anxiously held onto my orientation materials, and just to be sure of things, I quickly reviewed my housing info as we drove closer and closer to Palm Drive. Suddenly I realized — I had forgotten to accept my housing agreement over the summer! An important looking paper stared back at me without a signature and an overdue return date. I started crying. I was so stressed out. I thought, maybe I won’t have a place to live! Maybe my first week at school will just fall to pieces in a logistical nightmare! (I had no idea how anything worked… I was a freshman, for God’s sake!)


Enhancing Evolution – Book preview and commentary

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

I was walking around at the Stanford Bookstore and I saw this book:
The book is called Enhancing Evolution – the Ethical Case for Making Better People. by John Harris. (Amazon, Princeton University Press ) and it looks like a very interesting book indeed.
The book covers Harris’s arguments for why we ought to promote technologies that would allow us enhance our bodies – most notably through altering our DNA. A lot of people have a general sense of repulsion to that idea, but Harris asks us to think about the other ways we enhance ourselves – glasses, coffee, drugs, surgeries, chemotherapy. We do so many unnatural things to our bodies in an attempt to make ourselves better. Harris argues it is our nature and sometimes our moral duty, to improve ourselves and help improve others.
I’m personally supportive of genetic enhancement because I think the greatest threat to humanity is 1) our own inability to make short-term sacrifices in pursuit of long-term goals – leading to failed diets and global warming. And 2) our propensity towards xenophobia and violence which divide us and cause so much suffering through wars and other conflicts. These are inclinations that are not caused by society as they are inclinations evolved into humans through the millions of years of living in small groups, facing immediate dangers from the world and from other groups.
I read a couple chapters in the bookstore and I think the writing is accessible and ethically sound. I’m writing an honors thesis on the ethics of patient selection in organ transplantation so I’m familiar with basic ethical theories, but you don’t even need to know that to enjoy and learn from this book. Check it out.

NSO Inculcates Unwitting Freshman, Transfer Students; Parents Never to See their Children Again

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Beware non-freshmen: the time has come to face the inevitable. A new crop of freshmen — fodder for the less-drunk-than-you-think-he-is SAE fratter, the annoying overachievers in Polisci 2, the ones who think they’re cool enough to go to Kairos Wine & Cheese — are about to arrive on campus.
But how do the freshmen become the way they are? I blame it all on over-programmed and highly-scripted NSO. A sampling of the events, with commentary and interpretation.
Tuesday, 1-3PM. Green Library Tours. Um, yeah. I’m guessing this is for the parents. What are they going to show them? The warm-and-fuzzy Bender Room, with every couch and chair occupied with upperclass students fleeing the chaos of move-in day?
Tuesday 7:30-9:30PM. House Meeting and Social Activity. I know cheesy icebreakers when I see them. I used to hate that game when everyone went around and said their name and some sort of sign or something, and then each person had to remember all the people before them. I was always at the end and would forget everyone’s names.
But everyone will know each other’s names through Facebook stalking anyway, so that’s not a concern.
Tuesday 12PM. Website Open for PWR. Sucks to be you, suckas! Enjoy the Rhetoric of Whatever.
Wednesday, 8:30AM. Chemistry Placement Test. Sucks to be you, suckas! But you could stop pretending to be a premed and not wake up this effin’ early.
Wednesday, 2:40-3:30PM. For Students Considering Humanities and Social Sciences: Choosing Math and Science Courses. For the wusses who won’t take fitty-one, I suggest Math 19, which seems like the easiest course at Stanford (see “Gut Courses” entry below).
Wednesday, 4:30-5:15PM First Course: Feed your Body, Mind and Spirit. I like it how at Stanford, all the various religions pretend to get along. InterVarsity reigns supreme, though.
Thursday, 9:30 and 10:30AM. Associated Students of Stanford University (student activity information panel). The froshie’s first chance to realize that the ASSU does nothing.
Thursday, 11:30AM-12:30PM. Public Service and the Arts: Stanford Students Dance in Prisons. “What are the arts, especially dance, doing to address this invisibility and what is the relationship of the arts to prisons, punishment and rehabilitation?”
I couldn’t help but think of this video, and wonder if it’s anything like this. If so, it might be kinda fun:

If it’s not, this sounds like it has the substantive level of your average PWR course.
Friday, 1-3PM. Hume Writing Center Open House. Has anyone actually ever been there? I don’t even know where it is.
Saturday, 5:30PM. Stanford football versus Oregon. If we score a touchdown, I’ll be pleased. Oregon just crushed Michigan (admittedly not much of an accomplishment these days) and might challenge Cal for number two in the Pac-10. Predicted score: Oregon 52, Stanford 7.
Monday, 9PM-11PM. O-Show. Around the fourth a capella group, it becomes insufferable. And then you have to squirm through another five or so.
Enjoy NSO!

Stanford to Close CoHo Permanently

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

coho_logo.gifGet ready to say goodbye to the CoHo: according to the Stanford Report, it’s not re-opening when students return to campus later this month. With the exciting renovations to Old Union and its plethora of new student spaces, clearly this isn’t a complete bust. But you’d think the University could have been a bit more transparent about the fact that they were eliminating the only chill environment where students could study, load up on caffeine, grab a bite, and listen to artsy live performances all in the same space. It was the only place on campus that you could go to have some sense that you were still alive while finishing up on that Econ problem set. Maybe the Starbucks on Stanford Ave can fill that role somewhat, but it’s hardly in a central location.
In the article disclosing the death of the CoHo, Old Union cheerleader-in-chief, Jeanette Smith-Laws claims that much of the “CoHo feel” and “CoHo look” will be replicated by the new performance space in the basement of Old Union. But who knows if it will measure up? If you want food or coffee with that live performance, you’ll have to go upstairs to the lamely-named “Axe and Palm” cafe (I’m sure Stanford Dining picked the name) to buy your food and (presumably) bring it downstairs to the performance space. And if you wanted to study down there, you’ll probably have to forget it. With the emphasis on performance rather than hanging out, and with the food a decent trek away, I just don’t see many people making an attempt to study there.
It’s sad that the University assumed Old Union’s new additions wouldn’t thrive without driving students from the other union. Or maybe Stanford Dining couldn’t figure out how to run a budget surplus with two cafes operating late right next to each other. Either way, I’m sad to see the CoHo go, and sad that there wasn’t more transparency in the decision, or in any decision made surrounding the student unions. I mean, with a student union presumably for students, well… maybe I shouldn’t kick that dead horse. Long live the CoHo.

Hail, Stanford, Hail: Part II

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

In honor of Stanford football’s 37-0 victory over San Jose State, here’s the university’s new TV spot, which aired for the first time during tonight’s game.
Which commercial do you like better? This one or the marshmallow bunny? Both are posted at for those who wish to ponder this important question.

OSA, Freshman Dean’s Office Invades Facebook, Does What They Do Best

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

Props to my source “Shoes” for this one.
It appears that the freshman planned a capture-the-flag game in the Quad for the night before NSO started. They were remarkably prescient–discussing whether there would be masses of chairs in the Quad, and so on.
The event description, as it stands right now:

Just for whoever’s around on the night of the 17th. Meet up in the middle of the main quad, in front of MemChu (it’s hard to miss; if you get lost call my cell) at around 930pm on the 17th.
And invite other o11ers to come!
***How does everyone feel about playing a massive game of Capture The Flag in the Quad (or in the oval if there are chairs in the quad)? If you guys wanna play, let me know and I’ll bring the stuff.

One kid posted, “stephanie [the planner] told me that the dean’s office told her that it’d be shut down by the cops since it isn’t registered, but that they would help her throw a party during NSO.”
Welcome to the OSA’s Rules and Regulations, froshies. It’s going to be a fun four years. One fellow on the wall suggested a pig roast as a replacement.
Then Jim Kim, who a quick Google search reveals works in the Freshman Dean’s Office, went ahead and posted a comment that serves as the final wall post.

Hi folks.
I wanted to clarify that the call to Stephanie came from me. Know that I’m not looking to quash your fun, nor are my fellow staff members. That said, we’re also not interested in frosh starting NSO with bruised heads, twisted ankles, or severe exhaustion after wandering from the Oval and getting lost all night. We really do care about you. Seriously, we do. Hence, the adjustment in plans.
There have been a few mentions of Stanford Police. They share the goal of keeping you safe, but they’re not the ones who postponed this. I made the call. Hence, if you’re fired up because you’re frustrated by the change of plans, come on in to Sweet Hall to chat with me about it. On the flip side, if you’re fired up to try and plan future events, also come find me.
Props to Stephanie and the other connectors that have emerged. We look forward to helping you find more great ways to bond as a class. Until then, remember that Mark already called jail keeper.

So that means that not only is the Stanford administration invading Facebook in large numbers (and several of my professors are on it already and I am terrified that they will see my painstakingly crafted profile). Does this give the OSA the potential to interdict parties at the Facebook level? Will they post on the wall of Facebook events? This was a freshman-planned event, taken over by the Freshman Dean’s Office after they saw the event on Facebook.
I suggest that non-OSA approved parties (OMG! non-approved parties!? where I can go to those!?) go “secret” from now on.
I also can’t imagine how an event planned by the FDO would look. Would it be as bad as the ASSU parties this summer, or even worse, Full Moon on the Quad/Mausoleum?
Sounds terrible.
Sorry froshies about Capture the Flag! Next time don’t invite so many effin’ people!

prepping for the new

Friday, September 14th, 2007

I’ve been staying on campus over the summer, and have noticed the pitter pattern of students as they come and go and come again.
It is time once more for new students to arrive and for old ones to return, and as they stroll past the Claw, many will get a glimpse at the new Old union, for the very first time.