Widgets Magazine

the Grind

Eight classes Stanford needs to offer

With a new quarter just begun, Stanford students from every major are still exploring their options through the university’s shopping period. Due to the ability to add and drop classes without penalty, undergraduates still have two more weeks before their choices start to feel binding. But throughout my own careful perusing of ExploreCourses, I have noticed several glaring absences in this quarter’s offerings. With that in mind, I submit to you the following eight classes for addition to the well-rounded intellectual vitality of a Stanford education.

CS 106C: Buzz Words in Computer Science (LINGUIST 106C)

Who’s Karel? What’s big data? Ever wonder what those CS kids are talking about? This relatively low-stakes class allows all class years to learn the popular key terms thrown around in the computer science department without the pressure of deeply understanding the concepts. The midterm and final will rely simply on rote memorization of each term’s definition, preparing students for easy recitation in everyday conversation.

Terms: Aut, Win, Spr | Units: 5-6 | Repeatable for credit | Grading: Satisfactory/No Credit Read more >>

The many faces of Facebook Live

On my way to the kitchen for ice cream after a guiltily pleasurable episode of “The Bachelor,” I overheard an unfamiliar commercial. If you’ve ever stayed on the same channel for hours, you somehow know every ad by heart, even the ones for unpronounceable medications. I turned around to see a man walking on his hands, a woman juggling four balls, accordion playing, fancy yo-yoing, magic card tricks, dancing and singing. According to the commercial, all these hidden talents were made “not-so-hidden” via Facebook Live.

Just a few days after I’d seen this ad, four teenagers in Chicago used Facebook Live as a medium to stream themselves torturing an autistic man. Despite feelings of disgust and anger, I was curious thinking back to the upbeat commercial. How could a tool so seemingly innocent be used in such a horrible manner? Do people actually use Facebook Live the way Mark Zuckerberg intended? What is its real purpose, anyway?


And I am an American

“Sixty-five of 66 are present despite the cold, Your Honor.”

The judge smiled. “You know, while my son was hoping for a snow day, I hoped for your sake that they wouldn’t close the courts. Because I couldn’t stand the thought of having you wait a day longer.”

Waiting. That was a word that I had heard often in the last 15 years. Why couldn’t we get a green card yet? Waiting. Why wasn’t I a United States citizen? Waiting. We applied ages ago! Why haven’t we been called to interview? Waiting, waiting, waiting.

And in the sterility of the system, the brokenness of frustration, the weariness of years, there was something comforting about that validation. There was something so human in that compassion: He couldn’t stand for us to wait any longer.


First experiences: Reflections of the first-generation community at Stanford

For Jennifer Rolen, helping first-generation and low-income students is not just a job — it’s a way to give back to her own community.

For Osvaldo Muro ‘16, deciding on a major was beyond personal interest — his degree was a way to give back to the new life his parents gave to him when they immigrated across the border from Mexico.

And for Stephanie Brito ‘20, the Stanford bubble is more than just a sense of privilege — it is a source of guilt for leaving her working-class family behind.

In the next few months, high school seniors will finalize plans for their first years of adulthood. And the idea of a college education, let alone one from an elite university like Stanford, can seem distant for those who are the first in their family to try.

About one in every six Stanford undergraduates identifies as the first in their family to attend college. Stanford dedicates an entire administrative office of around 20 staff members to support the first-generation and low-income (FLI) community.


Email: The lost art

Writing an email is a subtle science and an exact art.

For the most part, we can apply the basic principles of writing to the email — brevity, clarity, rhythm and, most importantly, controlled passion. Both personality and pathos can be conveyed in the versatility of the blank page of the email — rainbow font, emojis and GIFs are appended after every sentence, and obliquely relevant music videos are mainstays in the new avant-garde of electronic communication.

Should we sign off with “Best”? “Cheers”? “XOXOXO”? Or nothing at all? The choices are endless. And nothing seems more passionate than the curse that would befall my loved ones if I failed to pass that chain letter to every person in my address book. Even spam can be poetry. But the very “passion” and limitless possibilities of email have come under threat by an unspoken “etiquette” and the ideal simplicity of “EOM.”

By this point, you may or may not have reached a little over 2,000 unread emails. These may or may not consist of spam, event notices from two years ago and lunch plans with that one friend you never got around to telling that, no, you’re not free on Monday for a drink and pick-up basketball. As the years pass, and the number of subscribed mailing lists and jilted lunch dates exponentially grows, email becomes less of a chore and more of a futile excavation to reach that elusive “Inbox (0).” Read more >>

Five texting habits that just don’t make sense

  1. Never using a period at the end of a complete thought

Imagine having a conversation without taking a breath. Exhausting, right? Society has deemed period usage inappropriate and unnecessary for the casual medium of texting. There’s a fine line between writing a perfect essay and being clear with your words. Although I sometimes don’t use periods myself, I don’t understand why occasional proper punctuation is condemned. It only makes comprehension faster and easier.

  1. Waiting a specific amount of time to reply

Last weekend, I was having a conversation over text with a boy I had met briefly while out with friends. Every time I replied, he waited exactly 20 minutes to respond. I’m the type of person who responds as soon as I see (or feel) the text, so my friend had to restrain me. She told me to wait as long as he took plus-five or plus-10 minutes. Apparently, I didn’t want to seem desperate. I understand not wanting to seem like I’d been waiting for his messages, but why is it wrong to be excited to talk to him? Read more >>

A friendship falls apart, online

For my generation (the crazy millennials), social media has become an integral tool for defining and understanding our relationships. We know where we stand based on how we interact with our friends on social media — what (or if) we comment, when to unfollow, when to send a friend request, etc. We depend on social media, though maybe not as much as the media makes us out to.

I noticed this dependency as I discovered that my best friend from high school and I were slowly erasing each other from our lives. Secretly and slowly, we stopped interacting with each other online, and as of recently, we’ve even un-friended and un-followed each other on multiple accounts. If someone looked at either of our various accounts right now, they would have no idea that we had known each other for eight years. They wouldn’t know about how we supported each other through depression, anxiety, abandonment, bullying and heartbreak. Somewhere along the line, we changed our minds, deleted our pasts and moved on.


Why you shouldn’t make New Year’s resolutions

It’s the holiday season and 2017 is calling our names. As we reflect on the mistakes, fails and the L’s we took this past year, we begin to think about ways to redeem ourselves. We think about how we can leave old versions of ourselves in the past as we hope to become transformed individuals. Quickly and far too often, we fall into the common trap of creating a laundry list of New Year’s resolutions.

There is a rush of motivation and determination as we anticipate a fresh start on the first of January. “Drink more water.” “Start exercising.” “Stop procrastinating.” “Eat healthier.” “Sleep more.” I’ve made these kinds of resolutions every single year, but have I begun exercising on a regular basis? Not exactly. Have I stopped procrastinating completely? Absolutely not. Have I cut down on my consumption of chocolate chip cookies? You can already guess the answer.

I fall into this vicious cycle and tell myself that I’ll just begin my fitness journey next year or that I can finally stay on top of my schoolwork starting next quarter. By postponing my goals, however, I’m only feeding the procrastination within me even more — an unfortunate paradox. We feel hopeful when we make these resolutions, but they are often hopeless, considering they are typically broken by the time we’re halfway into January.