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ASSU Senate Approves Airport Shuttle Program!

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

The Daily ran an article today on last night’s ASSU Senate meeting with the headline, “Senate meeting mired in debate.”
Um, isn’t the ASSU Senate a deliberative body?
Maybe I’m downplaying the contention too much, but it seems to me that the actual news from the meeting was that, in fact, the new airport shuttle program to SFO and San Jose airports has been passed overwhelmingly by the Senate. This is an incredible cost-saving opportunity for students, in my opinion, and is something that I think puts our student government in a pretty good light. Nice work, guys.
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Old Union Fences Come Down: What’s Next?

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

I walked around the outside of the new Old Union building this afternoon after the fences started coming down. Even though the sprinklers in the courtyard were obnoxiously at full blast, the sun was shining on the building and on the palm trees… and as I turned around to look out of the courtyard, through the arches, and onto the fountain in White Plaza, I realized, “I’ve been missing out on this view for four years.” For most of my Stanford career, Old Union held almost no meaning for me. Now, as I graduate, I am excited about all that it can be for the students who will still be here next year and for those who will just be arriving for the first time. A real student union!
It’s about time.
Watch Troy tour Old Union (from his Unions Blog):

Now’s Your Chance to Help Reform the OSA

Monday, May 28th, 2007

I received this in my inbox from VP Mondaire Jones the other day. You should try to make it if you have any thoughts about how the OSA (or the upcoming new Old Union) could be better:
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Best Week Ever for Stanford Blog

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Last week, we logged our highest volume of visitors ever. The cool thing: this week, we received no special press coverage, executed no special fliering campaign, sent out no e-mails, held no special events, and basically just kept blogging away amid the many exciting things happening here on campus and in the world. Yep, this is real growth, folks. Very exciting.
Check it out:
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Brain-Eating Zombies Invade San Francisco

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

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San Francisco suffered a huge zombie outbreak yesterday evening. Sources report that among the many victims were subway passengers, Scientologists, and iMacs.
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More from LaughingSquid.com and Declan McCullagh. The flash mob was a creation of the friendly folks at eatbrains.com.
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From CNet: It may be worth noting that the Westfield Mall and Disney security tried to bar the zombies from entering, but Apple store security did not. In fact, salespeople were jostling one another for a position where they could take the best photo of the zombies (or themselves with the zombies, or their brains being eaten by the zombies).
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Former peace activists.

AZIA KIM REVEALED

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

I had to put that in caps just to emphasize how EXCITING all this stuff is about the Stanford IMPOSTER. Actually, my caps lock key was stuck. But anywho.
Someone named Paul just sent us this picture, so I figured I should post it (annotation is his):
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Wait, are you sure she’s not the only imposter in this picture? How about that guy in the back? Third from the left? Sketch.
Anyway, I can’t tell you how much I felt like I was in the back country of Red America when I picked up the Daily the other day to read about that IMPOSTER who began her CON just before orientation last year. I kept imagining what sorts of catchy subtitles one could make up to accompany the sensational headline. “IMPOSTER CAUGHT: GO BACK TO CHINA” or how about “IMPOSTER CAUGHT: REJECT COULDN’T ACCEPT THE FACT THAT SHE’S A REJECT.” I mean, Jesus, have a little sensitivity.
It was like watching Fox News. Or like watching Republicans talk about building a fence on the Mexican border. Sort of trashy.

Dorm Diaries: New YouTube Series Tells What It’s Like to Be Black @ Stanford

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

School. Sex. DRAMA. That’s the premise of a new homegrown YouTube satire on what it’s like to be Black at Stanford. Check out the ingenious pilot episode, posted on May 7th:

Want to see what happens next? Episode 2 is just a click away (Part I and Part II). I hope to have more on the show and the people behind it soon. Stay tuned. :)

The Simpsons Explains Fox Network Sleaze

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

The Raw Story has the clip, where Lisa asks, “How can Fox News be so conservative when the Fox Network keeps airing raunchy shows? They don’t fit together.” Check it out:
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In other news, a recent study at Indiana University found that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly calls “a person or a group a derogatory name once every 6.8 seconds, on average, or nearly nine times every minute during the editorials that open his program each night.” Think Progress has other highlights from the study.

Students ARRESTED?!!

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

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Update: The eleven arrested students were brought to the Stanford police station, processed and immediately released. The official reason for their detention was reportedly trespassing. A group representative said that everyone is doing okay. Also, the Facebook group expressing outrage at the arrests has 98 members as of 11:20pm; Hershey Avula, ASSU President, is listed as a group admin.
After the raucous Sweat-Free rally and sit-in held today, eleven students were apparently arrested by the Stanford police. The campaign website, which featured a live blog with entries and photos throughout the day, says nothing about why the students were arrested, or whether or not they are actually being held. Nonetheless, the students sound outraged about the way they were treated by the administration and the police today, emphasizing repeatedly that they were not allowed to use the bathroom during the sit-in at the President’s office, even though they would have been barred re-entry should they have attempted to venture outside of Building 10 for other facilities.
A Facebook group protesting the arrests was created less than an hour ago and already has about 28 members. In addition, a vigil for garment workers will be held at 8PM in White Plaza.
Um, did anyone in the administration think arresting students was going to help with the PR damage control effort?
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Students turned out in droves to support the rally earlier today, which was meant to secure guarantees from the administration that Stanford clothing would not be produced using sweatshop labor.
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In another strange twist of events, the short SF Chronicle article on the student rally seems strangely fixated on the fact that a few of the students were naked, noting “The naked protesters were a bit shy, and several were covering their private parts.” Mkayyy…
This Sweat-Free rally follows closely on the heels of the Stanford Labor Action Coalition’s Living Wage campaign, which resulted in significant concessions and a substantial press response from the University.
What is the explanation for the dramatic uptick in student activism? Interestingly, activism on campus seems increasingly oriented toward making Stanford a model citizen on the world stage. Recent examples include not only these two labor-focused issues, but additionally the successful Darfur divestment campaign, the Confronting Apartheid by Israel divestment campaign, and the broad campus sustainability movement that, among other things, is trying to get the University to commit to capping and reducing its emissions of carbon dioxide. Add that to recent publicity about the University’s cooperation with groups of decidedly evil people, like ExxonMobile (see here, here, here, and here) and the tobacco industry, and the Stanford administration just doesn’t seem to be providing the kind of moral leadership our students (and alumni and faculty, as the case may be) expect.

That’s so…. Cute?

Monday, May 21st, 2007

The New York Times today ran a short article on a fabulous new book released a couple of months ago by the University of Chicago Press. It features 220 color photographs of deep ocean species, some found as far as four and a half miles under water. They will blow your mind.
Check out photos from The Deep on the book’s website, or click on the image below.
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Freaky as hell.

When a Mental Health Survey Makes You More Fucked Up

Monday, May 21st, 2007

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After receiving an e-mail from the illustrious Larry Diamond imploring his students to complete the Campus Climate Survey, which he helped design as a part of the mental health task force, I decided to do my duty as a citizen, interrupt my writing of a 15-page paper in the middle of the night, and put precious mental energy, time, and care into thoughtfully completing the survey.
As I filled out the survey, I found myself appreciating the creativity of the survey design, and felt a certain sense of relief in filling out the answers — thinking that, finally, I was getting an opportunity to help this clueless University figure out what is causing students to suffer unnecessary psychological, psychosomatic, and direct physical harm from the stress they experience in every day life.
But then the survey lost my responses, telling me only that an “error” had occurred. Shocked and in disbelief, I tried to go back to retrieve my answers, but was locked out by the survey, which told me “our records indicate that you’ve already completed the survey.” No, I definitely had not.
Pissed off and stressed out, I sent a flame e-mail (sorry) to Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann, one of two contacts listed for the survey, and then figuratively (because I was sitting in the CoHo) banged my head against the wall for several minutes. Imagine if I were already suicidal.

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BSU and Larry Diamond to be Honored by ASSU VSO/Teaching Awards

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

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Word on the street is that the Black Student Union has been selected by the ASSU as 2007 Voluntary Student Organization of the Year, while sociology and political science professor Larry Diamond has been selected the 2007 Teacher of the Year. An honorable mention for Teacher of the Year goes to Jeff Koseff, professor of civil and environmental engineering.
It’s not clear yet what the ASSU will choose to highlight about this year’s recipients, but in the case of Diamond and Koseff, at least, their public and high-profile roles in perhaps the two most important issues on students’ minds — Iraq and the environment — surely played a role. Professor Diamond is widely regarded as one of the foremost experts on democracy and Iraq, while Professor Koseff directs Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment. I’m not familiar with Professor Koseff, but know from personal experience that Professor Diamond is quite deserving of the award, being an excellent teacher, an inspiring scholar, a willing participant in student events and campus dialogue, and an advocate for students he respects.
Congrats!

McFaul Announced as Class Day Speaker

Friday, May 18th, 2007

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PoliSci majors rejoice.
Mike McFaul is one of Stanford’s top scholars and one of its most engaging teachers. I had him for a Stanford in Washington seminar on America’s democracy promotion strategy, and I swear… the man treated our ideas and arguments like they were interesting no matter how many times he’d heard similar arguments before. But his skills as a teacher and discussion leader — and all of the incredible personal experiences he shared with us from the halls of power (the Pentagon, the Orange Revolution, Russia) — made that class something I looked forward to eagerly and grieved when it was over.
Can’t wait to hear what he’ll have to say.

The Leadership America Needs Desperately

Friday, May 18th, 2007

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Everywhere Al Gore goes, people implore him to run for President. “We have dug ourselves into a 20-ft. hole, and we need somebody who knows how to build a ladder. Al’s the guy,” says Steve Jobs of Apple. “Like many others, I have tried my best to convince him. So far, no luck.”
“It happens all the time,” says Tipper Gore. “Everybody wants to take him for a walk in the woods. He won’t go. He’s not doing it!”
Jessica Usborne, an audience member at one of Gore’s talks, stood up and asked The Question. “Given the urgency of global warming, shouldn’t you not only educate people but also help implement the changes that will be necessary—by running for President?”
Gore understands deeply the damage done to America’s institutions and reputation by the Bush Administration, and has faith that the American public sphere that has permitted Bush to ride roughshod over our Constitution will be restored gradually by the Internet, regardless of who the next several Presidents will be. But there’s nothing like a true leader, and I believe there is no one more up to the huge challenges facing the next President than Al Gore.
I wish he would run. Not Hillary. Not Obama.
Al Gore.

Some Google ‘Universal Search’ Design Choices a Bit Puzzling

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

As everyone on this campus has no doubt noticed by now, Google.com looks a bit different as of yesterday. At a three-hour press conference webcast live, Google announced that it was taking “critical first steps toward a universal search model that will offer users a more integrated and comprehensive way to search for and view information online.” This means that we’ll be seeing more cross-product integration within Google’s bread-and-butter search results, so that when searching for “an inconvenient truth,” you’ll get the movie trailer right in the search results where you can watch it without leaving the results page. Similarly, blog search results, news stories, maps, and other pieces of Google technology will be integrated fluidly into the search results, as Google deems necessary.
It is definitely an improvement to have Google serve up related content, like video or news, even though users haven’t explicitly asked for it, and to integrate it into the results, rather than impose it always at the top, as it used to be with the Google “OneBox.” It is also exciting to think about what could be next, if these are only the “critical first steps.”
However, a few of their design choices seem counterintuitive. Already, people are complaining about the decision to move the vertical search options on the Google homepage to the top, away from the search box, like it used to be. The constant extra mousing required is simply a strain on users.
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Also puzzling is that the vertical search options bar at the top is duplicated in search results pages below the search box. Apparently, this is to emphasize those product categories with significant results in addition to the general results, but the emphasis is a killer for users’ trains of thought. If you search for “Justin Timberlake” and decide you want to see News results for him, you have to choose between two News links, which wastes time (as user testing should have revealed).

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