Archive for September, 2007

Abandoned Monkey Finds Love Across Species Barriers

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Breaking news from the Daily Mail:
“They’re an odd couple in every sense but a monkey and a pigeon have become inseparable at an animal sanctuary in China. The 12-week-old macaque – who was abandoned by his mother – was close to death when it was rescued on Neilingding Island, in Goangdong Province. After being taken to an animal hospital his health began to improve but he seemed spiritless – until he developed a friendship with a white pigeon.” Continue reading…
Can I just say? Cuuute. Add this to that other recent story about a Chihuahua that adopted four baby squirrels. Yay for inter-species love.

A non web 2.0 project: Fog Creek Software’s Copilot

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

If I get out of the Silicon Valley facebook-Google-mobile world and take a peek at the tech space outside, I can safely say that yes, it is looking pretty good.
Tyler G. Hicks-Wright, with his M.S. in Computer Science and d.schooling (Firefox-eBay toolbar, Global Giving Champions) under his belt, has returned to NYC and joined forces with Fog Creek Software (run by Joel of Joel on Software) to develop some useful and usable applications.

He and his team have developed Copilot, a safe and lightweight remote assistance service that allows you to help a less tech-savvy friend or family member with their computer.
If you recall those frustrating conversations with your mom about accessing a file from the computer sitting at home, i.e. “okay, so do you see a box with a blue border open? yes, oh, yes I see it. what does it say? it says […] …okay, click on that…. Yea, you might want to give Copilot a spin.
They’re also giving away free Copilot passes to anyone with a .EDU email address. Alum addresses are fine, too.

What are the “gut” courses at Stanford?

Friday, September 7th, 2007

Gawker ran an interesting piece today essentially just showing an e-mail send out by a TD’09-er at Yale listing all the “gut” courses by department. “Gut courses” means “easy courses” although I’ve never heard the term used before. Maybe it’s an East Coast thing, something lost on the West Coasters/Best Coasters. The comments at the bottom of the post were particularly vicious, and illustrate just how good some people are at getting by without doing very much work, or anything at all.
Anyway, what interests me is what are the easiest courses at Stanford? The ones that tend to fill up with people looking for an easy GER, boost their law-school GPA, and people looking to make their 12-unit slackerdom into 17-unit respectability.
Some nominations:
Biosci 1. Human Evolution and Environment. I personally took this class and maybe spent two total hours on the class outside of lecture, which I never went to anyway. If you took AP Bio in high school, you know all you need to know.
Sleep and Dreams. Every humanities major’s favorite NatSci GER, no one really takes the class seriously but apparently it’s harder than it looks. But I still can’t take the class seriously.
Introsems in general. Did anyone really have to do any work in their introsems freshman and sophomore year? The only work I had to do was the old standby “every student has to summarize the reading and lead the discussion for one class.”
The “global human geography” series in history. You can take three of these and be halfway to be a history minor, which is ludicrous because these classes aren’t even really history per se. The textbook looks like it could be for high school freshmen.


California Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Gays to Marry — Again

Friday, September 7th, 2007

For the second time in two years, the California legislature voted to legalize marriage between same-sex couples. This time, the bill received more votes and was co-authored by 29 Assemblymembers and 14 Senators, who were led by Assemblyman Mark Leno. A broad coalition of more than 250 civil rights organizations and leaders support the measure, including the NAACP California State Conference, United Farm Workers, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Chinese for Affirmative Action, California Teachers Association, ACLU, California Nurses Association, Lambda Legal, Anti-Defamation League, California National Organization for Women, California Church Impact, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
It’s unlikely, but we’ll see if Governor Schwarzenegger has the balls to sign it this time (October 14th is his deadline). Props to our courageous legislators.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-445-4633

Buyer’s remorse

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

my iPhone atop Half Dome
Steve Jobs’ announcement to give $100 back to iPhone buyers since 6/29 leaves a less than pleasing impression in my mind of the unfolding of the new iPhone price.
$100 Apple credit to buy something else. Sure, I can buy something small or partial with that. It’s not the whole $200 back, and it’s not a cash return. eh. whatev.
eh? whatev? If I were Steve Jobs, that’s exactly the kind of mentality I don’t want to hear from my most passionate consumers and early adopters. I’d rather hear someone say, “I don’t like your stuff at all” or “I LOVE your stuff” than apathy.


Inside Terrorism Exhibit at Stanford Medical School

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

I’m fascinated by the many collections and exhibitions around campus, and this one certainly caught my eye. “Inside Terrorism: The X-Ray Project” just opened at the School of Medicine. This unusual collection features X-rays and CT scans of terrorism victims, compiled from Jerusalem hospitals.
From the press release: “The images pack a powerful message, not through blood and gore, but by their simplicity. One shows the watch worn by a suicide bomber that ended up embedded in the neck of a victim. Another shows hex nuts that ended up in someone‚Äôs pelvis.”
The exhibition has a very short run and will be closing on Sept. 14. You can catch it Monday-Friday (7am-7pm) in the lobby of Fairchild Auditorium, Stanford School of Medicine, 291 Campus Drive. There’s also an online version of the exhibition at
What are your favorite little-known exhibits or collections on campus?

Arctic Tale – A Movie Review

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

I don’t watch movies at the theater too often – one because I talk a lot at movies and my friends hate it, and two because I’m cheap and I don’t want to spend the money. But I was home this past weekend and I watched Arctic Tale with my parents and my little sister. It’s a movie from National Geographic , who also did March of the Penguins.
I really liked it. It mainly focuses on the life of two baby girls – a polar bear named Nanu and a walrus named Seela – as they grow up in the cold arctic world up north. The cinematography is amazing – beautiful panning of ice and ocean, lots of closeup shots of the bears and the walruses, and a great deal of underwater filming. The narration is by Queen Latifah, who is a bit funnier than Morgan Freedman, who did March of the Penguins. (PS After reading the wikipedia entry, I’m very impressed with Queen Latifah’s accomplishments and I think a lot of people aren’t giving her enough credit)
This film took over 8 years to film. That is incredible. It seems like it was made right on the tail of March of the Penguins but really this film must have been in production for a looong time. When you watch the movie you constantly thinking – how were they able to follow these families for so long, and tell a coherent story that intertwines the two animals and captures significant points in their lives. My hat is off to the dedicated National Geographic staff for putting such a big project together.


Matthew and Jessica Flannery, Founders of

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Matthew and Jessica Flannery are founders of, what the New York Times calls “D.I.Y. foreign aid

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Great things are afoot at Kiva, featured today on Oprah alongside Bill Clinton.
Kiva is a person-to-person microcredit lending platform which allows any individual in the world to be a banker to the poor: it does this by connecting the working poor with microloans from anyone in the world.
Kiva straddles innovative intersections, and does it well. By combining philanthropic motivations with the marketplace, Kiva is entrepreneurial, rigorous, capitalistic, and charitable all at once.
iinnovate caught up with Matt and Jessica Flannery for an insightful chat on how it all started, the experience of starting an endeavor as a husband-wife team, as well as Kiva’s challenges, successes, and future directions.
– Nir Eyal and Min Li Chan of iinnovate

Hail, Stanford, Hail

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

The first in a set of television commercials for the university was unveiled during the today’s Stanford-UCLA football game. This is easily the best and one of the few memorable university commercials I’ve seen.
Kudos to the university for taking a risk in going with an unconventional, irreverent, and funny ad campaign. As I understand it, there are a few more spots like this on the way, which will be featured on the Hail Stanford website. I’ll be sure to post them to TUSB as soon as they are up.
In the meantime, it would be cool to see these spots catch on with a wider audience — especially since our football team won’t be televised as frequently this season. If you like the spot, be sure to vote for it on Digg.

Miss Teen South Carolina Calls 9-11

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and a big one at that), you’ve no doubt seen the viral video sensation, Miss Teen South Carolina, who shocked America with her pontifications on what we should do to help “U.S. Americans” and “the Iraq” find the United States on a map — for our children. It’s yet another big moment for internet video, and it’s clear that this particular video (and this particular Miss Teen South Carolina) is lucky enough to be entering into the second phase of viraldom: replication with modification. This could very well be as big as the Dramatic Chipmunk. Check out one of the first knock-offs, “Miss Teen South Carolina Calls 9-11”: