Archive for the ‘News Media’ Category

Well Hello, Verizon iPhone.

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

The iPhone is a powerful device. Is it now a necessity for our high-powered campus?

Or should I say, hello ridiculously huge hint of a Verizon iPhone? It seems that Apple fanboys on the interweb are abuzz since being invited to a special Verizon event in New York City on 1/11/11 at 11 am.  I think for most people, this is fabulous news! I know more than one person who has been waiting all year for Verizon to finally release the iPhone. They wanted a smart phone but because of their parent’s refusal to switch mobile plans (or let them get their own) they’ve been forced to settle for some version of the Droid. Or even worse, they’ve been forced to wait for the unidentified date of Verizon’s iPhone release.

Yet the wait appears to be close to an end. There seems to be a blackout on Apple employee vacations around February 3rd. Maybe for the launch? Either way, the end of the wait is near. And with the end of the wait comes a shift in the cell phone service on our campus.

Stanford quite fondly supports Apple. It’s obvious in the fact that every dorm comes equipped with numerous Apple desktops with all the software a little freshman can dream about. But something that seems to have developed without Stanford’s direct influence is At&t’s prominence. I’m not actually sure which came first, the iPhone or the cell phone towers, but not only are there more At&t users on campus, but it’s also a widely held knowledge that regardless of your phone type At&t also offers the best service. There were once rumors of a Stanford/At&t deal but there’s not enough evidence to support that idea. Apparently all service providers offer their best coverage here. Yet with Verizon getting in on the iPhone market, things may change.

I have no doubt that when the iPhone goes on the market for Verizon, many students will rush to buy it. And if there were more users, possibly running on upcoming 4G networks, it would be just rude if Verizon didn’t come around to fix their lackluster service. More iPhones, and better service for more students all around – it seems like a win-win situation, right?

Yet one of the things that has always surprised me was Stanford’s technological homogeneity. Considering the amount of engineers and general technological know-how on campus, it’s amazing how many people religiously buy Apple products. Our students are smart – some can defend their reasons for buying a Macbook Pro like an industry insider. Yet after trying to have novelty and variety  in so many other areas, it’s funny how little we try different devices.  So while this launch will give Verizon a big boost on campus, I can’t help but feel that all of us walking around with staring into the abyss of our iPhones deters from the uniqueness we love about our campus. It is just a phone and (that label is actually probably too simplistic for new smart phones) but Apple sells a lifestyle through its brand. We’re the perfect age group (teens and twenty somethings) living right next to the Silicon Valley. In a way, we may become some garish, living advertisement for Apple through its simple representation at our school.  The iPhone may be cool and snazzy, but it’s still the same product for a very diverse student body.

EDIT: It’s official. Here’s some info on the Verizon iPhone.

Would you be interested in getting a Verizon iPhone?

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A Final Plea for Sudan

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Tensions run high in the southern regions of Sudan

Sudan is less than 48 hours from a historic precipice.  Depending on whether the Southern Sudan referendum passes on January 9th, Sudan will either descend into renewed anarchy or emerge triumphant with the hope and promise of a more peaceful future.

As you may remember from my earlier article when George Clooney and John Prendergast visited Stanford, the current referendum in Sudan proposes the splitting of Sudan with the hopes of preventing future religiously and economically motivated violence.  With very high stakes in the form of oil-rich regions, this option is one of the few viable solutions for finally obtaining peace in the tumultuous Darfur region.  In a frantic, last-minute push, Prendergast and Clooney have returned to Sudan to implore the Sudanese government to seriously consider the referendum and begin taking the necessary steps to protect all Sudanese people.

Supporters of secession

If you’re writing the Sudan issue off as another distant tremor in war-torn Africa, please think again.  Consider for a moment the movie Hotel Rwanda.  Just a decade ago, during our lifetimes, genocide in Rwanda led to the death of 800,000 citizens.  Not combatants.  Not soldiers.  Men, women, and children who were raped, shot, and slaughtered by machete.  In Sudan, we have a new Hotel Rwanda waiting to happen.  The very thought that something like that could happen under our watch is truly bone-chilling.

Our generation can do better.  Our generation can stop genocide before it begins.

The clock is ticking, but the battle’s not over yet.  If you care about the people of Sudan, if you empathize with the thousands of displaced refugees and heartbroken widows this conflict has produced, please consider doing the following to make your voice heard:

  • Sign a petition at  ask Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough (Obama’s point person inside the White House on Sudan) to “make sure Sudan’s leaders fully comply with the benchmarks for progress in both Darfur and South Sudan before any incentives are granted by the U.S. Government.”
  • Write a personal letter to Obama himself:  ask him to remember the January deadline.
  • Join STAND, Amnesty International, or any of Stanford’s other anti-genocide groups on campus.

Oh no, UConn’t!

Friday, December 31st, 2010

...and the crowd goes wild!!

Yesterday, December 30, 2010, #8 Stanford women’s basketball beat #1 UConn 71 to 59 without ever losing the lead.  In so doing, Stanford decisively ended the longest winning streak in major college basketball history.  You go, girls.

Stanford Cardinal 71, University of Connecticut Huskies 59, and what occurred here Thursday night just might be the best thing to happen to women’s basketball since it was decided girls no longer had to play in skirts.”
Let me break it down for you by the numbers.
  • 90 games.  The last time UConn lost was in 2008, when the Cardinal defeated them in the Final Four.
  • UConn star and two-time national player of the year Maya Moore was held to 14 points.  She averages 25 points a game.
  • Stanford has won 52 straight home games.
  • 998 days is longer than the United States spent as a combatant in World War I.  998 days is longer than the lifespan of a newt.  998 days ago, George W. Bush was still our president, and nobody had heard of avian or swine flu.  998 days is a long time ago.

Senior Pohlen goes in for the kill.

Stars of the game:

  • Jeanette Pohlen: our 6-foot, do-everything point guard “crack[ed] the game wide open with sheer grit and physical toughness” with 31 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists.  “I just had that mentality. I’m not giving up until that buzzer goes off,” said Pohlen, after hitting five 3-pointers. “I think our team was really looking for me to get my shot. We got the win, and our team played awesome.”
  • Kayla Pedersen: her 11 rebounds gave Stanford a 43-36 advantage on the boards.
  • Stanford freshman Chiney Ogwumike played only 19 minutes, but her tough defense was enough to throw UConn’s star Moore off her game.
We just didn’t play like ourselves. Give credit to Stanford. I think they played an unbelievably good game.”
–  Huskies Coach Geno Auriemma
Start your engines:
  • With impressive momentum like this, it’s up to the fans to keep up the vibe.  Breathless, senior Pohlen gushed, “I’ve never seen [Maples] this loud or crazy. Even our freshman year, the Tennessee game here, it was packed but nothing like this. It was amazing. Such a great atmosphere to play in.”
  • Perhaps more exciting is the potential of our program.  With Coach VanDerveer collecting her 800th win and younger players like Chiney Ogwumike already taking on difficult roles, Stanford women’s basketball is looking great.
  • So keep up the energy, sports fans.  With a season as promising as this, it would be hard not to get excited.

Vanishing Act: Amelia Earhart Mystery Solved?

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

"Queen of the Air"

If you were ever a second grade girl, chances are good that you once wrote a report about Amelia Earhart.  If you were anything like me, you were really, really excited to read about this pioneering aviatrix whose daring transatlantic and record-setting flights shattered early 20th century misconceptions about the role of women and earned her the nickname “Queen of the Air.” And then you were promptly really, really bummed when you read that she disappeared in her prime while attempting to circumnavigate the globe.  Sigh.  You finished your report, gazed briefly at the speculations surrounding her untimely disappearance, and started your fractions homework.  You moved on.

Like you, the world had largely forgotten about Amelia since her 1937 disappearance.  That is, until December 14th, 2010, when researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) announced their possession of a fragment of what they believe to be Amelia Earhart’s finger bone.

After 22 years of rigorous research and 10 grueling expeditions, we can say that all of the evidence we have found on Nikumaroro is consistent with the hypothesis that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan landed and eventually died there as castaways.”  – Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR Executive Director

2001 satellite image of Nikumaroro Island - Earhart's final resting place?

Since the 1980s, TIGHAR’s Earhart Project has conducted global satellite sweeps in hopes of finding clues to Earhart’s death.  Back in 1940, a British colonial officer found a partial skeleton along with a woman’s shoe, a wooden box that once contained a sexton, and discarded remains of turtle shells, clam shells and birds in what appeared to be a campsite on the uninhabited coral atoll of Nikumaroro Island.  Tragically, these traces were lost over time, but because Nikumaroro lies close to where Earhart disappeared, TIGHAR chose to focus on this site starting in 1989 and sent 10 investigatory exhibitions to the island in the years to come.


Our Athletes Are Better Than Yours

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Our athletes have won more Director’s Cups than any other school in the nation.  There, I said it.  Article done, right?  But I feel like that’s a cop-out – everyone knows we have the number one athletics program in NCAA Division I.  What’s actually newsworthy, what actually matters, is that our athletes are quantitatively and qualitatively the best in the nation.  Here’s why.

For Andrew Luck, luck's got nothing to do with it.

Our athletes are held to a higher academic standard than those at other schools.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said it best: “We’re looking not for student athletes but scholar-athletes. No other school can carry this banner.”

Take Andrew Luck, for example.  Our star quarterback, who by all fair comparisons was robbed of the Heisman Trophy, was his high school valedictorian and is majoring in architectural design.  There’s no doubt, as Fox Sports put it, that Andrew “has the smarts to go with the impeccable athletic skills.”  Indeed, according to teammate Doug Baldwin, “The only thing Andrew can’t do very well is sing.”  Luck‘s likely to be the #1 NFL draft pick and, according to the Mercury News, “it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”  Our beloved scholar-athlete seems like a pretty stark contrast to this year’s Heisman winner Cam Newton and the NCAA controversy surrounding his dubious recruitment.

Yeah, our athletes cure diseases. No big deal.

Our athletes are changing the world.

Chemical engineer Jake Vandermeer is a busy guy.  A United States Presidential Scholar and former principal cellist for the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, Jake walked on to our #1 men’s volleyball team last year.  Just this September, Jake joined the team at the White House celebration of the 2009-10 NCAA championship teams.  But what really makes Jake stand out is how he’s radically improving the lives of others.  This summer he helped develop a potential cure for Legg-Calve-Perthes disease – a crippling disease that affects about 1,200 children a year.  That’s really something to cheer about.


Stanford Bowl Situation…again

Monday, November 29th, 2010

So I realize that Kevin just blogged about our bowl situation.  But that was before BCS standings came out.  And frankly, this is an amazing year for Stanford football.  We are #5 in the AP Poll, 11-1 for the first time ever, Luck just set a single season school touchdown record, and we have had 3 shut outs this season.  We have the best quarterback, arguably the best player (HEISMAN!), in college football.  We are in my mind the best one loss team in the country.  IN THE COUNTRY.  In fact right now our football team is nationally ranked higher than our academic program…and we are Stanford.  We have created one of the most dynamic football teams in the nation without jeopardizing the high academic standards that make Stanford the incredible school we know it to be.  Just a little while ago when we were 1-11, the idea of a BCS bowl seemed impossibly far off, yet here we are, thanks to our amazing players and astounding coaching staff.  In fact, this season has been so amazing that I think it deserves, not one, but TWO bowl articles.

Now that I am done gushing, let’s get down to business.   I will try and make this as simple as possible, but keep in mind that this involves the BCS, so it can’t really be all that simple.

First thing first.  In case you didn’t know, we are #4 in the BCS rankings this week.  Those ranked in the top four get an automatic invite to a BCS bowl game (in BCS speak, an automatic berth).  The schools closest behind us have already finished their regular season, as have we.  With a .0228 lead on Wisconsin, we can comfortably say, unless the voters go insane before their next vote, we should remain ahead.   This essentially means STANFORD WILL PLAY IN A BCS BOWL!  “Which BCS bowl?” you ask.   Here is where things get tricky. (more…)

Big Game 2010: A Victory in Photos

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Big Game 2010 was absolutely glorious.  From the not-actually-that-bad weather, to the epic LSJUMB costumes, to – oh, yeah – our domination of Cal, Big Game consisted of epic Stanford supremacy from start to finish.

Hopefully you cheered alongside me through rain and shine (and touchdown after touchdown after touchdown).  If not, however, don’t worry: here are my top picks of priceless Stanford moments, as accompanied by Big Game photos taken by yours truly.

Check it out.  And congratulations to Coach Harbaugh, Andrew Luck, and the men of Stanford Football for rocking the field yesterday.  Your hard work has paid off.  The Axe is OURS!!

Notable Big Game Moments:

deadmau5, baby


Star Power for Social Good: Clooney and Prendergast Speak Out on Sudan

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Usually at the start of an event article such as this, I’d provide some background, some details on the event, maybe a few witticisms, and wrap up with some related resources.  And I will.  Just not yet, because that is not the point.  If you take nothing else away from this article, give this sentence your full attention:

Sudan is at the precipice of civil war, and YOU can do something to prevent the next genocide.


  • A Sudanese child soldier: the very real human consequence of inaction in Sudan

    Sign a petition at  ask Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough (Obama’s point person inside the White House on Sudan) to “make sure Sudan’s leaders fully comply with the benchmarks for progress in both Darfur and South Sudan before any incentives are granted by the U.S. Government.”

  • Write a personal letter to Obama himself:  ask him to remember the January deadline.
  • Join STAND, Amnesty International, or any of Stanford’s other anti-genocide groups on campus.
  • Participate in Stanford’s Darfur Fast:  Nov. 17th, all-day, with breaking of the fast 6-7:30 p.m., 1st floor Tresidder Union.  Register here, suggested donation $10.  Proceeds benefit the Darfur Stoves project.
  • Purchase a STAND Beat Cal Sudan T-shirt:  30% of proceeds go to the Darfur Stoves project.
  • Buy food at Jamba Juice between November 10 and 19, mentioning STAND or Darfur Fast, and a portion of the proceeds will go to Darfur Stoves.
  • Use social media to spread the word!

Our generation can reverse the tide of racial genocide and use creative diplomacy to prevent future atrocities.  Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?


Stanford goes to Court….

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Future site of the IP smackdown

…and not just any court.  The Supreme Court.

Just this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review an intellectual property case between Stanford University and Roche, a company that focuses on diagnostics and drugs for infectious diseases.

The case, entitled “Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University v. Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.,” will profoundly influence the way America assesses patent rights with regard to university and government funding.

Holodniy's work on PCR for HIV testing are the root of the controversy

The controversy stems from developments in HIV testing using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology conducted by Stanford fellow Mark Holodniy in the late 1980s.  Holodniy’s team relied substantially upon generous research grants provided by Stanford University and the National Institutes of Health, a federal agency.  When Holodniy joined Stanford as a Research Fellow in the Department of Infectious Disease in 1988, he signed a “Copyright and Patent Agreement” (“CPA”) that obligated him to assign his inventions to the university.  The next year, Holodniy began collaborations with local biotech company Cetus Corp.


Former TUSB Blogger Featured in The Atlantic

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor and culture blogger at The Atlantic.

Former TUSB blogger and officer Darius Tahir guest-blogged an entry for Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor and culture blogger at The Atlantic, after winning Coates’ “Talk to Me Like I’m Stupid Contest.” Tahir, who wrote consistently for The Unofficial Stanford Blog on sports and books in 2007 and 2008, won by explaining financial derivatives (that thing that nobody understands that is part of why the economy tanked) in layman’s terms. He explains:

A while back me and my buddies were playing poker. I got to the game late so there wasn’t a spot for me (the game was capped at eight people). So one of the players was playing absolutely awful and losing a ton of cash. I turn to another guy who wasn’t playing and said, I bet he’ll be the first out. So we made a bet on it (mostly for sport).

So, if poker were finance, here’s how it would be: the poker players are investing straightforwardly in stocks and bonds and what have you. They’re investing in an asset directly. I’m investing in a derivative: my bet is derived from the standing of someone else.

In his Atlantic piece, Darius talks about movie adaptations of books and makes the claim that perhaps the best books-turned-films are those books that fail to escape mediocrity but have elements that can visually make them memorable films.

In his spare time (he has now entered that weird post-college world), Darius has been blogging on his blog, “Various Provocations” (not Darius Provocations?) that can now also be found on our student (including people who once were students) blogroll.

Also in The Atlantic’s online version today: James Fallows (author of this awesome article about Google and the news media industry) talks about ROTC and Stanford.

In Which I Try to Talk about Divestment and Free Speech (Without Getting Bogged Down in Nuanced Political Issues On Which I am Unqualified to Speak)

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict once again became a heated issue on campus when the possibility of a divestment bill nearly reached the ASSU Undergraduate Senate last week. As that happened, people started writing about Israel, Palestine, and the idea of divestment: (in chronological order–take a deep breath, here goes): op-ed here, op-ed here, op-ed here, an overview here (recommended), a news article here,  an op-ed here, an op-ed here,  a news article here, an op-ed here, and an op-ed here, and this. On top of all this, people actually utilized the comments section of some of these articles–most notably Linda Hess’s piece (op-ed the third)–and went on to add to the dialogue a mix of comments ranging from interesting to hateful to hilarious.

After reading all of the above and talking in-depth with members of the ASSU and students who support (strongly) both sides of the issue, one thing is extraordinarily clear: whatever your view on divestment is, or on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, it is absolutely clear that this is not a topic in which the ASSU should have any involvement.

Luckily, and to my cynical-self’s surprise, the leaders of the primary pro-divestment group (Campaign Restore Hope) and anti-divestment group (Invest for Peace)* have come together and agreed that the ASSU should not be the arena for the divestment debate. I have no idea how this occurred, but I cannot commend the leaders in this discussion enough: this is a victory for any hope at actual progress and helps diminish the likelihood of the campus devolving further into an unproductive flame war with heavily negative consequences for many students on campus.

What this last concept–negative consequences of this debate–brings to light is that much of the divestment discussion is intimately linked with free speech. But free speech, like Israeli/Palestinian politics, is a much more nuanced issue than most people want to acknowledge.


TUSBriefing: Highlights from Around Campus and Beyond

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

I wanted to point out a few items of note–whose noteworthiness is subject solely to my opinion–that are worth your time amidst all of our busy schedules*:

Florida politician Alex Sink's political ambitions should have nothing to do with her children's actions.

-Nik Milanovic writes a great opinion piece in the Daily on the Kappa Sig listserv controversy. The students who deactivated were completely within their rights to be offended and take the actions they did (and I think deactivation is an appropriate response), but to turn this into an issue that could have political ramifications for the offending students’ parents, among other responses, is pushing it way too far. If my parents were responsible for every bad joke I told, they’d almost certainly be in jail at this point.

-A guest op-ed by Yishai Kabaker ‘10 also in the Daily is positive and thoughtful in regards to the possible issue of divestment (in this case, related to Israel/Palestine). If the possibility of divestment does become any sort of issue on campus, this might be an idea that gains a steady hand and can hopefully deflect what could very easily turn into a religious and ethnic flame war on campus. (See a response op-ed to Kabaker here).

-In an apparent attempt to galvanize some class pride, there will be a “Battle of the Classes” in which students of the four undergraduate classes will compete against each other in various sports (soccer, basketball) and “sports” (chess, corn hole). Not in the competition: beirut. Prediction: the freshman will come out in droves and the other three classes will be participating in napping or beirut.

-Stanford, in all its diversity, apparently has a tea party. I know the media gets a great deal of criticism for devoting far more time to this “party” than it deserves, but I can’t resist asking this question: am I the only one who finds it interesting that every person in this video is white and male?

Just throwing it out there.

*The noteworthiness and subjective value in these items is solely based on the opinion of this post’s author (me), as are the noteworthiness and subjective value of the occasionally snarky commentary.

Show Me Your Papers!

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

If you’ve been keeping up with current events, you’ve probably heard about the new immigration bill passed in Arizona. It’s being referred to as the toughest measure against illegal immigration yet. The law allows police offers to ask a person for their documents if they have “reasonable suspicion” that that person is an illegal alien. Racial profiling much?  Jon Stewart has put his two cents in on the law. Immigration is obviously a much debated issue throughout the rest of the country as well. Tim James, a gubernatorial candidate in the state of Alabama, has made it a significant part of his platform, too:

embedded by Embedded Video

Note the heartfelt musical accompaniment, his reflective glance toward the ground before asking if it makes sense to you, and his declaration that “This is Alabama. We speak English”. I thought that it was a parody of some kind.

As for the Arizona issue, it will continue to be the subject of heated debate. A number of rights groups have criticized the law. Police Officer Martin H. Escobar of Tucson is pursuing a lawsuit, citing that there are no means of identifying the immigration status of individuals without using race-based criteria. In any event, it’s a hot issue that we should definitely keep up with.

California Senator Says He’s Gay, Defends Anti-Gay Votes

Monday, March 8th, 2010

roy ashburn.jpgHypocrisy remains the lifeblood of politics. State Senator Roy Ashburn, a Republican from Bakersfield with a staunch anti-gay voting record, came out as gay in a radio interview this morning. When Ashburn was charged with a DUI last week in Sacramento, a local TV station reported that several people saw him at a popular gay bar the night of his arrest. The news set off a media frenzy and rekindled old rumors that Ashburn lived a closeted life.
Ashburn maintains that he has cast the votes his conservative constituents wanted, adding, “I don’t think it’s something that has affected or will affect how I do my job.” He has consistently voted against bills that would expand rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Californians.
Such personal sacrifice entails a great deal of selflessness, right? How noble for him to sacrifice his own principles (if he has any) and live a life of denial in order to stay in office.
Since he has so much time to mess around, Ashburn ought to drop by a Stanford class offered next quarter, Ethics in Theory and Practice (ETHICSOC 10), and re-examine his thought process. Perhaps ex-ASSU Vice President Jay de la Torre could join him to ease the transition and express solidarity.

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Stanford Study: Great White Sharks More Endangered Than Tigers

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Great-White-Shark.jpgOne of the ocean’s most fearsome predators may be in dire straits. According to a research team led by Barbara Block, Professor in Marine Sciences at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, there are fewer than 3,500 great white sharks remaining in the wild, making them rarer than tigers.

Scientists had previously believed great whites were rare but not endangered because they were spotted in a variety of distant locations. However, according to the team’s unpublished study, people have been seeing the same sharks.

To gather data, Professor Block and her team used satellite and acoustic tracking devices to monitor over 150 great whites in southern California and Hawaii. They found that great whites are remarkable long distance swimmers, capable of travelling 12,000 miles in nine months. In addition, the researchers discovered that sharks spotted in Hawaii were the same individuals observed off the coast of California just six months later.

Professor Block is a recipient of the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

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