Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category

When Fools Rush In

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

You’ve spent an hour blowing your hair out. You’re tugging at your shirt, making sure it isn’t bunching in any weird ways. You’re trying to convince yourself that your cutest pair of flats aren’t pinching your toes, your throat isn’t sore from talking, and your cheeks don’t hurt from persistent smiling. You’re making PG-rated chitchat with the girls next you in line, notably those with last names of the same letter as your own. Suddenly you hear it. The clapping. The scream-singing. The doors burst open and you hear the incessantly catchy lyrics of yet another anthem as you’re quickly ushered in. This is rush, and you’re effing exhausted.

            I could write a pretty hefty article full of tips and advice that echo the sentiments of Stanford’s Inter-Sorority Council, many of the girls you’ll talk to during rush, and possibly your RA or friends that have gone through the process before. I’m going to try really hard not to do that. If you’re planning on going through girls’ rush, you’re going to hear a LOT about how “you should really pick the place that’s best for YOU”, and how you should just focus on “being yourself”. No offense to all of that, but it’s a little trite, and you’ve undoubtedly heard it all before. This is an article for those of you thinking about going through rush, maybe on the fence about sororities in general, maybe unsure of what exactly to expect from the whole process. I want to give you some concrete advice, hopefully some of which that you haven’t  already heard before, that might actually help you figure out if Stanford’s sorority scene is right for you.

A little background: I am a member of one of Stanford’s housed sororities. For the sake of this article, I don’t think it’s really important to say which, as the things I want to talk about will focus on Stanford’s sororities as a whole.

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Lean In: Sheryl Sandberg Speaks at Stanford

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

“We need to get women to start out aiming big and staying in.”

One of the most daunting aspects of being a female in the technical fields is the dearth of female role models.

Growing up at my elementary school, I dreaded the inevitable biography book report.  I always got Marie Curie.  No slight to Madame Curie, but I couldn’t help but shudder to think that the only techy female role model my teachers could dig up for me died 80 years ago.  Painfully.  Of radiation poisoning.  The prospects seemed bleak for a ten-year-old girl who liked science.

Leading Ladies of Tech

Enter Sheryl Sandberg.  The Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and former vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, Sandberg is one of the most influential women in the world.  She and a new generation of women leaders in tech – like Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer (Stanford B.S. in SymSys) – have shown young women everywhere that female leadership is no mere possibility, but also a necessity for an egalitarian society.

Sandberg’s credentials make her a prime role model and spokesperson for the modern feminist movement.  Her modest autobiographical Twitter bio of “mother of 2, wife of awesome guy, friend to many great women” belies her professional accomplishments and impact.  After graduating summa cum laude from Harvard and receiving her MBA from Harvard Business School, she worked with the World Bank and served as Chief of Staff for the U.S. Treasury during the Clinton years.  She’s now #10 on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women.

Sandberg only recently tackled issues of gender in leadership, but has done so with gusto.  Her famous TED Talk “Why we have too few women leaders” has over 2 million views, and her new book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead has been translated into 24 languages.

The Bad News

Sandberg opened the talk with a sobering description of the state of women in modern leadership.

The blunt truth is that men still run the world.  Unequivocally, no question about it.”

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Party With Fees: A Lighthearted Rant

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Would you like $250 $140? Right now? Free and clear? How about every quarter? Yeah, so would I. However, unlike most random hypothetical questions, I can actually deliver on this one. $250 $140 of your tuition per quarter automatically goes to special fees. However, saying as you don’t ever actively consent to this distribution of funds to various student groups, the ASSU would be in something of a legal snafu if they didn’t give you the option of taking the money back at some point. So they do. For the first two weeks of every quarter, you have the option of waiving the money you paid for special fees. It’s really that simple. You can get a refund for $250 $140 worth of special fees every quarter. The solitary attached string? The leadership of groups that get special fees are allowed to request a list of students who waived their fees and may bar those students from using their services. But that’s seriously it. Now some food for thought: what could I buy with the $750 $420 a year that I currently spend on special fees? Here’s my short list:

 – A boatload of Philz coffee

Seven Four trips skydiving

– One of those giant stuffed trees from the bookstore

– A romantic weekend in Tahoe

– My weight in marshmallows

– *Part of* The mens water polo team

– Parking for my entire Stanford career ~two years

– A flight to somewhere very far away

30 17 cases of Two Buck Chuck

– Half an Ochem textbook

– An iPhone 17

3 2+ Dance Marathon pledges

– The worlds most hipster bike

Someone to slap me when I procrastinate (could definitely use one of those right about now…)

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Chill Out, it’s Winter!

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

As a freshman at Stanford, I’ve been lucky to receive mentoring from all sorts of places: TBP, SBSE, GP2A, UAL, BioE…the list of acronyms goes on and on. Despite the diversity of my mentors, most of them have given similar advice relating to winter enrollment: ‘take extra classes during crummy-weather Winter so you can relax during sunshiny Spring’, or something along those lines.

But after having a miserable Fall quarter, full of ridiculously hard classes for freshmen that aren’t offered at any other time (think Chemistry, CME, 7-freaking-unit ESF,) I came to the conclusion that taking even more classes during Winter Quarter would be madness.

So, I did something crazy. I ignored the advice that so many upperclassmen had given me and decided to take three easy classes in Winter quarter. And you know what?

THIS ROCKS!!

The truth is, stress can actually make you sick. Stanford’s weather during Winter Quarter isn’t actually that bad. So next time you’re considering enrolling for a 22-unit Winter Quarter…don’t. Chill out instead!

Gangnam Style, Global Citizenship, and the (Secretary) General

Friday, January 18th, 2013

As Stanford students, we have been charged – by the Stanfords themselves in the Founding Grant – with the responsibility of “promot[ing] the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization.”  The words that Leland and Jane wrote down over 120 years ago in honor of their late son still ring true today, for fuzzies and techies alike.  Whether you are applying for a visa to study abroad or someday praying for favorable trade relations so that you can expose your product to a new market, international relations matter.  So if you’re curious about IR or just wondering why there were police dogs outside of Dink yesterday, read on.

Today, the UN has 193 member nations.

Crash Course: Meet the U.N.

Founded in 1945, the United Nations was born out of the need to address global hostility post-World War II and the League of Nations’ failed attempt at creating an international body that could effectively address international issues.  Despite starting afresh, the formation of an international regulating body still did not sit well with some countries, and after the Soviet Union turned about-face on first Secretary General Trygve Lie due to the UN’s role in the Korean War, the UN was almost doomed to the same fate as the League of Nations.

Like a boss.

Fortunately, Lie’s fellow-Scandinavian successor, Dag Hammarskjöld, strove to prevent the UN from disappearing altogether.  However, the UN has had its share of drama, from the Soviet Union’s desire to create a troika to replace the Secretary General to the Annan family’s Oil-for-Food scandal.

Despite the issues that have arisen, the United Nations remains the predominant world body persistently working to maintain peace between nations and provide aid to those who are hungry, oppressed, illiterate, and ill, deploying approximately 120,000 peacekeepers from over 110 countries and feeding over 90 million people a day.  In the words of current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “we [- the UN -] deliver more humanitarian aid than anyone.”

BMOC: Ban himself

The man with a plan

This Thursday afternoon, Ban Ki-moon came to address the Stanford community and discuss the role of the UN in our rapidly transitioning world.  Expressing his excitement at being able to speak on campus, Ki-moon joked that “Stanford has subtly made its mark on the world…… and that is just your football team.”  But beyond voicing his appreciation for California and joking that after a trip to America as a teen, he “was the 1950s equivalent of PSY” because he was so popular when he got home, Ban Ki-moon emphasized a need for American citizens to help address the profound global change that our world is facing today.  To make his point clear, Ki-moon elucidated three primary ways to navigate our changing world – his points are as follows.

1) Sustainable Development

First, Ki-moon urged individuals to be more conscious of their consumption of Earth’s resources, as “there can be no plan B… because there is no planet B.”  Asserting that “we cannot drill or mine our way to prosperity,” Ki-moon explained his goal for 2030: that everyone in the world will have electricity, solving a current dearth of energy for 1.4 million individuals.  His environmental stance reflects current initiatives at Stanford that you can get involved in, from the Stanford Solar Car project to the Green Living Council.  As Ki-moon said himself, “I know you understand – after all, Stanford’s mascot is a tree.”

2) “Dignity and Democracy”

Focusing on civil unrest in Syria and Mali, the Secretary General illuminated the main concerns for addressing international conflict, including funds, access, and political divisions.  He wants to provide certainty to young people who have uncertain futures, and uphold the human rights of those who can’t defend themselves.

3) Women and Young People

Similarly, Ki-moon argued that women and young people are the “most under-utilized resource” in today’s world.  He called for “more women in the Cabinet, more women in the Parliament, and more women in the boardrooms,” and is proud that South Korea has its first female president(-elect).  Because “half the world is under 25 years of age,” Ki-moon has appointed a special envoy on youth, who will hopefully be a proponent for children and young adults around the world.

“We Are the World”

In sum, Ban Ki-moon discussed a variety of pressing issues that he and his peers in the UN need our help to address.  It is in this vein that Ki-moon wrapped up his talk; rather than talking about how the youth are the future, he argues that it is time to recognize that young people “have already taken their leadership role today.”

So, Stanford students, let’s take Ki-moon’s advice.  Now, more than ever, it is our responsibility to recognize the importance of international cooperation and impartiality.  It is time to be global citizens.

A climate change study that doesn’t end in tears

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Corals from the Ofu Lagoon, American Samoa

As an Earth Systems major, I can say it’s sometimes difficult to stay positive about my choice of field because there are so many urgent and intricate problems woven into the daily fabric of life–and in order to learn how to solve them, you have to appreciate how intricate and difficult to undo they really are.  So it’s nice when conservation research pays off, especially for animals in as dire straits as corals are.

Awesome Stanford professor Stephen Palumbi–who among other accomplishments has used molecular genetics to track the incidence of marine mammal meat in canned tuna and formed a band called ‘Flagella’–has found a key difference in the genomics of heat-resistant corals from the waters of American Samoa that might be used in genetic therapy for corals worldwide, potentially saving coral reefs from the worst effects of global warming.  When water temperatures rise above a certain extent, corals get stressed and their photosynthetic partners, zooxanthellae, are expelled from the tissue of the coral, leaving it hard-pressed to manufacture enough carbohydrates without the ability to make sugars from sunlight.    Palumbi and other researchers discovered in their warm-water corals that 60 heat stress genes were activated whether or not the corals were subjected to excessive heat.  If this pattern could be transferred to cooler-water corals, it could potentially avert cases of coral bleaching from extreme heat.

This treatment, if applied, doesn’t solve all the problems coral reefs are facing in the future, of course.  Corals will still have to contend with the rising acidity in the world’s oceans due to the excessive deposition of carbon dioxide from our increasingly CO2-filled atmosphere–an acidity change that makes it harder for corals to build skeletons, because waters become less saturated with calcium carbonate.  Runaway algae growth is also a possibility and a threat, and more frequent and violent tropical storms are predicted in future years, which could be a huge challenge for coral communities to withstand.  However, finding ways to combat heat stress is a necessary first step (we are committed to further global warming, we might be able to stave off the worst ocean acidification), and Palumbi and his team have unlocked a very important discovery.

Top 5 ways to build your credit score in college (and beyond!)

Monday, December 3rd, 2012


Since high school I’ve always had some strange fixation with my credit score. In the effort of winning this ‘game’ (win = high score) I’ve talked with a lot of different people (both students and those in the credit industry) and tried many different strategies. Some definitely worked better than others and a certain few actions were more effective than all others combined. As I got a bit older and my credit score became higher (it’s now right around 800/850) I began to see the benefits of having a high score. For example, I just applied for a premium credit card with awesome perks—as a student—and was instantly approved with a $13,000 credit limit (a new personal best). I’m no longer asked to put down a $600 security deposit when opening a new cell phone line and I could get a super competitive rate on any loans I wanted to take out. While these may not seem like big perks now, when you get close to graduation you’ll thank yourself for paying attention. Because I like you, I’ll condense the past 5 years of my hard work and observation into 5 steps that if taken, will get you a killer credit score.

As most people who read this are in their teens/early twenties, I’ll assume you have no credit score. For those who have already started and have low scores you should work on fixing your score first, although reading this should be beneficial to you as well.

1. Get a credit card no matter what

Prevent this from happening by building your score now!

That’s right, I said it. Keep in mind that credit scores are not meant for the individual, they’re designed as a metric for the bank to see how much of a credit risk you are. No matter what you’ve heard, if you want to build a great credit you need to use credit—the easiest way of which is through credit cards. However, I guarantee that if you’ve applied for a card without any history, you’ve been rejected. Why? Because the bank has no idea if you’re a risk or not. Rather than take the chance, they leave it up to you to prove it to them first.

Solution? Start off with a secured credit card. This works by giving the bank a deposit (I originally started with $300) that they keep for a year (and they don’t pay interest, either). In exchange they’ll give you a full-on credit card with a credit limit of the security deposit. After a year passes and you’ve shown good usage, the card converts to unsecured. Keep in mind long-term these cards are not very useful (5 years after opening my secure card it now has a limit of $1800), however they are crucial for beginning your credit history.

Important: make sure to…  (more…)

CodeHS teaches tech-savvy to teenagers

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Code the change you want to see in the world.

You may know them best for hilarious satire and Segway shenanigans, but when it comes to promoting computer science, former Flipside funnymen Jeremy Keeshin and Zach Galant take things very seriously.

The two recent Stanford graduates (both Computer Science ’12) just founded an ambitious website called CodeHS, a site designed to teach computer science to high schoolers.  Piggybacking on a growing trend in online course content (see Coursera and the Khan Academy), CodeHS takes advantage of the online medium to maximize the potential audience for their product, and for good reason.

According to Jeremy, former head TA of the popular CS 106A program, “almost no high schools in the country offer CS, but computer science education is critical for the jobs of the future.  Everyone gets stuck when learning to program, and the focus of CodeHS is providing help from real people along the way.”

We wouldn’t let students graduate high school without learning how to read and write.

We shouldn’t let them graduate without learning how to code.”  – CSinHS mission statement

Co-founder Zach sees it as a pragmatic concern.  “We are trying to create a lot of buzz around the idea that coding needs to be taught in high schools, but there is so little CS education currently offered.”

Presumably “eat” and “sleep” are priorities, too, but ya never know with those programmers….

Meeting market needs

As Zach and Jeremy note, computer science education fills an important void in modern secondary school education.  Less than 5% of American high schools offer AP computer sciences courses, despite CS’s rapid growth as a lucrative field in the last few decades.  Indeed, computer science education can guarantee stability and security to high school graduates of the recession era.  While the nation at large is experiencing 8% unemployment, CS-related fields are experiencing even higher growth rates, with 100,000 unfilled CS-related positions this year.  The Wall Street Journal ranked “Software Engineer” as its Best Job of 2012.  ‘Nuff said.

As long as you have access to a computer and the internet, you’re ready to learn.”

The U.S. likewise needs to keep up with international trends in CS education so that American graduates can stay competitive.  Estonia just instituted a program where all first graders learn how to code.   Surely, American teens should have the skill set being mandated for 6 to 7 year olds in other countries.

You know why Mayan civilization failed? No computer science education!!

So, what’s the game plan?

The two are launching a crowd-funding campaign called CSinHS to fund their project with a specific mission to teach 1,000 high school students how to program within the next six months.  Their hard and fast goal is $100,000 by December 21st because the Mayans said so.  The funding will enable them to launch their pilot program for the upcoming semester and pay for tutors to give debugging help and feedback, website and curriculum development costs, and integrating their platform with schools’ needs to make coding a permanent part of the high school curriculum.

It’s an ambitious goal, but if anyone can do it, it’s Jeremy and Zach.  Heck, they convinced me to buy them a Segway.  😉

The One, the Only, the 2013 Winter Course Guide

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

It’s that time of year again.

Let’s just say that this is NOT what Thanksgiving looks like at my house…

No, not Thanksgiving. I mean, yes – technically it is time for family drama, dried out Turkey, sleeping in a bed that hasn’t been tainted by years of college kids getting it on, and becoming unnecessarily excited that it’s now socially acceptable to eat truly stupid amounts of pumpkin pie. But that’s not what I’m talking about. Oh no. Not that. I’m talking about something far more important: the TUSB Winter Course Guide.

Yes, I know Axess opened a month ago. I’m sorry I’ve been a little late to the game. As you all know, the quarter system is effing exhausting and often prohibits us from doing those things we really want to do. However, because it’s “Break”, and because the lovely few of my saintly friends who actually follow this blog have been bugging me to get off my keister and actually write the darn thing, and because my brain is downright refusing to let me start the 25 page paper I’m supposed to write before the end of the holiday, and because it has recently been brought to my attention that I have atrocious time management skills, I’m excited to bring you the 2013 Winter  course guide.

Given that I didn’t have a spare week to sit around Starbucks and think up super-amazing themes like “the Muppets”, this time around I’m sticking with a classic: “When I Grow Up”. As always, you can rest assured that this course guide is poorly-informed, overly generalized, and rarely if ever politically correct. As always, I will accept no responsibility for any misery inflicted by taking any of these classes. So enjoy the post, enjoy the break, and – above all – enjoy the fact that we get to do this all over again after New Years. Cheers.

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Embracing My Inner Grammar Nazi

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Yoda drove him crazy.

I think it’s safe to say that the PWR 2 program has failed Stanford students.

Or, at least, that’s what I was thinking as I sat in a discussion section today.  It was one of those stereotypically uncomfortable sections where discussion flow is dictated by raised hands and everyone has to speak at least once to get participation points.  I personally believe that people who have nothing to say should not be forced to vocalize that nothing, but that, dear readers, is for a different rant.

After 30 minutes of frustrating, tangent-wandering, abruptly-topic-switching section this morning, I decided to make productive use of my remaining class time via informal statistical study.  Quietly labeling and tallying columns for “like”, “right?”, “y’know?”, and “[or] whatever”, I kept careful track of the filler words used by my classmates.

It was more than a little scary.

Grammar panda is watching you.

The top prize goes to Mr. Like, with a total of 10 likes within a 10 second span during his most prolific statement.  His individual words were in English, but his sentence communicated no meaning.  Impressive.  Honorable mention: Or Whatever Girl, who concluded each contribution with “or whatever.”  This example was most astonishing to me because, logically, when you complete a statement with “or whatever,” you are equating everything you just said to “whatever.”  Think about it.

I’m not a humanities or social sciences major.  I’m not likely to pursue a career in politics where each word is sliced, diced, and analyzed and where mistakes become memes before the debate even ends.  I’m a techie, but I believe strongly in expressing yourself effectively.

Fortunately, I’m not alone.

Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, recently published a mouthful for those who can’t master basic grammar.  The piece should be required reading for all science and technology majors.  The basic gist is that grammar and attention to self-expression are valuable indicators of what kind of person you are.  As Wiens writes, “good grammar is credibility.”

iFixit founder Wiens wants you to fix your poor grammar

You might propose, as Wiens suggests, that “grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?”  That’s the feeling I get from my techie peers much too often.  But “if it takes [you] more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve [you should be] comfortable with.”  Grammar has commercial value as well, especially if you’re trying to market yourself in today’s software industry.  “Programmers who pay attention to how they construct written language also tend to pay a lot more attention to how they code….  Applicants who don’t think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren’t important.”

Why would Stanford belabor the point of coherent self expression as much as it does – with PWR 1 and 2 and writing in the major and more – if it were somehow not important to your personal assets?  Stanford students are smart, but there’s no point in being smart if you cannot communicate your ideas effectively.  Your listeners drown in a sea of “like’s.”  Your readers blow you off at the first incorrect their/they’re/there.  You sound less intelligent than you are.

To me, it’s a social contract.  Those who do not take the time to express themselves effectively have not earned the right to an audience.  Friends, acquaintances, and housemates, beware: I will correct the heck outta your grammar because I care about you.

Sectionmates… next week, I’m bringing Vader.

Breaking the Fall: 2012 Autumn Course Guide

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Ah, summer. One minute you’re shotgunning a beer celebrating with friends after your last final, the next, you’re waking up and rolling over to find that two months of beaching, traveling, summer-schooling, tanning, grilling, working, and/or your resume-building b****work meaningful internship experience have flown by and it’s already August. Which means it’s time to maybe, possibly, conceivably consider what you’ll be studying in the fall. Even at Stanford, summer doesn’t last forever, and eventually we’ve got to come to grips with  all of our first-world problems – namely, enrolling in classes at the happiest place university on earth. But, fear not – I have spent the last fortnight scouring every course in every department this school has to offer (upon reading this line, my proofreader claims that I “need to get laid a life”), with the hope of delivering the BEST list of classes to get you STOKED to come back to campus. It combines all the things I love most in life: cool classes that don’t physically drive me to tears (yes, I’m talking to YOU, “Inventing Classics“), excessive linkage, personality stereotypes, semi-snarky commentary, giant over-generalizations and massive assumptions, and most importantly: THE MUPPETS.  In any case, I hope the article piques your interest in something you might have otherwise overlooked, missed, or been to lazy to go look up.  And if not, all I can say is that I hope it makes you laugh (if only in pity). Other than that, here’s to the remaining MONTH of summer (suck it, Cal) and the boredom and restlessness that will inevitably accompany it. Cheers.

 

Autumn 2012 classes for…

the wise-guy

Old Guys Rule.

AMSTUD 140: Stand Up Comedy and the “Great American Joke” Since 1945

I took this class last fall. Actual (read: more or less deeply paraphrased) quote from the prof: “Hey, Hennessey – I’ve got an idea for a class. It will involve abundant sexism, racism, elitism, lewd and scatalogical references, innappropriate behvaior, excessive profanity, and – above all – some of the most brilliant and observative writers, performers, and anthropologists of our time.  What’s this class called, you ask? Well, it’s Stand Up Comedy and the Great American Joke”. Take this class. It’s awesome.

MUSIC 36N: Humor in Music

My visions of this class involve Steel Panther, Weird Al, and Parry Gripp.

Thank God I’m not teaching it.

 

the romantic

Living up to his name like an absolute champ

HISTORY 33A: Blood and Roses: The Age of the Tudors
Mystery, murder, sex, and scheming? And you thought your family was dramatic.

ATHLETIC 39: Fencing: Beginning
So you can do THIS.

ENGLISH 154: Mapping the Romantic Imagination
The map of MY romantic imagination involves horseback trips through the Florin countryside with Wesley, a sunset on the bow of the (intact) Titanic with Jack, the California coastline in Benjamin Bradford’s convertible, getting stuck on an island in the Caribbean with Cap’n Jack Sparrow, Patrick Verona’s paintball park, and wherever Ryan Gosling is currently located (though, preferably here). To my great disappointment, however, I believe this class refers a bit more to the English romantic poets and novelists and the sublime countrysides they envisioned. Then again, is anything quite as lovely and romanticized as curling up with a little Keats and Byron?

 

the hipster

This muppet is actually called Harry the Hipster. You've probably never heard of him.

ENGLISH 121A: Tattoos, Scars, Marks and American Cultures of Inscription

I feel bad for the poor sucker of a TA who has to read 60+ papers on “Why the dolphin/butterfly/Chinese symbol for “peace”/shooting star/infinity sign/angel wings/song lyrics/Bible verse on my ankle/lower back/shoulder blade/neck/wrist/sideboob/part of my hip that totally gets gets covered by a bikini is a unique artistic expression of my inner self”.

ARTSTUDI 131: Sound Art I 
Because taking just “music” was too mainstream.

FILMSTUD 301: Fundamentals of Cinematic Analysis 
Take this class so that the next time you’re giving your pretentious opinion about the latest film showing at INSERT NAME OF UNKNOWN THEATER HERE, you’ll be able to reference a little-known technique/genre/style/paradigm/buzzword that your professor mentioned once in class.

COMM 182: Virtual Communities and Social Media
This should prepare you well for your vague “job” in the vague cross section between “media” and “social networking” at that start-up no one has ever heard of.

 

the history buff

I want that blazer.

HISTORY 95C: Modern Japanese History: From Samurai to Pokemon
Samurai…. Pokemon. SAMURAI… POKEMON. I’m not quite  sure what’s between these two poles (the history of sushi?!?!) but it’s guaranteed to be awesome.

COMM 125: Perspectives on American Journalism
I don’t know enough about journalism or, frankly, television to confidently explain why “The Newsroom” sucks and “The Wire” is the bestest thing ever since Ike’s Menais a Trois. Admittedly, I should probably take this class and many others on this list. In any case, if you believe the slow death of the newspaper is a genuine travesty or that Cronkite and Murrow could give Colbert and Stewart a run for their money, then this might be the class for you.

HISTORY 103F: Introduction to Military History
It’s like the Military Channel… sans couch.

HISTORY 243G: Tobacco and Health in World History
Not to get all Nick Naylor on you guys, but I’m genuinely curious how one-sided this class is.

HISTORY 59S: The Digital Historian’s Toolkit: Studying the West in an Age of Big Data
From my quick read of the course-description,  it seems like this class involves old documents, scanners, and many a rubber glove. That said, if you like seeing history immortalized and like to wonder “what did they think back then?” and “how did that really happen?” then this is the class for you.

EDUC 116N: Howard Zinn’s ‘A People’s History’ and the Quest for Historical Truth
If you’re reading this section, theres a decent chance that you identify yourself as a history buff. Howard Zinn was the guru/godfather/mack-daddy of all American history buffs. Student, meet the ultimate teacher.

HISTORY 308D: Pre-Modern Warfare
I’m not exactly sure at what point/what contraptions fall under the heading of “Modern Warfare”, but if you’re telling me that I get to take a class on how to use the history of ninja stars, crossbows, catapults, and broadswords, then SIGN. ME. UP.

CLASSGEN 103: The Greek Invention of Mathematics
My sole incentive for taking this class would be figuring out exactly which Greek mathematician to fantasize about brutally torturing  whilst in the middle of my Math 52 midterm.

 

the patriot

Coming Soon: Muppets take 'Merica.

CSRE 51K: Election 2012

I should really, REALLY take this class. Seriously, because – besides Obama – I’m not really sure who’s actually still in the race.

COMM 162: Campaigns, Voting, Media, and Elections 
See above comment.

COMM 164: The Psychology of Communication About Politics in America 
I’d like to think that, to the individuals who plan to lead my country and allegedly have my best interest at heart, I am more than just a number and that my opinions and behaviors are more than just statistics.

ECON 18: The Washington Debate About American Competitiveness
If I take this class, will I get a job?

PUBLPOL 170: Political Corruption
It’s not cheating if you don’t get caught.

PUBLPOL 154: Politics and Policy in California
Let’s hope that by the time this class is over, Michael Tubbs will have a place in its curriculum.

ECON 25N: Public Policy and Personal Finance
Something about tax-brackets… maybe. I expect to see a lot of pitchforks and raised fists.

HUMBIO 120: Health Care in America: An Introduction to U.S. Health Policy
Obamacare. And other stuff. Probably.

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You Know You’re in Turkey When…

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

(An American of Turkish heritage in Turkey)

By: Peri Unver

*These observations are not generalizations but merely my own personal ones that I have made this summer.

1.  You take your life into your hands whenever you’re in a car as drivers think the middle of the
road is the way to go.  Also, it’s not a complete day until you’ve been honked at least forty times.

2.  You are greeted first by a hello, how are you, kiss on both cheeks, and a comment on how much
weight you’ve gained.

3.  You can fist-pump to the break-up songs.  At first, it’s hard to tell that the song is telling someone off and it’s unsettling to then hear “Shake your booty on the floor now” (inevitably in the remix).

4.  People on the street are gladly willing to help direct you someplace or help you get out of a
sticky parking situation.  However, smiling (especially in the grocery store) is seen as a sign of weakness.

5.  The food is mouth-watering good everywhere and hole-in-the-wall, home-food places are best
(as in New York).  Places to eat are so clean that even in the food court in the mall there are fresh, open salad bars and buffets.

6.  The color of the ocean simply cannot be replicated and it is easy to see why the name is
turquoise, or “Turkish blue.”  It is easy to scoff (especially when you’re from California) at those with surf boards asthere are no waves in Turkey.

7.  The understanding of making a line at a bank or another established location is a circle.

8.  The price of everything, from clothing to food, is negotiable.

9.  It is a prerequisite that you must be able to sing and dance in order to become a Turkish
citizen.  You must also know the lyrics to Turkish songs as questions about that are always asked on game shows.

10.  In almost anyTurkish home you enter someone will be able to read your fortune from Turkish
coffee grinds (“fal”).

11.  The concept of personal space is a foreign one in Turkey. Wherever you are, someone might be virtually sitting in your lap and not even notice it.

12.  When you are going to watch a show at night settle in because you’ll be there for the long
haul, at least three to four hours.  When asked if the show is still on the answer will always be yes.  (It’s no wonder when on the Turkish version of Wheel of Fortune one of the slots is “tell a secret” and song and dance breaks are taken frequently.)  Also, during commercial breaks, you can indeed make a sandwich, take a shower, visit a neighbor, and still be in time for the next portion of the show.

13.  The relatively new law (2005) requiring accessibility for people with disabilities unfortunately falls short, as I personally witnessed this summer as I used a wheelchair.  Almost everywhere is not
accessible and the ramps are of varying widths and scarily, angles.  (Places from the movie theater and even an orthopedist’s office have a hill of steps and no lifts, ramps, or even handrails.)

Even with all of its quirks, it is a beautiful country to visit with much history, nice people, and amazing food.  So hos geldiniz (welcome) to Turkiye!

How to Own the Stanford Housing Draw

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Okay, okay, I’m kidding. There’s no way to beat the draw. (I mean, it is just a random number that you have no control over. Sorry.) But you can do the next best thing: avoid it altogether. Put your housing out of the lottery system and into your own hands.

Disclaimer: This is written for those who want to live in a tier 1 or tier 2 house. If you’re into FroSoCo and the like (“FroSoCo and the like” meaning, uhm, just other tier-3 houses!), you can put your housing into pretty much anybody’s hands and you’d still be set.

French House is a Tier 1/2 house, but you just might be able to live here all 3 upperclass years...

So, let’s say you want to live in a tier 1 or 2 house all three upperclass years. You look at that recent Daily draw article and sigh. A 784 to get into Xanadu, a 1159 to get into Durand, and a 360 to get into French House… It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to see what’s happening if you get a 1500-3000 draw number: you’re not getting in. So what do you do? You don’t let it come to the draw at all. Here’s how:

1.      Staff (Tier 3)

Staffing is pretty much the sweetest deal ever. You get a single. You get paid. You get to plan what happens at your house (and have people listen to you, too). You get a leadership position for your resume. You get to brag to your friends about being on staff. You get to use tier 3, and still live wherever you want. Perfect, right? Right.

OK, there is a caveat – namely, you can apply for staff and not get selected. But there are so many houses, so many staff positions, and so many senior staff who have to be replaced that you probably will be selected. In fact, in my 2 years at Stanford, I’ve never heard of anybody applying for staff and not getting any staff position (but then again, I guess people wouldn’t exactly publicize that). But even if you don’t get selected, you’re not worse off than if you hadn’t applied for staff at all (well, ok, except for the bruised ego. But then just don’t tell anyone you were rejected and move on).

(more…)

Spring into Spring with the 2012 Course Guide

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Think you know all the ins and outs of spring’s awesome courses?

Story. Of. My. Life.

Ha. Think again. Here, for your pleasure, I have painstakingly compiled a list of the hands-down most awesome, useful, compelling, frightening, GER-fulfilling, enjoyable classes you could ever imagine. Remember  before Chem 31, Math 51, and IHUM… back when you applied to Stanford? Remember how you raved about how excited you were for the “engaging classes”? After reading this article, you’re going to realize you weren’t just saying that. Stanford is killing it next quarter in terms of super-interesting classes, and you have the opportunity to get in on the action. I know Camp Stanford is tempting, but after reading this article, you might actually want to bulk up your course load with some of these. And, speaking of Camp Stanford, the categories are…

Camp Stanford: Whether you’re trying to recover from the carnage of your winter course load or just getting a jump-start on summer laziness/craziness, here are the best classes to keep the thoughts of warm breezes and fun-in-the-sun swirling in your head until June…

  • EARTHSYS 180B: Principles and Practices of Sustainable Agriculture: A course that lets “The Farm” live up to its name. Get outside and onto Stanford’s community farm and others in the area. Enjoy the sun on your neck and a little dirt on your nose. (3-4 units, multiple times)
  • ATHLETIC 80: Lifeguard Training: Didn’t snag the Google internship you wanted? No sweat. Speaking from personal experience, I can attest that lifeguarding is a solid career choice for those  looking to dip their toes in the real world. Make decent cash, get the tan of your life (and hopefully not melanoma… sunblock, guys!) and know that you can save a life if need be.  (2 units, T/Th 12-2, fee)

    Once upon a time...

  • ATHLETIC 51: Beginning Golf: If you were able to make it into this class, I commend you with my highest honors. (1 unit, multiple times, fee)
  • ATHLETIC 320: Backpacking: You might have given up Stanford Sierra Camp to work for a start-up, but maybe this class can scratch your outdoorsy itch before you sell your soul for equity. (1 unit, M 7-9:30) (more…)

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Meanwhile, at Stanford...

Anyone know the scoop on Mr. Fire and Brimstone here? Freedom of speech debate aside, you have to give him credit for the sign…