Author Archive - darius

About darius:

On Attendance

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Every Stanford fan I know practically had an aneurysm when they heard Jim Harbaugh’s critical comments about fan support. We know that Jim Harbaugh will someday leave Stanford, and by someday we don’t mean in Joe Paterno years. No, it will likely be sooner rather than later. But it would be terrible to lose Harbaugh because of something within our control, i.e. attendance. If a Notre Dame or a USC or an Alabama (hypotheticals all, of course) happened to come calling, then whatever. I could deal with that. But I’d hate it to be because of something that seems to be within our control. Particularly when it would seem that the old verities about Stanford football have been swept away so dramatically and so quickly by Jim Harbaugh’s regime: contrary to common belief, Stanford football can play tough, Stanford football can recruit well, Stanford football can finish close games. So I decided to undertake a study of Stanford football’s attendance, to see whether Stanford football does, in fact, have a problem when it comes to fan support. Though the raw attendance can’t tell us why these statistics are the way they are-they can’t tell us if we happen to have Cal and Notre Dame scheduled the same year; they can’t tell us about the economy-they can give us a small clue about the state of Stanford football fan support. I’ve decided to start with 2006, the first year of new Stanford Stadium. If anyone can find data prior to 2006, I’d be grateful. (Source is cnnsi.com. The data are available if you e-mail me at datahir AT stanford DOT edu)

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Stanford Football Doesn’t Blow One

Friday, October 17th, 2008

The headline, perhaps, strikes you as overly cynical, backhanded, or somehow insulting. It’s not meant that way. I mean it like this: relief. I mean it that way because of Maurice Jones-Drew taking bubble screen for 20 after bubble screen for 20—yes, the exact same play over and over again—to lead #5 UCLA back from 21 down, all while I knew down at the depths of my stomach that oh god oh god we’re going to lose and while in the center of my heart I hoped that we could somehow hold them off. And yet, after that disaster I somehow managed to keep some sort of faith in Stanford, only to have Brady Quinn execute a two-minute drill on is in the last game in old Stanford Stadium to dash my hopes once again.

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Speaking of the perhaps-imminent collapse of Western civilization…

Friday, October 10th, 2008

I don’t want to cause a panic, but I’m wondering: what is going on with the Stanford endowment during this financial panic? The endowment is, I assume, investing for the long-term, but, on the other hand, a major dent into the endowment would probably result in reduced spending. This, of course, is not even touching on donations, which I assume will lessen during this recession. So I’m guessing the financial picture for the University, as with many institutions and companies, does not appear particularly rosy at this time

Chris Marinelli Did Not Lose Against Notre Dame Last Saturday

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Chris Marinelli did not lose the game last Saturday. Despite the undue focus on Marinelli, and the suggestion that “next time he ought to keep quiet” from the Notre Dame alums in the NBC broadcast booth—(wait, you mean they weren’t alums? But it makes so much sense!)—the offensive line played a pretty good game. The running game was strong once again, and the five sacks given up were partially mitigated by these two facts: 1) two of them appeared, to my untrained eyes, to be the tight end’s responsibility, 2) Tavita Pritchard is the QB they’re protecting for. No, he’s not slow by any means but still, his decision-making is poor. All this, and we’re down two starting guards: Gustav Rystedt hasn’t played a game this season and Chase Beeler was held out at game time. Whatever they’re paying Chris Dalman for his zone-blocking scheme, it’s clearly not enough.

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Stanford Football Season So Far

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

So, with the season basically half over, what should we think about the season thus far? Like every other sports writer in existence, I’m going to use a “Good” and “Bad” section to delineate my thoughts. In football, everything is either “good” or “bad.” There is no in-between.
The season, so far, has to be considered: “Good.” We’ve got one really good win, we’ve beaten the teams we should have beaten, and stayed competitive in the losses (even though the final scores may not have indicated that).

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Addendum to White Plaza Post

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

I agree with everything Christian said. So I’ll make like Barack Obama (“John is right”), and add a bit: those ugly concrete blocks look like something out of Soviet Russia. “Here are blocks for you to make sit on!”*
*I am aware that this is a gross parody of actual Russian speech. I am also aware that this is marginally funnier when spoken aloud. Just say it in your favorite bad Russian accent. I’ll wait, don’t worry.
Anyway, it’s clear that this was the brainchild of a thousand different committees–one of them wanted a pedestrian-only space, another probably wanted trees, etc.–and as such is unwanted and unloved by all. Hence, I’ll advise the University to practice safe (pro)creation in the future.

Stanford Football Gains a Fan

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

From Sports Illustrated

Stanford-Arizona State

Friday, September 5th, 2008

For anyone having flashbacks during last week’s Oregon State game to UCLA, 2005, the similarities were strictly coincidental. Jim Harbaugh is NOT Walt Harris, and anyone suggesting this ought to be shipped to the nearest sanatorium.
That said, the game wasn’t exactly encouraging, either? The defense, in particular, worried me. The run defense was great; the pass defense not so much. Yes, I realize there were three turnovers, but the Oregon State passing offense moved the ball too well and too quickly on us. The problem was, I suspect, the secondary. When the secondary tried to play the Beaver wideouts close, they went long and over the top. Results: an easy touchdown and a should-have-been touchdown. When the secondary laid off—and this was most of the game—it was nothing but quick hitters, three step drops to the wideouts. This meant that the front seven couldn’t generate a lot of pressure, and the Oregon State offense nicked us, nearly to death.
Thank god for Bo McNally’s pick six, Toby Gerhardt and Catchings’ (ironic name in this instance) fumble into the endzone. But Arizona State’s probably a better team, so we simply cannot have the same flaws as last week in order to win. Carpenter’s a better QB than Moevao—he certainly won’t throw that boneheaded interception to McNally where McNally read his eyes for the entire play. On the other hand, Arizona State’s line is weak and their running game not particularly strong. I suspect a loss for Stanford, but Stanford will cover the spread. Then again–and this is a salient fact for anyone to remember–I don’t actually know anything about football, I just want to finally see Stanford join the ranks of the mediocre and go to a bowl, dang it!

The Rest of the Election

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

At this point, no one can know the full effects of Sarah Palin. Initial reception was shocked and more than a bit contemptuous; the reception to her speech was as rapturous as the earlier reaction dumbfounded. But, in the end, my guess is that the 2008 election will be the 2004 election run again—for considerably better results this time around.

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Stanford Football Preview

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

With the season kick-off to Stanford football tonight, the first question is Why? I mean, why tonight? Listen, if you’re going to broadcast a message asking for the fans to come on, and offer a Gridiron Guarantee—refund season tickets to those who are unhappy with their Stanford football experience—you’re sending the message that you want plenty of fan support. If, on the other hand, you move one of your five home dates to a day far before the school year even starts—staff isn’t even training yet!—then you have a problem with fan support, at least with those fans who call themselves students. Part of the idea behind moving the date up was to move from the icky FSN network to ESPN, certainly a worthwhile move to increase exposure. But what worth is the exposure if the stands are half- to three-quarters empty, as is the definite risk? I hope for the best but you never know.

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Denver, Obama and What to Expect

Monday, August 25th, 2008

With the run-up to the Democratic National Convention and Obama’s epic speech (we know it will be that), it’s useful to remind everyone that you should not pour all your hopes in him; he is a weak vessel, as he is human after all.

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Guest Post: Getting the Best Out of Orientation-and Then Some

Monday, August 25th, 2008

hey (soon-to-be) freshman, here’s a guest post by Anne Crossman, a Stanford-educated author with some tips about how to, uh, get the best out of orientation (and then some!) –darius
So, you’ve got your dorm assignment for the year…your summer reading well underway (!)…and you’ve most likely been hitting the Back to School sales pretty hard in the hopes of making your new home at Stanford a bit, well, homier. Ah yes, I remember the nauseous excitement well.
It was just a few years ago that I, too, had packed every crevice of my parents’ white minivan with what I thought I couldn’t live without for the year, pulling up to Stern Hall at 7:30am as my Twainie RA’s were getting set to unroll the red, uh, foil gift wrap. It took me by complete surprise when they welcomed me by name as if they had been waiting for me for the last four years; any qualms I had about moving away from home vanished.

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First Draft: Procrastination, or the Importance of College Today

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

(Because I couldn’t resist a Perlstein response! Even a rough one.)
Nonscientifically gathered top three answers to the question “How’s it going?” or “What’d you do today?” at Stanford:
1) “Procrastinated.”
2) “Nothing.”
3) “Chilled.”
These types of answers aren’t just a Stanford phenomenon either; nearly every student at college that I’ve talked to answers similarly. And, nearly always, these answers are accompanied with an apology and guilt. There’s a certainty, on the part of the answerer, that others are working much harder and more productively, and yet, the answerer does not want to distinguish him- or herself too much from the crowd. And so a retreat into a sort of comfortable average: one that perceives itself as having the ability to work harder and wastes a ton of time.
One of the last things I can remember my mom saying to me, before she left me at Stanford was this: “You’re going to have so much fun at college. The time will just fly by.” And she paused after she said this; I could tell she wanted to go back.
She was right, of course. I bet most current college students would agree. College is fun, and we’ve expected college to be really really fun since at least high school. All of us have seen Old School, okay?; we’ve seen Animal House, we’ve seen Billy Madison; and we expected it to be more than parties: we’ve seen the inspirational stuff too, we’ve seen Good Will Hunting and that all that sappy stuff.
So college has been pumped up for all of us. It’s that gateway between being a kid and being an adult; we start getting to have adult fun with kid responsibility. We were all expecting college.
Those expectations come with a weight, and that weight is why “Procrastination” is the most popular answer to the question “What’d you do today?”
This attitude ultimately shows exactly why college is just as important as in the Sixties, just in a different way and with different attitudes for different times.

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Book Review: The Black Swan

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

41TF4H15VEL._AA240_.jpgFirst, the title: it refers to the long-held Western belief that “All swans are white.” This was a belief given up in a second once Australia was discovered and a black swan sighted. What the experts had counted upon was untrue and it unsettled ornithology. That anecdote is the whole point of the book: you cannot predict anything with any great degree of accuracy.

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Fun Look at the Past

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Here’s a republished article from 1982, about the author getting his first computer:
“Computers cause another, more insidious problem, by forever distorting your sense of time. When I first saw the system in the back room at Optek, I was so dazzled by the instantaneous deletion of sentences and movement of paragraphs that I thought I could never want anything more. When the scientists at Optek warned me about certain bottlenecks, I had to stifle my laughter. In particular, they warned me that I might grow impatient with tape recorders as a way to store data. You have to understand, they told me, it can take five or ten minutes to load a long draft into the computer from tapes, whereas a disk drive (which would add a thousand dollars to the cost) could do the job in seconds. Typical vulgarians of the machine age, I told myself. How could they imagine that I would object to five or ten minutes, when I had been spared Darlene?
Three weeks later, I was griping constantly about the tapes and scanning the pages of Byte magazine, looking for a good deal on a disk drive. Ten minutes was intolerable when everything else happened in a flash…”
It’s a pretty funny thing to read in retrospect, especially the part quoted above, seeing as the emphasis is always faster, faster, faster.