Author Archive - George

About George:

I'm a senior majoring in International Relations, and I oversee the blog's finances. This complex task currently employs over half of the Business School, which oversees our derivatives trading operations in 38 countries. When I'm not browsing the Internets, you may spot me at Ike's talking politics, on the next flight to Latin America, at a Grateful Dead concert, or on one of Stanford's many rooftops.

Bloomberg to be 2013 Commencement Speaker!

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Stanford may not be getting its campus in NYC, but we may have just gotten the next best thing: Mayor Michael Bloomberg for our 2013 Commencement Speaker.

For the second year in a row, Stanford’s senior class has pulled in a mayor from the Northeast with a national presence. In Bloomberg’s case, that presence is also global. Bloomberg has been mayor of New York City since 2001, presiding over a city that reeled from the wounds of 9/11, benefitted from a boom in financial services, and then reeled again from a financial crisis that set off the greatest recession in generations. He has been a passionate advocate for action on the defining issues of our day, including gun control, immigration reform, education reform, poverty, public health, and climate change. Furthermore, in an era of heightened partisanship, he has stood out as a cost-cutting moderate with a liberal streak.

Most of our readers likely know that Bloomberg went from a middle-class upbringing to becoming one of America’s richest men, an unabashed hero of capitalism at a time of increasing inequality and decreasing social mobility. However, he is also a noteworthy philanthropist, having pledged to give away his entire fortune to charity. He graduated with a B.A. in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins in 1964 and received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1966. Over his wide-ranging career, he founded the technology and media company Bloomberg LP, which today has over 310,000 subscribers and 15,000 employees.

Bloomberg’s term in office ends this year. Thus, as this class of seniors leaps into the great abyss of the future, it will get a send-off from a self-made man who is also about to embark on his next great journey. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say, and to end my time at Stanford with a little of my native Northeast!

Was YOUR Stanford App This Impressive?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Apparently, the Common App and Supplementary Essays aren’t enough these days.

One aspiring CS major, Alex Greene, decided to create an iPhone app as part of his Stanford App. Check it out here:

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So TUSB readers, what do you think?

Based on his app, should Alex be admitted to the Class of 2017?

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Personally, I think the app is a cute idea but not particularly noteworthy on content…also, it’s much better if you watch it on mute. Still, I give the kid kudos for thinking of a new way to express himself. Best of luck, Alex!

The Sweetest Venue You’ve Never Visited: Sweetwater Music Hall

Monday, January 21st, 2013

On Saturday night, Deadheads descended upon Mill Valley to see Furthur at Sweetwater Music Hall, an intimate venue that opened in January 2012.

Cardinal fans, a new music venue merits your attention.

On Saturday night, I headed up to Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley to catch a concert with Furthur, the Grateful Dead spinoff band led by Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. I have been to several Furthur shows, and this was by far the best, rivaled only by Phil Lesh’s 70th birthday party a few years ago at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

If you could combine the intimacy of the CoHo, the coolness of Frost, and the food of The Mayfield Bakery, you would have something close to the Sweetwater experience. Then add a top-notch sound system and a beautiful setting at the base of Mt. Tamalpais, and include some of the friendliest staff I have ever encountered at a Bay Area concert venue, and you have more than enough reasons to make the hour and fifteen minute trip from Palo Alto.

Sweetwater has a capacity crowd of about 300 people, so no matter where you stand or sit, you have great sight-lines of the stage. The main bar is located at the back, preventing drink-seekers from getting in everyone else’s way. There is a cafe with delicious NorCal fare off to the side, and you don’t have to worry about the hassle of a coat-check…self-serve hangers do the trick.

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Stanford Gangnam Style, Undergrad Style

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Hats-off to the Korean Student Association and all of the dancers in the latest Stanford Gangnam Style parody. Unlike the GSB version, this one actually does the Stanford campus justice.

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The 2012 Election’s Biggest Loser: Planet Earth

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

“Hey, don’t I get a vote?”

This election may be the biggest rip-off of America’s democracy in recent memory.

Sure, we have choices between blue and red. Our candidates claim to offer stark ideological differences and visions for our country. Vast swaths of Americans will enthusiastically pick their man and hope for the best, and many others will swallow their disappointment and opt for the lesser evil.

But let’s be clear: when it comes to Planet Earth, our only home, we have a patently false choice.

While both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have advocated sustainable forms of energy, neither has mapped out a legitimate approach to living in a world with finite resources. In all three presidential debates, there was no mention of climate change. From a foreign policy standpoint, there was no appreciation that America’s shining example of consumption and wealth has motivated the rest of the world to try to live like us, and that our planet cannot support such habits indefinitely.

This omission points to a serious failure by our various communities of knowledge to convey to one another the gravity of our circumstances in language that each side can understand. I use the term “failure” because these presidential candidates are supposed to represent the grand sum of our country and culture to the rest of our world; that is the definition of leadership. Although both men are politicians and therefore have to evade the hard questions and sell empty promises as part of their campaigns, they are still faced with an enormously difficult job, and based on our democratic process, they are supposed to be the most qualified candidates we have.

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From Coast 2 Coast on 2 Wheels: A Freshman’s Bike Trip Across America

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Reaching the California coast after 72 days on the road.

How far can you get in 72 days on a bike?

If you’re Taylor Burdge ’16, the answer is 3,886 miles and 19 states. This past summer, Taylor participated in a program called Bike and Build, which organizes cross-country bicycle trips to benefit affordable housing groups. She raised $12,145 for the cause, which was 270% of her original fundraising goal, and went all the way from Portland, ME to Santa Barbara, CA.

Talk about a full summer.

Essential to the trip were its 13 build days, in which Taylor and her fellow 32 riders pedaled to local housing groups to supply them with manual labor for their projects.

The tasks she and her fellow bikers undertook were not for the faint of heart: reconstructing a convent that would become a 10-family home, weed whacking and building sheds, putting up siding, using a 10-caliber nail gun to build compartments for building supplies, and demolishing a building that was going to be turned into apartment complexes.

“Bike and Build is wild. I have no idea where I’m sleeping tomorrow, what my next meal will be, or even what town I’ll be in. But the constant change keeps everything exciting.”

Bikers for hire.

This was not a slow crew, either. Taylor and her fellow riders would normally get up before 5:30am, and their typical pace was 15-18mph. The group even developed their own vernacular. Riding 100 miles in one day was called a “century ride.” Every three mornings, the bikers would go on a “rando-ride”…their numbers were randomly drawn from a hat, and they would ride with the corresponding group to avoid getting cliquey.

Taylor also kept a blog of her travels over the summer, which I urge you to check out. The posts are moving snapshots of America. If you quickly scan through them, you can watch the climate palpably change as she goes further south and west. You can picture her pack of merry builders battling heat, saddle sores, and flat tires, and hitting speeds of up to 50mph on downhills as they spend five weeks in the middle of the desert.

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Celebrate the Big Game Victory Like the GSB!

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

If you haven’t seen this already, or even if you have, take four minutes to celebrate today’s 21-3 triumph over the Golden Bears with some inspiring dance moves by a GSB flash mob of “Gangnam Style.” How they found a rainy day to tape this video is beyond me, but the content and choreography are worthy of the Cardinal brand.

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How Safe Is Stanford??

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

A recent report by the University’s Department of Public Safety tells two stories, one of progress and another of lingering concerns.

On one hand, Stanford’s cops have made major gains in reducing crime across a swath of categories, including burglaries, liquor law arrests, and drug violations. On the other, 12 students suffered forcible sexual assaults last year, and bike theft remains a major problem on campus.

Bike theft remains a major problem on campus. Column 1 refers to year, column 2 to student residences, column 3 to on-campus, column 4 to non-campus, and column 6 to total thefts. According to the footnote, statistics on bike theft are being voluntarily tracked by Stanford University as of 2009.

Always an option if you are really running late to class.

In fairness, bike theft is extremely difficult to prevent, given the size of our campus and the number of places where such incidents could occur. However, these numbers are completely unacceptable. With all of the resources at this university’s disposal, no Stanford student should have to fear for their safety or for the theft of often-expensive property.

In addition, the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE) saw 72 students last year, 59 of whom were underage. The most common referral to OAPE is for intoxication. These incidents are disciplinary actions, and there was a slight uptick from 52 students in 2010 and 61 in 2009. Data on DUIs were not available in the report.

Another interesting tidbit in the report revealed the causes of fires in the past three years. These included a water heater fire, a trash fire, a box of T-shirts left on the stove (Storey), and burning books and paper (FloMo). I’m guessing the frequent popcorn-induced fire alarms were not included in the report; otherwise, they would require their own special section.

Finally, the report provided some useful information that I had never encountered before:

  • Apparently, there is a Freshman Emergency Ride Home Program that, according to the report, “provides taxi service back to campus for freshmen who are caught without a ride or are in an emergency situation (within eight miles of campus). Freshmen must pre-register at: http://transportation.stanford.edu/erh, using Yellow Cab of Palo Alto, account # 300-350. For more information, call (650) 321-1234 or (888) 512-1234.” Freshmen get up to four free rides…probably beats waiting for 5-Sure.
  • Those Cal fans can get a bit rowdy….

    The Department for Public Safety teaches a 1-unit Community Police Academy class in winter quarter (LAWGEN 209Q) that, among other things, includes pursuit practice in the driving simulators at The Police Academy in San Jose.

  • Public Safety offers free threat or vulnerability assessments of any building, lab, or facility on campus. The assessment entails a walk-through of the building by their personnel with the building or facility manager. For anyone worried about fire hazards, these are your people to call.

Criticisms aside, Public Safety has unquestionably been working hard. Last year, their Records Division took 185 police reports, assisted 9,281 people over the phone, and helped more than 3,354 walk-in customers. A renewed focus on bike theft and forcible sexual assault would go a long way to ensuring that this campus is as safe as it can be.

 

Art After Dark: When the Sun Goes Down, the Art Comes Up!

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

The Art After Dark festival starts tonight!

Starting tonight, Stanford will kick off Art After Dark, its second annual festival celebrating student creativity and sustainability. Featuring more than 250 pieces of student-produced art, drama, spoken word, dance, design, and music, the festival will take over Old Union courtyard and the lower half of White Plaza for the next three days. Several student artists are returning, including Ethan Estess, whose pelican sculpture was one of last year’s most popular featured pieces.

Although the festival features a jam-packed performance schedule, student art will be on display for all three days, and you can check out the pieces at your leisure. Tomorrow will be particularly busy. From 12-2pm, student drama groups will perform and be followed by a Sustainable Fashion Show. If you pass by in the afternoon, you might catch an impromptu jam session. The day’s events will culminate with performances from student artists featured on “Shadows,” the 2012 Stanford Soundtrack, which includes bands like The Sea People. Saturday’s performances, from 8pm to midnight, will feature student films, DJs, and music from The Irregulars and The Dot Dot Dots.

Combined with Frost Revival, Art After Dark promises to make this weekend thearts weekend of the spring. Don’t miss out!

The Art After Dark Schedule.

If You Want to Save Chi Theta Chi, March on the Vice Provost’s Office This Monday!

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Chi Theta Chi (XOX) will march on the Vice Provost's office this Monday to fight to maintain its independence.

This Monday, May 14, at 9:30am, the residents, alumni, and friends of Chi Theta Chi (XOX) will march on the office of Vice Provost for Student Affairs to defend the house’s lease before the deaf ears of the Stanford administration. If you want to save this house’s independence, you must join them.

Stanford, a variety of legitimate causes on campus compete for your attention. As a small, close-knit community, XOX does not have a big voice, and it might seem marginal enough not to merit your attention. But nothing could be further from the truth. The case of XOX represents the way “Mama Stanford” will continue to impose its heavy hand on any students who run afoul of the administration’s nebulous parameters for acceptable conduct. As Kappa Sigma and the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band know from recent experience, once you get on the administration’s bad side, they will come after you like a pack of rabid wolves the next time you slip up, no matter how minor your mistake is, or how little warning you have received.

XOX has faced the worst of this moralistic bullying. With no advance warning, the University decided to revoke XOX’s lease unilaterally; after months of negotiations between the house’s Alumni Board and administration officials, the Vice Provost’s office has only offered to reconsider the house’s lease after a two-year “interim period.” Given the current behavior of the administration, this solution is unacceptable for the following reasons:

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Pro-Fro Blog! How are you liking Stanford???

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Photo Credit: Stanford University Event Calendar.

At today’s Activities Fair, some intrepid ProFros were willing to try their hand at a little blogging, TUSB-style, and share their thoughts on Admit Weekend:

As a (finally) committed student, I’d like to give a warm shout-out to all my fellow SoCal-ers and members of the Class of 2016!!!!  GO CARDINAL!!!
–Lauren E Wedekind

There was no doubt in my mind, when I got my acceptance, that I was going to commit. Admit weekend has only further confirmed what I already knew – that nowhere is better than Stanford. Go Cardinal! (And love to Northern Virginia!)
–Elizabeth

Admit Weekend ’12 was pretty sick. The people, the weather, the culture, the school – everything is awesome! #GoStanford
–Alec Powell

As an admit who lives on campus, it’s nice to be part of one of these events finally instead of just bothered that all these random people who think they’re really smart are interfering with my bike ride to get a Jamba Juice. It’s still true that everyone thinks they’re really smart. But at least most people are right.
–David O., quitetheoptimist.com

Everything was exceptional. The campus is fantastic.
–Adrian Leven

I never had doubts about going to Stanford.  But now I have even fewer.
–Josh K

Not yet committed; perhaps soon to be. To my parents: I am not dead! Stop calling me from noisy rooms where music is blaring and the only thing I can say is “Call me back. I can’t hear you. I’m still alive. I’m eating just fine.” Also, your request for me to send pictures and the weight of all the food I eat is ridiculous and won’t be complied with.
–Maya

Shout-out to the other Tennessee admits. Also my cousin, who coincidentally happens to be my beautiful wife. Yee-haw, y’all!
–Jae-Young Son

Shout-out to Matt, Emily, Haley, Patty, and Jason for joining me in my spontaneous adventure of making the Class Shirt into reality. You guys rock!
Go Trees!
–Eric (more…)

The Art of Coachillin’

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

The Coachella polo grounds on a spotless Saturday afternoon.

85,000 people. Spotty cell phone coverage. Three straight days of music. Snow-capped mountains by day, and spotlights flashing across the sky by night. These were the circumstances under which one of the world’s largest annual music festivals, Coachella, took place this year. It was a spectacle to remember, when memory was possible.

I attended Weekend 1, April 13-15, and it was my first time in Indio. Although I have gone to a number of concerts and festivals, this experience was without precedent. At any given time, you could choose between five different bands/DJs of wildly different styles, from indie to hip-hop to dub-step. There were beer gardens and pizza joints galore, all with prices that would melt your eyes faster than a churro melts in your mouth ($5 per churro, by the way). An illuminated ferris wheel towered over the expansive grounds. You could hold mile-long strings of balloons that lit up the night like Christmas lights. Art exhibits and spontaneous kickball games rounded out the repertoire of activities.

Swedish House Mafia's performance offered one of the best light shows of the festival.

For $285 a ticket, one might expect nothing less. That said, for all of the logistical challenges that I encountered, I was very impressed by how smoothly everything worked. Yes, it took 45 minutes to get through two security checkpoints, since I was taking a shuttle. Yes, during those checkpoints, I got a pat-down search that in any other scenario would have been grounds for sexual harassment. And yes, there were lines and large distances for almost every occasion, from bathrooms to water fountains to merchandise shops. However, I have been to much smaller affairs that were far more inefficient and stressful. With a few exceptions, I got to see all of the artists for which I had come, as well as several gems that I had never encountered before. (more…)

Why I Dropped Out: an Editorial from a Former ASSU Candidate

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

James Mwara '13, who recently withdrew his candidacy from the ASSU Executive race.

The following post is from James Mwaura ’13, who recently withdrew from the ASSU Executive race with his running-mate, Charles Mbatia ’13.

It is with great disappointment that Charles and I are announcing the end of our campaign. It seems we attempted to climb a mountain too high, faced a tweeter/video blogger too relentless, challenged a political schematic too masterfully designed to maintain the status quo. We attempted to play Ralph Nader in a Bush-Kerry election, assuming Bush was of less-than-wholesome mental stability and Kerry backed by a not just the Democratic party, but an organization deemed so righteous that challenging it would be abandoning all political sanctity. We entered this election with a goofy grin on our faces and a catchy campaign slogan, and leave with a piece of useful knowledge which I am eager to share with all you:

The ASSU will remain exactly the same forever, unless something really, really radical happens. By exactly the same, I mean a SOCC-endorsed, GAIA-endorsed group of a few dozen students whose interests are more closely aligned with a mock government high school group than the members of a “democracy” managing a budget of several million dollars and a constituency of more than 14,000 individuals. (While this does little to appease offended parties, I only put “democracy” in quotations because the University has the ability to nullify almost everything ASSU does.)

Charles Mbatia '13, James's running-mate.

I’ll begin with a story. When winning this campaign still seemed feasible, I was told that I needed to attend an ASSU meeting to lobby for public finance money, as my petition had fallen short of the necessary number of valid signatures. The meeting ended up being one of the most enlightening and most disheartening moments of the campaign. For over 45 minutes, ASSU senators debated with the executives on wildly miniscule features of Michael Cruz’s brainchild, the new ASSU Constitution. The arguments included the removal of double negatives, the wording of various sections, and other mundane issues. It was easily one of the least productive assemblies of people I had ever witnessed. The meeting concluded with my meekly bringing up my finance conundrum, which was fortunately unanimously approved. (This was later retracted, as it turned out that the graduate and undergraduate sides of the ASSU Senate had failed to pass the same version of the original public finance bill.)  (more…)

Signs That Stanford Students Have a Sense of Humor

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Santa Teresa Avenue:

Tresidder Gym:

Fadi Quran To Be Released, Set on Bail

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Israeli soldiers detained Fadi Quran '10 last Friday during a protest in Hebron against the Israeli-enforced closure of Shuhada Street, a main thoroughfare in Hebron that has been closed to Palestinians since 1994.

Stanford grad and Palestinian nonviolent youth activist Fadi Quran ’10 is scheduled to be released from Israeli prison after he posts bail, according to PolicyMic. Fadi’s sister Semma is reporting on Twitter that she has just returned from Fadi’s hearing at 1:30pm, and that he will be released shortly. His bail was posted at 3,000 NIS (or approximately $790 U.S. dollars).

The two other men who were held with Fadi will appear before court on Thursday.

Stay tuned for more updates.