THE CHARGER ACCOUNT
Far from World War II
Lessons from Toy Story 3
It’s official: the War in Iraq has finally, finally, ended. Aside from the Sept. 11 attacks, the invasion of Iraq was really the first time I had ever heard about global affairs. I was in elementary school at the time the war started all those years ago. I never noticed the Afghanistan War; I only vaguely recall Bush’s inauguration, and I certainly don’t remember the Monica Lewinsky scandal. No, the Iraq War was my introduction to the world outside of sweet, home Almaden – my first exposure to the world outside my hometown.
Whatever happened to Thomas? We used to spend hours together with my Brio railroad set, saving the wooden townsfolk from imminent starvation with the help of a roguish outlaw train (that is, an outlaw guilty of defying the laws of physics by jumping directly off the tracks in a mad dash to the town square). We used to go door to door on Halloween, blowing our train whistles incessantly until the neighbors would shoo us away with extra packets of Skittles (Yes!). I can barely remember a day in my childhood when Thomas wasn’t by my side; we crossed so many bridges together – literally and figuratively. So . . . uh . . . how do you like it in my closet, Thomas? Toy Story 3 is a brilliant movie. Almost everyone I’ve asked has loved the movie, from my parents to classmates, and for good reason – the film is skillfully made, full of a richness and nuance which is rare in the average animated flick (even one from the geniuses at Pixar). The storybook ending did it for most of us and our handkerchiefs: it was the perfect ending to such an emotionally taxing ride. Afterwards, I couldn’t help but think of all my friends when I was still a puny kid in elementary school (by friends, I mean toys.)
The end of a war, the end of an era, with neither pomp nor circumstance. So it certainly came as a surprise to me when President Obama announced the end of combat operations in Iraq on Aug. 31. It was a surprise partially because the war had been going on for almost half of my life. This thing that had dragged on for so long had suddenly come to an end — an end that, at some moments, seemed out of reach. But it was also a surprise in that, as far as I can tell, there were no large celebrations. There were no parades like the ones that had followed World War II, nor were there any tear-inducing, heart-wrenching ceremonies that accompanied Obama’s incredibly banal announcement about the end of the war. The president gave an eighteen minute speech commemorating American soldiers, and that was that. Certainly no pomp; definitely no circumstance. Actually, the president spent only a little over half of his speech commemorating the brave American soldiers. The rest was dedicated to reminding Americans that the War in Afghanistan is reaching its ten-year anniversary. The War in Afghanistan, in case you hadn’t noticed, is the war that Obama really cares about. Earlier that day, Republicans had been busy accusing Obama of opposing the troop surge that improved the situation in Iraq. Not exactly the most optimistic way to end a war – far from the celebrations that ended World War I or II. Perhaps if American troops had pulled out two years after the start of the invasion, such celebrations would have been appropriate. But now, seven years and one trillion dollars later, only one word can characterize my response: finally. And what better time than now? In a country where education is threatened by troubled budgets, where illegal immigration continues to be a problem, the end of a war would be a stroke of good luck. In a country that is recovering from its worst oil spill in history; in a country that faces the possibility of a double-dip recession; in a country that is racked by partisanship, the end of a war would be much more than welcome. Unfortunately, the situation in the United States — and around the world — is bad enough for that to be the case. I find it a bit depressing that the country has gotten to the point where one war is the least of our problems. The end of the war was marked not by a shout of joy, but by a sigh of relief — one down, so much more to go. In fact, in its last year, the War in Iraq had given way in the media to a multitude of more recent problems - for instance, the war in Afghanistan, the BP oil spill, the ups and downs of the economy. It was almost as if Iraq was a thing of the past, just another bad memory that no one wanted to dwell on. Or rather, one that no one had the time to dwell on. As someone who has seen the Iraq War go from being the biggest issue in the nation to taking a measly spot on the fourth page of The New York Times, I wish that the Iraq War could have been the nation’s biggest concern.
This year, AP United States History teachers Joe Kerwin and Diane Gillingham, Social Sciences Dept., chose to no longer include Projects A and B, intensive and time-consuming research assignments, in their curriculum.
QUOTEBOX: What do you think about the removal of Projects A and B? “I’m not taking AP US History this year, so it doesn’t affect me, but I wouldn’t have taken it anyway.” - Junior Rachel Lim “I think losing Projects A and B decreases the experience of AP US History because it was fun to bond at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library with all the other stressed juniors. Learning about annotations and footnotes also helped me in AP English last year.” - Senior Connie Chang
“I think that it’s really giving the students a chance to not only focus on just that one AP class, but on the rest of their classes, as well. I think that when [AP US History] had Projects A and B, it was so intimidating that students became solely focused on it.” - Junior Niki Gheibi “Although it doesn’t really affect freshmen as much, I’ll be glad for the smaller workload when I’m a junior.” - Freshman Meghana Kandlur
“I think it encourages more people to take the class. They feel like AP US History is more of an accessible class that they won’t absolutely fail or kill themselves in.” - Sophomore Esther Lam
“I think it’s really unfair for prior AP US History students because they had a much larger workload than AP US History students now.” - Sophomore Sheridan Bowers
“The students working on Projects A and B used our library resources a lot. I’ll miss those patrons. I also think that it was a really valuable project to get students prepared in writing college papers.” - Maureen Stanaway, ITC Technician
“It’s too bad that this year’s juniors won’t get the chance to do those projects. While it’s a lot of work, many AP US History graduates have come back to say how much they’ve learned from doing the project.” - Joe Kerwin, Social Sciences Dept.
“It causes me to miss out on late night experiences that are crucial to junior year.” - Sophomore Bang Nguyen
Compiled by Catherine Hsu News Editor
Re-elect the Space Cadet Governor in 2010
Jerry Brown offers fiscal responsibility, economic awareness By Julian Crown all the state needs to do to once again be fiscally Staff Writer responsible is roll back its pensions to the levels Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown of the early 1990’s, before the public employee proved himself as one of the few fiscally unions and their lobbyists started demanding responsible Democrats, but Brown’s policies better pensions. for balancing the state budget are limited and Brown has taken those words to heart. ineffective at a time when Calif.’s fiscal crisis According to an article in The Sacramento Bee, demands action be taken. Brown has made promises Former Governor on his campaign website Brown served two terms for and in recent comments to Calif., from 1975 through the media to advocate the 1983. Before serving as significant rolling back of governor, Brown worked state retirement benefits. with various school boards Specifically, Brown in southern Calif. and also wants to “lower benefits served as the Secretary for new hires, lengthen the of State under former retirement age for most President Ronald Reagan. state workers to age sixty, During his time under and increase what workers Reagan, Brown embraced pay towards their own the traditional Republican retirements. ” It sounds like values of fiscal conservatism a good idea, and Brown is and truly balanced budgets. COURTESY OF sfcitizen.com certainly on the right track. To this day, Brown However his plan leaves still holds these values closely. He has made it a much to be desired. goal to turn around the state’s economic slump. The authors of the article also point out However, his plan to reach this goal and taking the likelihood of the system being overturned. the steps necessary to do so are different things. Giving two people doing the same job different One major aspect of the deepening benefits creates “pension envy,” and pressure to crisis is the effect of public employees’ equalize benefits. pensions on the budget. “If Calif.’s budget That’s why when Calif. tried Brown’s plan was a bathtub filled with money, public in the 1990s, the system was undone by state pensions are hole that’s letting all the water legislators who felt pressured by the public. out,” Senior Samuel Lin said. Brown’s solution would do little to alleviate Analysts agree with Lin. Journalist Steven the financial crisis the state budget faces. In the Greenhut, who has followed the effects of public long term, it would overturned by citizens angry employee benefits and pensions on the Calif. at seeing people doing the same job as them get budget for most of his career, claims exactly the better benefits for no apparent reason. same thing. Even if Brown’s cuts applied to all workers, He says the solution to Calif.’s economic they are little enough they would be ineffective in problem is simply rolling back coverage of truly cutting back the strain that public pensions benefits. Specifically, Greenhut points out that are putting on the state.
Life moves on.
Sure, I felt pretty bubbly inside as I left the movie theater. But at the same time, I felt this strange feeling of guilt. It must have been good old Thomas the Tank Engine yelling at me through his cardboard box in the closet. It’s easy to say that kids have to outgrow their toys at some point in their lives, and that’s certainly true. Who cares about their old Barbie dolls anyway? I know I don’t. There is a reason that toys have age recommendations on them – certain toys just don’t hold any appeal once we get older. As time passes, toys often lose their novelty and just aren’t nearly as cool as they used to be. Still, isn’t it a bit intriguing that we forget and abandon our toys when we feel it is no longer cool to have them around? And isn’t it pretty disturbing how frequently we complete this cycle? Every age group has its own set of toys – and every time we grow up, we discard some toys. Because even though we’re talking about toys, doesn’t the same idea hold true for our real friends? Don’t we discard them – figuratively, of course – when they’re no longer cool? Let’s be honest; by now, most of us have already changed our group of friends at least once in our lifetime, and in the process we have disassociated ourselves from old friends, no matter how close we once were to them. But let me be clear: in no way am I a proponent of staying the course on a burning ship. To be honest, sometimes it’s advantageous to distance ourselves from our own past. Many friendships are just not meant to last, for people inevitably change. Personally, I know I’ve since grown apart from most of my elementary school friends. People change. Life moves on. Maybe that’s the whole point of the Toy Story trilogy: enjoy a good friendship while you can, but never be afraid to let go, as all good things must eventually come to an end, whether they’re friends, toys or Barbie dolls. And so too must this column end.