Author Archive - Crystal

About Crystal:

I love anything involving stories, tech, the internet, and social interaction.

This Week in Stanford 3/6/12 – 3/12/12

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

For once, it would be nice if Dead Week was actually dead. This means less (if not zero) classes, and a short break between our last assignments  and our finals. Alas, we work on a quarter system which means the only time we’ll really be able to rest is Spring Break. Just like Stanford students, reality doesn’t stop either and many things are still happening around the Farm.

  • Are you in Computer Science 183: Startup? If you haven’t signed up yet, there is little chance of getting into the oversubscribed class, taught by alum and higher education skeptic Peter Thiel. Either way, this class is definitely worth checking out.
  • Who has spirit? Stanford has spirit! Although this list wasn’t ranked, we were still recognized as one of the top 23 colleges in the nation with the most school spirit by Inside Collge.
  • The Highlight of this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Conference was the mobile app of the same name, created by alum Paul Davidson. The app connects like minded people in the same area using location data – something that would definitely useful on our social entrepreneurship centric campus. Networking, anybody?
  • Anyone else ready for a campaign season? Don’t worry – I’m not either. Regardless, it is worth taking a look at Spring Quarter’s upcoming ASSU executive candidates before their message is obscured by the onslaught of flyering and branding.
  • Let’s celebrate writers! This past week, Stanford’s Humanities Center held its 19th Annual Celebration of Publications. Although most of these publications are a little bit more academic than this valiant blog, it is worth acknowledging writing of all types.
  • Although some may assume that coffee is always helpful when you’re working late, Stanford researchers have found that coffee actually has a negative impact on those that wake up early. If you actually attend your 9 am classes, a cup of joe in the evening may hurt more than it helps.

Be Thoughtful About KONY 2012

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Joseph Kony, an African warlord leading the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has become an international sensation thanks to Invisible Children, a group of human rights activists. They been able to successfully wield social media to make people care about their cause. Kony is now famous because the world wants his arrest and prosecution for his “crimes against humanity.”

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YouTube DirektKony 2012

I watched the KONY 2012 video. I clapped at moments of triumph for people in Uganda and didn’t allow myself to hide my eyes at the images of mutilation or abduction. Even though I’m the last person to follow major trends, considering the gravity of the idea and the sheer number of people attempting to share it through Twitter and Facebook, I understood  that it is something that I shouldn’t ignore.

After finally seeing the video for myself I learned a few things:

  1. Everything about the video was created to appeal to the youth of developed nations. There were cute kids, horror, and a mission deeply seated in social media and activism. Anyone watching that video can help by sharing it.
  2. This is a 9 year old problem, with circumstances that may or may have changed since the video was produced.
  3. There was both the Mumford & Sons and dubstep in the same video. And it worked. Both reflect the way the filmmaker appealed to the culture Gen Y knows and loves. It made it seem like the video wasn’t coming from a major stuffy organization, or a ragtag group of freedom fighters – it came from one of us. Or, at least, it was meant to feel that way. (more…)

This Week In Stanford 2/27/12 – 3/5/12

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

It’s petition season! Although many people consider this the season of Lent, or the advent of spring, at Stanford it is a time to blindly sign petitions for groups asking for special fees. Whether it’s for new costumes for a dance team, or a Segway, chances are you will not fully understand what you’ve endorsed. This is especially true since the petitions are open and a good friend can give you a guilt trip when you’re not one of the first people to sign your name. Here’s to the beginning of ASSU election time!

If you want a list of something you will read, check out the news below.

  • Despite how much people mock it, Valley Girl slang is setting the vocal trends for our generation. Rather than a mistake, it’s a tool  with a “stylistic end.” Linguistics Professor Penny Eckert chimed in to say how young women are setting the standards for how people talk. I have no idea whether this is good or bad.
  • The opening of the Bing Concert Hall getting closer and closer. In anticipation of a summer completion,  officials have released a listing of the concert hall’s first performances. Opening with Stanford performances alongside the SF Symphony, this venue will host shows from Yo Yo Ma, Los Lobos, and Glenn Kotche all within the first few months.
  • Scientists have found a new kind of  planet, and we’re not talking about Pluto here. Researchers from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics now predict that there are nomad planets, distinct from stars, floating through our galaxy. This could change our understanding of space and the Big Bang. It also shows that term planet is starting to encompass more and more of those objects scientists are finding in space.
  • Before the upcoming election, Jay Roach ’79 reminded the Stanford  community about our last major political race through the pre-screening of his movie the Game Change. The producer claims that it’s a “factually accurate” account of how Sarah Palin was chosen as John McCain’s running mate. You can determine if that’s true by checking out the real premiere on March 10th on HBO.
  • My next piece of news isn’t actually Stanford-related but I think it merits mentioning. Pinterest is one of my favorite new distractions and I know many other students that have been caught in its web. BUT if you’re a guy and you don’t like wading through the clothes and cupcakes on the original Pinterest, I recently discovered It was E-Week  last week; I think the site is fun example of entrepreneurship.


This Week in Stanford 2/21/12 – 2/27/12

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Winter is coming. That’s completely wrong, but it feels that way since the weather decided to take a nosedive. So bundle up, hunker down and check out what’s been happening on the Farm.

  • Next year we may be getting a new, improved ASSU. The ASSU Executive has released new governing documents, overhauling the current arrangement of the school’s legislative and executive student branches.
  • We’ve reached a new wave of education. First we had computers in the classroom. Next, we may have iPads for education. Although a new study has found that iPads increase literacy scores in kindergartners, Professor Larry Cuban questions whether this was real learning or a new novelty.
  • City planners in Redwood City are concerned about increased traffic congestion if Stanford builds a new satellite campus. I’m just curious about the new campus that will house 6,000 Stanford employees in a neighboring city. If I hear more, I’ll be sure to post it here.
  • IHUM is dead. Maybe. Although Stanford’s faculty have looked favorably on the new freshman requirement, Thinking Matters, things will truly be decided at the next Faculty Senate meeting on March 8th.
  • The petitions and please have given Chi Theta Chi a small reprieve. The administration will not be taking the house until August. We’ll see if Chi Theta Chi has a chance to change their mind.
  • Jonathan Mayer, graduate student of Computer Science and Law, found that Google, the company that tells other to not be evil, was doing just that. In a study, Mayer discovered that Google was bypassing privacy settings on Apple’s web browser and devices.

This Week in Stanford 2/14/12 – 2/20/12

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Despite Valentine’s Day and the anticipation of a long holiday, Stanford still suffered one of its worse problems – rain. To take your mind off the bane of biker’s existence, here’s the latest news around campus:

  • Even though Stanford has now hosted its own Shark Week, maybe it’s time to frown at these fearsome creatures. They’re killing sea otters! Professor and shark expert Barbara Block explained that it’s still unclear which sharks are decimating the adorable population.
  • Saving lives is all in a day’s work here in the Stanford community. Dr. Katsuhide Maeda inserted a pacemaker into Jaya Maharaj, within minutes of her premature birth at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. Jaya is now one of the youngest people to ever receive a pacemaker.
  • Should progress trump human safety? Scientists are starting to ask this question, after researchers found a way of making bird flu more infectious. The research is currently on a 60 day halt, but many wonder if the results should ever be released to the public.
  • If the love buzz hasn’t worn off since Valentine’s Day, check out this neurological love competition. Filmmaker Brent Hoff joined Stanford’s Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Imaging to create a documentary about couples and how they mentally experience love.
  • If the assaults, and peeping  Toms didn’t already put you on edge, there is now something else you’ll have to keep a closer eye on – your car.  Five cars were robbed at the Dish parking lot, on Alpine Road, suffering a loss of $7,100 in cash and goods.
  • Senior and Master’s student Michael Tubbs will be returning to his hometown, Stockton, California, to run for City Council. He’s giving back and taking community service to a whole new level.
  • Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, spoke at the Graduate School of Business this past week. He discussed the history of his educational website and the problems in our nation’s education system that need to be fixed.

Happy shortened week, Stanford!

This Week In Stanford 2/7/12 – 2/13/12

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Love is in the air, and chocolate covered strawberries are invading TAP. Other people may show their love through gifts and over-the-top planning, but I’m going to share my love for Stanford with facts.

  • Happy Birthday Stanford Review! Our only conservative newspaper, founded by Peter Thiel himself, has just celebrated its 25th anniversary.
  • Alumnus Ramon Saldivar was honored with a National Humanities Medal from President Obama this morning.  Just another humanities win for Stanford.
  • The achievement gap is growing. Unlike the uneven representation between races, a Stanford study has found the problem now lies in a disparity between income levels. The rich are out pacing the poor in education.
  • Speaking of being poor, tuition is going up by 3% as of next year.  The only good news is that Stanford managed to raise $253.7 million dollars over the past few years to help students who need it.
  • When I first heard of the Ronald McDonald house, I feared it had something to do with the bringing a Mickey D’s to Stanford’s campus. I might be ok with an In N Out, but never a McDonald’s. And then I learned that it’s actually living quarters for patients and their families at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital!  And lucky for those families, they are once again planning to expand.
  • Another congratulations are in order – Matt Olsen, ’14, represented Stanford in Jeopardy‘s college championship edition. He did an amazing job making it to the semi-finals.
  • If you think your cat is driving you crazy, you may be right – literally.  It seems that bacteria spread from your cat may actually be leading people into doing self-destructive things.

Stanford Challenge Accepted

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Unbeknownst to most students, yesterday was a day of celebration. Our school’s officials, faculty, alum, donors and more had an event to honor the end of the incredibly successful Stanford Challenge. By raising $6.2 billion dollars, exceeding the University’s goal of $4.3 billion dollars, the campus has not only maintained its grandeur during tough economic times, but has been rejuvenated in front of our very eyes.

This was one of my favorite statistics.

Even though President Hennessy sent out an email yesterday sharing the story, I don’t know if the average student checking their email understood the magnitude of what was accomplished. We may have a healthy endowment, but this was still the most money raised in a university campaign, ever. Be proud, Stanford.

But it’s not enough to just talk about the Stanford Challenge. I think it helps to see the results. This campaign has shaped the Stanford experience current students are all living, right now. If you were curious about current or past construction sites you’ve seen around campus, I’ve listed  an explanation and snapshot of a few of the projects below. If you want more details, make sure to check out the Challenge’s website. (more…)

This Week in Stanford 1/31/2012 – 2/6/2012

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

It’s cold outside, but things are heating up on campus. Or really buckling down. Despite dances, and tests, people have still found time to teach us a few, new interesting facts.

  • Stop reading this blog. Get off the Internet. Or at least tell this to your little siblings. The predictions that spending to much time online is bad for you seem to be valid.  New studies conducted at Stanford have found that multitasking online is harming the emotional and social health of preteens.
  • Those grossly exaggerated rumors about how many Stanford students find their spouses here may finally be in decline. Unfortunately, the death of marriage will probably more of an influence than any truths.  Michael Rosenfeld, a sociologist here at Stanford, chimed in on why more singles than ever are disinclined or uncertain of whether they want to get married.
  • If you needed another reason to stay for Commencement, the Senior Class Presidents just announced this year’s speaker. The Class of 2012 will be  given a farewell speech by alum Cory Booker, current Mayor of Newark, NJ  and forever a Stanford football player and Rhodes Scholar. Do you have any thoughts on who the speaker  should be?
  • Despite its close proximity to our university, and our campus’s love of all things involving start ups, Stanford students believe Facebook will forever be a Harvard company. This is our  town. Why would we let the East invade? I think this topic should be up for debate.
  • Are you thinking of consulting or investment banking for your summer internship? Or are you going to Stop the Brain Drain happening at top universities? Alum Teryn Norris has started a campaign to highlight the fact that there are other options than the financial industry post-graduation for job-seeking students.
I’m sure more things happened around campus, but alas I have papers to write. If you have notable news, make sure to share it in the comments below!

This Week In Stanford 1/24/12 – 1/30/12

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

App is a buzz word on this campus. In most cases, you hear the term used by a social entrepreneur trying to foist their wares on you. In January, it is just the first syllable of a more harrowing venture.  Apps refer to applications. The long, I-desperately-need-a-real-or-summer-job application. The abroad application. The new leadership position application. And one of the most dreaded and dire ones – the co-term application. If you need a break from the nasty a-p-p, here’s what’s been happening on the Farm.

  • Stanford had a sizable representation on President Obama’s guest list at last week’s State of the Union. Julian Castro, Mike Krieger, and Laurene Powell Jobs made us proud.
  • You heard it folks – IHUM may be coming to an end.  But the shape of the Stanford’s new Freshman Humanities program is not set in stone – it’s up to today’s students to assist our faculty in changing the system.
  • Helen Gurley Brown, former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, has given $30 million dollars to Stanford School of Engineering and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism to start a new Institute of Media Innovation. It’s an honor that the original Cosmo Girl thinks our engineers can help revamp the media.
  • All we do is win. I feel like I say that a lot. After topping the charts in the humanities, Stanford’s GSB has claimed it own top spot on the international stage.
  • 1035 Campus Drive. Also, formerly formerly known as Kappa Sig. That’s right Stanford – the boys of Kappa Sig have redeemed themselves. They are getting their house back next year.  Hopefully celebrating this occasion won’t land them back in the hot seat.
  • And for the strangest campus news yet, NBC tried to invade Crothers after a recent peeping tom incident. The police arrived and had the reporters leave. But it is curious – how come we were only notified about the peeping tom on his fourth attempt?
Break time is over. Good luck with the job hunt and impending midterms!


This Week In Stanford 1/17/12 – 1/23/12

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Rain is in the air. Everywhere I look around me. People are trapped inside making quite a lot of Youtube videos. Here are a few Stanford facts to bring metaphorical sunshine to your Internet life.

  • Regardless of the why or how, Stanford researchers have found that women report feeling more pain than men. Part of me wants to do a hurrah for women, but I’m fairly certain this isn’t a good thing.
  • Sven A. Beiker, director at our Center for Automotive Research, and other professionals are warning about the implications of autonomous cars. Although I understand the upheaval that would cause to our legal and highway systems, the thought of road trip, cross country, without driving still sounds amazing.
  • Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo and Stanford Alumnus, has stepped down from his position on the board of directors. Even if Yahoo! isn’t the same as it was in its heyday, I will be forever thankful for the things Yahoo! Answers produced.
  • Stanford is one of the first universities to take advantage of Apple’s new revamped iBook 2 and iTunes U. iTunes U will offer fully fleshed out classes while the new iBooks will soon include fully interactive textbooks.
  • Nicholas Kristof paid a visit to Stanford. His challenge for current times: women’s education. Although we have a near equal split, it’s an institutional problem we need to contend with outside the bubble.
  • Sebastian Thrun, famed for teaching 160,000 students in Stanford’s first online open artificial intelligence course, is leaving the university for his start-up Udacity, where he will teach low cost CS classes to the masses. It seems like the lecture hall is now too small for him.

Everyone Says Sh*t

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Girls say things.  People say things to other people. The students on Stanford’s campus are no exception. I found this informative video, providing a glimpse into the life of the elusive SLE student.

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YouTube Direkt


This Week In Stanford 1/10/12 – 1/16/12

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

This week in Stanford, many students left campus to ski on almost snowless mountains. But now everyone’s back and excited about the news! Right?

  • Need some help getting motivated again after the long weekend? Baba Shiv, behavioral psychologists offers some tips on how to trick our willpower. Or really a  willpower trick. One or the other.
  • The future power of the microchip will be handheld. Koomey’s Law, which states that the power needed to complete a computer task will be cut in half every one and half years is gaining traction as the computer industry invests more in mobile devices.
  • Stanford’s director for the Bing Concert Hall will be Wiley Hausam. Just in case you forgot, Stanford is opening a brand new 844-seat concert hall next year.
  • In spirit of the holiday, Stanford’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute honored photojournalist Bob Fitch with a Call to Consciousness award for his powerful images of King that currently adorn the walls in Tressidor Union.
  • The Thinker is home! After 2 years on loan, Rodin’s “The Thinker” is back at the Cantor Arts Center. For students who haven’t seen the statue in person yet, Cantor will allowing viewing again starting on January 25. It’s Rodin’s most famous work. Check it out.
  • The label on a bag of chips may be more than what it seems. Our very own former blogger-in-chief Josh Freeman, with Linguistics Professor Dan Jurafsky uncovered class distinctions on the packaging of  a much loved snack, the potato chip.
  • Congratulations to Burton Richter for winning the Presidential Enrico Fermi Award for his former and current work as A Nobel-Prize winning physicist. Finding subnuclear particles and advising the government on secret science and technology issues – all in a day’s work.
  • And finally – the computer science department wants to close the gender gap.  That means, with almost half of the 594 students in 106A being female this quarter, they’re hope more women plan to stay and declare.

Stanford Has Free Classes?!

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

My first answer is duh. Everyone is currently talking about Stanford’s new Engineering Everywhere program that allows individuals around the world to virtually attend the physical engineering class online. For a moment I was giddy with excitement. After I graduate (which isn’t for some time yet) I would have a chance to secretly attempt another CS course after my public formal approach. Tens of thousands of people were (and are) enrolling in these classes. The Chronicle and other sources have hailed this to be the dawn of a new era in learning from a well established university.

With a computer and the Internet, this joy can be yours!

And then I realized that free classes have been around for quite a while. I’m glad the unique set of Stanford CS courses, and the distinctive way it’s being offered, stand as a reminder of how easy it actually is to get a free quality education through the Internet. Although Youtube can teach us many things, universities of Stanford’s caliber have been trying to share their knowledge online for quite a while.

A simple search for free online classes from universities not only brought me to many sites listing the top websites to get an elite education in biology, it also led me to an older but still exhaustive article on that goes through many of the colleges that offer a free online education. MIT’s site alone offers over 2000 courses. (more…)

This Week in Stanford 1/3/12 – 1/9/12

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
I welcome you back to the Farm with the news.  Once the holidays were in full swing everything got a little hectic so here’s the news from after the New Year!
  • To start with a minor history lesson, explorations by PhD candidate Alexander Lee and Professor Kenneth Schultz in the formerly colonized Cameroon found that little involvement in the colonies had the best long term effects. Does this mean that no colonization had the best results?
  • Standing out. Blending in. Stanford celebs from Condoleezza Rice to John McEnroe to our very own Andrew Luck talk about how much and how little it means to be famous on campus.
  • Ford is going to try to soak in some of our inspiration and bright minds by opening a lab nearby in the Silicon Valley.
  • A PhD maybe more practical and doable than you think. Professor Russell Berman was one of many scholars who recently spoke  out at the recent Modern Language Association meeting that the whole dissertation process needs an upgrade and fast.
  • Alum Esosa Ozigbo ’10, as part of Techbridge, shows disadvantaged 8th grade girls their potential future in science and technology.  I think it’s also a nice reminder for undecided women here on the farm.
  • Mitt Romney had his one stint as a protester here on the Farm. Or really, counter-protester. It seems he attended our university for one year. This once again proves that Stanford has connections every where.
  • I have seen and felt the anger every where, including this blog. But unless someone high up makes a change, Big Game is going to be in October of all times this fall. And students will only have the chance to attend 3 home games.

The Stanford Christmas Tree

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

I don’t know about anyone else, but when the holidays arrive, I gather candy and good cheer and want to share it with everyone. The most direct way to do this is to buy Christmas decorations. From tinsel and holly to lights and ornaments, all of it brings a smile to my face. That’s why year after year I’ve been disappointed at being unable to find any on our campus. During my one fruitless search I found gnomes shaped like trees, but nothing involving the holiday that honors the tree the most – Christmas. That’s why when I saw the Tree dressed up  like a Christmas Tree, it made my dead/finals week.

It's a bad angle but there is a Santa hat hanging from the tip of the tree.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, Happy Holidays Stanford!