Author Archive - Charlie

About Charlie:

How many indie kids does it take to screw in a light bulb? It's an obscure number - you've probably never heard of it.

TUSGraph: “Worst to First”

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Congratulations to Men’s Volleyball for bringing home Stanford’s first National Championship of the year!  The victory was not only a fantastic athletic display for a full Maples Pavillion, but also a remarkable ‘come-back’ story, as the team went 3-25 only three years ago.

I took the liberty of analyzing their astonishing improvement.  Assuming the win rate was growing at an exponentially decaying rate (so it reaches 1 at year infinity), I used my predictive equation (R^2 = .9442) to estimate that the team will win almost 88% of its games next year.  The kills per set prediction was easier, as the previous four years have seen an extremely linear increase in kills per set (R^2 = .9992).  Using this linear fit, I predict the team will get 17.3 kills per set next season.

I hope the graph shows the wonderful work of John Kosty, head coach since 2007.  I find it impossible to believe the dramatic improvement wasn’t mostly due to his changes.  Congratulations again to the team.  Thanks for making it so easy to root for Stanford athletics.

Yeasayer Preview

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Photo courtesy of

(For the original article, plus songs and free downloads, check out Stanford-based treeswingers)

Yeasayer, Brooklyn-based phenomenon, is hitting Stanford’s FloMo Field at 6 p.m. tomorrow. Yes, coming to Stanford, even though last month they were playing Coachella. No big deal.

So, okay, let’s say you know nothing about them (if so, just know: the name’s pronounced “YAY-say-er”), and are curious: What’s the big fuss?

If you have to ask yourself that question, set aside twenty minutes in your schedule to at least give them a listen. It’s not just the sneaky musicianship they throw into their music without you even noticing, it’s the effortless blend of melody and ambiance, with enough synth and handclap to straddle the distant feel of electronic and the grounded nature of indie pop.

“O.N.E.,” for instance: weird name, but lyrics that tug somewhere we’ve all been–“No, you don’t move me anymore / And I’m glad that you don’t”–not to mention its infectious riffs and irrepressible attitude. It’s definitely a gem on what was a very highly anticipated sophomore album, Odd Blood, riding on the success of its 2007 predecessor, All Hour Cymbals. And “2080,” whose chanted lyrics and haunting vocals channel just enough mystery to keep it intriguing, contrasts nicely with the chipper turn of “O.N.E.”

For good measure, we’ve also added “Tightrope” into the mix (a track that Yeasayer threw into the Dark Was the Night indie compilation monster released last year) as well as a “O.N.E.” remix for a little eardrum titillation.

Get ready for tomorrow’s concert, and be sure to thank Stanford Concert Network for bringing the band to campus. Good work, guys — we can’t wait to see a field that usually houses messy games of sloshball (and that one family of rabbits) serve as a stage for such a promising act.


(For the original article, plus songs and free downloads, check out Stanford-based treeswingers)

TUSGraph: QUADratic Equations

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Matlab code to trace out the main quad arcade (please no comments on my coding style…):

arch2 = 1.21;
arch3 = 16/9;
t1 = -1:.01:1;
litarch = .5+sqrt(1-t1.^2)./2;
medarch = real((.5+sqrt(arch2).*(sqrt((arch2-((-sqrt(arch2):.01/sqrt(arch2):sqrt(arch2))).^2)))./2));
bigarch = real((.5+sqrt(arch3).*(sqrt((arch3-((-sqrt(arch3):.01/sqrt(arch3):0)).^2)))./2));
small_col = zeros(1,ceil(length(litarch)/20*6));
half_col = zeros(1,ceil(length(litarch)/20));
big_col = zeros(1,ceil(length(litarch)/2));
x2 = [half_col litarch half_col];
x3 = [x2 x2 x2 x2 x2 x2 x2];
x8 = [x3 x3 big_col x2 big_col x2 big_col big_col half_col medarch half_col half_col small_col bigarch];
x10 = [x8 fliplr(x8)];
t10 = (0:1:length(x10)-1)./length(x10);
hold on;
midsize = 2.75;
roof = 1.5.*ones(1,length(x10-1));
dim = max(t10/length(t1)*length(t10));
scale = t10/length(t1)*length(t10);
slantx = (dim/2-midsize:(t10(2)-t10(1)):dim/2);
slant = 1.5 + (slantx-dim/2+midsize).*(2.5-1.5)/midsize;
roof1 = scale*(dim/2 – midsize)/dim;
roof2 = dim-((scale*(dim/2 – midsize)/dim));
slant1 = dim/2 – midsize + scale*(5)/dim;
axis off;
hold off;
print quad;

TUSGraph: Abs or Labs?

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

A little explanation-

The distances represent how the bike rides, not how the crow flies.

I measured using a ruler, but tried to take curves and shortcuts into account.

I measured to the nearest 1/48th of a mile.

I am sorry if your residence or favorite place on campus didn’t show up, but I had to be economical about it.

A History of the Sky

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

This video of “A History of the Sky” was taking from the roof of the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and is comprised of 126 days of time elapse photography spaced 10 seconds apart.  It’s not only cool how cloudy and sunny days appear like a calendar of weather, but also how the sunrises and sunsets fade across the screen as the days get shorter, transitioning from summer to winter of 2009. It’s probably a good thing the video doesn’t yet include January or February because the camera would be covered in water drops every day. The plan is to eventually have a constantly-updated display showing the most recent 365 days.

For a video about the project, and more information, check here.

TUSGraph: Election Time

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010


TUSGraph: Kid Tested, Mother Approved

Monday, March 29th, 2010


Stanford topped some more lists according to the Princeton Review.  It is quite an achievement, although maybe the comparison to Kix is a misrepresentation – Kix got soggy quickly, and weren’t so exciting during Spring Quarter.

TUSGraph: Blank Space

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

blank space.jpg
Boring people tend to live in boring rooms. Don’t be boring – buy some posters, or even better, go out and get a unicycle. Its conversations-started-versus-volume ratio is quite high. Then again, its utility-versus-cost ratio isn’t as stellar. Maybe just start with a poster…

TUSGraph: No Graph This Time

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Sorry to disappoint you, but I didn’t quite have time for a graph this week. Instead, in honor of dead week and procrastination and all of that good stuff, I’ve provided you with a great way to waste some time perusing the work of “dvdp” on his blog. These are a few of my favorites from what I’ve seen so far:

Einstein’s Relativity Manuscript

Monday, March 8th, 2010


Photo courtesy of

This is probably the closest we’ll ever get to seeing how Einstein derived special relativity. His original manuscripts which explain the role of light and relative velocities in the universe are, for the first time, going on display in their entirety in Jerusalem. Sure, that’s cool and all, but what I really like is how much his papers look like a problem set. Good luck to everyone on their last problem sets for the quarter; who knows, maybe they’ll end up in a museum some day.

Photo courtesy of

The above paper is actually from his manuscript on general relativity, but all of Einstein’s work can be found online here.

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TUSGraph: Even My Stomach Knows e = 2.718…

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

I just can’t ever seem to get full here. Spring break needs to hurry up and get here so I can enjoy some food made from quality ingredients. I keep thinking eating more breadsticks might help fill me up, but I swear those things could be compressed to the size of a crouton. In fact, most of the food in dining halls seems to be made the same way as growing dinosaurs transform.

TUSGraph: GER’s Make Me Go GRRRR

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

No, really. Which is more likely to happen to a Stanford graduate: accidentally drowning because they didn’t know how to swim, or or accidentally dying because they weren’t forced to read “The Fire Next Time” in IHUM (I picked this book because it is quite literally the worst book I have ever read). I recognize that the humanities are important in life, but the thought of someone graduating without understanding projectile motion or gravity is much more appalling than someone graduating without understanding what Nietzsche wrote.
I have one GER left, and it has to be one of the Education for Citizenship ones. Any suggestions for classes?

Stanford Grad Nelsen Could Miss World Cup

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Ronaldo and Nelsen

Ryan Nelsen is fouled by Cristiano Ronaldo

Whether it’s the high proportion of Internationals or athletes at Stanford, football (soccer) seems to be far more popular on campus than most places in the US. Apart from the hundreds that play pick-up or organized football weekly, many more are intense followers of the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, or UEFA Champions League. The especially dedicated supporters of Stanford Soccer, DC United, or Blackburn Rovers might know of an athlete who captains New Zealand’s national team, Ryan Nelsen.
p-nelson00.jpgNelsen, Political Science ’01, transfered to Stanford for his Junior year, but was still MVP and All-American in his two years playing for the Cardinal. After playing in the MLS at DC United, he made his way to arguably the best football league in the world, the English Premier League. His experience at the club level with Blackburn Rovers was enough to earn him captaincy of New Zealand’s squad as they qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The thought of a Stanford graduate playing in the World Cup is thrilling. Many Stanford athletes have made their mark on the Olympics in the past, but creating world-class footballers is especially impressive simply because America tends to struggle on the international stage.
Unfortunately, in this past weekend’s round of matched in the EPL, Nelsen picked up an injury which could keep him out of the World Cup. Although still unsure of the severity, with the World Cup a mouthwatering four months away, any serious injury might force Nelsen to watch his team from the stands.
Let’s hope Nelsen returns to full fitness as soon as possible so we can see him represent, although not our country, at least our school at the most popular sporting event in the world.
The World Cup starts June 11th. New Zealand plays Slovakia first on the 15th, while the US begins the tournament taking on rivals England on June 12th.

TUSGraph: Happy Valentine’s Day

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Even though people often think the opposite:

Love is complicated, but math is beautiful.

(equation courtesy of Wolfram)

TUSGraph: Do Grades Matter?

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Scanned Image 100390000.jpg
Lab classes have made me realize that the more effort I put in to a class, the less I care about the grade. This obviously has some pros and cons.
For one, it’s not that I won’t be hugely disappointed putting a lot of time in to a class and not getting the grade I was expecting, but I think at some point we all have to realize that we gave it our best shot, and putting in even more time wouldn’t have helped very much.
Also, I’ve found that when it comes to ‘easy’ classes at Stanford, what drives me to do well is the fear of embarrassment over a subpar grade. I guess this goes against the concept of Stanford being very laid back about school, but maybe I’m just going about it all wrong.
Most important of all, though, it is clear to me now that this relationship is due to the fact that the harder I try for a class, the more rewarding I find it. In other words, my satisfaction is already guaranteed before I receive my grade. Because of this, I feel I am very rarely motivated by just the grades I will receive at the end of the quarter. I’m lucky enough to have found a subject that I really enjoy learning about, and I think that is really what Stanford is about. Let’s just hope I can keep caring about grades enough to keep from failing out.