The Dish: Stanford alum primed to be Japan's next premier; multitasking experts juggle media; and much more

Junko Kimura/Getty Images Alums Yukio Hatoyama and  John Roos, U.S. ambassador to Japan

Alums Yukio Hatoyama, presumptive prime minister of Japan, and John Roos, U.S. ambassador to Japan, share a Cardinal moment.

Drue Kataoka and Svetlozar Kazanjiev's novel registry

Stanford alums Drue Kataoka and Svetlozar Kazanjiev's novel wedding registry grabbed a lot of media attention last week.

Redesigning Japan’s government and economy probably wasn’t what YUKIO HATOYAMA had in mind when he studied engineering at Stanford. But more than three decades after leaving the Farm, a promise to shrink his country’s bureaucracy and shore up its economy helped Hatoyama lead his Democratic Party to a landslide victory in Sunday’s election, and secure for him the role as Japan’s presumptive next prime minister. Hatoyama earned a master’s in electrical engineering in 1972 and a master’s in operations research a year later. In 1976, he received a doctorate in operations research. On Thursday, Hatoyama met with another alum, JOHN ROOS, U.S. ambassador to Japan, in Tokyo.

JEFF GILBERT, the lead principal at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, Calif., had his mettle tested when he and two other staff members averted disaster by tackling a former student who showed up at school with 10 pipe bombs, a chain saw and a sword. Two of the bombs went off in an empty hallway before a teacher wrestled him to the floor. Gilbert and a counselor helped restrain the 17-year-old until police arrived. No one was injured. Gilbert, who earned a bachelor's degree in history from Stanford in 1989 and a master's from the Stanford Teacher Education Program in 1990, was hailed as a hero by JON WEISMAN, a Los Angeles Times blogger and former freshman dorm mate. Hillsdale High School is one of STEP's partner schools.

On a lighter note: Alums DRUE KATAOKA and SVETLOZAR KAZANJIEV tied the knot at MemChu Saturday, following a flurry of feature stories about their gift wish list, dubbed "The World's First Startup Wedding Registry." Their venture, the non-nuptial one, is called Aboomba, which is described by the New York Times as "a consumer Web company that is still in stealth mode." A visit to the Aboomba website last week gave no clues, but directed you straight to the registry. "You know that whole department store imposed wedding registry ritual thing? We thought, like, why not rebel against it," Kataoka, best known for her Japanese brush paintings, said in a video on the registry site. The couple, who met at Stanford, asked for such gifts as $134 for an upgrade from a first-aid kit to a week's worth of real health insurance and $385 to feed a lawyer for an hour. Gifts under $100 included Red Bull on tap for a week ($52.41) and pizza for a week ($62.93 for Domino's and $97.93 for Round Table). At the end of the gift list was a photo of an RSVP card. "Your attendance on August 29th: Priceless!"

The authors of a study released last week on media multitasking did quite a bit of media juggling of their own. Communication Professor CLIFFORD NASS and his colleagues, lead author EYAL OPHIR, a researcher in Stanford's Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab, and ANTHONY WAGNER, associate professor of psychology, found that those of us who try to manage tasks on multiple electronic devices at the same time are not effective at any of them. But perhaps that does not apply to media coverage. Nass "appeared" by live feed from the Stanford Video studio on several outlets including KQED Radio, NPR, BBC Radio (twice) and NBC television. Ophir did a live feed from the studio to WBUR in Boston. And that does not include all the attention the study received from newspapers and magazines including the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Reuters, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today and the Times of London. According to IAN HSU, Stanford's director of Internet media outreach, the Stanford News Service story and accompanying video by ADAM GORLICK, a social sciences writer, and JACK HUBBARD, associate director for broadcast, was viewed tens of thousands of times, mostly via social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

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