Issue 4 Vol 1 December 2008
Talk about it...
What We Stand For The purpose of this magazine is to provide a venue for issues & concerns, local & global, to be presented in a manner conducive to young adults. By imparting knowledge and awareness, we will be better equipped to survive in a global economy and workplace. We will be armed with the power to impact our world. This magazine is non partisan and non political. We do not promote one viewpoint, idea, policy, religion etc. over another. We are an information resource only. We do not seek to be the final authority; rather an instrument to be used by the reader for educational purposes.
ColloCUE is Eternally Grateful To: Matthew Ladd Chief Editor Diane Kulseth Society Editor Auriane De Rudder ViewPoint Editor Nneka Okona Eye On Editor Anna Pellecchia Cicero’s Corner Editor Chloe Edwards Meiji Editor Valencya Taylor Fuse Editor Corey Randall Sketch Editor
Our Talented Design Department Frank Baker Creative Director and Lead Designer Susanne Midy Design Intern
Daniel Crosswell Web Design Extraordinaire
And Our Fantastic Writers
03 Tuning In
The Race That Never Stops by Matthew Ladd Warrantless Wiretapping: Breach of Privacy or Necessary Safeguard? by Emilee O’Leary Technology and the Financial Crisis by Matthew Ladd China [CENSORED] by Kali A. Mobley
The Last Word by Matthew Ladd
11 12 13 14 15
17 19 21
Hold the Pump! A Peek inside the Chevy Volt by Corey Randal Country Profile: Australia by Corey Randall Are We Really That Good to the Environment? by Corey Randall Help or Hindrance: The Sunni Awakening by Eliot Graham Illegal to be Gay? by Corey Randall
The Three ‘R’s…and Technology by Emilee O’Leary Double Minorities: Blessing or a Curse? by Nneka Okona U.S Foreign Policy in Africa by Tunomukwathi Asino
The Speed of Technology, Part 1: Death by Anticipation by Anna Pellecchia A “Savage’s” View on Our Developing Technological Society by Jordan Rickman
The ‘Intervention Project’ by Liz Donohue
29 How Do You Say ‘Google’ in Vietnamese? by Chloë Edwards 31 Learning from the Past: Japan’s Property Bubble and the United States Economy by Amy Russ 33 The Villain in Israel by Kyle Baker
35 36 37 38
Beyond Gray Skies by Kali A. Mobley Don’t Quit by Valencya Taylor Wake-Up Call by Matthew Claiborne Don’t Just Reach for the Stars: Grab Them! by Valencya Taylor
39 The Death of the Great American Road Trip by Auriane de Rudder 40 The New Queer Icon by Marcus Morris 41 My Journey to A New Constitution: A Campaign Against the Low-Information voter pt.1 by Madeline Hatter 43 The Rise of the Liberal Blogger by Thaddeus Martin Re-Evaluating Gender Norms in the Struggle for Gay Rights by Kiran Bhat
Table of Contents
03 05 07 09
TUNING IN: TECHNOLOGY
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The Race Tha
by Matthew Ladd
any pundits have argued that, during the recent presidential race, one of Barack Obama’s biggest strengths was his campaign’s ability to utilize the Web. The campaign had a website, of course, where supporters could donate money, inform themselves about the issues, and even post links to ‘smears’ that they’d run across online or in their email inboxes. But the Obama campaign went farther: activists and rally leaders depended on social-networking sites and liberal bloggers to organize events, and the website even promised voters that an Obama administration would create the post of “Chief Technology Officer” to monitor changes in Internet-related legislation and preserve network neutrality. McCain’s greatest technological asset, by contrast, seemed to be his daughter Meghan’s campaign-trail blog (www.mccainblogette.com). It is undeniable that technology played a prominent role in the outcome of the election. But now that the campaign is over and the fireworks have (mostly) died down, the ques-
tion still remains: to what extent has technology changed not only politics but also the ways in which we, as humans, communicate? How have these changes benefited us? What new challenges—political, economic, and even ethical—have the development of new technologies brought to the forefront of life in the United States? Perhaps even more striking is the way in which citizens of developing countries, such as those in Africa and Southeast Asia, have rapidly incorporated recent innovations into their lives. Over the past ten years, India has become an indispensable source of telecoms, communications and software development. In Vietnam, you can buy a cell phone from a street vendor, and Kenyan park rangers have begun using SIM cards to track the movements of elephants. Of course, there is a darker side to the boom in technology. For years, Muslim extremist groups have used websites to post propaganda videos and chat rooms to recruit new foot-soldiers. Somali pirates on Africa’s Swahili coast have
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at Won’t Stop utilized GPS in their attacks on shipping vessels. Closer to home, the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program has come under legal scrutiny, and the Michigan firm Cybernet Systems has begun using behavior-recognition software that can not only identify suspicious behavior, but also—they claim—to predict when someone is about to commit a crime. To many, the rise in new technology is just as potentially threatening as it is potentially advantageous. In fact, the most interesting aspect of the term “The Information Age”—as this era seems destined to be remembered—is that it captures both the positive and negative effects of technological innovation. The abundance of information afforded us by such tools as GoogleEarth and Wikipedia, and the speed with which we can access that information, is unprecedented in the world’s history. In this sense, comparisons with the invention of the printing press, or the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th century, are entirely justified, and it’s worth remembering that both of those
eras witnessed the creation of enormous benefits—a leap in literacy, for example—as well as drawbacks, such as spikes in urban pollution during the 19th century. This month, Collocue takes a closer look at how emerging technologies have come to change the face of our world. Tuning In will examine censorship at home and abroad, focusing especially on the relationship between government and technology, while other sections will explore the social and cultural repercussions of our changing lifestyles. Our generation is lucky: for most us of who grew up during the so-called “technological revolution,” texting, chattering, or twittering is as natural as getting dressed or brushing our teeth. But we’re also the last generation to be born before the Internet became a household name. We’ve been given a unique perspective on the prevalence of technology, and we thus have a unique responsibility to understand, as well as we can, its continued influence in our lives.
TUNING IN: TECHNOLOGY
Breach of Privacy or Necessary Safeguard? by Emilee O’Leary
n recent months, Congress has revisited the Bush Administration’s 2001 introduction of warrantless wiretapping on those residing inside the borders of the United States. A call for a further critique of executive rights and powers hopes to ensure the balance of measures necessary to guarantee national security while not crossing the line of personal privacy. The dealings of the government were revealed in a New York Times article in 2005, and led to a generalized outcry from those Americans who believe that, attacked or not, the government is hocking their privacy. Now legislation is revisiting the constitutional accuracy of the presidential order to tap our electronic communications without a warrant, and the American people are wondering if they actually have this right. “Mr. Bush’s executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States,” the Times article states, “is based on classified legal opinions that assert that the president has broad powers to order such searches, derived in part from the September 2001 Congressional resolution authorizing him to wage war on Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.” It is natural to want federal policy to go in all directions; for example, we want to be safe and secure in this country, but we also want to know about every single thing going on behind closed government doors. Now, if not ever before, it is time to take a look at what, exactly, the government wants to maintain through this power. The President and Justice Department began taking homeland-security action in the wake of 9/11. The 2005 New York Times article stated that the Justice Department lawyer,
Mr. Yoo, argued the justification for the government to take measures that might raise constitutional controversy, that these actions “in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties.” The National Security Agency (NSA), established in 1952 in order to pay closer attention to domestic and foreign threats and to protect the US government information systems, received special, secretive power from the President following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Prior to 2001, the NSA restrictions on domestic wiretaps were increased significantly since the 1970s—according to the New York Times, “the NSA has generally been permitted to target the communications of people on American soil only if they are believed to be agents of a foreign power” and must acquire a warrant to do so. The government did an extensive job trying to maintain integrity of its branches while teasing the limits of infringing upon the people’s right to know about their new ability. Journalists were only just beginning to grow aware of this constitutional controversy, and appealed to certain assertions that once the people knew what the government was doing, the power of warrantless wiretapping would be ineffective. But this is a digital age, folks. We do our taxes online, check our bank accounts, pay bills; we blog about things we don’t tell our closest friends and visit sites that drop small, malicious viruses into obscure folders on our computer that do more damage to our system than the government has ever done. We are dealing with a system that is inherently flawed because of the people themselves pursuing the self. Our elected officials endure dual pressure: doing their job (in general, a stressful occupation) and remembering that they are elected by a majority who will rip them from their seat as soon as
they fail to uphold the interests of the majority. So how do we account for both Mr. George Washington: the man who had a vision to separate the powers of a country so that it would not end up like the country they had fought and won their freedom from—and Mr. Terrorist: who will seize upon the unwitting leniency of the U.S. to escape notice and use our resources to attack our people? The answer is in our system of checks and balances (to fully understand the powers of Congress, see Section 8 of the Constitution). But for the purposes of this issue, what is most important to realize is that the responsibility of the Congress is to investigate and oversee the executive branch as well as their vital role in national defense (see Article 4). To hold the right of warrantless wiretapping, the president and the Congress must not infringe on the rights granted to the people and not attempt to claim power that they are not given. They must not “[abridge] the freedom of speech, or of the press,” nor take from the people their right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches.” In their sessions, the parties argue whether or not certain actions have violated these rights and how to resolve conflicting idealisms. Is the government eavesdropping on our private conversations an infringement of these rights? In their desire to catch and prevent terrorists, should we categorize their actions as unreasonable searches? The 2005 New York Times article reveals a very important fact about the NSA’s conduct: “After the Sept. 11 attacks…the United States intelligence community was criticized for being too risk-averse. The National Security Agency was even cited by the independent 9/11 Commission for ad-
hering to self-imposed rules that were stricter than those set by federal law.” After nearly a decade of hard times, both at home and abroad, it is hard to see the good that the government can do, especially when it is our privacy they want to invade. But one of the unique features of our government is its system of arguing bills and executive orders to the bone, and when something doesn’t smell right, someone does call foul. Unconstitutional proposals are questioned and then altered; no matter which party supports a bill, there will be people on both ends who do not like it and force a continued argument that brings about the best possible form of every bill. In fact, it may be time to recall why we have this government in the first place, and just trust that even though people are inherently bad and full of greed, that somewhere ingrained in their legislative duty is this patriotism that supersedes the malicious tapping of fingers like a cartoon villain. Included in Congress’s job description is the responsibility to critique each and every executive order, and to uphold all the rights of the American people. If we can’t trust anyone to make the right decisions with regard to national security, then the point of our government is null. Many may be upset at the way things are going, and angry at certain government policies. So the question should not be, “Is the government violating my rights?” but, “Which right do I hold closer: my right to safety or my right to privacy?” In the end, our tax dollars buy safety or secure privacy, and those who have something to hide tend to be more concerned with the latter. This debate isn’t about sacrificing rights: it is about safety, about being secure in our persons, and therefore retaining our liberty.
TUNING IN: TECHNOLOGY
Technology and the Financial Crisis by Matthew Ladd
n Sunday, September 14th, 2008, the investment banking firm Lehman Brothers delared bankruptcy. The next day, the stock market fell over 500 points: one of the largest single-day drops in United States history. Thus began what economists across the country have called the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Throughout September and October, things went from bad to worse: the federal government almost immediately spent over $700 billion buying up the poisoned assets of big banks, but to many, the money seemed to simply vanish into a black hole. Lehman Brothers crumbled. Long-standing investment and insurance firms such as Merrill Lynch AIG (American International Group) were poised to follow suit. The names Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were uttered with a sort of fearful dread, even though nobody seemed exactly certain what they were. By the end of October, as Europe and Asia began to feel the effects of America’s catastrophic crash, it seemed as if the vaunted blessing of a ‘global economy’ had transformed into a curse overnight. Banks in England and Germany began to fail, forcing their governments to spend billions shoring them up. Iceland was on the brink of declaring itself—an entire country—completely bankrupt. Emerging markets often reported negative growth, while the growth rate in China— which has maintained a 10% or higher growth rate over the past three decades—dropped dramatically. Markets would spike one day, following news of a healthy merger or the rescue of a wobbling firm, only to fall even farther when an expected deal fell through. Many may be tempted to blame the financial crisis on the increasingly complex web of international trade that has fueled the global economy. To some extent, it operates like a version of the butterfly effect—on speed. Markets fall in the US, and three hours later floor-traders at the Jakarta Stock Exchange are watching in disbelief as their own stocks plummet. It’s true that, with the advent of new technologies, glo-
balization can have detrimental effects; in November, newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to England’s Guardian to Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News had reported that the European Union was officially in a recession. Admittedly, it’s hard to imagine explaining to a Norwegian fisherman why he’s losing money because a bunch of Americans couldn’t make their mortgage payments. The good news, however, is that a globally wired stock market may recover more quickly than markets have in the past. For example, when Wall Street crashed in October 1929, plunging the US into the Great Depression, not only did it take the government over three years to pass effective legislation, but it also took the beginning of World War II—over a decade later—to finally pull us out. Today’s well-connected markets may be volatile, but that also means they respond more quickly to positive changes. Last October the investment bank UBS woefully predicted that the US would not likely emerge from its present recession for another two years—but compared to 1929, that’s not much more than a really bad weekend.
Furthermore, the prevalence of technologies such as cell phones, PDAs, and laptops in developing countries means that markets may be able to bounce back relatively soon. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, for example, business is conducted much more quickly than even a decade ago. Farmers in Kenya can use their cell phones to check the price of cattle or grain. Countries such as Egypt and Ethiopia have robust blogging cultures, allowing amateur and professional journalists alike to share and distribute information. For emerging-market countries in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and even the Middle East, the recent market crash has been worrisome, it’s true; but economists point out that without the global market, many of those countries wouldn’t have as many assets to lose in the first place. And especially in places like India and China, booming population rates and
a relatively young workforce mean businesses will recover more rapidly than older, more entrenched institutions in Europe. What this means is that, despite the ever-present perils of being overly connected, it’s difficult to imagine that the absence of a 24-hour global market would have found us any better off. We may be rightly driven mad by the friend who won’t stop texting when we’re trying to talk to him, or the guy on the train braying into his hands-free headset—those frustrations come with the territory. But it’s also helpful to remember that these tools, when they’ve been used for good, have played a major role in improving the lives of millions of people around the globe. That may be something to cheer about—in fact, it may sometimes seem the only thing to cheer about—in the midst of our current financial gloom.
TUNING IN: TECHNOLOGY
CHINA [CENSORED] by Kali A. Mobley
omputers are an integral part of our world, especially in America. People depend on them as a valuable source of information and an indispensable tool for business. Imagine if the object in your office, bedroom, or living room was no longer a valid source of information; instead, it’s a technological shield between the truth and the government. Americans are lucky that we have a strong conviction for the First Amendment, but the people of China suffer every day due to the Communist Party’s stringent censorship of the Internet. According to Yuezhi Zhao, author of Media, Market, and Democracy in China, China had approximately 100,000 Internet users in 1996. The Internet opened the portholes of knowledge for many people: it connected country to country. As a result, the Chinese government felt that its very existence was being threatened, and as a means to control the
Internet, it began to impose regulations on media services in 1996. The regulations allowed the Chinese government to filter information and the sources responsible for the content. If the government deemed the information as “forbidden” or “jeopardiz[ing] the national interest of China,” then the information would disappear. For example, there were approximately 100 English and Chinese websites filtered or blocked as decreed by the ’96 regulation. As a means to secure central control over the Internet, the Chinese government also banned the Chinese media from communication and partnerships with any foreign media sources. As another precautionary regulation in 1996, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ordered all Internet service providers to register and report to the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, and this regulation also requires all non-government released articles to be reviewed as well.
As Americans, we hear or read this information and find it unfathomable. We think, “How can the Chinese people allow their government so much power and control?” The CCP places strong conviction in the protection of state secrets. According to Kavita Menon, author of “Controlling the Internet: Censorship Online in China,” “A state secret is not necessarily classified information, but can include almost any news not explicitly sanctioned for release by the government.” Also, the Chinese government finds solace in its reasoning for censorship. Government officials believe that their moves “safeguard the state sovereignty, protect the legal rights and interests of the Chinese economic information users, and promote the healthy development of the country’s undertaking of economic information.” Many Americans don’t agree with the tactics of the CCP, and many, both Chinese and American, refuse to adhere to the ’96 regulations, saying “they went against the idea of economic reform” or “freedom has been compromised.” Even with all the protests, the CCP continues to control the Internet and the media. Anhui, a Chinese province, was the first to develop an organization, or an “Internet police force,” that looked for Internet rebels. The Internet police force is a very beneficial factor for the CCP, because they have helping hands on the ground—on the streets— stalking Internet cafes and private homes. They are searching for the “dangerous” cyber-rebels, and they found one in 2000—Huang Qi, a web publisher for www.6-4tianwang.com (established June 1999). Qi was notorious for publishing articles that defied the ’96 regulations. His articles focused on human rights, government corruption, and the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre—all subjects deemed as “state secrets.” Qi went on trial in 2001 for “subverting state power,” and in 2003, he was sentenced to five years in prison. Huang Qi is a prime example of the control and power the CCP has over the Internet and the Chinese people. As technology develops, the CCP faces many problems in continuing to censor online information and activities. Some Chinese people are finding outlets to foreign news sources, like Radio Free Asia. New online servers are sprouting codes and sites allowing Chinese people to escape censorship. For example, the service known as Rewebber (http://rewebber.de) allows people free “anonymous” online services. Chinese people can surf the web, see blocked foreign websites, or learn more about “state secrets,” or state events, like the Tiananmen Square Massacre, without fear of persecution. Unfortunately, the CCP usually finds a way to
counteract the new technology with better technology that enhances the government’s ability to censor its people. The government uses powerful, secure firewalls, which block various sources of unauthorized information, and officials have hired college-educated citizens to stalk cyber cafes in Beijing. These government employees search Internet cafes’ web browsers and remove all unauthorized sites from users’ screens. As if the employees and firewalls were not enough of a safeguard for the cyber cafes, the government has also mandated that all cyber cafes and China-based websites register with the Chinese government. China’s censorship continues to grow, but it doesn’t help that major computer organizations, like Microsoft and Google, contribute to China’s censorship regulations. These corporations are focused on the potential economic gains in China, and they believe that the Chinese regulations are out of their jurisdiction—they are “obeying local legislation.” Many protestors wonder how far the support of these organizations will go. For example, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) wonder, “If the authorities asked Microsoft to provide information about Chinese cyber-dissidents using its services that it would agree to do so, on the basis that it is ‘legal’?” In other words, how far is too far? Censorship has spread from print to online media, but will it stop there? Corporate organizations help the CCP control media outlets while other hidden sites try to help liberate the Chinese people. Will the censorship spread to other technologies, such as cellular phones? According to Censored 2007: In October, the Ministry of Information stepped up controls on the estimated 550 billion text messages sent yearly in China. Fines will be imposed on people who send messages containing pornography, ‘provocative language,’ and that spread ‘subjects forbidden by the government.’ The Ministry did not reveal how it would monitor the messages. (Asia News) Censorship in China will not end under its authoritarian government. The CCP will continue to find new ways to censor its people and control valuable information, but that doesn’t mean that American corporations should support the Chinese government’s actions. The power to learn, to educate, relies on the freedom of information in all mediums: print, online, television, and radio. As Americans, we should feel empowered and lucky with our First Amendment and our strong conviction in it.
sketch Hold the Pump! A Peek Inside the Chevy Volt by Corey Randall
e’ve seen the commercials and the advertisements. We’ve heard the stories and the controversy. But pretty soon, it will be coasting down the road and whizzing past us as we cringe, swipe our credit cards, and fill up our gas tanks yet again. It is the new electric car from General Motors: the Chevy Volt. The Volt is unlike all other current hybrid and electric car models, and although it doesn’t come out until 2010, the buzz can be heard everywhere. So why is this car so revolutionary? The main draw of the Volt is its engine. When a hybrid car like the Prius go slowly, it has a small electric motor that provides momentum, but when it accelerates a gasoline motor kicks in. The Volt has only a single, all-electric engine to power the car. This engine also gives the car the capability to move from 0 to 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds, and the ability to reach speeds of up to100 mph. However, new inventions and advances in technology come with new concerns. For some, steering away from our familiar gas-powered vehicles is downright scary. Many buyers have a preconceived notion that electric cars work like those old Fisher-Price Power Wheels we had when we were kids: great for the first two minutes. After that, the high-pitched engine lost power, the wheels slowed, and we had to plug it in again and wait hours for it to charge. We all know the fear that hits us when we see our cell phones with one battery bar left,
or the annoyance of our I-pod running out of juice during an 8-hour plane ﬂight. It’s the same fear that many people have with electric cars. What if it runs out of power? Do I have to keep charging it every 40 miles? Every 20? Every 10? We all learned the concept of electricity in elementary school. So, yes, if it’s electric, eventually you will have to recharge it and keep it from running out of power. However, the Chevy Volt has a unique feature that allows it to have an overall driving range of 400 miles. This means that you could drive from Buffalo to Boston, or Chicago to Cleveland, or Louisville to Memphis, or Los Angeles to Phoenix without stopping once! The car gets its power from a very powerful high-voltage battery pack that stores enough energy to drive the car up to 40 miles. After that, the Volt kicks into its reserve, a small on-board gasoline/E85 combustion engine. This engine has only one task: to charge up the battery pack when the stored power gets low. The eﬃciency of this motor amounts to about 50 mpg, for each gallon you use to charge the batteries. Executives at General Motors are still working on the pricing of the Volt, but estimates have been just under $40,000. It’s not an outrageous price, but with so many car companies pouring all their efforts into increasing fuel eﬃciency, GM still has some stiff competition among hybrid and gas-powered car manufactures. However, what better way to get car companies and drivers thinking environmentally than by sparking some competition? The Volt may be overtaking the roads in a few years, or it may be a failed idea of the past (like GM’s earlier EV1), but whatever the turnout, it’s a step in the right direction for our country, our world and our environment.
Country Proﬁle: Australia by Corey Randall
t is the only country to occupy an entire continent. It has a diverse range of habitats, ranging from alpine heaths to tropical rainforests. Its inhabitants have an accent that is mimicked and attempted by many, but impossible to copy. Many Americans dream of one day visiting this country in hopes of meeting an Indiana Jones looka-like. It is also the world’s largest iron ore exporter, largest producer of bauxite and alumina, has the largest deposits of silver, zinc, zircon and easily extracted uranium, and is home to the world’s largest species of crocodiles. Let’s “Go Outback,” and explore some facts about the lively and gorgeous country down under: Australia. Ofﬁcial Name: Commonwealth of Australia Geographical Area Area: 7,686,850 sq. km Location Location: Oceania, between the Indian and South Pacific Oceans Capital Capital: Canberra Climate Climate: arid to semi-arid; temperate in the south and east and tropical in the north Population (July 2008 estimate) estimate): 21,007,310 Median Age Age: 37.1 years Annual growth rate rate: 1.221% (2008 est.) Life expectancy at birth birth: 81.53 years People living with HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS: 14,000 (2003 est.) Literacy Literacy: 99% Currency Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD) Exchange Rate Rate: 1.2137 per US dollar (2007) Unemployment rate rate: 4.4% (2007 est.) Ofﬁcial Languages Languages: English Government Type Type: federal parliamentary democracy GDP (purchasing power parity) parity): $773 billion (2007 est.) GDP (ofﬁcial exchange rate) rate): $908.8 billion (2007 est.) GDP (real growth rate) rate): 4.3% (2007 est.) **All information was taken from the most recently reported data in the CIA factbook.
sketch Are We Really That Good to the Environment?
by Corey Randall
our bike may be getting more use than ever. Your recycling bin may be filling up faster than your trash can. You may be strutting through the supermarket with canvas bags, and your home may even be lit with energy-eﬃcient light bulbs. We’re constantly hearing about how bad our lifestyles are for the environment, so most of us are trying to be a little better. I hate to be pessimistic, but in spite of all of our efforts to be nice to our environment, in reality most of us aren’t doing all that much. Because of this, the race to be the most eﬃcient and environmentally friendly country is not going in our favor. Most of us are overestimating our efforts and “greenness,” and although we are taking steps to change the way we live, we are not altering our lifestyles enough. Recently, National Geographic conducted a study measuring consumers’ progress toward environmentally sustainable consumption in countries around the world. Instead of measuring the performance of a country as a whole as it relates to the government’s efforts, this study ranked the performance of the individual consumer in 14 different countries. The results: Well, it’s not good for the U.S. We were the lowest ranking country in the study. The LOWEST. Full Results: Consumers in Brazil and India tie for the highest. Greendex score: 60 China: 56.1 Mexico: 54.3 Hungary: 53.2 Russia: 52.4 Great Britain, Germany and Australia: tied at 50.2 Spain: 50.0 Japan: 49.1 France: 48.7 Canada: 48.5 U.S.: 44.9
Articles are always telling us how to be more green, and many of us know that we need to change. But by tracking, reporting, and promoting environmentally sustainable consumption and citizen behavior, this study gives us a better idea of how consumers in different countries are taking action to preserve our planet. It allows us to see what other nations are doing better than us, and what we individually need to do to get there. We say we will walk to the store when it gets a little warmer or buy local produce when it is a little bit cheaper. We can’t see or feel the effects of that aluminum can that we accidentally threw in the trash five minutes ago, so we just promise to be better next time. We see these studies that tell us how bad our country is, and it seems like too big of a problem, too big of an entity for us to fix. But the problem isn’t our country. We (you and me) are to blame. Each one of us is bullying our planet, and this study allows us to expose that. So are you ready? The National Geographic website allows you to calculate your individual “Greendex” by answering a series of questions ranging from what your weekly grocery list looks like to how many appliances you own. We can no longer hide under the blanket of our country’s name and place the blame on the bigger guys: we need to do it too. I took the test, and I’m guessing that it feels a lot like admitting that you’re an addict. It’s horrible to actually expose how bad you are, but once you do, you can start to change. So, here I go: I got a bad score. A really bad score. I knew I wasn’t the most environmentally friendly person out there, but I thought that I was doing a fair job. Wow, was I surprised. The results may surprise you as well, but they also may help us understand why, as a nation, we aren’t as environmentally friendly as we should be.
Help or Hindrance: The Sunni Awakening
by Eliot Graham
istorians and journalists widely agree that the Iraq War is the defining event of President Bush’s tumultuous eight years in oﬃce. If Iraq becomes a stable, successful democracy, our children and grandchildren will remember Bush as the courageous man who freed a people and gave us a new model for foreign policy. If the war fails, he will go down in history as a reckless warmonger who sacrificed his country’s moral authority— and the lives of over 4,000 American soldiers—in a foolhardy bid to remind the world who’s in charge. Right now, it’s definitely looking like the latter. According to the latest Gallup Poll, over 60% of Americans believe that sending troops into Iraq was a mistake. The Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki has yet to create a solid bipartisan cabinet: many Sunni Iraqis who once held positions in Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party have found themselves ignored or passed over for government jobs in favor of Shias. Shia Muslims, who constitute a wide majority of the Iraqi population, were often mistreated under Baathist rule, and most see no reason why the once-privileged Sunnis should continue to reign over them—especially since Al-Qaeda in Iraq is almost entirely Sunni. Which bring us to the Sunni “Awakening,” a uniquely bright spot in the dark, bloody history of the Iraq War. In mid-2007, many former Sunni insurgents in Anbar province, Iraq’s largest region, began forming tribal militias in order to fight Al-Qaeda. But the Awakening has its critics: for every talking head who credits it with this year’s drop in body counts, someone else is ready to explain the drawbacks. Here’s what they’re saying:
The Awakening has also been integral to America’s ﬂoundering ‘hearts and minds’ campaign. Ordinary Iraqi citizens will be more trusting of US forces when they see former insurgents fighting AlQaeda. Since a reduction of violence in Anbar is good for the central government, the Awakening proves that Sunni leaders are willing to put sectarian vendettas behind them and help al-Maliki stabilize power in Baghdad.
OPPOSE: • The Awakening may be reducing violence, but by doing so, it’s simply trading Al-Qaeda for self-serving militias and tribal armies. If Baghdad tries to issue orders, Sunni leaders in Anbar won’t want to listen. • The movement does nothing to help the sectarian tension between Sunni and Shia. Awakening leaders don’t care about building bridges with Shias; they’re just looking out for their own. They may dissuade a few angry young men from strapping on a bomb jacket, but they’ll do little to heal the country’s deep religious divide. The Awakening legitimizes non-government militias. How can the US fund an independent military with no oﬃcial backing from Baghdad, yet condemn groups such as Colombia’s F.A.R.C. or the Tamil Tigers in southern Sri Lanka? Our support of Awakening militia leaders gives them a legitimacy that they wouldn’t otherwise have. Who’s to say they won’t challenge al-Maliki once they’ve routed Al-Qaeda?
SUPPORT: • Even before last year’s troop surge, the Awakening was already curbing violence in Anbar province, one of Iraq’s most dangerous regions. Wary Iraqis don’t see its leaders as simply obeying the US military machine.
sketch Illegal to be Gay?
for two homosexual individuals to show their affection in public, I was in utter disbelief. We know that in the majority of the United States, many homosexuals are refused basic human rights (like the rights to marry, the right to be in the military as openly gay or lesbian, and the right to have children). Unfortunately, however, it is much worse in other countries. Currently there are more than 80 countries around the world where homosexuality is illegal—and those are just the countries with actual written laws against it. Many more places, such as Russia, still punish and widely accept discrimination against homosexuals without written laws. In many nations, it is punished just like murder: for simply holding hands with a person of the same sex you could be executed. Many governments allow homosexuals to get beaten by other citizens when displaying “free speech” or homosexual activism. In these cases the people who beat the citizens are not arrested; instead, it is the homosexual citizen that gets penalized. Countries in the Middle East and Africa are generally the worst with this discrimination because of strict religious codes. Iran actually has a crime named for homosexuality— Lavat—and Iranian law punishes all penetrative sexual acts between adult men with the death penalty. In South Africa, there are states that sponsor homophobia like an honorable charity. Moreover, in many Caribbean countries like Jamaica, homosexuals are segregated much like US segregation after the 13th Amendment. They can only enter certain restaurants, wait at certain bus stops, and walk on certain sides of the street. They are turned down from jobs. They are not allowed to go to certain schools. They are treated with no respect and have fewer rights than other citizens. It’s deplorable and in many ways unbelievable that we can treat other human beings this way. The United States is by no means an example of acceptance for all races, genders, sexualities and religions, but we are on our way. We are at least speaking up and getting laws made and passed. The more we do this, the more that we speak out and set ourselves apart from less accepting nations, the sooner we will become more accepting, both as citizens of a country and as individuals. For a full list of laws and countries against homosexual practices, visit the Human Rights Watch website: www.hrw. org.
by Corey Randall “Homosexuality is basically illegal,” he said nonchalantly. “What??!” I squealed. “What do you mean illegal? How can being gay be illegal?” “I don’t know,” he said. “But in my country it is.”
A few months ago I was in a heated discussion with my friends Denis, Daved and Antonio about our home countries and politics. As an avid cheerleader for the US, I would usually still end up losing these discussions and come out questioning my own country’s policies. However, this time I think we looked pretty good. I may have even won. But that still doesn’t mean there’s much to cheer about. Denis is from Russia, Daved is from Angola, Antonio is from South Africa, and I am from the United States. While I was living in Spain, we would often meet to practice our Spanish and learn about each other’s countries. One day in particular taught me a lot and, in many ways, made me look at this world a little differently. In our discussion we got on the topic of homosexuality. To my surprise, I was the only one at the table who was born in a country that didn’t punish people for walking down the street and holding hands with someone of the same sex. I knew that homosexuality was not yet widely accepted in every corner of the planet, but I was still shocked. I felt naive and misguided about the acceptance towards homosexuality that I thought was happening all over the world. In Russia, for example, homosexuality is “legal,” but it is not accepted and the government has even made significant efforts over the past year to outlaw homosexuality and join the long list of other countries that ban same-sex relations. When Denis told me that it was basically considered a crime
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The Three ‘R’s...and Technology by Emilee O’Leary
n our effort to create a better system that can both educate and communicate efficiently, inerrantly, and at any time of the day, we have created a motherboard that is being entrusted to raise our children. And when we break down the new foundations of education, it often seems as though computers are raising and teaching our children. An artificial life form that can speak, process, analyze, and interpret data, can do just about anything but create information from nothing. Before the heavy influx of technology, pedagogy was an art form. Teachers were required to fill an entire day with content that did require a computer, or some form thereof. The shift of focus from education to technologyeducation is causing some irreconcilable shortcomings in the educational system. But the only way to avoid these problems is to treat computers like a pencil or a pair of scissors in that they are another tool of education rather than the sole possessor of all things learned. Computers tend to become outdated in the amount of time it takes to blink. Integrating computers and such technology into the educational system requires an enormous amount of money and time—for those whose job it is to instruct technology classes, it is nec-
essary to be certain of one’s capability to do so. Furthermore, although a computer is capable of stretching across all lanes of subject matter, there must be an acknowledgment that a computer, like everything else, has limitations. Computers used by the typical ten-year-old in Typicalville cannot converse with the children or provide basic rules of common sense. Nor can they function without a user. Of course, teachers have limitations as well, but they are far less damaging than the potential computers have to be used in the wrong capacity. A teacher understands his or her role in the classroom, prepares for specific instruction, and is capable of delivering information with clarity and age-appropriate responses. When teachers do not know the answer to a question, they will not show the child a blog written by an angry, biased 40-year-old man living in his mother’s basement, but will instead tell the child they will be happy to figure out and then provide the correct answer. A search engine doesn’t discern between a fallacy and a fact. It is set up on principles and rules that are entirely separate from any human code of conduct. Wikipedia is not a primary source—it can be changed by anyone and is often prone to partisan leanings. ‘Yahoo! Answers’ is a forum, not an en-
cyclopedia. To cite these sites as references in a college paper is laughable (and deserves a low grade). But computers are the gateway to the future, are they not? Rumors have circulated for years that soon books will be obsolete; we will be able to save the trees by turning all books digital. We can all have hand-held readers with which we download books and read them on an LCD screen. This is causing younger generations, who haven’t seen how things used to be, to question the basic activities of everyday life. Why go to the library when the same resources are on the Internet? Why talk on the phone or visit friends when we can chat on Facebook? Why visit Washington, D.C. when we have more luck taking a virtual tour of the White House than actually, physically getting inside? If history has shown us nothing else, it has proven that the desire to condense technology and balloon innovations is embedded in our DNA. We want phones as small as possible, and computers as small as (reasonably) possible (with the maximum amount of space). We want to develop technology to make life easier and more affordable. Integrating computers into education seems reasonable, but sometimes it seems as though we’ve gone so far it’s hard to turn it off when necessary.
Systemically Approaching Computer Technology Integration in Education, an article put out by Formatex in 2005, is an informational howl that desires to advance technology. It explains the intention of policymakers in a computer-integrated world: “The goal is to develop the appropriate “culture” in the educational systems that will support and promote computer technology integration by focusing in ways that fundamentally transform education.” There is a movement out there, as this article points out, designed to implement systemic change in the educational system: a movement that strives to technologically mimic cultural norms by addressing society’s needs, beliefs, values, and opinions. But regardless of how vital computers are, and will become, we cannot let the system remove the important human factor of education. Education has always sought to provide a variety of avenues that address the wide variety of learning styles best suited to each student. Technology cannot replace all learning styles, no matter how advanced it becomes. It is necessary to continue to build and mold teachers into effective and malleable learning guides because, for whatever reason, they are the only irreplaceable unit of education throughout all of history. Some students need the patient
guidance of a teacher, trained in common sense and experience, ready to show them the way through the obstacles that present themselves. For many children, a teacher’s attention and assistance might be the most love and/or discipline they receive throughout the week. Technology is a vital tool in our culture, but it must only be treated as such. A computer cannot replace a teacher; the integration of a computer into a lesson must assist the teacher’s objective and not be the objective. The Internet should not replace going to the library, because looking for resources and interacting with three-dimensional
objects offers more life experience than navigating throughout the Web. There are hidden, unappreciated lessons in every aspect of education, life lessons that could be lost if we allow computers to supersede human instruction. As technology develops, it is impossible to stop it from transforming education; fighting the change is a battle that has been lost too many times to count. Instead, we must engineer teaching from generation to generation through the retention of a classroom centered around the human instructor, acknowledging the necessity of technology, but denying it sole responsibility in the development of young minds.
Double Minorities: Blessing or Curse? by Nneka Okona
Saturday morning designated for taking the SAT turned out to be more than just a test for seventeen year old Alicia Mazzara. Though she was eager to take the test, myriad questions arose when Mazzara had to bubble in a choice on her answer sheet pinpointing her ethnic background. Despite being asked to circle only one of the provided responses, Mazzara knew that she was more than just a pre-solicited ethnic category. Instead, she stared intently at the choices that she knew she could never make: she was what the testing company referred to as “other.” With a blended ethnic background of Chinese and Italian, it was something as simple as the SAT that forced Mazzara to look more closely at the racial and ethnic parameters and seek to define her. “There is a bubble labeled Asian and a bubble labeled White, both of which apply to me. Yet I can’t simply pick one, because I’m not exclusively White, nor am I exclusively Asian. Standardized tests are just another reminder that, try as I might to find a label fitting of my identity, the majority of people in America are of Caucasian descent,” Mazzara said. Mazzara is just like many other women; some are paralleled in books such as Iris Jacob’s My Sisters’ Voices, others simply go unheard. All, however,
are struggling to define themselves in a world teeming with complex questions relating to their ethnic backgrounds. Through the pangs of discrimination, alienation, and mistreatment evolved a distinct brand of woman: the woman of color. She isn’t your typical woman, for she bears the stigma that being both a minority and a woman brings. The term “woman of color” dates back to November 1977, originating from the first National Women’s Conference, the brainchild of the U.S. government. Contrary to popular belief, however, the phrase ‘woman of color’ does not simply denote an African-American woman. According to Jessica Faye Carter in her book Double Outsiders, the woman of color demographic includes African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, or Asian-Americans. Currently, women of color make up 15 percent of the United States population and are excited to reach higher percentages in the years to come. African-American women make up approximately 13 percent of the population, nearing 18 million women, while Hispanic women make up 14 percent and Asian American women 4.2 percent, lending to a little over 17 million and 1.2 million, respectively. These women trace their heritage back to places such as Africa, the Caribbean, South Ameri-
ca, Central America, Mexico, China, or Japan. Many possess rich, multiethnic backgrounds. Though women of color hail from a wide variety of cultures and geographic regions, and though their ex-
periences vary from person to person, there are many commonalities, primarily because they’re often deemed outsiders in their own worlds. And because these women often have an unparalleled ethnic experi-
ence and background, then everyday goals like a comfortable corporate job, for instance, can be far more difficult than for the average Caucasian woman. Faye discusses this disparity in her book when she says, “Although women
of color account for more than 15 percent of the U.S. population and almost 50 percent of the U.S. labor force, they account for only 1.7 percent of all corporate officers in the Fortune 500 companies, where corporate officers are those who are board elected or board appointed.” In a sense, there have been some significant advances. Women of color everywhere won a victory when Andrea Jung, Canadian-born Chinese, was appointed as the chief executive officer for Avon. Ann Fudge, an AfricanAmerican woman, is the chief executive officer of Young and Rubicam, a leading advertising agency. So where do we go from here? One thing is clear: we need more tolerance and understanding for women and girls like Mazzarra. In her own words: “I am American. But I am also Chinese, just as much as I am Italian. I am a girl, I am a writer, I am a poet, I am an artist. I’m Alicia, and there’s no one label that is going to capture my identity. But if you want me to fill in the little bubbles on an SAT score sheet, I’ll gladly check ‘other.’ It may seem nebulous, but on the other hand, that leaves me plenty of room to define it any way I like.”
U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa by Tunomukwathi Asino
he United States has a national interest with many countries in Africa. Critics point out that the United States’ foreign policy is based on the continents’ wealth and natural resources. The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) plays a role in building long-standing partnerships and fostering self-sufficiency by helping African nations build strong effective democracies, according to information on the US State Department website. The creation of AFRICOM was announced on February 6, 2007. “The decision was the culmination of a 10year thought process within the Department of Defense (DoD) acknowledging the emerging strategic importance of Africa, and recognizing that peace and stability on the continent impacts not only Africans, but the interests of the U.S. and international community as well,” states General William E. Ward on the United States Command website. Marysol Valle, a reporter with the Daily Trojan, cites General Herbert L. Altshuler, the director of Strategy Plans and Programs for U.S. Africa Command, as saying that AFRICOM will help African countries improve their capability and capacity to deal with the size of the problems they’re facing.
However, there are critics against AFRICOM. According to The Nation website, “with little scrutiny from Democrats in Congress and nary a whimper of protest from the liberal establishment, the United States will soon establish permanent military bases in sub-Saharan Africa.” The authors of the article also point out that the Bush administration fails to mention that securing and controlling Africa’s wealth and natural resources is key to the United States’ own interests: “Misguided unilateral US military policy to ‘bring peace and security to the people
of Africa’ has, in fact, led to inflamed local conflicts, destabilization of entire regions, billions of wasted dollars and the unnecessary deaths of US soldiers.” Furthermore, William D. Hartung and Frida Berrigan point out in an article, Militarization of U.S. Africa Policy: 2000 to 2005, published on CommonDreams.org, that “in the wake of September 11th, and in keeping with its interest in securing access to oil and other key natural resources, the Bush administration has been rapidly expanding U.S. military involvement in Africa.” They argue that while arm
sales, aid, and military training in Africa have been justified by what the Bush administration call “Global War on Terrorism,” oil has been a major factor in the administration calculations from the outset. “In his first few months in office, President Bush’s first Secretary of State, Colin Powell, stressed the need to improve relations with oil producing nations like Nigeria and Angola,” according to Hartung and Berrigan. According to the article “African Policy Outlook 2008” on The Foreign Policy in Focus website, “the United States has dramatically ramped up military activity in Africa since 2002.” The Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative through the Pentagon provided $500 million to increase border security and counter-terrorism capacity in Mali, Chad, Niger and Mauritania. In addition, the United States Navy patrols the Gulf of Guinea. According to information on the website, our Defense Department has access to the following countries’ air bases and ports in Africa, which are maintained by local security forces: Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. The Foreign Policy in Focus’ website further points out that the Unites States’ ties in Africa are visible in both the official and private sector: “Since 2002, the U.S. International Military and Training Program (IMET) has invested approximately $10 million a year to train African military personnel, and the FY 2008 budget request increased this sum to $13.7 million.” The United States also has Cooperative Security Location (CSL) agreements with five African countries, and there is also a new joint U.S.-Ugandan intelligence fusion center, according to Africa Policy Outlook 2008.
With regard to improving the lives of Africa, some people feel that more should be done to help Africans. For example, some believe that more aid should be given to Africa. According to the editorial “Ways to help Africa” by Jeffrey Sachs, professor of Economics and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Bush has resisted former British prime minister Tony Blair’s call to double aid to Africa by 2010. “American policy is based overwhelmingly on the idea that Africa can lift itself out of extreme poverty through its own efforts, that aid is largely misused because of corruption, and that the United States already gives generous amounts,” Sachs wrote. He points out that “Africa is trapped in poverty, many countries are well poised to use aid effectively, and America’s contribution is tiny relative to Africa’s needs, America’s promises, and America’s wealth.” Nevertheless, The Washington Post asserts that there is an unnoticed effort by the Bush administration: a substantial increase in African aid. According
to Michael Fletcher, a Washington Post staff writer, “The president has tripled direct humanitarian and development aid to the world’s most impoverished continent since taking office and recently vowed to double that increased amount by 2010 -- to nearly $9 billion.” Another Washington Post article cites the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as saying that Bush has actually increased direct development and humanitarian aid to Africa, to more than $4 billion a year from $1.4 billion in 2001. Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt and Uganda rank among the top recipients in aid from the United States, according to the article. Current and former White House aides and independent analysts point out that Bush’s interest in Africa is rooted in the numerous humanitarian crises that continue to bedevil the continent, as well as in the growing importance of Africa in a world increasingly linked by economics and terrorist threats.
The Speed of Technology, Part 1: Death by Anticipation
n Echographies of Television, Jacques Derrida expresses concern that newer technologies are being used to create an archive that, through anticipation, limits the possibilities of the future. By proclaiming what will have been rather than letting the future be lived out, one risks overlooking the unexpected, which allows for new interpretations of events and, ultimately, new interpretations of the self. What is archived thus has profound implications for how one establishes an identity and for which identities can be established at all. While it is true that technology in a general sense—what Derrida refers to as “technics”—has always existed and is necessary to how people express themselves and live in a social environment, Derrida contends that the newer “teletechnologies,” such as televisions, computers, fax machines, and video cameras, have an effect that other forms of technics do not. He discusses how teletechnologies alter one’s relationship to time, so that the immediate is privileged over the delayed and interpreted. For instance, he explains how having a video camera placed in front of him forces him to think and speak differently than he would in a more pri-
by Anna Pellecchia vate or, at least, unrecorded conversation because “instead of pursuing the necessary course or relatively interior consequence of a meditation or discussion… all of a sudden, as if [I] had been interrupted, [I] had to start speaking in front of a camera.” The contrast he makes between a “meditation” and the camera’s “interruption” is further described in the following: I don’t speak, I don’t think, I don’t respond in the same way anymore, at the same rhythm as when I’m alone, daydreaming or reflecting at the wheel of my car or in front of my computer or a blank page or as when I’m with one of you…. As soon as someone says “Roll tape!” a race begins, one starts not to speak, not to think in the same way anymore, almost not to think at all anymore. The problem isn’t so much that the event is being recorded, for if it were being recorded in writing the effect would not be the same; rather, it is being recorded in a manner that emphasizes real-time and immediacy and that doesn’t allow for lags and moments of contemplation. These technologies
seek to capture a moment, capture an immediacy, without time for sufficient reflection on what is being captured and why. It is this emphasis on the immediate that troubles Derrida, as it prevents the passing of time that is needed to critically think through a situation and to approach it from various angles. The sense of immediacy that teletechnologies provide, however, is precisely the reason why they are so often considered essential for archiving. People want to record events as they are happening so that they can be sure to have evidence of them later. The fear is that not recording an event as it is happening will lead to an inaccurate portrayal of it, a lack of information on it, or even total neglect of it later on. As Derrida points out, “Some people think that the opportunity of television is precisely the absence of delay.” This perceived immediacy is valued because one believes it can capture the singularity of an event before it has been marred by the effect of time, which disintegrates or distorts it. Teletechnologies try to capture a singularity in an event that can then be repeated over and over again as “history.” Thus, in order to capture an event’s supposed singularity, capture it as it is happening, one needs to antici-
pate the historical; to capture important events one has to assume a historical value before the event unfolds, before time has passed that may allow one to reflect on the event’s significance. However, the desire to grasp history as it is happening provokes an anticipation of the future that risks limiting that future and the possibilities that can come out of it. In order to claim what will have been important one has to claim it before it actually happens, before one can let it happen and before one can reflect on what has happened. This means that, as Derrida argues, “[a]nticipation opens to the future, but at the same time, it neutralizes it. It reduces, presentifies, transforms into memory… that which announces tomorrow as still to come.” Though anticipation allows for a recording that could not happen otherwise, it also provides the “mastery of a future neutralized by calculation and foresight.... [It] closes the future off… it anticipates it to the point of mastering in advance, by repetition, anything that might happen.” In other words, if we anticipate the future before it happens, we can only see the future in terms of what we know, of what already has been. In order to presentify and master the future, we have to know what to look for, and thus we can’t account for the unexpect-
ed. By not allowing the unexpected to come, we are limited in what we can see as significant, because we are only working within the framework we already have. Derrida contends that such a situation makes it seem “as if nothing will ever happen again.” He explains, “I am so ready to welcome the new, which I know I am going to be able to keep, capture, archive, that it’s as if nothing will ever happen again.” The result? Teletechnology’s use of anticipation risks neglecting the “other” in its inability to allow for any-
thing new, anything unexpected, such that the future isn’t even a future anymore—as “future” implies a divergence from what is and what has been—but merely a repetition of the past. This is why Derrida proclaims that everything will seem as if “[i]t has already happened; death has already happened. This is the experience of death.” If there is no alterity, no “otherness,” there is never anything new, never anything
learned, never anything discovered and never anything changed. In this situation, life is at a stand-still or, more accurately, life has died. The disruption and change that alterity provides is necessary for life—as well as necessary for learning things not known or understood before. What happens when an archive consists solely of events and ideas that were over-anticipated? The circumscription of the future that troubles Derrida is not simply about the need to let the future happen, but also about how we come to think of ourselves. Memories are used to build one’s sense of self or, on a larger scale, a community’s sense of self. In looking at photographs, video recordings, written documents, and other pieces of evidence, one is able to piece together a story that tells of one’s identity. But if all that’s available in an archive is what has been over-anticipated—and thus a constant repetition without the inclusion of something “other”—then we lose the possibility of ever being able to think of ourselves differently than what we’ve always been. Without the newness that the future can provide, we cannot see ourselves as changing or progressing. It is in this way that teletechnologies risk stifling innovation.
Cicero’s Corner A “Savage’s View on Our Developing Technological Society by Jordan Rickman
et me paint a picture for you of a world Aldous Huxley warned us about back in 1932: a world where, when people have problems—emotional or otherwise— they just pop a pill and don’t have to deal with it anymore, A world where people are split into different social classes based on intelligence. A world where people don’t have children: they create them. Does this sound like a world you want to live in? Or the one you already do? People today have given up the luxury of dealing with their problems. We have pills for whatever might be ailing us: Aspirin for headaches, Zoloft for depression, and Ecstasy for, well, plain boredom. Obviously it is necessary in some cases for people to take drugs for certain conditions. However, what happened to the days when sobriety did not exclude only narcotics and “holidays” were only read about? By giving up our clear consciousnesses and, instead, slipping into drug-induced comas, are we giving up our humanity? Children are being created in labs, their features picked from catalogues. Is that so different from Huxley’s hatcheries? What can the expected outcome really be? We have already given the goahead for computers to do our work for us. No one is complaining because, naturally, no one likes to do work. How
much longer until machines spill over into our personal lives? We already have appliances that cook for us, talk for us, and entertain for us. It is scary to see all the apocalyptic robot movies realized in our day-to-day lives. But the frightening part isn’t that it happened, but that it is accepted. Something programmed helps you finish your work early so you can have more time to go home and watch another program. Human interaction is a thing of the past. After 1984 came and went without Big Brother crawling out of the woodwork, the world seemed to sigh in relief. So there wasn’t going to be any military-driven dystopia—but is what we have any better? American society today is nothing short of a mixture of Orwell’s and Huxley’s dark visions. We have been kept in a wartime-based economy much like that of Orwell’s Oceania. It is ironic that, just like in the novel, we only know what we are told about the majority of the wars. I am referring, of course, to our nation’s fillin-the-blank wars. The “War on Terror” and the “War on Drugs” have done nothing but keep our citizens frozen in some twisted, unifying “threat.” In 1984, the citizens of Oceania were told of the wars going on around them, but they were never given anything remotely substantial in regards to news or evidence. It is almost laughable that citi-
zens were able to read the novel and not see their own reflections. Just because we aren’t awakened by a roaring television screen doesn’t mean that we are in any way free from what restrained the Oceanians. An eighth-grader could tell you that there really is no difference between eyes following or ears listening. I will admit, though, that we are not all the way there yet. We still have people telling the computers what to do, but how much longer until we cut out the middleman? With our nation in an economic crisis and jobs disappearing daily, is this really the direction we want to be moving in? Regardless of the morality, one cannot argue that these things aren’t happening. What we as a nation need to do now is not debate over whether or not this should be occurring. Instead, what we need to figure out is what we’re going to do now that this transition into our so-called utopia has started. A machine-based society looms in our future. That imminence raises another question: are we, as a nation, consciously striving towards that technological society as some sort of warped goal? Have we misinterpreted Huxley’s words, not as a warning, but as a promise? Is it possible that we all put the novel down after only the first half, stating, “I already know how it ends”? How quickly we forget the price of our Brave New World.
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Societ y The
t this point in the 21st century, it would be safe to say that electronics such as cell phones, iPods, laptop computers, digital cameras, and video recorders are getting smaller and smaller. But despite their shrinking size, their popularity still grows. And aside from size, the etiquette with which we use these devices—or the lack thereof—is becoming more and more heinous. Cell phones are used by careless and oblivious drivers, laptop computers are being used anywhere your lap can situate them, and the iPod has literally become a boombox used by musical enthusiasts listening to their tunes at an absurd volume. But are the ridiculously-sized electronic devices and the etiquette of their users noticed by the general public, out in public? Two classmates and I decided to put this idea to a test. After studying the works of Hakim Bey, a writer defined as an “interventionist—or one who uses creativity and aesthetic shock value to disrupt the norms of society— myself and my friends Zach and Riley were assigned to construct an interventionist project of our own. The goal was to interrupt
by Liz Donohue society to make an impact on the public and to force our “poetic terrorism” on them, as Bey would call it. The first item on the agenda was to make oversized electronics in order to comment on the size of recent electronic trends. The result of our creativity was a shoebox for an iPod and a larger, flat box for a huge cell phone. After spray painting and designing our boxes, complete with touch and keypads, antennae, and headphones, we were ready to document our public excursion and our intervention on popular electronics. Next on the agenda was to make some stops for pictures. Our stops for photographs included the Grocery Outlet chain, Best Buy, the local taco truck, Hollywood video,
and last but not least, the Capital Mall. The mall provided us with young and old demographics of people, most with cell phones or iPods. Riley meandered around the mall with his oversized mp3 player and headphones, beat-boxing and rapping the lyrics to Wu-Tang Clan’s “Triumph,” in order to mimic the person who listens to music at an alarming volume. Armed with my giant cell phone, I moseyed around as well while faking a disruptive conversation with my “mom.” “MOM, SPEAK UP!” and “I CAN’T HEAR YOU, ARE YOU THERE?” were loudly emphasized in my vernacular to make the point that people can sometimes be rude when addicted to speaking on their cell phones in public places. While in the mall, Riley and I posed ninja-like with people who were unaware of our project, but were doing the exact same things we were. Zach, our excellent and skilled photographer, was also darting around like a night fighter to make sure that the rent-a-cops didn’t notice our societydisrupting behavior. The best pictures that included the iPod were Riley showing his iPod to an actual iPod owner, placing an order at the taco truck while listening to fake tunes, and defending and explaining our project to the security guard at the mall so we wouldn’t get kicked out for documentation. As far as my cell phone and I went, the best ones included placing myself next to a girl while the two of us simultaneously “sent” text messages, holding up my cell phone high in the air to try and get “more bars,” and secretively placing myself next to an unknowing woman who was on her cell phone while
grocery shopping. Needless to say, the pictures were able to capture our actions, as well as those of the general public in the background. The younger people who were closer to our age were obviously amused, and I got the impression that they immediately understood what sort of statement we were trying to make. The more elderly demographic thought we were actually disrupting their lives; it seemed like they were disturbed and unable to actually purchase a television at Best Buy or pasta at Grocery Outlet with our intervening presence. These two separate groups of people were able to give us the sense of what types of society are more accepting than others, and who could differentiate between creativity and pointless “anarchism.” In all, the interventionist project taught my classmates and me how to poetically terrorize society and how to perceive feedback from the everyday population. The electronic devotees, chained to their devices, gave us the living fuel for our intervention. This project also gave me a strong incentive to be polite with my attached electronics and to use them with courtesy to others. So turn down your music and soften your voice—you may become objectified in an interventionist’s eyes.
How Do You Say “G by Chloë Edwards
ere’s something we probably all take for granted: when we get on the Internet to check our email, to research sources for our latest research paper, or just to procrastinate, we have seemingly endless choices. Page after Google page is filled with websites that could be exactly what we’re looking for, and all of them in English. We’re a lucky bunch when it comes to the Internet, we native English speakers. English is far and away the predominant language of the Internet, with 70% of its web pages published in that language. Japanese and German come in a distant second and third at about 6% each. Almost anything we could ever want (and plenty of nonsense we don’t) is on the Internet in English. Our only translation divide is to occasionally bridge the gap between American and British English—hardly a daunting task. For everybody else, however, Internet usage can be much more limited. If people don’t speak or read English, they’re limited to websites published in their native languages, but those aren’t always in great supply. What if you’re one of the 500,000 native speakers of Frisian? Do you forswear the Internet entirely, cutting yourself off from the digital age? Do you teach yourself to program and create a Frisian Internet niche? Or do you sit down, suck it up, and buy the English Rosetta Stone? Learning to program might help out the Frisian-speakers and others like them in the long run. With enough time and people behind movements for websites in languages other than English, the Internet would be forced to diversify its language content. If users showed themselves willing and able to boycott English-only websites for their nativelanguage versions, ordinary programmers would be more
willing to create multiple versions of their websites to begin with. The second option, however—to learn English for the sake of the Internet—would reinforce that language’s primacy as a latter-day lingua franca, like French in the Age of Enlightenment or Latin during the Roman Empire. Leave it long enough, and we could perhaps one day have an entirely English Internet. It’s an interesting proposition for a phenomenon that probably deserves more credit than any other single entity for opening up the world. You can interact with just about anyone anywhere on the Internet—provided you have a language in common. But you want to talk about a shrinking world: how about one where nearly everyone can comprehend and/or speak one language? It’s a slightly terrifying prospect, at least for me. Though whatever my (perhaps slightly exaggerated) fears about the disappearance of different languages from the world at large, it would certainly make travel a lot easier…
Google” in Vietnamese? Even as the Internet has opened vistas beyond many people’s wildest dreams, the dominance of English can also be severely limiting, particularly in third-world countries. Those people could really benefit from being able to order clothing or blankets online—but do enough websites exist that are comprehensible to people in Ghana or Thailand to make it a reality? Technology has such incredible potential to help those in the third world, and yet the most universal and accessible medium is often shut off to them before it’s been opened up. Part of the problem is a lack of human capital. There has to be reliable and universal access to education in the third world before those countries can begin either turning out programmers who will write websites in Swahili or a population that can readily understand an English Internet. Of course, this is laying aside the basic infrastructure question of wiring up the third world to be Internet-accessible in the first place. Countries in the first world have a rather different prob-
lem. Some, like the French in particular, don’t want their native languages to become bastardized with English loan words. This has been the trend of late, particularly in technology industries, because so much innovation takes place in America. Many non-native speakers of English publish technical papers in that language because the terminology is so much more precise and varied. As a result, new laws in some countries have begun requiring that websites be published in the native language (such as in Quebec, where websites must be published in French). But whether this sort of legislation can really make a difference is debatable. Another question is the effect that the relative numbers of English speakers will have on the Internet. There are—or soon will be—vastly more Chinese native speakers surfing the web. They could tip the balance in favor of Mandarin, if only because there are simply so many of them and they are fairly computer-literate. Witness the Japanese as well: they have managed gather a whole 6% of the Internet market share with a population that is tiny but extremely connected. If the Chinese population were similarly motivated, the consequences could be incredible. Maybe in fifty years, I’ll be writing articles about the necessity of learning Chinese in order to get any kind of variety on the Internet. The Internet has both opened up and shrunken down the world, bringing people together from across the globe but gently coercing them to use English to get around. What will happen? Only time will tell.
Learning from the Past:
Japan’s Property Bubble and the United States Economy
by Amy Russ
he collapse of the United States property bubble has caused widespread panic in the international markets. Our economy is, after all, the basis of multiple countries’ economic policy. However, this is not the first property bubble to occur. In the 1980s, Japan had a property bubble, one that took twelve years to even attempt to fix. By analyzing the Japanese property bubble— both causes and effects—it may be possible for us to better understand the current property crisis in the United States. The Japanese property bubble had some similarities with the one in United States. As The Economist points out, both occurred during “a time of financial experimentation and easy credit.” This experimentation pushed the Bank of Japan to cut interest rates, just as the Federal Reserve did during the late 1900s. With the low interest rate, it became easier for people to afford to buy land. The interest rate is directly related to investment: with a low interest rate, investment will rise, and in the short term it will push cash outflows up and lower the exchange rate. Unlike the American property bubble, however, the Japanese bubble occurred primarily within the commercial sector—not many people in Japan had to mortgage their houses. There were two other reasons for the property bubbles’ effects on the commercial sector. First, banks wrongly believed that land prices would only rise, making retailers and creditors willing to accept land as collateral, even from people with weak credit. Second, according to economist Shigenori Shiratsuka, “enthusiasm of market participants…contributed largely to maintaining temporarily high asset prices.” Just as in the US, this enthusiasm blinded the Japanese to any signs of trouble within the property market. However, once the problem in the Japanese market was
realized, people began to react accordingly. For instance, they took their money out of the banks and invested abroad, causing a significant increase in cash outflows to other nations. The increase led to an increase in the exchange rate: Japanese imports went up while exports steadily declined, a pattern that echoes the United States’ largely import-based economy. To counteract its property bubble, the Bank of Japan began to change its monetary policy. One of the biggest changes was the “zero interest rate”: this is a macroeconomic policy that charges corporations a zero-percent interest in order to stimulate investment. Zero-percent interest rates increase investment, because it is cheaper for corporations to borrow more money from banks. This policy has slowly but steadily pushed the Japanese economy out of its recession. The lower interest rate has led to an increase in cash flow from Japan to other foreign investments, which have in turn gone up, leading to a lower exchange rate. Also, because it takes less foreign currency to buy the yen, foreign investors are becoming much more interested in investing in Japan. Another important tactic that the Bank of Japan employed was a mass deregulation of the real estate market. Deregulation meant that the Japanese government began following a laissez-faire approach by letting the market, and not the government, dictate prices within the real estate market. Both of these tactics are slowly pulling Japan out of its real estate woes. Flash forward to the present: the US is going through a very similar problem. Through the analysis of Japan’s response to its property bubble, we can begin to determine the best course of action in quickly resolving the US crisis.
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The Villain in Israel by Kyle Baker
our months ago, I met with a group that consisted of Palestinians and Jordanian Arabs. I was part of a group hosting them for a period in the States; we took them to a baseball game, a barbecue, and a concert. They stayed in our homes. They were visiting as part of a program of mutual understanding between our cultures; the idea was to foster a situation where friendships could be developed. We hoped to make lasting impressions, so that when America came up in discussion with their friends back home, they could say, “America really isn't so bad; I've been there. The people were good.” Similarly, we wanted to show people in the States that Arab kids are not far from our own— they’re real people, with faces, hurts, families, and hobbies; they are people who smile, and people who cry, just like anyone else we know. This is how peace is achieved, after all: understanding. Suspicion, fear, and distrust are all a result of a lack of understanding between peoples. If we make the enemy more human, the thought goes, then we can resolve that suspicion between our cultures. We wanted the youth who encountered these Arab exchange students to be able to put a kind face of a real person to the title ‘Arab,’ instead of just the media images of terrorists—and a moment's honest examination will have you realize that outside this image, very little is presented to the American public. Among their many stops, we had arranged for our guests to meet every Sunday with the youth group of a different church for a discussion forum. One of the Arab students would ask a question (yes, they spoke fluent English, in case you were wondering), and one of the Americans would volunteer an answer. And then one of the American students would take the opportunity to do likewise. It was particularly enlightening to me to hear and discuss myself with the students one Sunday what it must be like as an Arab in Israel. In America, I knew our media usu-
ally gave lopsided, sensationalist reports of the Middle East, and of the Israeli situation; ‘Gaza’ and ‘the West Bank’ were little more than buzzwords to me. I was enraptured, then, as a 17 year old described the frustration of traffic caused by a military checkpoint—a military checkpoint in the middle of a city!—on the way to school every morning. Another girl, a Christian Arab, related how she and a Muslim friend of hers, when traveling through a certain region, had needed to present their ID cards (which officially acknowledge your religion). She passed right through, then waited while her Muslim friend was questioned for hours It seemed a different world, totally removed from my reality. And when I arrived here, at Ben Gurion National Airport (Ben Gurion is the modern day George Washington of Israel) in Tel Aviv, and began the short drive to Jerusalem, I began to realize: Things are different here. In my part of America, discrimination is the exception—I consider it a historic element more than anything. I hail from Texas, and even there racism is socially unacceptable. And while discrimination does occur in Israel, it's different than we understand it in the States. ‘Willful Segregation’ captures the idea better; Arabs and Jews, almost unilaterally, do not want to mix. ‘The feeling is mutual,’ is the attitude you see on the official government signs that say “No Jews—for your personal safety” at the entrances to Arab villages. “You can tell the difference between the Jewish and Arab settlements at a distance, looking at them,” my driver pointed out. “The buildings are uniform, they're newer—that one there has all red roofs, it's obviously Jewish, you see?” I sat quietly for a while in the car, just staring in wonder at a world where the hate runs so deep that it can be touched, where the hatred is so real it one is unable to turn a blind eye at will. I knew the Jews and the Arabs hated each other, to a degree; this was not surprising. What was completely
astounding was that the government had recognized the hatred, had accepted it, had built laws around it. Yet one quickly adapts. Jews do not go in to Arab neighborhoods. Arabs don't go in to Jewish ones. Several years ago, during the Intifada, two Jewish soldiers had been caught driving through Ramallah, an isolated Arab city tied to Bethlehem. The people there mobbed the soldiers, and literally tore them limb from limb. The media showed images of Arabs dipping their hands in the blood of their victims, dancing around proudly with blood on their hands. The Intifada ended about two years ago, when Israel erected ‘the wall,’ as it is infamously known. But the hatred runs deep, even among the secularized Muslims. I teach at an Arab private school in Jerusalem, where a friend of mine teaches a religion class that examines social issues between different religions and cultures, both abroad and at home. Interested, I was perusing the journals of the students, where they answer their warm-up questions for the day. One of the first journals I saw had the answer to the question, “What would you do if you ruled the world?” It began with, “First, I would kill all of the Jews,” before moving on to matters of world peace. I don't mean to vilify—no American, including myself, can understand what it is like to grow up as an oppressed and conquered people. I live among the Arabs, and I can tell you they're no more inherently evil than you or I. These teenagers would fit right in to any American high school; I befriend my students without hesitation or difficulty. But I have difficulty casting either party as the villain these days, or understanding those who do.
FUSE Beyond Gray Skies by Kali A. Mobley Gray, razor-sharp stones jut toward a bleak sky. Wind blows in all directions; there are no people, signs, or clues directing the traffic of life. It’s just you—in the mighty depths of despair and destitution. The pit of your stomach turns and churns; no food can be inhaled because of exhaustion. Life is an illusion and elusive, especially in this state of mind. This is known as “rock bottom.” Many people handle their “rock bottom” in various ways—some turn to alcohol, some turn to drugs, some turn to friends, some turn to family, and some turn to an idea of hope, inspiration, or religion. We are taught through difficult situations that life isn’t always fair—if ever—but we also teach ourselves how to move on and progress. The problem is acknowledging the issue at hand and developing a solution. As young adults, we find that our early years of adulthood should be deemed as “trial-and-error.” Some people are resilient while others are damaged. Personally, I’m truly inspired by the people who are resilient. I’m 23 years old, and I have definitely deemed this past year as “trialand-error.” Like most young adults, I’m stubborn and refuse to accept the guidance of my loving, endearing mother. I feel this insatiable urge to cultivate my own path; I must stray from the home base and use every opportunity to be different, so as to escape from my family’s own checkered past and to prevail
from the small town trap. After my college graduation, I jumped with both feet first and eyes clenched to a big city in the South—four and a half hours away from the small town and family I love. This city secured my independence while offering me challenges in business, finances, friendships, and relationships. I had a steady job; I dated, and I made everlasting friendships. The problem: I couldn’t find a career as a writer, which made me feel like a complete failure. I know that finding a job in one’s field takes time, but I’m not fortunate in having the virtue of patience. My inability to be patient and my irresponsibility of jumping into an uncertain, random situation led to my “rock bottom.” I turned to alcohol first, which led to a lot of friends who were in the same depressed state. We were all escaping something—a failing relationship, a failing career, and a failing sense of worth. The alcohol turned my days into nights; I couldn’t get out of bed. The sunny skies were bleak and draining. It took eight months of gray skies, sleepless nights, empty bottles and blacked-out memories to bring me to one of my major fears: dwindling income in a very weak economy. I lived in a single apartment with no insurance. I worked full-time as a waitress while throwing my resume at every possible job opportunity. Then, I was hospitalized for two days due to severe bronchitis, and when I became better, my lungs were still choked by a demanding battle between financial restraints and party escapades. My reality was catching up with my mental exasperations—a place I thought I’d never be. One night, my dreaming mind had an epiphany. I needed to get away,
regroup, and progress. I’m a strong individual who has dealt with more funerals of close relatives than weddings. I finally turned to a reliable source that has always been there—my family, my technical support team. In all honesty, I’m an extremely prideful person, especially when it comes to being on my own and succeeding—both of which I was struggling to keep and have. I swallowed my pride like a stale cracker in a very parched mouth and moved home, the small town: the trap. Every day I feel that I have completely lost my sense of worth; I’m a failure. I’m stuck. If I choose to be that then I will embody fear, but I won’t and don’t. That notion is erroneous because I’m resilient. Most adults don’t tell you that you need time to regroup. As a child, I saw my mother as a resilient woman, a person who can meet all obstacles and prevail with ease. I never understood the hardships, heartaches, sacrifices, or reasons. In a way, I miss that innocence, but then again I’m thankful for being able to say that I’m experiencing life; I’ve earned my future wrinkles and health problems because I’m living. All in all, I’m not only inspired by others’ resilience to learn from mistakes and progress, but I’m also inspired by life itself. The unknown of the waking day can never be revealed, and every step is not guaranteed with certainty. My inner fuse will always house fire, even though mighty winds will test its strength. That, in itself, is inspiring because I know “rock bottom,” and I know the significance of picking myself up from the shards of despair. My main hope is to encourage everyone to know that you are never alone. You have family, friends, support centers, and—most of all—yourself.
Don’t Quit by Valencya Taylor
“When I was looking at colleges, my high school guidance counselor told me not to bother applying to my desired undergraduate institution because I wouldn’t get in; I applied anyway and gained early acceptance. Then, when I approached this school for graduate admission, an admissions counselor said to me, ‘Don’t apply—your GRE score is too low.’ I applied anyway because I knew that person wouldn’t be the only one to review my application.” This anonymous individual currently attends the graduate school in question. There are two types of people in this world: those who run away when a door shuts in his or her face and those who climb in through the window. Which are you? How many of us would have been able to do what the aforementioned person did? Imagine yourself a high school senior. You head to the office staff that should support your efforts to pursue a college career and, most of all, motivate you. So you have done all of your research and narrowed your options down to a few choices that suit your personality, along with your educational and current career goals. You knock on the Guidance Counselor’s door, she proudly invites you in and thanks you for being prompt, and you proclaim with excitement, “Mrs. Johnson I have decided to apply to Success University!” Her immediate response is, “Don’t bother, you won’t get in.”
Most people would be crushed and say to themselves, “Well if Ms. Johnson does not believe that I am good enough, then maybe I am not and I should not waste my time on applying.” But Mrs. Johnson’s statement reflects that of a pessimist, and she now risks transferring her toxic way of thinking onto a bright and flourishing young mind. The thought of “dreamkillers” and “dream-snatchers” make me cringe. What gives anyone the right to annihilate your dream just because he or she stopped believing somewhere along the way? I understand the concept that “hurt people” hurt other people, and that is why it is important to remain aware of how you handle your interactions with other human beings. Even the smallest occurrences that may seem trifling should be handled with delicate care. Incidents such as cutting someone off in traffic or your response to someone cutting you off, being abrupt and curt towards someone who is expressing sadness—just to name a few—are powerful moments, seemingly insignificant, that may catapult an individual to either motivate or discourage someone as they progress onward. I caution you to beware of the “dream-killers” and “dream-snatchers” and, most of all, not to become one yourself. If you see another way, then speak up—challenge the governing authority and ask questions. Because the cliché is true: “You won’t know if you don’t ask.” Also remember, as I have told you before, when you are certain you are following the right path and someone tells you no, it does not mean that you should quit. It just means you should ask someone else until you receive the answer you are looking for and climb in through the window.
FUSE Wake-Up Call by Matthew Claiborne A common tradition during Thanksgiving is to go around the big dinner table and express what you are thankful for. Many of us say that we are thankful for our family, friends, life, health, and strength. There is danger in tradition, though. Tradition is simply something historical, which means that when you’re sitting at the dinner table during Thanksgiving, you run the risk of speaking out of obligation rather than love. Being thankful for family, friends, life, health, and strength no longer comes from a loving place. Imagine driving to church with two of your friends, Bible in hand. From the back passenger’s seat you notice two police cars attending an accident. The roads are slick with a black, paint-like substance. As you round the curve, exiting one interstate and entering another, the rear driver’s-side wheel graces the shoulder and the car begins to uncontrollably spin across the interstate. The car hits the left railing and then does a 360-degree turn, hitting the other railing on the opposite shoulder. Your muscles instinctively tighten and your eyes are wide open with fear. It is over as quickly as it began. People say that your life flashes before your eyes right before you think you are about to die. Well, my life didn’t flash before my eyes, and I never thought that I was about to die. The three of us sat in the car in the middle of the interstate completely flustered. The two front tires were completely flat-
tened and the rims were out of alignment. The car could not be moved, so we simultaneously exited the vehicle and walked away from the car to the right shoulder of the interstate without a scar or bruise. Staring over the edge of a 20-foot drop with speeding cars below, I realized that if the railing had given way, the car could have plummeted, and I was just so grateful. A man pulled over and flagged down the two police cars we had just passed minutes earlier. An accident report was filed, and a police officer drove us to church in the back seat of his police car. It was the pastor’s 21st anniversary at the church. The guest pastor presented us with three questions to ask when God is blessing us. The first was, “What is it?” He said that God will bless you according to your capacity, and He will only elevate you to the level of your tolerance for pain. So I thought to myself, “Wow, I must have a high tolerance for pain because my neck and back are really sore. God must be getting ready to really bless me.” The second question was, “What happened?” That’s all I could ask after the accident. It felt like a dream. The pastor said that my blessing could be coming another way, just not the way I expected it. I knew then that I had to leave the situation in God’s hands. The pastor said that some things can happen that may seem horrible, but they can prepare you for your purpose. I use this concept when thinking about my accident. God could just be preparing me for something great. We could have gone through that accident to prepare us for other things to come. God knows exactly how much we can bear. The third question was, “What’s next?” I want to know what’s next now. After
the insurance, after the court date, after the minor soreness, what’s next? I’m just happy to know I am prepared for it. After church I called my parents and told them what happened. I felt a genuine thankfulness. I told them I loved them, as I usually do when we talk on the phone, but this time it wasn’t habitual or obligatory or traditional. I didn’t take it for granted that I could do this, because I realized that if I had died, I would not have been able to tell them at all. I was able to tell my friends in the car how much I loved them and how grateful I was that they were okay, and I was able to get support from other friends who heard of the accident. The mere fact that I walked out of the car shows that I am healthy and strong. I am truly thankful for this, and I am truly thankful for my life. This year at the Thanksgiving table I will gladly state what I am thankful for, as I remember how fortunate and blessed I am to still be living my healthy and strong life with my family and friends. Don’t take tomorrow for granted because it is not promised. You are never too young to die. Not everyone gets another chance, but I am so thankful that I did.
Don’t Just Reach for the Stars: Grab Them! by Valencya Taylor
Don’t just reach, be sure to grab, for if you grab you are guaranteed an abundance. An abundance meant only for you, but don’t think that there isn’t enough room. There is room at the table for you, all of your friends, and all of your loved ones too! Don’t just reach, be sure to grab, grab with authority and claim what is rightfully yours. A part of God’s miraculous design & His amazing love! Go ahead project those lovely images from your mind out for the world to see, *“Use what you’ve got and get busy” Blessed ingenuity. I’m a part, she’s a part, & he’s a part of His intricate plan. So move swiftly, without fear and accomplish your goals, His will, and remember it all rests in His hands. Move onward with God-speed, don’t just see, but sow a need. Don’t just reach for the Stars, be sure to Grab! & secure all through his gracious hands.
*(Quote from song by Jo’el Young)
The Death of the Great American Road Trip by Auriane de Rudder
wo years ago, I decided that for my twenty-fifth birthday, I would take a cross-country road trip. Tonight, with my birthday only a few days away, and a road-trip planned, you think I’d be happy. But sadly, even just two years later, things aren’t what they used to be. Americans have always been in love with the road. Movies glorify our ability to hop in a car (preferably vintage, and definitely convertible a la Thelma and Louise, please) and escape whatever ails us. I spent my childhood in cars, road-tripping across the U.S., discovering major cities, redneck towns, hidden villages, and tourist gems. I bought rocks in the desert from an elderly man. I found crystals outside of the caverns of South Dakota. I filled bucket after bucket with fresh ice-chips from more cheap motel ice-machines than I can recall. I accidentally ordered porn instead of a scary movie on pay-perview and got in trouble with my parents. And now, as an adult, I want to do it all again. Well, maybe not the porn part. Our popular culture is swimming with road-trip references. Think of “getting your kicks” on Route 66,
or listening to Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” Imagine the wind in your hair, the dust on the road. These are all clichés most of us enjoy embracing. For many students who drove away for school, think of the rite-of-passage your first road-trip granted you. Simply put, to drive away from what you know and understand—or your home—is a physical manifestation of leaving your past and stepping into your future. The beauty of a lengthy, enjoyable road-trip is that for once we are allowed to revel in the thrill of the journey, and not just the destination. Our culture has supported and engrained highway travel in us for years, but in the face of rising gas prices and limited resources, we’re losing our love of the road. Or our right to love it so much. Travel, especially to places vaguely familiar, is how I have always found myself. A trip away from home becomes
a literal trip down memory lane with each smell, sound, person and sight I encounter. I have favorite license plates (Hawaii), least favorite stenches (farm manure), states I hate driving through (Ohio) and cities I adore visiting (New York). But again, the road trip just isn’t what it used to be. Is it me? Or do you feel it too? Gas is expensive. And I know
you’ve heard everyone saying it, but think of it in view of the American love affair with the road. Sure, the harsh reality of our over-consumption and dwindling resources is that we may someday run out and be truly screwed, but on a lighter, melancholy note—won’t you miss driving away? When’s the next time you’ll find yourself stranded in New Orleans in the middle of Mardi Gras? When will you be able to relate stories to strangers in a tiny Texas town? Will you ever meet a gin-soaked barroom queen in Memphis, like Mick Jagger did? If you’re responsible, and of modest income, chances are you will not. Of course I won’t sit here and advocate the road trip. I can’t, or I’m not supposed to. The sad fact is, it’s no longer okay to delude yourself and waste such precious, fought-over resources. That time has passed now. But I do need a bit of time to mourn the loss of my love for the road. I’ll agree to be eco-friendly, and to cut back as I should, but I don’t have to like it. Do I? Tonight, just nights before my twenty-fifth birthday, I am packing. Making a move, and taking a road-trip indeed. It is not the trip I had envisioned, and there is no vintage convertible in sight. Instead, I’ll be lugging a bulky U-Haul from Chicago to Nashville, which equals out to approximately an eight-hour drive. The move is for necessity and for change, and the trip will have to be short, indeed. Still, I think I’ll bring my camera, and make a few extra stops along the way. After all, this may not be the trip I was longing for, but it may be the last road-trip I get to take for a very long time.
The New Queer Icon by Marcus Morris
rance has long been in the gay consciousness for its ability to shore up icons. Hello, Marie Antoinette? I have fallen for its most recent object of adoration: Madame Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, wife to the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. In the few short months since her marriage, she has managed to become a media darling, and has gotten comparisons to another icon of gay: Jackie Kennedy. Madame Sarkozy is a smoking, sexy, opinionated ball of brilliance who has injected the world with a shot of attention. The first ladies of the last quarter-century have been sometimes annoyingly visible, or mind-bogglingly boring. In America, we have had the ultra-ambitious Hillary, the Stepford Laura, the geriatric Barbara, and the delusional Nancy. The entire world takes bong hits while repeating Nancy’s popular slogan: “Just Say No.” Carla is the opposite of what all of these women stand for, and this is why she fascinates. She compares love to cocaine, which we imagine comes from experience with both. She does not want her husband’s job. She is stunningly gorgeous and speaks her mind, yet she remains first lady, not Commander-In-Heels.
By not giving Hillary-style sermons, she is able to give the public a good sense of herself, and she manages to not over-step her role as First Lady. She offers her opinions but merely suggests that they are her own ideas, not those of the President, and not of France. Her life is also not interrupted by her duty. Laura Bush barely breathes in public, yet Carla Bruni managed to release an album within weeks of her husband becoming president of the European Union. The duties of a First Lady take precedent in her life, but she has not abandoned the woman she was be-
she has many more incarnations than Jackie, and she will hopefully not have to live in a legacy tainted by assassination. Carla Bruni represents what myself and many other gay men look for in a woman. She has the ability to be strong, yet feminine. She doesn’t fear a relic of her past but embraces it instead. She has no problem discussing her sex life, and she readily admits to sleeping with married men. She is a human example of the woman we all want to know. We all want to be best friends with the stylish cool girl, the girl who plays guitar and dates the popular guy.
“Madame Sarkozy is a smoking, sexy, opinionated ball of brilliance who has injected the world with a shot of attention.” fore becoming Mrs. Sarkozy. Instead, it seems she has just added another layer to her increasingly fascinating world. Gays love a complicated woman. But while she is complicated, she also seems in command of her world. What’s more, she looks good doing it. She managed to appear breathtaking in England, dressed in Dior, even as the world was seeing her dressed in…nothing. Nude photographs from her modeling days were splashed all over the news, and she remained unflappable. She took the high road; meanwhile, the media looked like a bunch of perverted teenagers trying to peer through the locker-room door. Appearing in England in a black pillbox hat brought comparisons to Jackie Kennedy, which, as a style-obsessed gay man, I welcome. I believe
She represents the idea of perfection that we look for in ourselves, and our friends. This may be much to throw onto a girl who has led a pretty charmed life. She was born wealthy, became a supermodel, had rock stars fighting over her, and then married a President. I imagine that she lives a fairy tale—or at least a trashy romance novel. It seems silly that I would even project my own feelings about myself on the wife of the President of France. She has only lived her life, not trying to be anyone but herself. Maybe I should do the same. But then again, it’s much more fun to deconstruct beautiful women who marry world leaders. Let’s just hope this queen of France gets out with her head intact.
My Journey to A New Constitution: A Campaign Against the Low-Information Voter (Part I) by Madeline Hatter
uring a road trip down to my parents’ house, I was talking to my Aunt and we got onto politics. She brought up the current financial crises and said that she didn’t understand how people would trust McCain to solve the problem. Then she mentioned how Bill Clinton had been a better president. Sigh... that Arsenio Hall appearance just won’t quit. I brought up all the problems in Clinton’s past: Travelgate, his bad political appointments (Zoe Baird, Kimba Wood, Lani Gunier), Hillarycare, Whitewater, Welfare-to-(not) Work, NAFTA, and finally, repealing the GlassSteagall Act. I explained what all these problems meant, and that they weren’t simply partisan nit-picking. Further, I proved how his administration was closer to being Republican than progressive. Even with all of this evidence staring in her face, she found the will to utter, “I still like his personality.” Therein lies the problem with American politics: our electorate’s willful ignorance of the issues in favor of a mythical fireplace coziness with a candidate. The fatuous idea that the guy on TV could be your neighbor is paramount, even though every day you buy products by people (Steve Ballmer,
Steve Jobs, Howard Stringer, J. Edward Coleman) whose personalities you have no idea about. Last month, I was hanging out with my friend at a local restaurant over in the Cabbagetown area of Atlanta. We were chatting a bit, waiting for our food, when I overheard a few patrons next to us talking politics. I couldn’t resist the chance to run my mouth about this subject to which I’ve become so addicted. So I asked them if we could join the conversation. “Sure,” they responded. The people were certainly nice, and a couple of them were pretty aware
McCain’s record and associations, yet he was still determined to vote for him. At the time, he admitted that he was a McCain supporter but visibly unhappy with his choice of Palin. Ironically, he said that he couldn’t see himself voting for Obama because “Obama,” he said, “is ideological.” When I asked him to explain that one, he couldn’t. Which tells me that he is the ideological one. When I talked to the same guy last week, he mentioned that he’s starting to accept Palin. He’s getting used to her being on the ticket, he said, and he even kind of likes her. Since I’m a news nut and I’m aware of some really bad characteristics (such as not knowing her own party’s policies, being a religious extremist, charging rape victims for their hospital rape kits, and slashing the budget for the Alaska Special Olympics), I had to ask why. “She just seems so much more real than before,” he said. What is it with this? She seems “real.” As opposed to what? Soap opera? How about she has no idea how to deal
“Low information voters vote stupid simply because they don’t know. But they equally annoy me because we are in the information age and they choose not to find out.” of the issues, although they didn’t know that Obama has all his policies PDF’d on his website. At any rate, they’d been trying to convince their friend to vote for Obama. The guy, I came to find out, was aware of detrimental facts about
with the economy? She’s saying—on television—that she understands foreign policy because you can see Russia from the edge of Alaska. She even spoke of going to war with Russia with relative ease. Cold War part II is okay for her, I
guess, even though we don’t have the money to outspend them this time. We didn’t have it the first time, but the debt wasn’t as bad as it is now. She must want us to be the American People’s Republic of China, since it’s apparently okay by her to continue borrowing money from them. She also thinks it’s okay to let Israel do whatever it wants. So, while our country is essentially folding in on itself, how will we be able to help Israel? Though both are equally annoying, ideological voters are worse than uninformed voters. Ideological voters know and ignore the better option in favor of some inane sense of duty. The McCain guy can overlook the history of the Keating 5, with the savings and loans scandal back in the ’80s, in favor of just having a republican in office, even though McCain will do nothing to help people making his pay grade. Low information voters vote stupid simply because they don’t know. But they equally annoy me because we are in the information age and they choose not to find out. The Washington Post, Newsweek, Vanity Fair and all those magazines can report the truth all they want, but the voters in West Virginia (1) don’t read those, and (2) still think Obama’s Muslim—even though it’s unconstitutional for anyone’s religion to even be up for debate. Not that the constitution is even an issue, since they’re essentially voting for the guy they can have a beer with—even though they’ll never know him. Similarly, the people at the table that night were dumbfounded when I answered the McCain supporter about Obama not defining his stances, by
directing him to the PDFs on his website. It wouldn’t have taken them more than 5 minutes to go to his site to see what’s on it, yet 18 months into this campaign, they obviously never have. They could’ve even looked on Wikipedia, which has a breakdown of all the major points for each candidate during the primary season. But clearly, America is more taken with a cozy smile than actually knowing the policies behind it. Hence we still have “undecided” voters
days before an election. The stock market fell 500 points for the first time since Black Monday in the Reagan administration, yet the IVs (ideological voters) and the LIVs (low information voters) will never know that it’s the same failed policy that didn’t work the first time it was implemented that has fucked things up again. They’ll elect the guy who’s all about the deregulation that caused this mess. As the New York Times reported, McCain “has never departed in any major way from his party’s embrace of deregulation and relying more on
market forces than on the government to exert discipline.” A decade ago, McCain embraced legislation designed “to broadly deregulate the banking and insurance industries, helping to sweep aside a thicket of rules established over decades in favor of a less restricted financial marketplace.” Sponsored by top McCain economic advisor Phil Gramm—then a Texas senator—that bill ultimately “helped pave the way for companies such as AIG and Lehman Brothers to become behemoths laden with bad loans and investments,” according to the Washington Post. McCain’s ideological commitment to deregulation has resurfaced multiple times during the 2008 campaign. Shortly before Bear Stearns collapsed last March, for example, the candidate characterized himself as “fundamentally a deregulator” who’s “always for less regulation,” and even as AIG faced collapse, he told Matt Lauer that “we cannot have the taxpayers bail out AIG or anybody else.” So, we’ve basically socialized the banking industry. Republicans should be blowing their stacks right now. Government takeover of anything always seemed to induce the red scare in the past, even though national healthcare is in our best interest for the sake of keeping workers healthy and relieving companies of those expenses. Wal-Mart supports national health care. GM has moved its production to Canada because they already have national health care. But any time they bring it up here, the Republicans scream communism. On the other hand, maybe bailing out an insurance giant will actually help us move closer to national health care. . . .
The Rise of the Liberal Blogger
by Thaddeus Martin
n the time before Al Gore invented the internet, there was a thing called “talk radio,” and it was completely dominated by conservatives. Guys like Rush Limbaugh, Morton Downey, Jr., and Don Imus railed against things like “political correctness,” “affirmative action,” and “gun control laws.” You know, all the things that rile up conservatives, but not to the point where they’d actually say it to the black guys at work. But talk radio provided an outlet for a right-wing guy to get on the mic and go on a four-hour rant about how the white man was losing America. And angry white men lapped it up. Apparently, there were a lot of angry white men out there, because this format boomed for conservatives. Limbaugh and Imus continue to broadcast today, and they stay true to their audiences, saying things that further splinter the country. They’re now joined by TV personalities like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, who seem to enjoy nothing more than upsetting clear-thinking people. Yes, talk radio is the untamed wilderness of conservative thinking in America. But for some reason, this same format never really had the same results for liberals. Who knows: maybe liberals were too busy reading books or inventing electric cars powered by Bobby
McFerrin songs, but for some reason, talk radio never took off for liberals like it did for conservatives. As a result, outside of books and newspapers, there wasn’t really an outlet for pure liberal thought, like conservative-dominated talk radio. After the rise of Fox News, far-right thought seemed to be inescapable. With its natural tendency to be hostile towards opposing viewpoints, there seemed to be no way to combat the conservatives and their ‘powers of persuasion’—that is, shouting at the opposition until it gives up in frustration. Then came the internet. A seemingly boundless frontier where anything is possible, the internet gave rise to a voice that isn’t as abrasive, yet can be just as condescending and much more sarcastic: The Liberal Blogger. Beginning life as “the message board poster,” The Liberal Blogger began to fight back against this conservative media machine by doing the one thing that no one had the time or patience to really do before: expose the hypocrisy. So next time Bill O’Reilly praised someone for doing the exact same thing that he criticized a political opponent for doing, The Liberal Blogger was right there to point it out to everyone. The Liberal Blogger had to develop these skills to be able to catch this so-called “Fair and Balanced” group in their lies. He also had to develop the patience to be able to sit through hours of right-wing talk radio and Fox News without putting a boot through the TV. Once that was done, all that was left was a snappy write-up and a quick post to the closest message board. The problem, though, was that everyone was trying to do this. Almost no one was fact-checking, and a lot of these
message board posters (the ancestor of the modern Blogger) were easily dismissed as loser hacks who were making a mockery of the mainstream media. Not only that, the average person didn’t (and still doesn’t) read message boards, so someone could have posted definitive evidence that Dick Cheney made a deal with Satan to gain eternal life, but no one saw it because it was buried on a random message board thread. Then these posters got serious. They gained credible sources. They checked their facts. They learned to use the spell checker. And somewhere along the way the “web log,” or simply “blog,” became a popular outlet for budding writers and reporters. The Liberal Blogger had arrived. Now that these independent investigative reporters were easier to find, people hungry for a new perspective flocked to the blogs. Instead of hearing about what Fox and CNN wanted you to know, unfiltered news was coming directly to the reader before the spin doctors could get to it. Because of that advantage, bloggers quickly defined a role for themselves: the media’s conscience. Specifically, the conservative media’s conscience, because if reporters were shouting lies and inaccuracies over the airwaves, the blogs would be right there to expose them. The tables had seemingly turned. The loud and boorish style of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity that had dominated for so long was finally being combated by the much more direct and thoughtful style of the bloggers of The Huffington Post, DailyKos and News Hounds (“We watch Fox News, so you don’t have to”). It’s like “Revenge of the Nerds,” where the nerds use their natural talents to beat
the jocks at their own game. Of course, the advantage is still in Fox News or talk radio’s court due to sheer exposure, but the right piece of news can still catch on like wildfire. And next thing you know, Sean Hannity’s white supremacist associations are exposed on MSNBC.
Re-Evaluating Gender Norms in the Struggle for Gay Rights by Kiran Bhat
omophobia and heterosexism baffle me to this day. Discrimination due to the way you speak, the way you present yourself, or the way you feel about people of the same sex is a tiring trend in the life of a homosexual. The Gay Rights Movement has undoubtedly created means for homosexuals and other sexual minorities to address these problems within the larger hetero society. However, homophobia and heterosexism pervade these movements as well. Let’s start off with the gay movements that clearly must be doing something important to give all queers a chance at liberation…wrong! By itself,
this form of activism seems like a way to gain rights, but instead, it takes queers to a road of co-option by the same masculine “dudes” that instigated heterosexism in the first place. Homophobia exists because “masculine” men fetishize the female body for sexual purposes, and when other men do not follow this thought pattern, they are not of the norm and are “otherized.” This reasoning is the root cause of homophobia, yet it seems that movements would rather join this train of thought than actually change it, which is empirically proven by the hypermasculinity radiated by certain homosexuals. Many masculine homosexuals, the ones that play basketball with the “boys” and drink beer, have been coopted by the majority, because they ignore and otherize their more feminine male counterparts for the same reasons heterosexuals otherize queers as a whole. These movements embrace that logic instead of reversing this norm. Sure, they want Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell removed, but only so they can kick AlQaeda butt in the War on Terror and prove they are not “girly men.” Now, let’s talk about the other side. We all know of the gay “queens,” the ones that love to wear makeup and heels, talk like emasculated woman, and have their frivolous way with men. Obviously, there is no problem with being stereotypically gay. Unless, of course, the only reason the homosexual acts the stereotype is due to his or her own internalized homophobia. For example, certain homosexuals engage in bareback sex, drug use, and other self-destructive behavior, solely to this propagated notion that “it is the way gay people are supposed to act,” arguably because of that person’s own self-hatred.
Also, this movement often focuses too much on the differences, in the belief that sexual freedom is the only desire of the homosexual, ignoring human needs like equality and freedom of expression. The lackluster affects of these dual movements have shown themselves. And most religions continue to dehumanize homosexuals and their rights as human individuals. Outside of urbanized cities, homophobia remains deeply ingrained. Maybe it’s because I’m still young, but I see an easy solution to the problem. First, the gay movement should focus primarily on freedom of expression, making the fluid and/or static nature of sexuality irrelevant. We must remember that one’s religion is subject to change, but we are all allowed to practice varying religions regardless. Second, this belief in the freedom of expression should be supplemented with a secondary focus on equality. We should show our racist, sexist, heterosexist, ableist, anti-Semitic, and classist society that our common nature, such as our desire to love a significant other or create a unit of family, in order to prevent the ceding of the political sphere. Lastly, we should de-emphasize the sexual portion of gay culture. I truly believe that gender non-conformity is essential to diversity in an otherwise bland humanity, but sexual promiscuity sends nothing but the wrong message. If one desires to have sexual relations with multiple partners and engage in forms of fetishism such as sado-masochism, one should do it in the privacy of a house, not at a Gay Pride parade. Honestly, by changing the methodologies of these movements, we can finally achieve normality in the context of our individuality.
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n the evening of Tuesday, November 4th, I was in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, watching the election results with some friends from graduate school. I was tired—I’d worked all day and was still recovering from a lingering fall cold—but I also knew that Tuesday was one of the most important days in modern American history, for better or worse, and I’d be damned if I was going to miss it. I felt the overwhelming need to be surrounded by people—to celebrate with me if our candidate won, to commiserate if he somehow lost. Besides, when I arrived at the apartment, here were five bottles of champagne in the refrigerator, and I considered that if things didn’t turn out like we hoped, we could still drown our sorrows with alcohol. Remembering the disaster that was the Bush/Gore election, I geared up for a long night. Compared to 2000, however, this election proceeded with lightning speed. No breaking news about overturned trucks stuffed with ballots, no network anchors apologizing for calling victory too soon, no edge-of-your-seat recounts from Florida. Instead, the whole thing seemed pretty much wrapped up by 9:30. I had walked outside to smoke a cigarette with a friend, taking a break from the talking heads, and we’d barely reached the sidewalk when a raucous cheer erupted from a bar down the block. It was swarming with people. I jogged across the street and, on the fringes of the crowd, accosted a heavyset guy with a thick beard to ask if we’d won Florida. “No,” he grinned, “we won the whole thing!” He let out a sort of war-whoop and took a long pull on his beer, and I ran back to tell Stephen what had happened. He was already grinning—a passerby had told him the news while I was at the bar. The rest of the night passed in a blur of cameras and people and music and dancing. After they’d announced the results and aired the concession speech, after our man had mounted the podium in Grant Park and given that electrifying speech, after his family joined him onstage to the sight of over three thousand camera-flashes going off at once, after he and the VP-elect took a final turn around the dais, waving to the crowds, and disappeared stage-right—after all of that, the real party began, when the little clusters of people who’d been glued to their TVs throughout the evening all seemed to emerge at the same time and pour out of their houses, covering the sidewalks and spilling into the street. Cars crawled by, honking in solidarity, their passengers leaning out the window to shake hands and exchange greetings with the revelers on the street. A news station was making the rounds, its cameraman barely suppressing a smile as giddy New Yorkers jumped and hollered in front of the lens. It was an enormous block party, lasting well into the night, and the next morning we read in the paper—as we knew we would—that
similar celebrations had been going on in neighborhood bars and crowded apartments all over New York City, all over the country—all over the world. In a little over a month, our 44th President will be sworn in on the steps of the US Capitol Building, and by noon the United States will be operating under a leader whose inspirational story and message brought voters to the polls in record numbers. Much of the euphoria, however, has largely died down. The politicians, advisors and policy wonks have gotten down the business, preparing to take over, preparing to step down, holding press conferences that always feel a little anticlimactic, a little less promising than what we’d hoped for. In a word: reality. So here’s something to remember. In all likelihood, the President’s first term in office will feel completely different than his campaign. Cheering throngs of supporters won’t crowd the press conferences. Plans for health-care, tax cuts and economic stimulus won’t always be greeted by rapturous applause, but instead will be picked apart, analyzed, dissected, and quite possibly presented in final forms much different than their original blueprints. This is democracy in action, like it or not: slow, unwieldy, often frustrating, filled with compromises that neither side is completely satisfied with. It’s a balance of power, as they say, and balancing power means that most people don’t get everything they want. But that said, I firmly believe that the next four years— and, hopefully, the next eight—will nonetheless create in the United States a change impossible to ignore or disregard, and that the inauguration of our next president in January will prove to be the most momentous presidential victory, and the most significant sea change in US politics, since the election of Franklin Roosevelt. It is also my earnest belief that what we have seen over the past two years of PresidentElect Obama—the rallies, the speeches, the debates and all the rest—are simply the most visible aspects of a man who is sincerely and honestly driven to instigate positive change in this great country. And whether you agree with him or not, I hope that the next four years will see us unite—not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans—to make the United States a better place, to maintain its status as a world power, yes, but also as a sanctuary that provides for all its citizens—young and old, rich and poor—and for those who are coming after.
the last word. by Matthew Ladd 46