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Why All Hope Isn’t Lost for Stanford Football (Just Takes a Little LUCK…)

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Stanford Football fans, do not despair!
Well, you maybe can despair for this season, the 2007 campaign, but by 2008 we should be on our road to recovery, fighting on with “enthusiasm unknown to mankind,” as Head Coach Jim Harbaugh put it.
Why? We’ve just signed one of the hugest recruits in the history of recent Stanford football.
Palo Alto, introducing Andrew Luck (get the post’s title now?), the #6 ranked QB in the nation. He has just verbally committed to Stanford Football.
TheBootleg‘s headline says we’ve “struck gold in Texas.” According to the Houston Chronicle, Luck led the Spartans to a 10-2 record and a trip to the area round of the Division II Class 5A state playoffs last season. He passed for 2,909 yards and 27 touchdowns with only six interceptions while completing 69 percent of his passes. Damn.
According to, Luck’s also the top student in his class of 500 and got a 1900/2400 on the SAT, as a sophomore.
It seems like he’s legit, on both the athletic front as well as the academic. The only thing that scares me is that verbal agreements are not binding, meaning Luck can always pull the carpet out from under our and Harbaugh’s feet.
Andrew, buddy, please don’t do that, ok?

Challenge Me in Roshambo; Help Me Procrastinate

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Everyone, I presume, is familiar with Facebook‘s new “apps.”
For example, Graffiti, written by two Stanford undergrads, Joachim and Alex, ingeniously allows you to write on your friends’ wall more creatively (i.e. without text).
While many apps seem to have been written by individuals (no official numbers from Facebook), a number are also from companies. One of my favorites, for pure amusement factor, is the Red Bull Roshambull (Roshambo, or Rocks-Paper-Scissors).
It’s amazing. I get distracted from my work (always a plus), and they get their name thrown around and traffic on their site.
I mean, look at the Alexa graph of the otherwise unsavory url (which redirects to the Facebook app’s about page):
Regardless of their exponentially-growing curve, challenge me and let’s see who’s got what it takes!

What Do Other Students Think of Your Major?

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

A friend forwarded this message to me from the French House chat list and I thought it was funny. As part of their final project in a Science, Technology and Gender class, one group surveyed student perception of certain majors at Stanford.
Some of the descriptions aren’t too interesting, but a couple of them are downright hilarious, especially because these are quotations from students themselves.
Click to find your major and what people think of it!


Google Street View Attacks Stanford Students’ Privacy?

Friday, June 1st, 2007

The Web has been abuzz with Google’s new Street View function which pairs up with its Google Maps feature to show you what it is like to be on a street whose address you enter. So, you can look up your favorite bakery in SF, find the street, zoom in from satellite above and now, look right at its awning and that succulent chocolate cake in the window.
What I have just described is the innocuous use of this feature.
People have instead been looking for the craziest, funniest, strangest images they could find which were catalogued by the Google team, which covered miles and miles of streets around New York, San Francisco and other big cities.
Some claim to have found E.T.
But perhaps most unnerving to Stanford students are the images of our own campus. The Wired Magazine blog sought out submissions for the “best inadvertent” shots people could find.
This photo looks like it was taken right outside of Twain, between Stern and Wilbur.
Just by “walking” down Escondido Road you can find this photo of two girls sunbathing in front of Manzanita.
While I think the technology is cool (they use an 11-lens camera, the Dodeca 2360), I can see why privacy wonks are worried. If I were one of those girls, I probably wouldn’t be too happy that anyone with an internet connection could see me in my bathing suit when all I wanted to do was get some sun on a lazy afternoon. And what recourse do they have? Call up Google and kindly ask that a new picture of the lawn in front of Kimball be taken?

Don’t Make the Same Mistake I Did!

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

I normally write blog posts about topics which relate directly to Stanford: our Folding@Home project, the sit-in this week, U.S. News college rankings. But today, I have a piece of advice which pertains not only to Stanford readers, but to everyone out there.
No matter how much you liked Pirates of the Caribbean I (or even Pirates II), DO NOT– I CAUTION YOU AGAIN– DO NOT SEE the newest installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. It’s awful.
Clearly, lots of people were idiots like me and went to see this enormous, three-hour waste of time. (The New York Times is reporting worldwide $400 million worth of tickets were sold, in six days).
I promise you, those are three hours of your life you will never get back. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone mentions one positive: “Producer Jerry Bruckheimer does deserve a shoutout: It takes a kind of genius to sucker audiences into repeatedly buying the same party tricks.”
And there was so much wrong with this movie beyond rehashed versions of the first two movies– I don’t know where to start. The plot was weak. And confusing. Actually, I’m pretty sure that even if I could have understood it, it still would have been bad. Gene Seymour writing for Newsday says, “It won’t matter whether you’ve seen the first two Pirates movies or not. You’ll still be confused.”
I saw the movie at a 12:30am showing. We didn’t get back to campus until 4am. We all walked out of that theater exhausted, bored and confused. “Ha! Christian,” you might smirk, “That is surely why you did not enjoy the film!”
No. I spoke to a friend who say the movie at 4:30 in the afternoon and felt similarly. People who went into our showing with pirate hats and eye patches (who also gave out a hearty “yarrrrrrr!’ with the opening credits) left the theater dispirited, like someone had taken all the air of their lungs.
And sorta, Orlando Bloom and Co. did just that. Despite the stirring theme song of the movie series (you know, the one that goes dun-dun-dun-dun…dun-dun-dun-dun), the chemistry, the script, something was very off.
The end is what sucked the most. I won’t ruin it for you, in case you too are set on wasting $10, but let me say that it is one of those endings you simply don’t want to buy into. As they’re setting it up, you think to yourself, “Oh, they’ll never let this happen…” You think (you hope, perhaps) it’s one of those things where they’ll come up with some ridiculous and unbelievable way to get out of it– but at least the awful and seemingly-inevitable doesn’t happen. Except in this piece of junk, it actually does! There is even a sappy beach make-out scene with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley which instead of being romantic or hot, is, honestly, just awkward.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go into this film expecting theatre (-re intended). I wasn’t expecting a transcendental experience, something to sweep me away with its intricate characters or subtle artistry. I was expecting a swash-buckling pirate adventure movie. I was expecting airbrushed actors and skylines, awesome CGI battles and witty one-liners. I didn’t even get all of that.
Honestly, just save yourself some time– and unfulfilled expectation– by watching the trailer.

Student Sit-In at Hennessy’s Office

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

At around 11:30 this morning, eleven students from the Stanford Sweat-Free Coalition began a sit-in in President Hennessy’s office to protest what they call “Stanford’s inaction on sweatshops.”
As of 3:30pm this afternoon, all the students were still sitting there, accompanied by moral supporters outside the office building.
According to an article on the San Francisco Chronicle’s website, University officials today said they “agreed” with the students’ point and were “working on a plan to ensure Stanford gear is produced in responsible factories.”
According to the group’s website, the students have been prevented from using the private bathrooms in the Office: “The cops are going upstairs to pee, while we are forced to hold it. They told us that there are public toilets outside, but we cannot be let back in. We are prepared to pee in our pants.”
Did this officer get to pee inside?
Emails circulated on various Stanford lists say Sweat Free’s schedule for the rest of the day includes a Solidarity Rally at 4:30pm in the Main Quad and a “Sweat-Free Teach-In” at 6pm in Bldg. 240.
Two of their signs:
Materials for a protest

President Hennessy, Chronicle of Higher Education Respond to Recent Blog Postings

Monday, May 21st, 2007

After blogging about Harvard’s co-option of our GER system and the criticisms of the U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings, I heard back from both President Hennessy and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
What follows is a recap of what each of them said.
Hennessy said in an email to me that he likes our blog, which is totally awesome. Regarding my stance that Harvard basically stole our pre-existing GERs, The Prez said, “We all learn from one another and imitation is a complement!”
Hennessy also concurred (that’s right, the President of Stanford University and I see eye-to-eye) that the college rankings are detrimental, calling them, “a disservice.”
As for the Chronicle of Higher Education, they informed me of a packet of articles they released just this morning– I know, fresh off the press– analyzing the entire college ranking phenomenon. They too found methodological flaws. Lots of ’em.
Read on if you’d like to hear more about President Hennessy’s reaction to and the damning report from the Chronicle of Higher Education on college rankings.


Hennessy, What’s our “Peer Reputation?”

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

Even college presidents are getting fed up with U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings.
According to the Washington Post, a letter from 12 college presidents including Dickinson College President William G. Durden called the rankings “misleading” and “not in the interest of prospective students in finding a college or university that is well suited to their education beyond high school.”
In particular, a lot of the criticism has centered around the U.S. News’ “peer reputation” survey, which asks school administrators to rank other schools in their region, often as many as 150, according to the Washington Post. Schools can rank from 1 to 5, or answer “don’t know.”
Ultimately, lots of buzz is going around the college administrator circuit hoping to offer as little information as necessary to U.S. News for its annual rankings. Just give them data they could get anyways such as enrollment and transfer rates, degrees conferred and financial aid, some advocate.
In the end, I agree with Robert J. Massa, vice president for enrollment and college relations at Dickinson College, who asks, “Why should we help U.S. News sell magazines?” That is, after all, all they want to do.


Harvard’s New General Education Requirement Shamelessly Rips off Stanford’s GERs

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

The Harvard Crimson is reporting that after 4 years of deliberation, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences today voted 168 to 14 in favor of a new general education curriculum emphasizing “the real-world applications of a liberal arts education.”
The article goes on to say:

Under the new general education requirements, students will be required to take courses in eight categories, including “Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding,” “Culture and Belief,” “Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning,” “Ethical Reasoning,” “Science of Living Systems,” “Science of the Physical Universe,” “Societies of the World” and “the United States and the World.”

Hmm. Let’s see here.
“Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning” DB: Math Rip-off.
“Ethical Reasoning” Yeah we got that. The exact same thing.
“Science of Living Systems” NatSci, anyone?
“Science of the Physical Universe” Sounds a lot like our EngrAppSci (courses fulfilling that requirement here).
“The United States and the World” They just mushed together American Cultures (AmerCul) and The Global Community (GlobalCom). Nice try, Harvard.
What’s most pathetic about this sad excuse for thievery is in what they left out, not what they included. Of our Education for Citizenship GERs, Harvard notably forgot to “borrow” our Gender Studies requirement. This is one of the most important ones, I think. Fulfilling an American Cultures GER, for example, doesn’t require the average (American) student to broaden her metaphorical horizons as much as taking a course on, say, feminist history, or another such course which “address[es] gender conceptions, roles, and relations” (Registrar’s Office).
God, Harvard’s lame.

Oh Joy! Being on the Stanford Network

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Maybe I’m the only one who finds this cool, but perhaps you didn’t know that when you’re on the Stanford network, you needn’t type in the suffix “” for web addresses. To visit us here at The Unofficial Stanford Blog, for example, you just need to type in blog. This got me thinking about the various websites we visit all the time. So I figured I’d make a list of them, including one or two you might not know about, and a few that are just darn useful:
axess: Grades, adding and dropping courses, P.O. Box renewal– it’s all here.
StanfordYou:Once you log-in here, you can set up things like forwarding your email via “autoresponder,” create an email alias and other stuff. Useful site.
stanfordwho: Directory. You can even do a reverse look-up by email address so you can go and facebook stalk that person who always spams the dorm list. Logging-in gives you access to tons of info, such as home addresses and alternate aliases.
draw: Not needed this year anymore, but this is the ASSU Draw guide with a page for each residence on campus with photos of common spaces and student rooms, the cut-off number from the previous year, approximate room sizes in square feet, number of rooms (singles, doubles, triples, etc) and tons of other information. It’s a good draw guide, especially to get an overview of each house (can’t start too early for next year’s draw!)
daily: The Stanford Daily online. From off campus works but is always available too.
campusmap: A newly-revised campus map, whereby you can search by building name or number (where is Building 550, anyways?). Zooms in and helps you get oriented.
coursework: The classic, the resource for getting all of your e-course materials, checking those pesky midterm scores (just hours after the test ended).
coursework-pilot: Check out the new coursework, still in its pilot version here. It is much spiffier and beyond its nicer user interface it also has some new features such as an easier way for students and teachers to exchange a paper in a “drop box” for drafts and revision. Neat-o! (Note: unless you’re currently in a class which is using the pilot version, you won’t be able to do much in the new one; I’m not sure you can even log in…)
syllabus: A repository of course syllabi. Though it is not too populated right now, the goal will be to alleviate the shopping period at the beginning of each quarter since beforehand one would hopefully be able to check out the syllabus for the course and cross it off your list right then and there!
webmail: The classic. Go check that email during class!

Citizen Journalist or Blogger: What’s in a Name?

Monday, May 14th, 2007

I’m having somewhat of an identity crisis here: Who am I?
At this moment, as I add content to this site, what — at the most fundamental level — am I doing? Am I doing “reporting?” If so, what kind?
I am at an event right now at Cubberley Auditorium featuring Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times; Gary Pruitt, CEO of the McClatchy Company; Marissa Mayer, Vice President at Google; and Harry Chandler of the L.A. Times. It is moderated by Joel Brinkley, a visiting professor in the Department of Communication.
The talk is called “Pressing Times: Can Newspapers Survive in the New World of Journalism?” Among other things, the three of them have jumped between various terms for people who write in this medium right here: we are alternately bloggers, at other times citizen journalists.
Keller was critical of bloggers, saying that we could never equal professional journalists for various reasons; Keller even implied that bloggers uniformly do not fact-check. Chandler, meanwhile, continually used the phrase “citizen journalists” as if to lend us more credibility as a part of the fabric of journalism today.
So, ultimately, what is the role of a blogger? Do you think that you, as a blogger, are more or less credible than a reporter for McClatchy or the New York Times? Or are we not even comparable — are we totally different things entirely? If you’re not a blogger yourself, what do you think when you read a blog: can you trust our reporting — are we really a subsection of journalist (citizen journalist) as Chandler said?
What exactly does blogger vs. citizen journalist mean and imply? I know for sure that no one from the L.A. Times could cover this event the way I am now, but perhaps they wouldn’t ever want to.
I’m not sure what to think, but I’d love to hear your opinion.

Lupe Fiasco at Blackfest

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

This evening, BSU’s Blackfest hosted rapper Lupe Fiasco at Roble Field.
Lupe played for about 50 minutes and sang some of his best-known songs such as “Kick Push” and “I Gotcha.” He opened with Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky,” a track on which he is originally featured. Other hits from today were “Sunshine” and “Daydream.”
The crowd at Roble Field.
Lupe, a native of Chicago, Illinois, had his debut album Food & Liquor nominated for 3 Grammy Awards in 2006.

A Line of Literature

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

What an abyss of uncertainty, whenever the mind feels overtaken by itself; when it, the seeker, is at the same time the dark region through which it must go seeking and where all its equipment will avail it nothing. […] It is face to face with something which does not yet exist, which it alone can make actual, which it alone can bring into the light of day. Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way, History 136B
Look at that beautiful piece of literature I read today for a class. Gorgeous. Reading it got me thinking: across various Departments and Programs in the University, students read a vast canon of literature. How often do you read something so great– so transcendent– that you dog-ear it, underline it, highlight it…and then share it with your roommate? Wouldn’t it be great if you could share it with even more people?
Now, instead of reading spam in your inbox, you can enjoy some good writing in a weekly email containing a short snippet that was read in a Stanford class this month. Add yourself by sending an email with “Subscribe me!” in the subject line to
Also, when you’re reading a text for class and you come across a passage you like, send it to us. We take the one we like best and send it out for everyone to enjoy each week or so.
For those of you familiar, this idea is similar to The Paragraph of the Day. The big difference is that all our texts referenced are currently being read at Stanford! It’s a nice way to wake up in the morning–with a piece of great writing sitting in your inbox…so don’t forget to sign up and to submit your favorite prose today!

On Presidential Debates and Viewing Them

Friday, May 4th, 2007

Last week, Stanford Law School professor and Net activist Lawrence Lessig (who also founded Creative Commons and Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society) wrote an open letter to the chairs of the Republican National Convention (RNC) and Democratic National Convention (DNC), asking that video footage from party presidential debates able to be “shared, re-used, and freely blogged about without the uploader of the video being deemed a lawbreaker.”
Lessig, along with 75 other Internet VIPs such as Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia, Craig Newmark of Craigslist and Ariana Huffington of The Huffington Post, is now joined by big-timers from both sides of the Red-Blue divide.
Republican bloggers like Matt Margolis, who operates “Blogs for Bush” have sent letters to the chair of their National Convention. Recently, presidential hopefuls John Edwards and Barack Obama, too, have shown their support for free distribution of debate content.
Scandal was born after MSNBC’s live internet stream of the Democratic presidential debates last week. MSNBC claimed that no footage could be distributed on the Internet and that no one was allowed to use excerpts after May 26, 2007, and could not archive them, either. Outrage in the online community sparked Lessig’s letter, and now has taken a prominent role in discussion of the debates.
As Obama points out in his letter to DNC Chair Howard Dean, open video access engages youth (I, for one, watched the debates online) and promotes a political dialogue in the form of bloggers, et al.

2007-08 Lively Arts Calendar Announced

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

BLIN_96.jpgAmong the highlights of next year’s Lively Arts schedule is the world premiere of John Adams’ “Son of Chamber Symphony,” co-commissioned by Lively Arts with Carnegie Hall and the San Francisco Ballet. Also featured will be Philip Glass’ “Book of Longing,” a collaboration with songwriter/poet Leonard Cohen, according to the Mercury News.
Also visiting will be a string quartet from Juilliard (Apr 9), the Blind Boys of Alabama (Apr 15), and Spike Lee (Jan 19).
The full schedule can be found here, on the Lively Arts homepage.