Last weekend, several members of Stanford’s emergency-response team headed to the Philippines to provide medical assistance in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Stanford Hospital videographer TODD HOLLAND was on the scene as the team prepared, and he captured the beginning of the journey in a video posted on the Medical School’s SCOPE blog.
Archive for the ‘Great reads’ Category
Staff members at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment were pleasantly surprised to discover that @BarackObama tweeted last Wednesday, “A majority of Americans support limiting carbon pollution from power plants to combat climate change. Learn more: http://OFA.BO/Ek6P1V.”
That link takes you to a story that USA Today ran Wednesday about Stanford Professor JON KROSNICK’s new analysis of public opinion about climate change in nearly two dozen surveys. He concluded that, despite intense debate in Congress on global warming, a majority in every state polled wants limits on greenhouse gas emissions and believes the United States should take action on global warming.
By Friday afternoon, that tweet by @BarackObama, which has close to 40 million Twitter followers, had been retweeted 541 times and “favorited” 465 times – impressive numbers in the social media world.
Predictably, the conversation on Twitter soon became a battle between believers in and deniers of climate change. For example, Galen Bodenhausen (@GVBodenhausen), a Chicago-based psychology and marketing professor, tweeted, “New survey: Reassuringly, a ‘vast majority’ of Americans back #climate science | includes Jon Krosnick.” Taking a very different viewpoint was Tom Nelson (@tan123), “Carbon dioxide doesn’t cause bad weather.”
By late Friday, the climate change brouhaha had died down, and Organizing for Action was tweeting about affordable health care, a steel factory tour and ending LGBT discrimination.
—TERRY NAGEL, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
A laptop donation program inspired by a Stanford alum makes it possible for high school seniors at Mission High School in San Francisco to have a laptop when they head off to college.
The recipients are participants in the Athletic Scholars Advancement Program (ASAP), an independent, nonprofit, year-round program, which aims to get more low-income students into college and help them succeed once they are there. ASAP currently serves 350 Mission High students involved in athletics, either as players or supporters.
In a partnership with the Stanford Bookstore and the Haas Center for Public Service, Stanford community members can now drop off laptops that are no more than five years old at the Bookstore. As an added incentive, the Bookstore is offering donors a discount on the donor’s next purchase.
Since it was founded in 2004, ASAP has helped more than 800 students attend summer enrichment programs on college campuses. Most ASAP students are from low-income backgrounds, and 60 percent are English-language learners. Ninety-seven percent are the first in their families to attend college.
The donation program was launched in 2011, when ASAP Executive Director LIZ BUTLER STEYER, ’86, ’91, learned that teacher laptops at her daughter’s private school were given away after three years. Steyer approached the school about contributing the computers to ASAP, and the program received its first eight laptops.
Two years later, VIVIAN WONG, ’12, working as a Stanford Public Interest Network fellow at ASAP, was asked to find a stable source of computers. Wong and Steyer thought of their alma mater and approached JEFF DEUTSCH, Stanford Bookstore’s director of stores, about institutionalizing the donation program to help low-income college students and, at same time, reduce e-waste.
Mission High School seniors who wish to receive a donated laptop apply by writing an essay on how it will contribute to their college success. Once they have a donated laptop, it is theirs to keep. Wong described one student who emphasized in her essay how having a laptop would make it easier for her to stay in touch with her support network as she adjusts to her new college life thousands of miles away in Pennsylvania.
ERIC GUTHERTZ, Mission High’s principal, emphasizes that for his students, college “acceptance and enrollment are only half the battle.” While he praises ASAP for its phenomenal work in creating a college-bound culture at Mission High School, he adds that the laptop donation program means that students are equipped with “the technology needed to access the full college academic experience.”
Any laptop donated to the program must be privately owned, five years old or younger, in working condition and Internet-capable. Donating a laptop is completely free and tax-deductible. Since all data must be wiped from the device before it is donated, donors can download the free DBAN software to wipe the laptop memory.
For more information about donating a laptop, contact SHELLEY HUGHES at firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 329-1217, ext. 375.
—LAURA MONKMAN, Haas Center for Public Service
With high-profile sporting events across the country being targeted with counterfeit tickets, Stanford’s Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation urges care and consideration for fans wishing to purchase tickets on the secondary market for Thursday’s Pac-12 football game against Oregon.
The only way to guarantee the validity of a ticket is to purchase it directly through Stanford’s ticket office or through an authorized reseller such as StubHub. All tickets are scanned at entrance points to the Stadium and counterfeit tickets will not work.
“We want to remind fans to be careful when buying tickets on the secondary market. Unfortunately, counterfeit tickets are a reality, both on websites and in-person near venues,” said KURT SVOBODA, senior assistant athletic director for communications. “Fans who purchase tickets from a secondary source are taking a chance. We would like to encourage fans to only buy tickets from authorized ticket agencies.”
While limited, official standing-room-only tickets still remain on GoStanford.com, the department is monitoring many well-known secondary market websites and inventory is higher than normal as the second-ranked Oregon Ducks visit Stanford for a top-five game.
Scalping is legal in California but it is illegal at venues, such as in front of Stanford Stadium. Additionally, any in-person transaction, other than through Stanford’s ticket office, involves a ticket that cannot be verified as genuine. Fans should be wary of individuals offering tickets for sale on or around the Stanford campus before the game.
Individuals who encounter scalpers on campus, or those who believe they may be a victim of counterfeiting, should contact the Stanford Sheriff Department at (650) 723-9633.
This item first appeared on the Athletics website.
THOMAS MULLANEY, associate professor of history at Stanford, has been awarded the Abbott Payson Usher Prize by the Society for the History of Technology.
The annual prize, established in 1961, honors scholarly work in history and technology and was awarded to Mullaney for his article “The Moveable Typewriter: How Chinese Typists Developed Predictive Text during the Height of Maoism.” Published in the October 2012 issue of Technology and Culture, the article explores how the Chinese typewriter was a precursor to predictive text technology.
Fittingly, Mullaney was in Shanghai when he received an email announcing the award, which he says caught him completely by surprise.
“I am deeply honored and thankful to the committee for selecting my work,” said Mullaney, who became fascinated with the Chinese typewriter five years ago while writing a paper about now-obsolete Chinese characters.
The original Chinese typewriter, with close to 2,500 characters, was often mocked for being cumbersome and slow. However, as Mullaney learned, the demands placed on typists during the Maoist regime to more efficiently produce propaganda materials led to a reconfiguration of how the type was organized.
Mullaney came to realize that the new machines were capable of something like an early version of predictive text by using “natural-language clusters” – groups of characters found in commonly used phrases.
The search for information about this technological advance took Mullaney to archives and collections in China.
“I had compiled a great many materials that described and made reference to a new experimental technique of laying out the characters on a Chinese typewriter,” Mullaney said. But it wasn’t until he discovered two original Chinese machines in a small private collection in Switzerland that the project really coalesced.
Finding those typewriters “confirmed my working theory unmistakably,” Mullaney said.
“To see people write about what I call ‘predictive text’ Chinese typewriters was one thing,” Mullaney recalled, “but to see them up close – to touch them, to spend countless hours analyzing the photographs, trying to reconstruct the logic by which they were made – the memory of that still takes my breath away.”
—VERONICA MARIAN, The Humanities at Stanford
As a basketball player, TONI KOKENIS witnessed firsthand how toxic the culture of varsity sports can be for gay, lesbian and transgender athletes. Kokenis recounted instances where athletes have used the word “gay” as a synonym for stupid or uncool or as a way to characterize their opponents as inferior.
“People will say it in a joking manner, but we need to create an atmosphere where everyone understands that’s not OK,” Kokenis told TRES PITTMAN, who wrote an article about Kokenis’ experience for the Clayman Institute’s Gender News.
To help create a more open environment for athletes at Stanford, Kokenis and three colleagues founded Stanford Athletes and Allies Together (StAAT), which works to ensure that there is a safe space to discuss issues about gender identity, gender expression and sexual nonconformity as they relate to athletes.
In its first year, StAAT has hosted several group meetings to discuss current events on campus and athlete-specific issues. They also collaborated with Safe and Open Spaces at Stanford (SOSAS) to host a panel at the monthly coaches meeting where LGBT athletes spoke to coaches about how to be strong allies. Working with those in power, Kokenis said, is the most important and effective way to ensure that their message receives the attention and credit it deserves.
The culmination of the organization’s first year has been its You Can Play video, a public service announcement created to convey the group’s message that “if you can play, you can play.” The video features 30 coaches and athletes, including Athletic Director BERNARD MUIR and head basketball coach TARA VANDERVEER. Kokenis said that the diversity of the group, with almost every varsity sport represented, conveys the solidarity behind StAAT and its ethic of acceptance.
Read Pittman’s story on the Gender News website.
Established in 2011, the biennial award is given to a major American author who has created a body of critically acclaimed work and who has — in the tradition of creative writing at Oregon State University — mentored young writers.
Best known for writing short stories and memoirs that explore issues of morality, Wolff said he was “surprised and delighted” when he learned that he won the award.
“In a remarkable arc across the novel, the memoir and the short story” Wolff has “shown a care for craft and a superbly developed moral vision that is unusual and exemplary in contemporary writing,” said EAVAN BOLAND, director of Stanford’s Creative Writing Program.
Boland, a poet and professor of English, called Wolff “an extraordinarily generous teacher and mentor” and added that she “couldn’t imagine another writer who could be more deserving of a lifetime achievement award than Tobias Wolff.”
Wolff’s publications have earned a number of awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Story Prize.
The $20,000 Stone Award — one of the largest prizes of its kind given by an American university — was first given in 2012 to novelist Joyce Carol Oates, and Wolff said he was honored to be in the company of a writer he so greatly admires.
Wolff, who has been teaching classes in English and creative writing at Stanford since 1997, acknowledged the award’s emphasis on mentoring, but noted that although he gets a “paternal flush of pride” when his students’ works are published, they are the ones who deserve the credit.
“I may encourage them in their strengths, help make them better aware of elements in their writing that need more attention and generally become better editors of their own work,” Wolff said. But, he added, “nothing happens if the writers themselves don’t bring their commitment, talent and hard work to the table, day after day.”
Wolff chronicled his early life in two memoirs, In Pharaoh’s Army (1994) and This Boy’s Life (1989), which was turned into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. His first short story collection, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, was published in 1981. In addition to four short story collections, Wolff is the author of the novels The Barracks Thief (1984) and Old School (2003).
Wolff will be presented with the Stone Award at the Portland Art Museum on May 21, and will visit the Oregon State campus in Corvallis to give a public reading.
—CORRIE GOLDMAN, The Humanities at Stanford
The 2013 Kurt Weill Book Prize for outstanding scholarship in music theater has been awarded to STEPHEN HINTON, the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Music.
Hinton won the award for his book Weill’s Musical Theater: Stages of Reform. Published in 2012 by the University of California Press, Hinton’s musicological study offers the most comprehensive overview yet of Weill’s output for the stage, according to a press release by the Kurt Weill Foundation.
“In tracing Weill’s extraordinary journey as a theatrical composer, comparing his works to each other while situating them within larger contexts, Hinton demonstrates how Weill’s experiments with a range of genres, forms and styles constitute a continuously innovative and coherent development, from his first children’s pantomime and early operas through his final Broadway musical,” according to the press release. “Hinton’s long-term engagement with Weill has resulted in several other essential volumes, including Kurt Weill: The Threepenny Opera for the Cambridge Opera Handbooks series and the critical edition of the score and text of Die Dreigroschenoper for the Kurt Weill Edition.”
Awarded biennially by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the Kurt Weill Prize recognizes distinguished scholarship in musical theater since 1900, including opera and dance. Books and articles published in 2011-2012 were eligible for the 2013 prize; nominations were reviewed by a panel of music and theater experts.
With Halloween spookily approaching, dealing with the annual tidal wave of sugar can be a real challenge for parents. While everyone wants kids to enjoy the day, the candy cargo seems to be getting bigger every year, with parties at school and friends’ houses increasing the loot. THEA RUNYAN, lead behavior coach for the Pediatric Weight Control Program, part of the hospital’s multidisciplinary Center for Healthy Weight, at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital offered some tips.
“Regardless of whether a child has a weight issue, it’s vital that he or she learn moderation, and the skill of making healthy choices,” Runyan says. “Research shows that kids don’t simply ‘outgrow’ the urge to eat unhealthily if they don’t possess the tools to do so.”
Here are a few of Runyan’s healthy Halloween strategies:
- One increasingly popular approach is telling kids — especially younger kids — about the “Switch Witch” or the “Halloween Ghost.” The kids put their loot on the doorstep, and this figure takes it that night, replacing it with something fun but not candy. (Note: Parents must resist eating it, too!)
- Some older kids enjoy trading their candy for cash. Some dentists will buy back kids’ candy. Some schools even set up programs where kids can donate the candy to U.S. troops.
- Some parents hand out fun, non-candy items: spider rings, pretzels, stickers and tattoos, for instance. Get creative. For Halloween parties, make “fingers” out of string cheese.
- Don’t buy your candy until a day or two before you hand it out. Otherwise, it’s too tempting to eat it beforehand. Or, buy candy you or your children don’t like. Hate dark chocolate? Make that the treat you give out.
- Emphasize the fun of trick-or-treating, rather than the subsequent feast. And when the trick-or-treating is over, have the kids pick out their favorite 20 pieces to keep. To many parents’ surprise, Runyan says, kids are often perfectly satisfied keeping just 20 pieces.
—WINTER JOHNSON, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital