Thursday, October 30, 2008

Waltzing cubes

Lucas, who I know from math and CS, has an absurd number of Rubik's cubes. He has the standard cubes in every size from 2x2 to 5x5. He has combinatorically ridiculous 7x7 cube that probably takes days to solve. He also has variations like square one. In a few weeks, he'll get a package from Japan and in it will be a void cube. (How you would build something like that without breaking the laws of physics is beyond me.)

Years ago, Lucas also made a Rubik's cube waltz. This means: he scripted and raytraced the whole animation in POV-RAY and Mathematica. Props!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Birthday!

to you.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Sticking it to the Man

My classmate Ravi had a cool, but not neccesarily original idea. He wants to pay his $50,000 tuition in nickels, starting with the next ~$17,000 quarterly bill.

I love Stanford and if it was up to me, I wouldn't change anything -- except, of course, the tuition. Stanford's endowment grew by 23% to $17b last year, which means that they made about $200,000 for each student in every school. Most undergrads are on financial aid, but those who aren't pay more than $50K a year -- not a particularly large item on Stanford's balance sheet, but huge for a lot of the parents who write the checks.

And it's not just parents. Lots of us, especially grad students, leave with ridiculous debt loads. If I've gotten anything out of the market meltdown that we're in the middle of, it's that ridiculous debt loads are a bad idea.

Financial aid is difficult, too. Need-blind admission does a reasonable job of ensuring that everyone who gets in can come, but it doesn't guarantee fair treatment. At best, it lets smart kids without money or college degrees in their family come to Stanford and become seeds of change, close the poverty gap, and live happily ever after. At worst, it penalizes parents who work hard and save and subsidizes the ones who outspend their incomes.

If Ravi actually manages to wheel-barrow a million nickels to the Registar's Office, I'll be there, blogging the pictures and videos for you.

Friday, October 3, 2008

President Palin

Matt Damon had a some thoughts on the danger of Palin becoming President in a recent interview.

Then, yesterday, Palin spoke her mind on education.

Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education and I'm glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right?

(From the CNN transcript of the VP debate.)

Later in the debate, both running mates discussed the possibility of taking over if the president died.

If McCain wins, he'll be the oldest president ever to take office. If he doesn't make it to 2012, Palin will lead the free world in his stead. Scary? Yes. Embarassing? Even more so...

Vote for change.