March 16, 2013 | Holidays

We wish you a nerdy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Trying to get in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day while studying for finals?  Sigh – you’re not alone.

But if you want a catchy study tune to keep you in the mood, check out this witty ditty, care of Stanford biology alum Adam Cole, B.S. ’09, M.S. ’10.  You’ll probably learn a lot – let’s hear it for Sacchyromyces cerevisiae!

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March 11, 2013 | Humor

Bittersweet: Dead Week 2013

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The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…

Need I say more?

March 7, 2013 | Photography

NEW PHOTO CONTEST: Winter at Stanford

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Mmmmocha!

EDIT:  updated (bigger!) prizes – see below!

Winter at Stanford evokes myriad images in our day to day lives.  From the sidewalk scrawlings of “regarde le ciel” (look at the sky), to the Barista art in the foam of your mocha, it’s often the little things that add spice and color to your day.

For this photo contest, we’re asking YOU to submit your favorite photos from this winter, be they artsy, fartsy, or just plain cool.  Whatever “winter” means to you, in this place, in this time, on however much caffeine you’ve been drinking, email it to stanfordblogging@gmail.com.

The stakes:  $30 $50 gift card to the overall winner: choice of Ike’s, Starbucks or Amazon!  $15 $25 gift cards to the three honorable mentions (same choice).  And if you’re awesome enough, we’ll just add more prizes.  Because we can.  The contest ends on 3/22.

Thank you to Safemart for helping to make the Winter at Stanford contest on The Unofficial Stanford Blog possible. Whether it’s sipping hot chocolate at the CoHo in the Winter, playing Ultimate Frisbee at the Oval in the Spring, crunching leaves underfoot as you take a Fall stroll to Cantor or running around Lake Lag during the Summer, Stanford has a million things to offer. But at some point, most of us venture out of the Stanford bubble (at least for a few years).  Are you graduating this year and planning on sharing a house in Palo Alto with your draw mates while you work for the latest hot start-up?  Or perhaps you’ve got that investment banking job or Teach for America position that you’ve always wanted and will be moving to the Big Apple.  Wherever you end up post-graduation, Safemart has the home security solutions you’ll need to keep your new apartment or house secure.  Check out state-of-the-art Safemart alarm systems and related home security products today!

March 5, 2013 | Academics

Blessed are the geeks…

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Just don’t get them started about the Claw.

I’m not sure exactly why, but Stanford has an unspoken stigma against asking questions in class.  Ask too many questions and you become “that guy.”  Pipe up and the entire class turns to you like the creepy, synchronized, green alien dudes in Toy Story.  Once the professor starts calling you by name it’s game over.

I’ve always been confused why question-asking feels so taboo in a school so obsessed with intellectual vitality.  Are we willing to compromise our understanding for the sake of looking like we have our act together?  Is it really so bad to admit weakness?  Are we too timid to risk humiliation at the hands of a Nobel laureate, or to face Socratic-style evisceration in a Law School seminar?  (OK, that’s a fair point.)

I’m no exception to this rule, and throughout my time here, asking questions in large lectures has always brought up my pulse and threatened to jumble my words to the point of incoherence.  (Pro tip: asking questions should actually be less scary in large lectures, because fewer people know who you are!)  Better to risk looking like a fool in class than to have it incontrovertibly proven in the final, right?  What have we got to lose?

I want to take this opportunity to thank the question-askers.  You guys rock.  Ever notice the rumble of shuffling paper right after you ask a question?  Yeah, that’s because everyone else had the same question, they were dying for someone to ask it, and they’re now frantically taking notes.  Ever seen the masses turn to you with widened eyes?  Yeah, that’s the look of a hundred students trying to convey “thank you” via ESP.  You keep us from keeling over every time the prof skips the proof or dismisses the big step as “obvious.”  You, sir or madam, are insistent, attentive, and on your game.  In a phrase: you go, Glen Coco.

As we round the bend to finals, never forget that asking questions is a very good thing.  Stay curious, my friends.

March 1, 2013 | Polls

Party With Fees: A Lighthearted Rant

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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…)

Continue reading “Party With Fees…”»

February 28, 2013 | Academics

From the Desk of the Lorax: I Speak for the “Tree”

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“I am the Lorax. I speak for the ‘Tree’” . No, I’m not misquoting Dr. Seuss. I’m talking about the  news that broke today about the registrar’s proposal to change the  earliest class to 8:30, speaking on behalf of a huge portion of the Stanford community united in their common representation by the unofficial mascot  of the Tree: Stanford athletes.  As a member of the lightweight rowing team, I have been a varsity athlete for the past three years. Being on a sport at Stanford is not just an activity, it is a lifestyle. It influences how I eat, sleep, study, and even think. Rowing crew has taught me things that no class could ever so deeply impress upon my soul. Beyond the importance of teamwork, it has taught me that when times get tough, it’s better to see problems as opportunities to transcend weakness by choosing to dig in and pull harder rather than give in to get my boat’s bow ball  to the finish line ahead of the other crews.

Stanford’s culture celebrates student’s achievements both inside and outside the classroom like no other university I have ever seen. Upon coming here, I was overwhelmed by the tremendous respect and support for excellence in all its forms: whether you can juggle six hundred flaming bowling pins at once, code an entire operating system in a few hours, sing the Iliad in original Greek, or move a ball up and down a field or court with incredible agility, you are AWESOME and contribute to the collective awesomeness of this university. No matter what you do, your accomplishment builds to a cohesive whole that drives Stanford, and the rest of the human race, forward. This unbelievable spirit has pushed countless people, myself included, to keep going and to be the best that they can be no matter how tough times get.

Stanford women’s soccer, 2011 national champs

That’s why I was so disturbed to hear of the Registrar’s decisions in today’s article in the Daily. Most sports on campus have practice twice a day throughout he year; usually one of those practices (whether it be rowing on the water, weights, swimming, conditioning,etc.) happens before 9:00 class and finishes just in time to get to 9:00 class. Having classes start any earlier would make it impossible for many athletes to effectively plan their class schedules around practice to take the classes they are passionate about and need to graduate in four years. This would severely hinder the academic experience for many athletes who chose Stanford for its top-shelf combination of academics and athletics. Moving classes any earlier than they are would also be deleterious to athletic performance. Stanford athletes don’t win national championships and Olympic gold medals automatically by being at Stanford and soaking up the glorious northern California sunshine year round while their competition elsewhere in the country is stuck trudging through a snowbank to practice inside; they win only as the result of hours of practice and good, old-fashioned hard work. If we have to shift our practice schedule any earlier to accommodate for an earlier class schedule, our practices will be much less effective as we will have less time to sleep and eat  in accordance with our high energy demands. In rowing, we like to say that every stroke you take “off”, mentally or physically, is one stroke behind the competition; clearly, any lack of focus can get you left at the starting line. I highly doubt that anyone who calls himself or herself a Cardinal wants to see this happen on the grand scale.

As an upperclassman, I vividly remember Dean Julie saying during orientation that whenever the Cardinal takes the field, we ALL take the field.  So, when you think about whether or not you will really miss your pre-class donut in the morning (or, for that matter, whether or not you even go to early morning classes), think about the sense of pride you get from dancing to “All Right Now” every time we score a touchdown, the sense of pride you feel when your friends win a national championship, the chills you got when we won the Rose Bowl. Whether we realize it or not, pride in athletic accomplishment is so deeply engrained in the very fabric of our school’s culture and identity that we cannot act contrary to it.  Sign the petition to make sure it stays “All Right Now”.

February 28, 2013 | Academics

Open meeting to discuss Registrar’s proposed changes

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In case you haven’t heard, the Registrar has proposed moving popular Stanford classes to 8:30 a.m. and disallowing students from taking overlapping classes.  If you’re passionate about this issue, the VPUE is giving you an opportunity to provide input.

Academic Affairs has scheduled a meeting with Vice Provost Harry Elam TODAY at 5:45 PM in the ASSU offices in Old Union.  All interested students are welcome to attend.  Be sure to arrive on time.

The ASSU Senate petition against the changes can be found here.

February 25, 2013 | Opinion

Let the students be heard: Dining Society protest and the ResEd machine

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ResEd Associate Dean Nate Boswell speaks to the demonstrators.

 

Bureaucracy is a tool that can empower the collective to accomplish what uncoordinated individuals cannot. In a functional system, the bureaucrats serve their constituents as their rightful duty. Mistakes are inevitable in the pursue of this ultimate goal, for those in office are humans as flawed as you and me. A healthy bureaucracy is one that can justify itself to others when challenged and avoid the messy self-destructive inefficiencies that comes with cover-ups, hypocrisy, and cognitive dissonance. If we think of the relationship between the bureaucracy and the people as symbiotic, then actions that prioritize the interest of the bureaucrats ahead of the people produce short-term gains at the cost of the long-term vibrancy, and perhaps even viability, of the entire community.

Stanford University is a bureaucracy and that is not necessarily a bad thing. By most measures, it is an extremely successful one that has done an excellent job of providing a conducive environment for talented individuals to share their ideas and do great things. However, like all bureaucracy, it is not perfect.

This afternoon, a crowd of Stanford students gathered at the White Plaza to protest the university’s decision not to renew the contract of the student-run Dining Societies that have served the residents of Governor’s Corner for the past 30 years, with a record that by all accounts is (at the very least) above average for an organization of its nature. The details of this on-going dispute are covered in great details in Miles Unterreiner’s multi-part Daily article. Students who live in the suites are overwhelming opposed to the loss of this unique part of their house identity and many are upset that the decision by Residential Education was only communicated after the fact, leaving no room for students to voice their clear opposition to the change.

Continue reading “Let the student…”»

February 24, 2013 | News

Bloomberg to be 2013 Commencement Speaker!

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Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

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

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

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

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

February 22, 2013 | Events

Descent of the Parental Units

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Excellent PhotoShopping? Really awkward memories? The world may never know.

Parents Weekend 2013 is upon us, and you know what that means… free food!

No, I kid, I kid*, it means that your parents may well be on campus, and if so they’ll be REALLY excited to see you, spend time with you, talk to you, hug you, dote on you, and otherwise keep you really, really busy… right in the midst of midterm season.  The timing, in a word, is inopportune.  Every year I gently remind my parents of how busy I am because I’m trying to make the most of my education.  Every year they not-so-gently remind me that they’re paying for that education.  Touché, parents.  Touché.

In the interest of keeping your parents happy while you keep your academic head above water, here’s a brief guide to parent-friendly resources and activities.

Stanford it up.

The Parents Weekend coordinators have put together a truly wondrous array of opportunities for your progenitors.  If you remember nothing else from this post

SHOW THEM THIS LINK.

There are classes, receptions, tours, and fairs galore.  The whole calendar can be found here.

Don’t let your dad be that guy.

Teach ’em the lingo.

Stanford acronyms are really confusing to the uninitiated.  Help a brother… er, mother out and clarify the quirky verbiage that might otherwise lead them astray:

Go off the beaten path

Here are some quirky ideas for the parents who’ve been there, done that, and want to try something new on their 2nd, 3rd, …, nth Parents Weekend:

  • Cantor Arts Museum is one of the most underrated locations on campus, and The Thinker’s back!
  • Your hipster parents visited Hoover Tower before it was cool?  No worries!  If they’re active, a nice alternative (with breathtaking views) is the Dish walk.  It takes about 1.5 hours to walk, so can be a nice breather (literally) between classroom-based activities.
  • Sit in on an off-beat class.  There are lots of classes just for parents today, but Explore Courses has thousands.  One thing my parents like doing is visiting classes for what they majored in in college.  Also, courses like Psych 1 and CS 106A are both crowd-pleasers, and they’re both offered on Fridays!
  • Make sure they don’t miss Memorial Church.  A lot of my friends still haven’t gone, and it’s by far my favorite spot on campus.
  • Original student artwork is being showcased in the Cummings Art Building right now!  Check it out to support our budding artists.

*But seriously, work that free food angle.

Don’t make your parents fend for themselves while you’re in class.  Refer them to this list of on-campus eateries, or the full plethora of Stanford Dining’s offerings here.

When you’ve finally beasted the last midterm of the week, take advantage of Palo Alto’s diverse culinary fare!  Mom and Dad are lookin’ to treat (probably even your friends, so that they can start those criminal background checks), and there are lots of offerings.

I hope this is helpful, and happy Parents Weekend, everyone!

February 21, 2013 | Ideas

Chill Out, it’s Winter!

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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!

February 21, 2013 | Arts/Music/Film

Less than Masterful: Paul Thomas Anderson Fails to Recruit Us Into His Vision

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I should’ve known I wasn’t going to like The Master.  I cannot say I have loved all of Paul Thomas Anderson’s work, including There Will Be Blood.  Daniel Day-Lewis was excellent at yet another incredibly unlikable, unhinged character.

On the topic of unhinged and unlikable, enter The Master.  Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, a troubled, destructive man dealing with the aftermath of returning after fighting in WWII.  Quell is also fighting against his own personal demons.  He is self-prescribing by drinking horrific alcoholic concoctions (paint-thinner in one).  All in all he’s in a bad place when he comes across Lancaster Dodd (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), aka the “Master” of, let’s call it what it is, a cult.

It becomes hard to know what is real and what is not as Freddie imagines things that have not happened.  As there is no character evolution it is painful to watch Freddie and Dodd’s destructive behavior.  There is no one to root for.

Sure, there are complex questions about man and sexuality, and man versus animal.  Quell and Dodd seem to be two halves of a whole as Dodd recognizes in Quell.  It’s easy to wonder, is man truly that base?  It is interesting that Dodd claims that humans are not part of the animal kingdom yet he insists on there being a leader of men (in this case himself as the Master).

The performances are excellent and may even be recognized come awards season.  There was a definite void when Joaquin Phoenix was pretending he would never act again.  His intensity is finely matched by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams (who plays in my opinion the real Master here, Dodd’s quietly domineering wife).  Hoffman has mastered, no pun intended, this type of slick character who is not what he seems (expertly done in Doubt and even The Ides of March).  Adams is a fierce force onscreen.  Her sweet, doe-eyed look is a stark contrast to the strength and steel she brings to her characters.

I couldn’t help but want The Master to end.  After it all was done I couldn’t believe that was what we were left with, no redemption just a bunch of questions, confusion, and a headache.

 

 

February 14, 2013 | Humor

The People I Would Date from Stanford Confessions

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It’s not Valentine’s day without Ryan Gosling.

In a gargantuan procrastination effort, I have scrolled through every single Stanford confession and constructed the following list of proposals:

#125: I get so angry when people are always hating on the richer people on campus. We’re in college, and as college students we’re put in an environment where money no longer defines your social status as much; we’re all students. It’s great whenever an individual has aspirations to make it big because of his/her background, but I just feel like money is something that is discussed about too much at this school. People should realize what’s really important and stop obsessing about money.

I feel you. Money is not what’s important, it’s all the other stuff that matters. Like, you know, your heart and soul and personality and face. There’s so much passion in this post; clearly you’ve thought a lot about this. Are you frustrated because you’re rich and you’re tired of getting crap about it? I love me a rich boy with heart. Holla.

#129: I am Mehran Sahami’s son. He doesn’t know.

I just want Mehran as my father-in-law, is that so bad?

#139: I hate when people criticize my major. I will major in whatever the f**k I want to. Get off my case.

A few weeks ago I told someone I’m considering majoring in Science, Technology and Society and they straight up said, “But, c’mon, you know that’s the cop-out major.” Then I punched him in the face. Try telling me what to major in now, b***h. Just kidding, I laughed awkwardly and said nothing. I should have though. Anyways. You and me? We should get coffee. Just kidding, I hate coffee. We can get hot chocolate though and talk about how ballin’ we’ll be in the future despite–no, because of–our unconventional majors.

And actually, #127: I want to be a high school teacher but people at Stanford have pressured me into thinking I have to do something “better,”, you should join us. In fact, we don’t even have to date. Let’s just sit around and talk about how the world does not actually revolve around engineers. Please. Continue reading “The People I Wo…”»

February 14, 2013 | Humor

Stanford Love?

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It might be the romantic in me talking, but I think it was fate that I learned about this gem the day before Valentine’s Day: StanfordUSeshes. Stanford may not have the greatest track record when it comes to dating but I never expected to see a Twitter account fully dedicated to kisses and the casual hook ups around campus.

Although the Twitter account has some cute captures like this:

Continue reading “Stanford Love?…”»

February 13, 2013 | Admits

Was YOUR Stanford App This Impressive?

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

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

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So TUSB readers, what do you think?

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

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