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[News] Catch your teach-

[Centerfold] Two The

[Features] Recent

ers before it’s too late: Tips to snag rec letters pg. 3 [Forum] The Internet: Communication tool or poltical battleground? pg. 8

Oracle teams face off in a sweet dessert bake-off to remember pg. 14-15

Gunn alumna produces sweet chocolate creations pg. 17

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Palo Alto Unified School District Henry M. Gunn High School 780 Arastradero Rd Palo Alto, CA 94306 NON-PROFIT ORG U.S. Postage

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Permit #44 Palo Alto, Calif.

Henry M. Gunn High School

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Volume 47, Issue 7

780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306

Rising gas prices concern Gunn community Ashley Ngu

News Editor

As gasoline prices continue to rise following tumultuous events in the Middle East, students and staff are starting to feel the pinch in their wallets. According to the Energy and Information Ad m i n ist r at ion ( EI A), t he average price for a gallon of gas in California climbed to $4.20 this past week. The rising prices have made several community members more conscious of how much they drive, including junior Alex Allen, who drives to school on a daily basis. “I’m a lot more stingy about driving people around and going to lunch,” she wrote in an e-mail. “My friends and I switch off driving if we go out on weekends or during lunch and preps.” The prices are reminiscent of the $4 record highs set back in July 2008. “If you look at the price of gas in inflation adjusted terms, gas today is no higher than it was in 1918, 1981, or 2008,” economics and history

teacher Phil Lyons wrote in an e-mail. “People have simply g r ow n a c c u s t ome d t o t he unrealistic trend of gas prices falling in real terms.” In 2008 when gas prices passed $4, Lyons began to carpool with other teachers who lived in San Francisco. English teacher Justin Brown carpools with Lyons, but because of recent parking and scheduling conf licts, has had to drive solo for the majority of each week. Due to this, Brown has to fill up his tank about three times every two weeks and tries not to drive on weekends. “I live in the Mission District of San Francisco, so I’m in a pretty central area and I make an effort to go completely on foot during the weekends,

for environmental and financial reasons,” he said. According to Gary Richards, a transportation columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, the price of gasoline is largely based on the cost of crude oil. “For every $1 increase [in crude oil barrel prices] there is about a 2.5 cent increase in the price [of a gallon of gas] at the local station,” he wrote in an e-mail. “However, there are many other factors in play. Califor nia has a special reformulated fuel that ma kes ou r prices about 25 cents more than the national

average.” A gas station owner in Palo Alto, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to company policy, cited the turmoil in the Middle East as another driving factor in gas prices. “Even if the supplies aren’t affected by what’s happening in the Middle East, the fear and speculation of supply interruption are what causes the prices to go up,” he said. “The oil is still

Left: Prices at a local ARCO gas station on March 29. Right: Prices three weeks later at the same gas station.

All-girls robotics team draws Gunn students Monica Cai

Sports Editor

Students are annually alerted to the beginning of the robotics competition season by the brightly-colored hair commonly spotted around campus. While the most obvious shade is “Vampire Red”, the color of the Gunn Robotics Team, another hue has begun popping up as well. The cerulean blue hair tips seen on the occasional girl represent her dedication to Space Cookies, a Silicon Valley robotics team that works in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Northern California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center. The all-girls group consists of 37 girls from 10 different schools in Cali-

Gunn Figures

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fornia, primarily those in the Bay Area. “The main goal of our team is to inspire youth to follow careers in technology,” junior Cara Lai said. “Because we’re an all-female team, we’re especially reaching out to females.” The team is led by its troop leader, Ann Wettersten, who has a background in mechanical engineering. “I mostly help with providing the girls the materials tools and information that they need to be successful,” Wettersten said. “They take it from there.” During the off-season, Space Cookies often attend Girl Scouts events where they demonstrate the skills of their robots and also participate in Girls Exploring Tomorrow’s Technology (GETT), a program for young girls to learn about what the National Science Foundations

220,000

The approximate number of copies made monthly throughout Gunn

calls Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers. Earlier in the year, the Space Cookies also worked with the Golden Surfers, a robotics team of the East Palo Alto Charter School. A team of mostly elementary school boys, the Golden Surfers participated in For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) LEGO League competitions, working for several months with the help of the Space Cookies. However, from the beginning of January to the end of April, the Space Cookies are busy developing and building a robot that can get them to the FIRST Championship, the final stage of the FIRST Robotics Competitions. The team works at the NASA Ames Research

GASOLINE—p.4

Photos and Graphics by Henry Liu and Kimberly Han

Important AP Information What: Fill out your AP Answer Sheet before your exams begin! If you don’t attend a session, the testing schedule will be delayed while you fill out your forms. When: This Tuesday-Friday, during lunch

ROBOTICS—p.18

$2,086

there; it didn’t go anywhere.” Along with the costs of crude oil, federal and state taxes account for another 15 percent of the cost of gas according to the EIA. However, Lyons and auto tech teacher

The total amount donated by Japanese and Korean Culture Club to the relief effort in Japan

Where: The library

10

The average number of Formspring questions the SEC receives weekly


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News

THEORACLE

NEWS BITES Student reaches finals of national Olympiad

On Feb. 15, former and current biology students partcipated in the USA Biology Olympiad (USABO) Open Exam. A month later, six biology Gunn students were chosen as semi-finalists in the USABO, having scored within the top 10 percent of the nation. The semi-finalists then took a two hour semi-final exam and the top twenty scores in the nation were chosen to attend a final testing period in Indiana at Purdue University. This last round of the Olympiad begins at the start of June, when finalists will attend a 12-day camp. The camp will consist of 10 days of instruction and two days of testing. The tests include a four-hour theoretical test and a six-hour lab practical. Junior Angela Chen was the only semi-finalist at Gunn to make it to the final round. According to Chen, she was unaware of the final testing conditions when she agreed to go to the finals. “Ms. Moser announced it in class, and I figured it couldn’t hurt, and it would look good for college applications,” Chen said. Originally, Chen did not plan on making it past the semi-finals and into the finals. “I never really thought of myself as a math or science person,” Chen said. “You have no idea how surprised I was.” Chen walked into her AP Biology class the day after break and was greeted by her name on the board. According to Chen, the most surprising part of this experience was that “a lot more people know [my] name than [I] thought.” The top four contestants at the finals at Purdue University will be chosen to represent the United States in the International Biology Olympiad, a competition involving roughly sixty teams worlwide, which will take place in Taiwan this July.

Junior wins study trip to Germany Amrita Moitra Reporter

I n Ma rch, ju n ior Ha n na h Katznelson was selected as one of the 39 winners of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) National German Exam to take a summer study trip to Germany. A non-native speaker in the German Advanced Placement (AP) level class, Katznelson took the National German Exam in January along with other Gunn German students. “All my students in level 2, level 3 and level 4/AP took the National German Exam,” German teacher Kerstin Helbing said. “It is part of my curriculum.” The National German Exam tests students on reading and conventional skills, grammar and passage comprehension. “The exam is a good measurement of not only the quality of each individual, but also of the whole program,”

Utkash Dubey

Freshmen

Events: Quad Spring Dance (5/13) Spring Fling, Powderpuff (5/19 and 5/20) Field Day Carnival in parking lot (5/20) Terman Visit (5/24) Yearbook Distribution (week of 5/31) If you have any suggestions or questions, please contact us! Email: sec.gunn@gmail.com Facebook: “Updates from Gunn SEC” Or ask us a question at www.formspring.me/GunnSEC

Quarter 2

Reminders: Link Crew Informational Meeting (4/16) Link Crew Applications due (4/27) ASB Appointed Apps due (4/29) ASB Appointed Interviews (5/2 through 5/6) SEC Transition Training (5/26)

someone close to you is struggling to cope or even feeling suicidal,” Chief Executive of Samaritans Catherine Johnstone said in a press release. “We want to remind people that if a friend says that life isn’t worth living, they should always be taken seriously. Facebook is a part of daily life for so many of us and we must make sure that people online have support when they need it.” Responses have been varied, with some supporting the new feature, while others are concerned it may be abused. “There are so many people on Facebook and this social networking site is bound to have a couple of immature [pranksters],” an anonymous Gunn student said. Facebook has not yet publicized

if there would any punishments or consequences for possible pranksters. However, it’s notable that the social networking giant does not have any power or influence to deter this kind of anonymous reporting from being abused. Although they have the jurisdiction to report instances of pornography to the appropriate authorities, they cannot instigate federal or lawful involvement for something that is not actually illegal. This suicide alert form can be found on Facebook under their help center page. Concerned people can enter the URL of their friend’s Facebook profile and the potentially suicidal comment. The report is then reviewed by Facebook administrators who will take any available action to help.

3rd quarter brings increase in tardies

Quarter 3

Librarian hosts pilot science competition

In early March, social networking giant Facebook unveiled a plan to improve on online protection and awareness for suicidal Facebook friends who are possibly dealing with emotional issues. The company joined a United Kingdom suicide prevention group, Samaritans, in amending an online form to make it easier to report and notify suicide groups and professionals if someone is showing worrisome behavior. The Samaritans group hopes that with the popularity of Facebook, people can utilize their friendships and social connections to get help. “As a friend you are better placed to know whether

—Compiled by Eden Lauffer and Sophia Jiang

SEC SCOOP

nice,” she said. “I’m interested in humanities, so German is a really helpful class.” Katznelson has shown her passion for German in her class, according to Hebling. “Hannah has an excellent memory for vocabulary,” she said. “After presenting a video broadcast in class, our exchange students from Freiburg were truly amazed by her language proficiency.” Next year Katznelson will be taking an independent study course in German and is unsure if she is eligible to partake in the study trip again. However, she strongly urges other students to take the German National Exam and apply for the study trip. “We are so lucky to have such a great German program at Gunn,” she said. “The AATG people are so nice and helpful, and they select people who are passionate about the language.”

Facebook expands to help teenagers Reporter

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Slam began as an innovative idea from Librarian Meg Omanisky when she entered the competition STEMposium and became one of the five finalists. Her concept involves using the idea of “Google demo slam,” which asks users to make funny, creative videos on how to use Google tools. STEM Slam uses the same concept in order to encourage students to become more engaged through technology. “It’s a competition for kids grades K-12 that encourages them to make zany, funny video demonstrations on how they can use STEM skills in their lives,” Omanisky said. The project has already gone through several levels of development and has not only granted Omanisky numerous prizes but also a marketing session to help market and expand the idea. “I hope one day it’ll be on a global platform to showcase student learning with bigger prizes and a STEM mobile application for users,” she said. Although STEM Slam has yet to be launched, Omanisky plans on beginning the competition as a pilot here. Students are encouraged to submit these videos by June. The winner will be determined though Youtube “likes.” The winner of this contest will receive a $150 cash prize. For further information about STEM Slam and how to enter, email momlainsky@pausd.org.

Helbing said. The highest scoring senior and non-senior then get the chance to apply for the study trip. Those selected to participate in the summer study program will immerse themselves in German culture. Students stay with host families and attend a German academic high school, where they will be able to strengthen their language skills. The trip also includes group outings and host family trips to Berlin, Munich, Dusseldorf and other popular locales. Katznelson, however, is unable to attend. “It was a matter of logistics,” she said. “I honestly wasn’t expecting to win, so I had planned some other summer trips and programs. I would have to go back and forth between the U.S. and Europe throughout the summer, and that wouldn’t work.” Katznelson started German as a freshman. “When I was shadowing, Frau Helbing was really

Sophomores

Juniors

Seniors

3.036

2.948

2.931

3.050

3.194

3.380

1.977

2.109

The Oracle compiled data from the attendance office for all four grades to show the average tardies per student from 2nd and 3rd quarter. These numbers indicate that all grades experience an increase in tardies in 3rd quarter, possibly due to 3rd quarter slump. Seniors are impacted more so than others. Compiled by Yilin Liang, Anna Qin, Divya Shiv, Jean Wang and Lisa Wu


News

Monday, April 25, 2011

3

Photos by Victor Kwok and Melissa Sun

Left: Students sift through Six Degrees of Separation papers on the quad. Top middle: Senior Molly Butera, left, and junior Nitsan Shai, right, rock out during lunch on the quad. Top right: Small buttons were given to students to promote diversity and to unify the community. Bottom middle: Students write down stereotypes that will be dissolved in water. Bottom right: A student places a piece of paper with the stereotype, “gay people are feminine,“ to be dissolved in a pool of water.

Not In Our Schools Week promotes diversity and unity From March 28 to April 1, Gunn participated in the annual Not In Our Schools week to promote acceptance and awareness among the Gunn community through the theme of “Striving to Embrace our Differences.” To kick off Not In Our Schools week, students came to school on Monday wearing T-shirts that had been distributed a week earlier, a gesture that brought together the Gunn community.  In addition, during lunch on Monday, there was a musical celebration on the quad where student musicians performed live for their fellow peers. There were also Six Degrees of Separation slips available for students to discover how interconnected the Gunn com-

munity is. The activity involved receiving a slip of paper with the name of a fellow student on it and participants attempted to connect themselves to the student on their slip of paper through a chain of six people. The Day of Silence took place on Thursday, and participants remained silent for an entire day to raise awareness for the discrimination and silencing that members of the LGBT community face. “I think gay rights are very important, and this is one of the few ways we can express that,” junior Sian Ye said. At the end of the day, the Day of Silence participants gathered on the quad and screamed loudly. “Right after the scream, it’s a community moment

Q&A with

Not In Our Schools Week co-facilitator Todd Summers

TO: What was different this year? TS: This year, we added lessons in different departments. We also moved the Day of Silence to Thursday, which gave the opportunity to debrief in classes. We also gave free T-shirts to everyone, which is a big thing.

Todd Summers The Oracle spoke with NIOS Week co-facilitator Todd Summers about Not In Our Schools Week, which was held March 28 to April 1. The Oracle: Which NIOS week events were the most impacting? Todd Summers: NIOS Week lessons in the classroom are really powerful because the teachers and students share experiences. This creates a greater sense of connectedness between classmates, teachers and the school. The Oracle: Why was there no assembly this year? TS: We decided that we wanted an every other year format for the assembly, mainly because it’s difficult to plan, but also because we did not want it to be repetitive. TO: How do you feel NIOS week affected students? TS: The week shined a bright light on topics, which builds empathy and a greater sense of community between students and staff.

TO: When did “Not in Our School” week start at Gunn? Todd Summers: NIOS Week began about ten years ago, and it originated from the national organization known as Not in Our Town. The [Gay Straight Alliance] clubs at each school decided to use this as an opportunity to help improve the community. TO: Is the focus of NIOS week Gunn or is it community-oriented? TS: The focus of NIOS Week is community. We are trying to branch out more by becoming involved with Not in our Town. This year the Youth Community Service Club, ROCK and other organizations became more involved in NIOS Week, which helped its effectiveness. TO: What is the importance of NIOS Week? TS: NIOS Week helps to create a greater sense of community as well as increasing empathy around campus. We also hope that NIOS week helps students find ways to have difficult conversations on difficult topics. —Compiled by Felix Tran

to talk about how happy you are to talk now and the crazy stories that occurred,” Ye said. On Friday, students wrote stereotypes and prejudices on slips of rice paper and dissolved them in a pool of water in a symbolic gesture of “dissolving” prejudices. Over the course of the day, the pool of water slowly changed color, ultimately becoming red at the end of the day. In addition, students could read slips of papers that had been taped along a string strung across the quad containing stories of discrimination that anonymous students had faced. —Jean Wang

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780 Arastradero Rd Palo Alto, CA 94306 (650) 354-8238 http://gunn3.pausd.org/oracle

Editorial Board Editor-in-Chief Linda Yu Managing Editors Annie Shuey Sarah-Jean Zubair News Ashley Ngu Divya Shiv Emily Zheng Forum Regina Ahn Eugenah Chou Sam Hayward Joseph Lin Features Kevin Gao Nicola Park Lydia Zhang Centerfold Sophia Jiang Yilin Liang Entertainment Samantha Donat Tiffany Hu Hannah Plank-Schwartz Sports Krishan Allen Monica Cai Copy Editors Sweta Bhattacharya Tara Golshan Mia Howard Eden Lauffer Photo Victor Kwok Henry Liu Graphics/Web Kimberly Han Tech Colin Chen Webmaster Charles Chen

Staff Reporters Boot Bullwinkle, Colin Chen, Elsa Chu, Utkash Dubey, Melia Dunbar, Josephine Jen, Jesse Klein, Elise Lee, Charles Liu, Amrita Moitra, Lucy Oyer, Song Park, Eileen Qian, Anna Qin, Jennie Robinson, Rani Shiao, Leon Sung, Felix Tran, Jean Wang, Zoe Weisner, May Wu, Steve Yang, Emily Yao, Kevin Zhang, Kyle Zhu Business/Circulation Managers Elaine Liu Annie Tran Photographers Alan Phan Wendy Qiu Melissa Sun Jonathan Yong Graphics Artists Bonnie Cardillo, George Hwang, Lisa Wu, Alvina Yau Adviser Kristy Blackburn The Oracle is published by and for the students of Henry M. Gunn Senior High School. The unsigned editorials that appear in this publication represent the majority opinion of the editorial staff and The Oracle's commitment to promoting students' rights. The Oracle strongly encourages and prints signed Letters to the Editor. Please include your name, grade and contact information should you choose to write one. Letters may be edited to meet space requirements and the writer is solely responsible for the accuracy of the content. Letters to the editor and ideas for coverage may be sent to gunnoracle@yahoo.com. These letters and ideas need not be from current students. The Oracle publishes 9 issues annually. Subscriptions are $42/year.

Gasoline price spikes cause change in habits n GAS from pg. 1

Mike Camicia say prices in the United States should be compared to those in Europe. As of last week, prices in the Netherlands reached $9.36, with similar prices across Europe. This doubling in gas prices is mainly due to high European fuel taxes, which were implemented to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and lessen pollution and traffic. “In Europe, people don’t drive around for the sake of driving around,” Camicia said. “That’s why the cars in Europe are all itty bitty econoboxes and they have trains that go everywhere. So we’re spoiled.” This year, physical education teacher Steve Ames decided to move more locally to Palo Alto to avoid long gas-guzzling commutes from Boulder Creek. “I ride my bike virtually everyday, thus our driving costs are super low,” he wrote in an e-mail. “So I really have not been impacted this year except positively because I’m able to ride to school, thus saving time, helping the environment and not needing to spend money on gasoline. We still do drive, but we don’t go home to Boulder Creek nearly as much.” Ames used to fill up every four days when commuting last year, but now only heads to the pump about once a month. Senior Alvin Man, who has to pay for gas out of his own pocket, similarly chooses to bike to school most of the time rather than drive, which allows him to fill up his tank just once every two to three weeks. “I only drive when it rains or I have to bring something big to school,” he said in an e-mail. “I also don’t drive people home unless they live along the way to my place, and if I go out to eat with friends, I usually get a ride from them.”

Though many say the increase in gas prices customers have continued to pump with the same has been nothing but an annoyance, Lyons be- frequency despite increased prices. “People still lieves that there is a bright side because they have have to get to work and do daily errands so the encouraged increased efficiency and awareness volume [of gas we sell] has not changed,” he of the consumption of gas. “In reality, higher gas said. Prices at his gas station reached $4 around prices represent an opportunity,” he wrote, citing a month ago. several changes implemented to decrease oil imFor many, the rise in prices has made themports during the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. “[The wary of future increases, but has not challenged government mandated a] them to make severe 55 mph speed limit, which changes to their driving was repealed in 1995, the practices yet. “I have extension of daylight savdefinitely noticed an [I] think we are all going ings time, which resulted increase, but it is what in 1 percent less electricity it is,” Brown said. “It’s to be forced to rethink usage for the entire nation, not a hardship for me yet our choice of vehicles, and the introduction of but I am trying a little our public transportation Corporate Average Fuel harder to carpool more. Economy standards. By I’ll really start maksystems and our priorities 1986, we reduced our iming more of an effort if in life to adjust for this.” ports to just 23 percent of prices hit $4.60.” Math total consumption. Higher teacher Rajeev Virmani, —auto tech teacher Mike gas prices are a wake-up who also lives in San Camicia call.” Francisco, echoed these To maximize his gas sentiments. “I probably mileage, Lyons avoids accelerating and deceler- think about how much I’m driving more, but I ating quickly, which consumes gas rapidly. “It is don’t actually do anything about it just yet,” he my goal each day to make it from San Francisco said. “When it hits $4.74, then I’ll start changing to Palo Alto and back without using my brakes,” my driving habits.” he wrote. “I try to scan the road ahead to plan Camicia and Richards both believe that $4 gas lane changes. Most days I can actually do it. I prices are going to become the norm in Califoralso stick to one speed. Cars lose one percent of nia and expect prices to go up even more in the their fuel efficiency for every mile per hour they summer due to increased demand. “Sorry for the exceed 55. After 65 the loss grows steeper. People gloomy outlook, but I think we are all going to tailgate me, high beam me, swear and give me be forced to rethink our choice of vehicles, our the finger. But I keep it slow.” public transportation systems and our priorities According to the Palo Alto gas station owner, in life to adjust for this,” Camicia said.

Five tips for saving five miles of gas for each gallon

Wash and wax your car. Clean cars move through the air much easier than dirty cars. Less air friction equates to better gas mileage.

Turn off your engine if you are going to idle for more than ten seconds: Waiting in line at the drivein? Idling outside a friend’s house? Shut off your engine if you’ll be waiting more than ten seconds. This rule does not apply when you Look ahead, be patient are stopped in street traffic and maintain a steady as it is dangerous to do so. speed. Use cruise control on the freeway. Driving with a lead foot decreases mileage. Instead always smoothly accelerate and decelerate.

Make sure your tires are inflated properly. Auto tech teacher Mike Camicia says slightly higher than recommended pressures will reduce rolling resistance and get better fuel mileage.

When driving slower than 50 mph, leave the windows down. When driving more than 50 mph, use the air conditioner. It is more efficient to leave the windows down at slower speeds because the drag is not great enough to warrant use of the air conditioner, which decreases fuel.

Graphics by Kimberly Han and George Hwang

When to ask teachers for recommendation letters Spring

School Begins

Eric Ledgerwood, science teacher When: Spring “I like to have at least a month before the deadline to get the work done, and as usual, the sooner a student gets me the information, the more priority I put on getting it done quickly. You want your letter to stand out through the voice of the teacher who recognized that you did stand out in some way, whether academic excellence or drive and determination to learn everything you could because you loved the subject.”

Rachel Grunsky, math teacher When: Early fall “A student should ask me if I know more about them than the grade they earned in my class.  Did they come to tutorial?  Did we have interaction in the class? I should know a little about their personality and have had a few individual conversations throughout the year.  It takes me several hours [to write a rec]. The paperwork used to add more time but now it is faster with online applications.”

Chris Johnson, social studies teacher When: Spring “It takes me several hours to write a rec letter because I have to look over their brag sheets and their various activities as well as draw from my experience with them personally. One year I wrote 20 letters and that’s where I decided to put a stopping point. The amount of letters coming from me this year will probably be around eight or 10.”

Linda Kirsch, counselor When: Senior meeting in first quarter “Students need to fill out the two-page recommendation request forms available on the guidance website that includes background info, parent input and a free write by the student. Some things you might consider fun for you can be very relevant to the college.” —Compiled by Annie Tran


News

Monday, April 25, 2011

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THEORACLE

EDITORIAL: The Opinion of The Oracle

Safety improvements for Caltrain not meeting intended purposes

S

anta Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has decided to fund a $5.8 million project that will build safer railroad crossings in Palo Alto. They will be located at Alma Street, Churchill Avenue, East Meadow Drive and Charleston Road with four others in Mountain View and Sunnyvale. Construction has been ongoing since July 7, 2010 and will be complete by the end of summer 2011. However, the same locations where the construction is taking place have experienced an unusually high number of suicides. If the intent of this project is to prevent any further incidents, it is an unnecessarily wasteful expenditure of the currently limited budget.

Victor Kwok

According to Santa Clara County Transportation Policy Aide Joanne Benjamin, there is no connection between the incidents and the construction and it is coincidental that some of the crossings are the same ones impact-

High speed rail too costly Krishan Allen

With Proposition 1A passed into effect by Californian voters on Nov 4, 2008, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) received a $9.95 billion bond issue to begin work on a high-speed rail system stretching from Los Angeles to San Francisco, as well as proposed extensions to Sacramento and San Diego. Though it may sound ideal to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two hours and 40 minutes, the entire project has run into significant barriers since its inception, barriers so significant that it makes little sense to carry on with the proposed plan. The state of California has neither the funding nor the necessity for such an advanced train system to be put into place at this point in time. Firstly, California simply does not have the money. Original cost estimates of the project casted numbers in the range of $42 to $45 billion. These figures were created by the CHRSA itself, the organization put in charge of running the project and consequently the organization with a high incentive to see the plan carried out no matter the detrimental consequences. In a recently published report, Reason Foundation, a non-profit public policy think tank, stated that the final cost for the completion of the project would be closer to $65 to $81 billion, a great deal more than CHRSA’s predicted expenses. The $9.95 billion from the state plus other meager federal funding is a far cry from the money needed just to cover costs. On top of the unclear and extreme cost for construction, there is an unreasonable expectation of the number of passengers expected to use the high speed rail sys-

tem. CHSRA reports indicate ridership intensity (in terms of passenger miles per route mile) at a base projection of 42 million and a high projection of 62 million by 2030. To put this into perspective, Japan’s high speed railways, in a far more favorable public transport market than that of California’s, carries 33 million. The forecasted range presented is much higher than could reasonably be foreseen. To say that the CHSRA has hugely optimistic expectations would be an understatement. It is also very unlikely that the proposed high speed rail system will actually turn a profit. The CHSRA is so confident in the system’s revenue-making potential that it expects a budget surplus from building the initial segment (the portion from San Francisco to Los Angeles) that will then finance the construction of extensions to San Diego and Sacramento. The analysis from the report published by the Reason Foundation states that the first segment alone by 2030 “would suffer annual financial losses of up to nearly $4.2 billion.” A University of California Berkeley Institute of Transportation Service study on revenue and ridership forecasting of the high speed rail expressed a similar sentiment when it stated that “we have found some significant problems that render the key demand forecasting models unreliable for policy analysis.” The CHSRA is placing unfounded hopes on the revenue generated from the first portion of the system to such an extent that it is putting major components of the project in jeopardy. Especially in the wake of a financial crisis, it seems unfeasible to lay down money by the truckloads while making exaggerated forecast figures and inexcusable assumptions. At a time when almost all political parties are pushing the phrases “fiscal responsibility” and “living within our means,” it is simply too much and too soon for California to expect a high speed railway. —Allen, a senior, is a Sports Editor.

ed by the suicides. However, it seems a little too coincidental to have not been influenced by the suicides. Presuming this is the true basis behind the project, the project is an ineffective approach because it fails to tackle the root cause of the problem, which is emotional and mental instability. Instead of building more fences and flashy signs, improving the current counseling services would be a much more effective method in preventing further incidents. The $6 million budgeted towards building the crossings could instead be used to increase awareness about the issue and help people deal with their problems. If this method is not sufficient, track watchers consisting of volunteers and paid guards should continue to be funded because they have the ability to specifically identify suspicious behavior elicited by unstable individuals. Unfortunately in December 2010, the city of Palo Alto implied that guards would only be funded until the end of the school year, which is when the construction will completely replace the

guards. Not only will the modified crossings not thwart any suicides, another reason why the modified crossings are ineffective is exemplified by the fatal accident on April 15, 2011 that occurred at the Charleston Road train crossing. In this incident, the car driven by Indiana residents Judith and Lawrence Goldblatt, resulting in the driver being unable to free herself prior to the cartrain collision. Originally additional lights and bells were installed by the tracks to alert drivers and pedestrians of the train, but this modification proved to be inept in providing warning. Unfortunately, current train track technology is insufficient for preventing any accidents like these from happening again in the future. Thus due to the project’s inability to achieve public safety at the crossings, it is truly a waste of time and money that could be used in supplementing counseling services and general security. –Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the staff (assenting: 32; dissenting: 3)

SAT essay prompt unjust Elsa Chu The March SAT essay prompt has caused widespread controversy in the world of standardized tests. Instead of the usual abstract, philosophy-based questions, this prompt asked the test-takers about topics that were unusually specific: whether photography portrayed truth or whether people benefit from reality television. This curve ball thrown by College Board was biased against people who knew less about the topics. The fact that these essay topics are so radically different from the previous ones shows College Board’s effort to present a topic that more students are familiar with or find more engaging, therefore giving them a chance to write about something they understand and are interested in. However, if these type of questions should persist, students will lose the chance to develop general knowledge about classic novels and historical figures. While the point of the essay is for students to write a strong essay regardless of the difficulty of the prompt, it was completely unfair to present such a specific prompt to only one group of students who took this particular test. Students spend many hours going over the same types of questions: “What is the meaning of courage?” “Do you need other people in order to understand yourself?” These are the type of open-ended questions that are accessible to all students and give an equal chance for success. The opening statement and quote are generally written to provide the student with enough information to make a stand and strongly support it. The photography

introduction looked like this: “Cameras do copy what is in front of the lens, and so, in that sense, photographs show us what is real. They are at the same time, however, creations of the artist’s intentions and unconscious mind. Are photographs straightforward representations of real life, or are they artistic creations reflecting the photographer’s point of view?” Since students are unaware of the topic ahead of time, they must be ready for anything. However, the purpose of the essay is to give everyone an equal chance to present his or her opinions by giving a broad topic from which students can use examples from all fields. The type of questions presented in March was too narrow for students to be able to pull information quickly. Clearly, this question gave student photographers and those who had knowledge of the field an immense advantage over those who don’t have the opportunity to be exposed to the art. While it’s equally possible to argue both sides of the question, those who have less experience with photography have less of a chance of finding a cohesive thesis that uses strong supporting details. They then have less time overall to construct their essay while other students whose wheels are already turning have a considerable head start. The same argument applies to reality television question, which wasn’t administered in California but which gave a description of what reality T.V. was and how it worked. Those who weren’t familiar with the T.V. shows that the prompt implied had a harder time piecing together their ideas in time to write well. In both of these situations, the students who had experience in the given topics had more time at their hands because they had many more doors open in order to construct their essays. Because the SAT’s are offered to so many, essay prompts should offer the most open-ended questions to truly and fairly assess a student’s analytical and creative thinking ability. —Chu, a junior, is a reporter.


Forum

Monday, April 25, 2011

Overseas nuclear crisis raises concerns Colin Chen

Japan’s recent nuclear crisis has drawn attention to the safety regulations of the nuclear reactors and how they were constructed. If such regulations had been stricter, the nuclear reactors should have been able to power down properly. Instead, there were several explosions in the reactor, resulting in exposed uranium rods for over a month. The exposed uranium rods have resulted in toxic amounts of radiation that have spread into the neighboring environment, increasing the risk of cancer for the residents in the area. To prevent an event like this from happening in the United States, an organization called the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulates nuclear facilities to make sure they always operate safely and efficiently. However, some of its claims that nuclear reactors are safe have come under recent fire. The New York Times published several memos from high-ranking energy officials stating that violation of fire codes and unreported faulty equipment questions the NRC’s ability to handle a potential radioactive calamity. Current U.S. regulations are not strict enough, nor does the NRC control enough of what actually is done in the U.S.’s power plants. Organizations responsible for making plants safe for the public should stop approving faulty nuclear reactor construction instead of giving it leeway. According to The Wall Street Journal, nearly one-third of the nation’s nuclear power plants do not report faulty equipment due to unclear regulations. According to a NRC investigator report from 2002, up to 47

percent of workers within the NRC are afraid to speak up about problems. As for safety regulations, the associate director of safety at the NRC has stated that only two reactors in the United States are in compliance with fire codes. Corners were often cut during construction to compensate for the enormous cost of building these nuclear facilities. And to top it off, the NRC is not currently imposing any fines due to the confusion about the laws regarding this matter, according to the NRC issue summary of 2009. According to the NRC, it adopted a “wait-and-see” policy back in 2001 due to some budget constraints. This “policy” is much like waiting to contract a disease rather than getting vaccinated for it. With this in mind, the United States should learn from Japan’s mistakes, as the shortfalls in building codes and regulations caused preventable problems. Nuclear reactors are prone to problems, as it is essentially attempts to control a fission reaction in order to heat up water to generate electricity. This fission reaction, if not controlled, will cause issues similar to those in Japan. Japan’s case was extremely rare, having had experienced a magnitude 8.9 earthquake followed by a tsunami. The United States nuclear reactors are “safe” from tsunamis as they are typically not bordering any large bodies of water, which was the main cause of the Fukishima explosion. Unfortunately, these U.S. reactors are not built to withstand the higher caliber earthquakes seen fairly often in the past few years. According to Southern California Public Radio, the two nuclear reactors in California are only able to withstand earthquakes of up to a magnitude of seven. This poses a threat as the San Andreas Fault line sits right next to these reactors. According to the United States Geological Survey, there is a 1 in 5 chance of a 6.7 magnitude or greater earthquake on the San Andreas in the next 30 years.

The way that authorities inform the public about radioactivity and nuclear disasters is also in need of improvement. As there have only been a few large-scale nuclear reactor disasters, the government simply does not know how to react if such a disaster occurs. This was seen in Japan for the first few days after the earthquake. The media failed to present the severity of the situation, reporting that only a slightly elevated amount of radiation, about the amount one would receive in a year, would be emitted in a few days. On April 12, the Japanese authorities officially declared that the Fukishima district had reached a level seven disaster, the same rating given to Chernobyl. Not enough people are aware of safety regarding nuclear reactors until it actually happens. Without public awareness in the U.S. on nuclear reactors, there will be no push toward improving safety regulations. Without proper knowledge of how dangerous nuclear reactors may be, citizens residing in the United States will not be prepared for a disaster like the one in Japan. The U.S. authorities have been primarily trying to help solve Japan’s current nuclear crisis. From this incident, the United States should learn from Japan’s situation in order to prepare for disasters like these. Nuclear reactor regulations are not as strict as they should be for the amount of danger reactors can pose to the common public. If the NRC would tighten its control on what actually goes on within those nuclear reactors, it would definitely provide an increased coverage of safety against a nuclear disaster. The NRC will need to finalize a way to determine whether equipment is too old or faulty to be used and should force nuclear reactors to create improved safety mechanisms to prevent a disaster like Japan from happening here. —Chen, a junior, is a reporter.

Editorial Cartoon

Alvina Yau and George Hwang

“Ladies and gentlemen, watch the government balance $14.6 trillion in national debt!”

7

Put a sock in that sob story Utkash Dubey Think about the last time you ranted to your best friend about how badly your day was going. You probably didn’t realize your depressing story ascends a level every time you tell it. We naturally make our stories more distressing on ourselves when we tell them to our peers. As a listener, I hear truth so skewed with exaggeration it fails to evoke the sought-after empathy. Strictly speaking, exaggeration is the means of getting sympathy from others. In the process of seeking sympathy and comfort, there’s an apparent contortion of seemingly manageable pain to unmanageable selfpity. In hopes of invoking compassion from others, this self-pity becomes an altered reality in our minds. To clarify, I am not aimlessly atttacking human nature. Rather, I believe purposely augmenting the severity of a situation is both detrimental to one’s own health as well as the listener’s psychological wellness. By overdramatizing issues, the listener experiences unnecessary stress and complications for troubles that may not even be true. As Sharon Esonis, a licensed psychologist says, “Think for a moment about how people who immerse themselves in the victim role are not much fun to be around.” Transmitting dilemmas to others is like spreading a disease of sorrow. Last summer, my dad was involved in a car accident. My family was fine, although my father often reminisces about his old car and how much he cherished it. As a result, my dad illustrated the scene of the accident many times, exaggerating the same points repeatedly. He would describe the scene like this: “Blinded by sunlight, the other driver took an illegal turn at 15 m.p.h. and rammed the front bumper of my car.” The first time seemed reasonable—a turn at 15 mph was plausible if not actually exactly what happened. From then on, I noticed my dad hiked his numbers during each retelling, going up to 20 m.p.h. turn, 25 m.p.h., and finally (not to mention unrealistically) 35 m.p.h.. The last claim is particularly questionable and unreasonable; it shows he feels sorry for himself, despite pursuing the comforting condolences. I’m not trying to pick on my dad, but that’s the reality we listeners know in the back of our heads. Esonis explains, “believing you are a victim and acting like one can have seriously negative effects on your relationships.” According to Esonis, acting as the victim is a “straight shot into disappointment and ineffectiveness. This misguided approach marginalizes your ability to live a powerful and rewarding existence.” Self confidence and tackling issues with integrity is the most advantageous form of confronting your personal issues. Adding on to the problems of a best friend is not. Being passive with your own situations and complaining about them does not help solve the issue or remedy the problem. Keeping a positive fighting spirit is healthier and yields better results, whereas taking your situations and exaggerating their rigor doesn’t help whatsoever. World-renowned positive energy psychologist Martin Seligman explains that “‘victimology’—blaming our problems on other people and circumstances–is directly related to the concept of learned helplessness.” Seligman feels the most beneficial (and dignified) solution is to just deal with it. From his experience in psychology, Seligman finds casting the victim role is a form of “psychological paralysis.” In other words, get rid of that unproductive, negative energy and suck it up—just put a sock in that sob story. —Dubey, a sophomore, is a reporter.


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THEORACLE

Online forum ‘4chan’ reflects society’s moral depravity Joseph Lin They are everywhere, and they are powerful. Just the mention of this underground organization is breaking Rule 1 and 2. No, this isn’t Fight Club. They have hacked into Sarah Palin’s e-mail account, caused mass online confusion, started giant meaningless protests and Fox News called them “domestic terrorists.” Their goal? To troll the world. Welcome to 4chan, the land of anonymity. Imagine all of the Internet’s rage, perversion and malevolence bottled up into one online forum. 4chan allows people to channel that. People approach and post content anonymously, removing any form of background, and any form of social responsibility or obligations. Because they are anonymous, online posters disregard human rights, social taboos and simple common sense, all in pursuit of making others angry, or “trolling” to satisfy their own crude humor. Imagine everything bad on the Internet: pornography, violence, abuse, incest, suicide—a pure hatred for everything. People pursue their disturbing fantasies with no sense of guilt. All of this is accepted on 4chan. Most people aren’t surprised. Give people the freedom to

do, say or choose whatever they want anonymously, without any consequences, and nothing will be spared. While most of the content released on 4chan may be in good “fun,” it still poses a hazardous threat. The problem arises when these things bleed out into everyday people’s lives, when anonymity becomes an excuse for inappropriate conduct. A prime example of this is Jarrad Willis. Willis posted on 4chan that he would threaten a nearby mall. What did 4chan do? Ignore it. Afterall, it’s just another troll, right? Later that day, Willis followed his word with a shotgun. Some of the merits that 4chan boasts is its whistleblower aspect. Because every post is anonymous, this site holds the potential to act as a medium for releasing confidential information. However, just because you have something to say doesn’t mean anyone will listen. There are many other resources that you can use to expose such information; it would be unwise to use an anonymous forum like 4chan. H o w ever, there have been moments where 4chan has been able to stop suicides. Yes, some people

have caught people in the act, and called their local authorities in order to prevent such an incident from occuring. Yet, while there are select moments where this is true, the majority of the time, these people, in their moment of emotional need, have been blatantly disregarded. Usually, these depressed posters post online claiming that they are about to commit suicide. In response, the online community often cheers them on, calling them “anheroes”. In instances where these matters are not a joke, it is very possible that we have lost many lives. These examples are not unusual within the realms of 4chan. The difference is people’s reactions. As the Internet community grows, ironically, individuals have become more and more detached from one another. These people have become so detached, that the well being of another human being becomes a lesser priority. Within the past year, there’s been a prevalence of 4chan terminology within our school. The phrases “cool story bro,” “my face when” or “troll” all originated from 4chan. The meaning of these phrases by itself may not intend harm; however, the origins of these phrases is a place of extreme malice and corruption. 4chan creates this influence, and regardless of whether you think this content is okay or not, the true question is whether or not you allow this type of influence to pressure you into a particular manner or not.

Save right to free speech Regina Ahn Take the world’s most powerful global database, a vision for an improved society, handfuls of cunning minds, and a recipe for “hacktivist” Internet moguls such as Anonymous or organizations like Wikileaks is formed. In its attempts to “revolutionize” the role of the press in the society, Wikileaks has gained a name in today’s press in an ironic twist of fame. On the other hand, anarchist community, Anonymous of imageboard ‘4chan,’ has become increasingly notorious for its usage of hacks employed for entertainment as well as political purposes. While the mere mention of “anarchy” may pierce arrows of terror into a conservative soul, some of these questionable actions are justified in safeguarding the right to individual free speech on the Internet. The Internet is a public domain made for free speech. This is mainly due to its “robust architecture,” it cannot be bought, hijacked, monopolized, and has no ties to a central authority, according to livinginternet. com.  The Internet is probably the most symbolic entity exemplifying the basic right of free speech. The Supreme Court apparently thought so too, which is why it banned any censorship to take place on the Internet in Reno v. ACLU. What a triumph for the modern day, techfueled society, which cannot progress without the exchange and expression of ideas. An individual has a right to express these ideas, despite the consequences. Experience has taught us that living with open communication generally makes for a better demo-

cratic society; countless individuals and authoritarian governments have tried to censor the Internet and limit Internet access but have failed. In the wake of the Tiananmen Square rebellion, the Internet was used to bypass government censorship. Such anonymity not only makes for a nondiscriminatory forum, but also protects human lives. As much as there are checks and balances within the government, there needs to be some form of Internet media checking for corruption within authority. The recent scandal w it h fo rm e r H B G a r y CEO Aaron Burr, which resulted in Anonymous leaking confidential company emails, including some from the government, revealed that the U.S. government had commissioned the security company to generate fake mass media profiles (think of Facebook) to proliferate propaganda on social networking sites. This is so clearly goosebumpinducingly, Big Brotheresque that Wikileaks and Anonymous’s police actions are justified in unearthing the dirt in the government’s strange intentions for national security. Finally, the incentives that maintain Wikileaks and Anonymous render it less susceptible to corruption. These organizations don’t depend on popularity vote nor campaign money; they are self-driven by a strong sense of justice and responsibility. If only more self-claimed justice-seeking groups were less tied by money and fueled with similar pure purposes. By advocating the freedom of speech and exposing business and government corruption, Wikileaks and Anonymous rightly deserve credit as the vigilante heroes of today. —Ahn, a senior, is a Forum Editor.

Lisa Wu

Internet sparks unfair prisoner torture

Hannah Planck-Schwartz Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, is suspected of disclosing 90,000 intelligence reports on the war in Afghanistan and a video of a military helicopter attack. Most of the information was given to WikiLeaks, a controversial website dedicated to making secret information public. He has not, however, been tried, let alone convicted for his actions. Manning recently was accused of an additional 22 charges, including wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, transmitting defense information and computer fraud. Manning has been imprisoned and treated in an inhumane manner for nine months, clearly contradicting the government’s presupposition of freedom of speech and the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment. International laws, specifically principles set from World War II war trials, apply to Manning’s situation. Manning chose his moral beliefs, in line with international law, over his government’s orders, permissible under

—Lin, a senior, is a Forum Editor. Nuremberg Principle IV. Released to the public, Manning raises the question: “if you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time … say, 8-9 months … and you saw incredible things, awful things … things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC … what would you do?” In Iraq, Manning was ordered to surrender Iraqi civilians to America’s new Iraqi allies, who then tortured them with electrical drills and other implements. Before taking any other action, he brought his concerns to the commanding officers who told him explicitly to follow orders. Only then did he take the next step in informing the public so that voters in our democracy can do something to stop these immoral actions. According to Manning, his actions were meant to spur worldwide discussion, debate, and reform. “I want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public,” Manning said. He questioned the humanity of what he was being ordered to do, then chose to inform our nation of the truth, standing up for what he believed in. Manning’s days at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va. involve daily humiliation and mistreatment. Each morning, he must wait outside his cell naked until he passes inspection, only to be forced to strip again at night. He is shackled during the brief time he is allowed out of his cell and is denied any human interaction. Even more disturbing is the fact that President Barrack Obama, despite openly adjudicating the abuse of prisoners, is condoning this treatment on the grounds that Manning’s situation “[is] appropriate and [is] meeting our basic standards.’’ Manning had legitimate, moral reasons for his actions, and the U.S. Constitution forbids the punishment being exercised on Manning. According to the New York Times, during the early years of the Bush administration’s war on terror, C.I.A. interrogators regularly stripped prisoners to break down barriers of resistance, increase compliance and extract information. His lawyer, David E. Coombs, wrote that “This type of degrading treatment is inexcusable and without justification. It is an embarrassment to our military justice system and should not be tolerated. No other detainee at the brig is forced to endure this type of isolation and humiliation.” The people of America must defend the rights of a democracy: to be tried fairly, speak freely, and fight for what we believe in. —Schwartz, a senior, is an Entertainment Editor.


Forum

Monday, April 25, 2011

9

Severe peanut allergy burdens public School clubs: schools with safety responsibilities make it meaningful Melia Dunbar

PRO

George Hwang

Elaine Liu

CON

In Edgewater, Florida a six-year-old girl is being kicked out of her elementary school by the parents of her own classmates. Born with a severe peanut allergy that prevents her from coming into contact with even nut particles in the air, she and her family have asked the school to take special measures for protection including having students wash their hands and mouths before entering classrooms, regularly wiping down desks, and a ban on all peanut products. Infuriated by the new requirements, parents repeatedly ask, “what’s next?” Since the first peanut allergy was reported in 1920, the statistics for children born with this affliction have continued to escalate. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), the incidence rate tripled between the years 1997 and 2007, leaving over three million people allergic to members of the tree nut family. With such numbers, schools are required by law to accommodate these students. However, other parents are less than willing to go along. But the life of a six-year-old should not be up for debate. Taking a child out of elementary school because she has a food allergy and singling her out for a condition

Joseph Lin Imagine trying to walk across a high school, changing classes every hour, all with the risk of being exposed to peanuts. Before every class, students and teachers alike will be expected to wash their hands and rinse out their mouths before going to class. While students and teachers at a high school might be willing to take the extra step for prevention, what about in college? Assume a classroom of 600 or more people. Is it reasonable to ask every one of these students to do the same? The fact is that they are unable to deal with the presence of a peanut, and, regardless of their social abilities, these students should consider moving toward a safer environment such as home schooling, smaller colleges or a more private class. In doing so, they will not only access their right to study and to live life freely, but also allow others to have the peace of mind to eat and interact. Public schools have been struggling with the proper reaction towards sensitively protecting kids with peanut allergies. The ones schools are worried about more are not your typical “get a rash, grab an Epipen” allergies. These extreme allergies make anyone a potential killer. Even the slightest exposure could end up in a hospital visit. While many preventive measures can be instated in light of this issue, parents should still actively consider

she has no control over becomes dangerously close to the type of prejudice that society is fighting so hard against. What sort of lesson are parents teaching their children if they cannot accept the special needs of someone their own age? The life lesson of accepting each other is something schools try to teach from the youngest of ages. “Love your neighbor” and “treat others the way you want to be treated” are mantras spoken repeatedly in elementary schools. Telling a child he is no longer welcome is a direct contradiction to the lessons parents so desperately want to ingrain among their own kids’ minds. Having a condition like this forces parents to do anything in order to protect the life of their child, a feeling no one can argue against. When the school at Edgewater banned all peanut products, they were not overstepping their bounds. Waiting to give a child his peanut butter sandwich after school can hardly qualify as an extreme measure when the difference can mean a trip to the emergency room for someone else. Similarly, the request for students to wash their hands and rinse their mouths after recess and lunch seems to be more of a health benefit than a cumbersome request. It is beneficial to instill habits of cleanliness in elementary school students, and the practice of washing up and keeping clean is something parents should want, not discourage, their children to develop. Although the policies for peanut allergy protection appear extreme, no child should be denied a welcome learning environment. No child should have to bear the emotions of being asked to leave. —Liu, a senior, is a Business Manager. taking an affected child out of public schools and into home schooling or, at the very least, a private school. Colleges with excessively large class sizes should be allowed to omit a student on the basis of this potentially lethal allergy. Home schools, private schools and smaller colleges provide an environment of safety and convenience for a student with allergies, and also allows a peace of mind for other students and teachers alike. Students with the allergy must think twice about getting engaged in highly public situations. People may compare this treatment to the Plessy v. Ferguson case and the debate of “separate, but equal,” but this is certainly not the case. The school is not separating these students because of social perception or intolerance. Although it may appear the school is building borders, in reality, the school is only ensuring the safety of this student. Peanut allergies are not simply a characteristic, but also a disability that most be appropriately addressed. What we have here is not a moral issue; it is a safety issue. We may feel better in allowing these students in, but what the students need is protection, not an ideal world without the constant threat of peanuts. While peanut-free zones and active decontamination are somewhat adequate, the possibility of accidentally causing another person’s death should not be forced on anybody. Being wary and attentive is a good idea, but, in a large group environment, becomes impractical and inefficient. Parents and schools should carefully consider placing a student with such severe allergies in an environment where a student can have the peace of mind to live freely and comfortably. —Lin, a senior, is a Forum Editor.

For such a rigorous school, Gunn has surprisingly lenient club policies. It’s sort of a mixed blessing: on one hand, you get a rich variety of student organizations, increased participation in local events and a greater sense of community. On the other hand, you get the Bocce Ball and Italian Meats Club. Okay, this one never fails to crack me up, so here it is again: the Bocce Ball and Italian Meats Club. Actually, when I first heard the name, I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was some kind of cross-cultural phenomenon—yes, it had to be an up-and-coming international sport, a charity for underprivileged children or a progressive organization promoting globalization in the 21st century. Au contraire. Turns out, it’s exactly as bad as it sounds. Here’s the story: a student wanted a club. He liked to eat at the deli. One of his friends played bocce ball. He signed a few papers, doodled his way through a constitution, tracked down a teacher with a lunch break, signed a few more papers and voila, he got a nice big slice of extracurricular recognition. I have to admit, the guy knew what he was doing. With the snap of his fingers, he was living the Gunn dream, with both a boost to his college applications and a hangout spot for his friends. He got all the perks of creating a club without any of the work of maintaining it. Unfortunately, this practice is all too common. Though the members of the Bocce Ball and Italian Meats Club have long since graduated (and, I’m sorry to say, their organization has subsequently disbanded—please don’t bother searching for it), their story repeats itself year after year as many clubs fail to take an active role in the community. You can actually prove this phenomenon from the comfort of your very own home. Just open the Gunn website and find the spreadsheet. Now scroll down…and down…and down. Out of the 93 clubs listed, I’m willing to bet 46 of them are just as productive as the Bocce Ball and Italian Meats Club—which is to say, not at all. I’m being pretty generous, actually, assuming half the student-run organizations at this school are extant and functional. While we are lucky to have a plethora of amazing clubs, Gunn policies make it just as easy for cliquish cheaters to pass under the radar. Other schools have beefed up their restrictions to combat this problem—Mountain View High School, for example, requires students to turn in a form indicating they performed at least one act of community service per year— but Gunn has yet to follow suit. Even if Gunn can’t change its policies, we students can change our attitudes. The first step is realizing that life doesn’t stop after we turn in our transcripts. To pretend otherwise is both childish and delusional. As young adults, we should take advantage of any opportunity to pursue our interests and enrich our community. Why not make the most of the Gunn club experience? With such a diverse and creative student body, we can all learn from each other and discover what makes us tick. Like it or not, there is a world beyond this mad scramble to impress colleges, and sooner or later we’ll find ourselves without mommy, daddy, grades and transcripts to determine our fate. What we become at this point is entirely in our hands. As for me, I have more respect for students who choose to promote a productive, well-informed, caring community than those who selfishly believe they can brave life’s storms atop artificially bloated college applications. So, here’s my challenge to you: restart the Bocce Ball and Italian Meats Club next year. I’m dead serious. Challenge yourself to make it the best you possibly can. Don’t do it for credit. Don’t do it for recognition. Do it to prove to yourself that it is both possible and rewarding to get involved in your community. How can you change the Bocce Ball and Italian Meats Club from a loose gang of slackers to a functional, productive organization? That’s up to you to decide. I challenge you to take it in a new direction. Make it a charity, make it a sports team, make it an outlet for modern art—I don’t care what you do. What matters is that you care about what you do. ­—Dunbar, a junior, is a reporter.


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THEORACLE

Lighten up, Gunn

Iodide pills unnecessary for protection Kyle Zhu

Sarah-Jean Zubair One of Gunn’s defining features is its almost fanatic emphasis on political correctness. To the point of extreme touchiness, people are unbelievably sensitive to racial innuendos, even if it’s someone making a joke about themselves. I guess in an individualistic age where falling in love with yourself is the norm, laughing at yourself is looked down upon. Who knows? Maybe it’s diagnosed as abysmal self-esteem. Now, while there are definitely some serious mental conditions that involve self-hate, making a few cracks about yourself doesn’t qualify as racism. Honestly—what reasonable, mentally healthy person is racist toward himself? If someone’s having a few laughs about himself, that’s his business. Don’t try to pull the race card because, unless someone has legitimate case of self-hating angst, you can safely bet that jokes about one’s own background are not racist. For even the most self-righteous out there, we’ve all heard racial jokes and, whether willingly or not, probably laughed along with them. With any race or culture comes a myriad of stereotypes, some hurtful and some humorous. And as a member of the half-Bengali demographic, I choose to embrace the humorous side. Many of my relatives, a ll upsta nding Benga lis themselves, do the same. The cracks about our stereotypical passion for tea and overimbibing in chili peppers would make even the most staunch political correctness policemen chuckle. But these gentle prods at ourselves don’t stem from self-hate. I take great pride in my tea-drinking and affinity for spices, thank you very much. And if my fellow South Asians and I see some humor in that, we should have the freedom to take amusement in it, free of reprimand from someone who doesn’t even get the joke. Some might say that making jokes about oneself or one’s own culture is demeaning and perpetuates already present stereotypes. This might be true under the assumption that everyone except for the person kidding around is moronic enough to buy into negative stereotypes and take a humorous comment as the honest-to-goodness truth. But, really, people such as that are victims of their own ignorance and won’t go very far in this increasingly diverse world. Anyone who believes that every single person of a certain group is representative of a stereotype needs a reality check in the form of an intensive ethnological, anthropological and sociological education. It is absolutely imperative to respect one another’s racial and cultural backgrounds. The same for your own is a given. But when someone jumps down another person’s throat for laughing at himself, it’s obvious that we have surpassed hypersensitivity to a point of ridiculousness. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between malice and merriment.So try this: if your friends are comfortable enough to talk about themselves and stereotypes relating to them in a humorous manner with you, take it as a compliment. It means they know you’re not ignorant enough to take stereotypes seriously. But, if there is some legitimate maliciousness at play, nip it in the bud. While society has infinite capacity for lightening up, there is definitely no place for ignorance and hatred. – Zubair, a senior, is a Managing Editor.

Since the recent nuclear disaster in Japan, the Japanese government has been distributing potassium iodide pills to help prevent the harmful effects of radiation from affecting the people in close proximity. While the government’s intentions may be valid, the iodide pills are incredibly expensive and the benefits are only shortterm. The pill craze has spread to America even though the radiation threat is thousands of miles away. The pills themselves can be very harmful and have potentially fatal side effects. As with many commercial products, the pill has taken on the course of the domino effect and once one person buys into it, the rest quickly follow. Potassium iodide pills, which can cost up to $500 for a pack of 10 pills, are intended to protect people from severe or direct radiation. The pills work by filling the thyroid gland with stable iodide to prevent radioactive isotopes from being inhaled or absorbed. These iodide pills only protect the thyroid gland from one specific kind of radiation, the radiation that is produced in the nuclear reactors. Though this radiation has been known to cause cancer, people living outside of the radiation zone do not need to take these iodide pills. Although taking the pills may sound promising, there are a multitude of hazardous side effects. Many of the people trying to be prepared are unaware that potassium iodide pills can be dangerous, and they would be much better off if they avoided consuming them to start with. Among the side effects are swelling of the throat, tenderness of the neck and major damage to the thyroid gland. Thyroid gland dam-

age would require a person to take thyroid pills daily for the rest of his or her life, in exchange for 24 hours of radiation protection. Along with all of the side effects that come with the iodide pill, many people are allergic to iodide, and taking this pill may cause an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction would involve internal swelling, and that could eventually lead to death for someone unprepared for the consequences. There is a difference between being prepared and overreacting, and paying a ludicrous amount of money for a pack of pills because a reactor exploded on the opposite hemisphere is definitely overreacting. Instead of stressing out and spending money on pills, people should see a doctor and ask him or her if taking pills is necessary. The government of Japan has created a 20 kilometer radius around the reactor explosion that will most likely be harmful for people to be in, but anyone living outside of that radius will be under very light radiation exposure that isn’t life-threatening. People in America have nothing to worry about; they are simply overreacting since most people don’t understand that light radiation exposure will not significantly increase the risk of cancer or cell mutations. Staying a full 24 hours within 60 kilometers of the reactor explosion would cause a person to absorb approximately 50 microservants of radiation. However, a dental X-ray emits

Alvina Yau

100 microservants of radiation, while a flight from New York to LA causes people to absorb 40 microservants. Additionally, the pills are very expensive, and some sellers are even selling fake pills to make a large profit. According to CNN, many people are told to only purchase the pills over the counter from popular pharmacies or large FDA-approved producers, but some may still accidentally purchase a placebo. In a recent article in the LA Times by Dr. Marc Siegel, over 10,000 websites sell drugs of all sorts. Of those, only a couple hundred sell potassium iodide pills, and only three FDA companies supply stores with real pills, leaving many of the remainder to be fake. While taking the pills may give people a sense of security, the negative sideeffects that come with the pill definitely outweigh the positives. Iodide pills provide 24 hours of thyroid protection, but come with the possibilities of severe allergic reactions, expensive costs and scams. Only the people within or near the danger zone in Japan need to take the pills. People in the United States have no reason to be fighting over iodide pills; they are just wasting their time and money in exchange for these pills that are only truly beneficial in extreme situations. — Zhu, a sophomore, is a reporter.

Yelp detrimental for business competition Lydia Zhang It’s not a crime to have an opinion. However, because of Internet privacy, those who post their opinions in the form of comments and reviews do not have to take responsibility for what they write, which isn’t filtered for honesty and tactfulness. So is a site like Yelp, where people write reviews about the businesses they visit, necessarily a good thing? The lack of moderation and questionable expertise of reviewers combined with the site’s high rate of traffic can noticeably affect the local stores and restaurants negatively, especially if the store or restaurant is newly opened. This presents an issue for many businesses in the area whose success already depends largely on luck and publicity. One bad review seen by many can ruin a deserving business. Type in a local company into any search engine, and one of the first links will almost always be from Yelp. It’s difficult to say whether or not people really do take the site’s reviews seriously, but it’s clear that the site is popular. In the last year, Yelp’s traffic has increased to over 22 million, beating out competitors like Citysearch. Yelp only moderates the reviews that are posted on site for maliciousness, such as a rival businesses posting one-star reviews just to eliminate competition, or which show obvious bias, like five-star reviews coming from fake users. The moderation system sees how active an account is and then decides whether the reviews coming from the account should be deemed as spam or legitimate. However, this arrangement does not stop a good proportion of the reviews on the site from being confusing and contradictory, which is primarily because there is such a large pool of commentators with varying opinions and no set standard for what is “good” and “bad.” Miyo Yogurt’s Yelp page has reviews which were highly polar-

ized regarding the business’ service. For example, one reviewer wrote that the employees were “always super friendly and keep the place spotless,” while another asserted that as she walked into the shop, she was “only greeted with smugness and a cold stare.” Whether or not either of these claims are true, the fact is many of the opinions expressed by the reviews directly contradict one another (such as the quality of yogurt, service, cleanliness, etc.). These reviews do not convey an accurate sense of what the business is like. After going to the establishment, it was clear that on certain days, the service was perfectly fine, the tables were spotless, and the yogurt had a perfect consistency. However, it just shows how unreliable the reviews and posts found on Yelp can be. The whole point of Yelp is to help the browser get a sense of the business based upon the experiences of previous clientele, and moderation of fledging reviewers would make the site much more efficient and helpful. Yelp has also been sued numerous times in the last few years, primarily relating to the site’s business dealings. According to USA Today, Yelp has been accused of taking indirect bribes by removing bad reviews from the sites that advertise on Yelp and placing negative reviews back on to the pages of local services that choose not to advertise. If companies like Cats & Dogs Animal Hospital and D’ames Day Spa are willing to go to court against Yelp because the site is manipulating what reviews are posted, then it is likely that one or two negative reviews from Yelp really do affect their business. Reviews that are negative and not constructive in any way should be filtered out in order to streamline the site. Yelp, however, is a really convenient and hassle-free way to get information regarding local services and businesses. It in its entirety is not bad, but it is necessary that the site changes the way it operates. More moderation of the reviews is definitely vital. To post assessments, reviewers should go through a longer process that is more vigorous than just giving an e-mail address and selecting a business to review. It isn’t helpful to the browser if every other evaluation contradicts the previous one and if posters use phrases like “super noobsauce: -1000000 points.” — Zhang, a junior, is a Features Editor.


Features

11

Monday, April 25, 2011

A bird’s eye view: senior takes up birdwatching Henry Liu

Sweta Bhattacharya Copy Editor

Senior Sophia Christel actively participates in an offbeat activity that the average Gunn student would most likely dismiss: birdwatching. Birdwatching, or birding, involves a combination of sighting and identifying birds and is often accompanied by listening and reciprocating birds calls. Although Christel has always had a love for animals, she began to pay more at-

tention to her avian friends when she was about four. According to Christel, she began actual birding in late elementary school, starting by familiarizing herself with the birds in her backyard. “Once I knew all those, I expanded to other venues,” she said. Generally, Christel doesn’t embark on birdwatching trips but does enjoy typical birdwatching activities while on nature hikes with her family. “Wherever I go, there are birds, and I’ll watch them,” she said. “Normally I just wait un-

til I spot a bird or hear one I might have a chance at finding, and I try to identify it. Once I know what I’m looking a t , I watch behavior to see if it’s doing anything peculiar. If it flies away or my family gets too far ahead, I leave it and move on to the next sighting.” She even participates in birding during her average and daily routine. “I birdwatch everywhere I go,” Christel said. In addition to having fairly extensive knowledge on birdwatching, Christel can also imitate and even talk with birds through specific birdcalls. “I can recognize a lot more than I can imitate, but I can actually perform between 15 and 20 different calls if you don’t mind an occasional approximation

of tone,” she said. Christel says knowing which birdcall goes to which bird often helps her identify birds that she cannot see while birding. Christel’s favorite birdwatching locations are mostly those around areas like the Stanford Dish, the Palo Alto Baylands and Charleston Slough. According to Christel, Gunn is also a good spot to observe birds. “There are tons of great birds all around Gunn if you know where to look,” she said. Christel says that her favorite part of birdwatching is seeing unexpected birds such as “owls at night after rehearsal, a huge red-tailed hawk sitting right over the path on a hike or a northern harrier swooping over the marsh in pursuit of prey.” Christel hopes that birding will be a lifelong hobby and has no plans to stop birdwatching any time soon.

Arborists preserve city’s historical trees Sarah-Jean Zubair

Managing Editor

Palo Alto is known for its shady, tree-lined streets and ancient oaks. But such surroundings do not come about automatically. Environmental Specialist and Arborist in Planning for the City of Palo Alto Dave Dockter and his colleagues work everyday to care for the city’s trees. From planting new shade trees to maintaining towering redwoods and ancient oaks, Dockter’s duties go far beyond clipping and cutting for aesthetic appeal. “As an arborist, I see myself as someone who preserves history,” Dockter said. “My job is to help keep the legacy of our century old oaks alive, and to plant new history trees for the next century.” Indeed, Palo Alto’s love for trees is deep-rooted. The city was named Palo Alto after El Palo Alto (Spanish for “tall stick”), a coast redwood tree located in El Palo Alto Park. The 110-foot tree is approximately 1,071 years old, a living record of California history. It holds the distinction of being California Historical Landmark No. 2 as well as City of Palo Alto Heritage Tree No. 1. In 1999, the tree was appraised at $55,600 (a modest appraisal, according to Dockter), which took factors such as species, size and condition into consideration when judging the tree. El Palo Alto is just one of Palo Alto’s many historically significant trees. And historical value is only one part of the trees’ merits. Dockter’s 1999 report specifically about El Palo Alto states, “Because of the tree’s cultural history, intrinsic majestic presence and value to the communities of Palo Alto the El Palo Alto redwood is considered to be an invaluable and priceless natural resource—and irreplaceable at any cost in the event of loss.” Preventing such losses is an ongoing process that arborists attend to. For

example, in order to remove city trees from one’s property, a Palo Alto resident must take out a permit, have an arborist assess the tree and then pay for the removal should the arborist deem the tree a hazard or dead. The city is particularly stringent about removing specific tree species that are protected under city code. “We only cut an oak or redwood if there is no other way to fix the problem,” Dockter said. “There are two sides of looking at every issue. My job is to make sure everyone arrives at the right decision.” But even with city ordinances and laws in place, Palo Alto has committed its share of arboreal gaffs. One such incident took place in 2009 when all 50 holly oaks on California Avenue were felled by city orders, shocking business owners and the street’s frequenters alike. “It was treated more like it was streetsweeping,” he said. “It was handed off to a [city] department that is not used for caring for trees. The work project wasn’t treated like a park or shopping area where one would have been more considerate of losing trees or beneficial shade. But in the end it helped us learn. From now on the city will definitely treat tree removal separate from a routine maintenance program.” Dockter says that the loss of the California Avenue trees has reminded people what a vital role trees play in people’s everyday lives, a role that extends far beyond enhancing a neighborhood’s beauty and, in Palo Alto’s case, serving as a namesake. According to the March 1999 arborists’ report “Guidelines for San Joaquin Valley Communities,” 100 trees can remove five tons of carbon dioxide and 1,000 pounds of various pollutants from the air in a single year. From a monetary standpoint, the same source says that street trees save $30,000 per mile of resurfacing costs on asphalt roads.

Kathleen L. Wolf of the Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington states that tree-shaded commercial districts see increases in shoppers’ visits, the length of those visits and an 11 percent increase in costs shoppers are willing to spend for the same products. Furthermore, according to Canopy, a Palo Alto organization whose “mission is to educate, inspire and engage residents, businesses and government agencies to protect and enhance local urban forests,” houses landscaped with trees are worth up to 15 percent more than they are without trees. Canopy also states that houses on tree-lined streets are worth up to 25 percent more than houses of equivalent value on streets without trees. For the city of Palo Alto specifically, Dockter says that the city aims to become a “shaded community,” meaning that 50 percent of the city’s paved areas would be covered in shade. In addition to yielding the aforementioned benefits, Dockter cites shaded parking lots as a specific example of trees’ impact on everyday life. “Having shade trees around to cool parked cars isn’t just about keeping cars a comfortable temperature,” he said. “Many people don’t realize that when the gas tank of a car reaches a certain temperature, certain poisons, specifically hydrocarbons, escape the gas cap and are exuded into the atmosphere. Trees prevent that kind of extreme heat while simultaneously purifying the air.” Dockter summed up the benefits of trees with the statement that, “trees are the most important resource that we live with.” He added, “They pay back so much. We live off of oxygen, their waste product, and they take in our carbon dioxide, the stuff we exhale. It’s such a perfect cycle—we were born to live amongst trees. We just have to keep willing to pay a little money and effort to keep them safe, and they do the rest for us.”

Henry Liu

Trying a hand at home gardening

Sam Hayward Although gardening can sometimes feel like a chore, the satisfaction of growing bountiful life in your own backyard outshines the troubles that gardening may bring. In essence, gardening is simply about growth. The seeds grow, the plants grow and you also grow as a person as you begin to foster a healthy relationship with the plants. Before starting my garden I talked to senior Alison Ang, who has been growing plants since childhood and has over 12 different species of plants thriving in her garden at this moment. Ang told me about her passion for gardening and how it enabled her to stick with it for so long. She advised me to be consistent, always remember to water your plants and make sure to think about how you want to place the garden. After a few hours spent dreaming about the savory vegetables I would soon be consuming and imagining the countless compliments I would receive for the work on the garden, I realized it was about time to get started. First, my mom and I made a run to Home Depot where we were able to find most of our necessary supplies such as organic chicken manure, rot-resistant lumber, seeds, soil and fertilizer. Gardening, I soon learned, requires lots of planning. According to thegrowspot.com, planning is essential for maintaining a plentiful garden. I first made a diagram of the area of where I wanted the plants to grow and found a pleasant spot near the end of my backyard. The garden site had to be leveled and be exposed to a minimum of 12 hours of sun or else the plants would not be able to produce sufficient chloroplasts and would quickly die. As Ang instructed me to do, I prepared the soil by adding organic chicken manure to the dirt. My dad then helped me build a wood frame around the designated area for gardening in order to deter unwelcomed animals. We assembled a square out of the rot resistant wood and braced the corners of the square by securing rope along each stake. Digging like a wild animal forced into captivity, I tore up the soil with my bare hands. This let the roots of the plant grab into the soil and expand. Through the use of organic materials such as compost and fertilizer, I was able to create a very nutritious environment for the plants to prosper in. After this step, I put in the garden a mixture of seeds I had purchased: tomatoes, pumpkin, cucumber, lettuce and rosemary. I watered the plants every week, always in the morning, and was careful not to make the soil too damp. In the end, I discovered that gardening is extremely rewarding. It is a massive investment of energy to keep the plants living and healthy so be sure you are up for the challenge. The more you put into your garden, the more you will get out of it. So go for it and get those hands dirty. —Hayward, a junior, is a Forum Editor.


Features 12 Students juggle ups, downs of U.S. citizenship THEORACLE

Annie Tran

Business Manager

At one time or another, one will be faced with a life-changing decision that will have a profound effect on the rest of one’s life. Seniors Mariam Helmy, Howon Lee and junior Jane Li are students, who like many others, are currently going through the process of attaining American citizenships. When Helmy walked on to campus last month, she held her head high with the pride of being a newly sworn-in American citizen after waiting patiently over a span of ten years. “The whole process was a little stressful in general because I would have to go Los Angeles to get a visa every time I left the country, but I really believe it was all worth it,” Helmy said. Applying for visas was not the only problem that she encountered while applying for citizensh ip. H e r family had applied for citizenship

in 2000, but it had taken 10 years to finally attain it. “My uncle’s family got their citizenship in five years because they moved earlier–we got ours in 10, which is abnormally long even for that process,” Helmy wrote in an e-mail. She believes that it had taken her family such a long time to attain citizenship because of her Egyptian origins. While her family’s application was being processed, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks also took place. “We were immediately red-flagged as terrorists just by being of Middle-Eastern origin,” she wrote. This obstacle only further drove the Helmys to try to acquire their citizenships all the more. “Dad had business here–he’s a software entrepreneur and goes back and forth a lot between Egypt and the United States, and had been for a while, so it seemed pretty logical to come to [the United States],” Helmy said. “My family decided to apply for citizenship because it’s considerably more beneficial to be a U.S. citizen in the United States than an Egyptian citizen in the United States.” Lee, a South Korean citizen, agrees with Helmy. “It’s not just about the economic side of things that are a bother but I also feel more at home in the United States than in South Korea,” Lee said. “I fully intend to live in America and apply for my citizenship when I’m 18 or after I’m done with Wu undergraduate school. a s i &L Plus, I heard it simplifies ang w H the process for medical school e g or Ge applications in the future.” He was re-

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Left: Junior Jane Li is not getting her citizenship now as the process is not economically sound. Middle: Senior Howon Lee is postponing the decision to get a visa due to his future college situation. Right: Senior Mariam Helmy waited for years to obtain citizenship. cently accepted into a special program where he will be able to spend two years abroad at a Parisian school named Sciences-Po as well as two years at Columbia University. “Since I’m commiting to something like this, I have go through several special documents to make it possible since I’ll probably be leaving the country a lot,” Lee said. He had received his green card, which grants permanent residence in the United States, at the age of seven. Li obtained her green card in 2005. An important difference between a green card and having a citizenship is that the green card can be revoked at any time if the U.S. government believes that the permanent resident doesn’t have sufficient ties to the United States, such as working or attending school. On the other hand, citizens can live abroad for long periods of time without maintaining strong ties to the United States. Li has decided to wait on applying for her citizenship for economic reasons. “My

dad works here, but my mom works in China full-time so I have to travel a lot in between whenever I have vacations,” Li said. As a Chinese citizen, Li says it is actually cheaper for her to leave the United States. and visit her mother because China has a policy where non-citizens must pay over $300 for every visit. “Economically speaking, it’s just smarter for me to not be a U.S. citizen right now because if I was one, I’d probably have paid thousands of dollars by now to the Chinese government,” Li said. However, Li agrees with Helmy and Lee on the fact that there are downsides to being a non-citizen in the United States. “I find the whole process really annoying because it seems like I can’t stay anywhere outside of the United States for a long period of time,” Li said. “Plus, there’s other stuff like politics that I’m interested in, but by the time I’m of age to be involved [in voting], I can’t because I’m not a U.S. citizen.”


13

Features

Monday, April 25, 2011

English teacher communicates through art of poetry Elsa Chu

Reporter

According to English Instructional Supervisor Paul Dunlap, poetry is a challenge of trying to take an idea and create it into something so the reader can get an understanding of what the writer is trying to portray. “It’s the sharing of experiences by two complete strangers that creates magic,” he said. Dunlap writes poetry as a hobby outside of his teaching career. “I was the worst poet in high school, but I was forced to dabble in it college because I was an English major,” Dunlap said. “I’ve been writing since then.” Dunlap projects his enthusiasm for English through his poetry and brings that passion into his classes. “It’s difficult not to make comparisons [between writing and teaching] since what I teach is so closely related to [my work],” he said. “I’ve been a guest poet in other classrooms and shared my work and then got bullied by my own AP English class into sharing. Looking back, I don’t regret it because it helped take the distance between the readers and the poet. I was there and able to answer questions about my own work.” Dunlap received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing with a focus on poetry. He has also been published in several distinguished magazines, such as Image Magazine and the English Journal, which is widely circulated among teachers. Dunlap draws his influence from personal experience and finds that whenever he sits down to write, whatever is most pressing will appear on the paper. “When writing, some part of [your personality] will always comes through,” he said. Dunlap presented his poetry on April 21 at San Jose State University in honor of National Poetry Month along with other poets who, like him, are recent graduates of their Master of Fine Arts programs. Dunlap believes that writing is an essential part of development and self-expression in students. “It helps with communication, and communicating effectively is the most important thing we can teach,” he said.

“For A Student Starving Herself” by Paul Dunlap “As if flesh were a thing you could lose, as if with weight goes fear, risk, the seductive sadness of youth – you flow in with the rest of them as if all of this were expected. But there is less of you each day. You follow the same line to your desk and lean on the steel bar for a time. You lose so much it is as if you are letting the dark inside toil its way to light, the bones rise to the surface of the smooth sheet of your skin, and you must sit up straight, shift, lean. You are a new reminder of anatomy, the intricate fragility of our frames, the magnificent architecture of the skeleton so human, but belonging more to a textbook than the veils of your clothes. Your inside blue begins to glow around your edges, trace your lips, your lids, your finger tips – a slight shadow on the occasional smile that startles the sharp lines of your skull. It is no surprise you ask for the heater even though it is warm already. You come in from the morning fog, sit and start to rattle in your seat as I stand before the class and watch you, although I pretend not to. How can I refuse you? I, who would like to let you settle in and would feed you until you are whole again.” Melissa Sun

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14

Cente

THEORACLE

Team Moitra Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake

Chef Amrita Moitra

1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature 1/8 cup grated orange zest (2 large oranges) 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tbls 1/4 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp kosher salt 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 3 ounces buttermilk at room temperature 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 1 cup good semi-sweet chocolate chunks Syrup: 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice Ganache: 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips 1/4 cup heavy cream 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour six individual serving baking molds.

2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer for about five minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the orange zest. 3. Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine orange juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss chocolate chunks with one tablespoon flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pans, smooth the tops and bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the molds on a wire rack for 10 minutes. 4. Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pans, put them on a rack over a tray and spoon the orange syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely. 5. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cakes.

The Oracle delves into the world of cooking as staff ments, Team Moitra and Team Howard went head

The req

Allowed Ing

Flour, sugar, milk, eggs, chocolate ch cream of tartar, s ries, blueberries a

Secret Ingr

Cinnamon and hon

Time Limit: 2 hours

Judging Crit

Presentation Taste/quality Creative use of in

2.

Sous Chefs

and Josephine Jen

—thefoodnetwork.com

3.

4.

1.

5.

Judges’ taste buds impressed by dish’s creativity and taste Divya Shiv

When I sunk my teeth into Chef Amrita Moitra’s luxurious orange chocolate chunk cake with chocolate ganache and honey orange syrup on top, I was taken aback. Despite my general dislike for anything that tastes like oranges, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the taste and presentation of the cake. The presentation, especially, was superb. The dark colors of the chocolate cake contrasted nicely with the bright orange slice sandwiched in the middle

of the cake, and the ganache on top made me salivate thinking of the rich gooeyness that I would soon be sinking my teeth into. In addition, the cake itself was just sweet enough to satisfy my sweet tooth, but not so overwhelming that I found myself sick of the cake after two bites. However, I found the creativity of Chef Amrita’s cake to be lacking, especially in her use of honey, the secret ingredient. Although Chef Amrita did use honey in her sauce, I couldn’t taste it at all, or differentiate it from the chocolate ganache. Despite this, I think Chef Amrita did a wonderful job with her orange chocolate chunk cake creation. —Shiv, a junior, is a News Editor.

Eugenah Chou

In the grand scheme of things, my palate is easily impressed. In all honesty my PB&J-loving tummy is a simple being, and it can’t be blamed for not being able to tell the difference between a chocolate ganache and a chocolate syrup. But to the hungry stomach there are few things more satisfactory than a chocolatey dessert hot out of the oven, and the first bites of Amrita’s dessert blew my expectations away. The combination of chocolate and

orange slices was a dream come true. It was as hugely satisfying as a dessert could hope to be, as well as exquisitely crafted and visually appealing. However, the dish grew to be a bit overpowering. Towards the end, the sweet chocolate, honey and oranges combination were hard to finish. The glory of this dessert is in the first few bites. I think her dish accomplishes the goal of any dessert: both sweet and tasty. If it were a smaller serving, the dish would’ve been perfected. —Chou, a senior, is a Forum Editor.


15

erfold

Monday, April 25, 2011

aff members compete in a cook-off. With a list of requireto head in order to win over the taste buds of the judges.

gredients:

baking powder, baking soda, hips, vanilla extract, oil, butter, salt, cream, yeast, strawberand oranges.

Topping: 1/4 cup flour 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 tsp cinnamon 3 tbls butter or margarine

redients:

ney

teria:

ngredients

Ashley Ngu (Team Moitra) n (Team Howard)

Blueberry Coffee Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 cup butter or margarine softened 1/2 cup sugar 1 egg 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries 1/2 cup milk

quirements:

s:

Team Howard

6.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together. 3. Cream the softened butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until mixture is light and fluffy. Afterwards, beat in the egg. 4. Place blueberries in a small bowl. Dust with a small amount of the

f lour mixt u r e f r om step 2. Toss until blueberries are thoroughly Chef Mia Howard coated. 5. Add the remaining flour mixture and milk alternately to the creamed mixture. Mix continually for several minutes. 6. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. 7. For the topping, mix the flour, the sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in butter until it is crumbly. 8. Spread the batter into a greased eight inch square baking dish. 9. Sprinkle topping evenly over the batter. 10. Bake for 45 minutes or until the topping turns golden brown. 11. Serve cake warm. —Cheryl Jacob

7.

8.

9.

1. Team Moitra’s creation of the mini orange chocolate chunk is ready to be served. 2. Chef Amrita Moitra stirs her chocolate ganache in a double boiler in preparation for her final product. 3. Chocolate chips are placed into the mixture and thoroughly stirred in before baking. 4. The final mixture is placed into a small bowl before baking. 5. The secret ingredients, cinnamon and honey, are revealed right before the cook-off begins. 6. Chef Mia Howard works efficiently so that she may finish her cake in time. 7. Blueberries are stirred with flour before being mixed in with the entire mixture. 8. The final mixture is prepared in the pan before being placed into the oven. 9. Team Howard unveils its coffeecake, which is surrounded by multiple strawberry slices and a ring of honey.

Seemingly ordinary cake’s taste pleasantly surprises judges Emily Zheng

This blueberry coffee cake was a treat. The warm tones of yellow honey, golden-brown bread, red strawberries and bursts of blueberries blended beautifully together to create an inviting dessert. It was a simple piece of art and simplicity worked its magic. As I took my first mouthful, I found myself drifting off in the sweetness of the bite. I distinctly tasted the blueberries sprinkled throughout the soft bread, melting gently in my mouth. I usually don’t enjoy desserts that are overly

sweet, but this coffee cake surprised me. The blueberry coffee cake created feelings of warmth and well-being rather than the usual uncomfortable tug in my stomach. I especially liked the strawberries coated with honey, which was the secret ingredient. Though both very sweet, the strawberries and the honey worked well together to create a unique texture and taste. The chefs did a fantastic job incorporating the honey into the dessert, though I can’t help but wonder how that honey would taste on the coffee cake itself. Though a tasty and well-presented treat, coffee cake, not to mention blueberry coffee cake, is still much overdone. However, as far as coffee cakes go, this dessert was a delight, and a job well done. —Zheng, a senior is a News Editor.

Sophia Jiang

When Chef Mia Howard and Sous Chef Josephine Jen presented their creation before the judges, my first initial reaction was that the coffee cake seemed like an ordinary cake surrounded by a few strawberries. It was the centerpiece to a ring of honey and half-cut strawberries. The colors clashed a little, due to bright red strawberries and the soft warm brown exterior of the coffee cake. Yet despite the slightly odd presentation, my first bite changed my thoughts on this once ordinary coffee cake. The texture was

wonderful, warm, with bursts of blueberry in each mouthful. It seemed to almost melt in my mouth and the cinnamon meshed perfectly with the sugar. The one drawback I’d say is that it was slightly sweet for my liking. The blueberries had actually been much sweeter than what I had expected. However, this fact did not deter from the overall delicious experience of eating this coffee cake. Also, surprisingly, the strawberries in honey were quite delightful, with a pleasant but foreign mixture of sweet and sour. When it comes to creativity, the coffee cake did not catch my attention at first, but the taste was certainly head-turning. —Jiang, a senior, is a Centerfold Editor.

Photos by Henry Liu and Alan Phan Graphics by Lisa Wu and Alvina Yau


16

Features

THEORACLE

Courtesey of Amarelle Hanyecz

Left and top right: Gunn alumna Amarelle Hanyecz poses with chocolates from her business. Right bottom: The Chic Choc by Amarelle chocolates are all made by Hanyecz.

Alumna launches self-run chocolate business Yilin Liang

Centerfold Editor

Chocolate. It’s a word synonymous with Valentine’s Day and dessert, but for Gunn alumna Amarelle Hanyecz, chocolate is a passion. Hanyecz, currently a sophomore at the University of Southern California (USC), started her own chocolate business, Chic Choc by Amarelle, in May 2010. She decided to start her own business while taking an entrepreneurship class during her freshman year. In a project, she interviewed successful entrepreneur and chocolatier Joseph Schmidt, founder of Joseph Schmidt Confections in San Francisco. Schmidt encouraged Hanyecz to explore a business involving chocolate. “I’ve always been really interested in food,” Hanyecz said. “I

have a strong baking history, but I never thought to make chocolate. [Schmidt] really inspired me to explore more with chocolate as a material. He’s famous in the confections industry and has been an influential mentor ever since.” Her idea further expanded during her involvement in Greek life at USC. According to USC tradition, the sororities and fraternities have semi-formal dinners each Monday night. During this time, new members of the houses deliver presents to houses of the opposite sex. “For Greek deliveries, most people either send really low-quality candy or if they want to show that they really care, they drive to Beverley Hills and buy a box of Sprinkles to send,” Hanyecz said. “There’s really a limited number of options and people try to get creative.” Hanyecz wanted to create a prod-

uct that was high quality, but also easy to give. “I knew that if I had a good enough product, non-Greek USC students, teachers and staff would buy it as well,” she said. Hanyecz makes all of her chocolate by hand. She buys chocolate in brick form, melts it down, tempers it and molds it into the shapes she wants. Chic Choc by Amarelle offers chocolate flavors including Dark Chocolate Orange, Sea Salted Caramel, White Chocolate Mint and Peanut Butter & Jam. In order to find the time necessary to make chocolate, Hanyecz schedules her classes so that she has full days off. She then uses this time to make her product, schedule meetings and deliver chocolate to her customers. She also travels once or twice to the Bay Area each month in order to make large batches of chocolate. She then flies back

to USC with the chocolate and is able to sell her product there. Currently, most of her customers have learned about her business through social networking sites such as Facebook or through word of mouth. Hanyecz also offers customers the option of having their chocolate hand-delivered to them if they are located within a 2-mile radius of USC. For Hanyecz, one of the biggest obstacles towards starting her own business was learning how to make her own chocolate. She had to learn how to properly hand temper, or crystallize, her own chocolate. “Making chocolate is a tricky process,” Hanyecz said. “If the chocolate isn’t properly tempered, it won’t harden or have the right shine.” Despite the obstacles she may have had, Hanyecz hopes to ex-

pand her business in the future. From now until her college graduation, she hopes for her business to become more official by gaining FDA approval so she can sell her chocolate in stores. “I’d love to be able to graduate and fully employ myself,” she said. “I don’t want to take loans or another job. I want to see where I can take my business.” Hanyecz recommends that other students start their own businesses at a young age. “I think it’s one of the best ideas to start as a student,” she said. “You don’t pay for rent or food and you’re not out in the world on your own. Most people also have extra time that they’re not allocating efficiently. I thought I would face a lot of trouble with my age, but people were really impressed when they heard that I had a vision and everyone jumps at the chance to help me.”

Student groups start fundraisers for Japan earthquake relief Anna Qin

Reporter

Recently labeled the world’s most expensive natural disaster on record, the earthquake-tsunami in northeastern Japan inspired many efforts all over the world for the support of Japan. Here at Gunn, various groups and students on campus have also initiated their own fundraisers and events in hopes of contributing to the rescue and rebuilding of Japan. Numerous decorated moneyboxes circulated around campus during International Week, the week of March 10. This project was led by Japanese teacher Yukie Nikida in coordination with the Japanese Culture Club (JCC) and the Korean Culture Club (KCC). “We made around 10 boxes out of recycled shoe boxes and distributed them with club members and those who wanted to help around the school,” she said. “People were very supportive even though we just decided to ask for money and we raised $2,086.” Nikida was also surprised by the immense support the fundraiser received. “We originally planned a raffle draw to attract donations, but it was considered gambling so it couldn’t be done,” she said. “I was so surprised by how

many people who donated that didn’t even ask for a raffle ticket anyway.” As a student organizer, junior Mari Haraguchi wanted the event to help her family and friends as well as improve the situation in Japan. “The situation in Japan’s really tough,” Haraguchi said. “Although Tokyo wasn’t an affected area, there are still scheduled blackouts regularly, and we don’t know when they will stop.” Haraguchi believes that every little bit will help out the people in the middle of the crisis, as well as the country’s rebuilding efforts. “Our fundraiser has been very successful with many contributions from everyone—we’re all very grateful.” All of the proceeds from the JCC and KCC-sponsored event will go to Neighbors Abroad Palo Alto, which will then donate the money to Palo Alto’s sister city, Tsuhiura. “Although Tsuchiura was not in the news, it is close to Fukushima’s nuclear reactors and was affected by the earthquake,” Nikida said. “Tsuchiura usually sends 10 to 12 exchange students to Palo Alto every year, but due to the disaster, it couldn’t happen.” Although she originally intended to donate to the Japan Red Cross, Nikida felt that donating to Tsuchiura would be

more effective in directly helping the Japanese people. “A parent suggested it, and it feels good to know where the money is going and how it’s going to help the people,” she said. Although International Week’s fundraiser was the only large-scale group effort, many individuals have also stepped up to the plate and initiated small-scale fundraisers in response to their personal connections to Japan. Like many others, sophomore Sayaka Yamamoto felt terrified for her family and the people of Japan when she first heard about the earthquake. “My relatives and friends live in Japan, but fortunately they were okay,” she wrote in an e-mail. “But even then, I want to find some way to help out.” Yamamoto found the perfect opportunity and organization to aid Japan in its relief efforts shortly after hearing about the disaster. “I became a Gunn correspondent for a fundraising group that two Palo Alto High School students started on Facebook,” she wrote in an e-mail. “I’ll be selling T-shirts symbolizing Japan and the recent disaster and all funds will go towards Global Giving Emergency Response.” As relief efforts continue to be carried out in Japan, Gunn’s community will continue to show support through individual fundraisers and in spirit.


17

Features

Monday, April 25, 2011

Swapping schools for a day

The Oracle sends two reporters to shadow students and observe at two other Palo Alto high schools

May Wu “Why don’t you introduce yourself then?” “What? Oh, uh, sure,” I said to the beaming Palo Alto High School (Paly) teacher and stood up to see a roomful of curious onlookers watching me. The moment “Gunn” passed through my lips a couple of “ooh”s and exaggerated sharp intakes of breath ensued. The teacher continued, pointedly looking at me, “And you’re only here under the condition that you can only write good things about us, right?” I had to answer honestly: “Uh, not really.” “Awkward,” my host said. The rest of the one and a half hour class period—yes, one and a half hours!—passed quietly, only interrupted with a few reminders to take earphones out and to read Hamlet quietly. After class ended, there was an hour-long advisory period in which my cohorts decided to show me around. And of course, every tour requires a food stop and so we moved on to Kara’s cupcakes. While I munched away on a banana nut crunch, I thought of the discussion on Hamlet and how it had differed from one we would have had at Gunn. The bell rang and we headed back to class. On the way over to a block (Paly’s equivalent of a period) of grueling mock math Advanced Placement (AP) tests, I noticed an unopened box of cereal left on the pavement. I looked

questioningly at my host. He only shrugged, “That’s how we are at Paly, we like to share stuff—like cereal.” I nodded and laughed at the joke. As we entered the class and I was introduced to more Paly students, the friendly attitude of the students kind of reminded me of the ones back at Gunn. After a while of socializing, I joined in on the AP studying frenzy and grabbed an AP worksheet. But as the period dragged on, I began to lose interest in the math problems the teacher had given me and I noticed an inspirational poster plastered on the wall: “Never settle for less than YOUR BEST!” The cutesy slogan had me wondering—maybe Paly students were less pressured to be the best. But as I looked up, I noticed the enthusiasm the students showed solving complicated math problems and how they mirrored my own class, and it made me feel nostalgic although it had only been a day since I’d last been at school. A second glance at the mock AP exam changed my opinion—the problems were harder than I was accustomed to. “I heard that it’s really competitive at Gunn,” a student said. I shook my head. “Nah, I think the competitiveness is pretty even.” I moved on to my third and final class, AP Psychology, and was surprised by the number of hands raised to answer questions and the variety of opinions offered. The class participation totally negated the lack of participation in my first class. The psychology teacher asked if I took Psych and I told her yes. At the end of the class, I could find little distinction between the days at Gunn and at Paly. Maybe we’re more similar than we think. —Wu, a senior, is a reporter.

Henry Liu

The Tower Building at Paly where the main office and attendance office are located.

Henry Liu

Castilleja’s administrative office is the first thing that greets students each morning.

Tara Golshan Lenin died first thing in the morning­—well, almost. He had a stroke, and just as he was about to die, time was up and the 10-person Russian Studies class was dismissed. Stalin had made a good appearance and the dying was left for the next class period. After first period Russian Studies was a break equivalent to a Gunn brunch. The seniors, one of whom was my host, made it over to the Senior Lounge—a small room on the second floor equipped with a refrigerator and couches. It was similar to the Student Activities Center, but it was restricted to seniors and entertained a much smaller number of people. The room was stocked with food provided by all the students, and housed both a failed attempt at a rejection wall and a map pinpointing the college destinations of the whole class. As an outsider who has only ever attended public schools, Castilleja was an interesting experience for me: all girls, 60 students per grade, very small, very focused. In a serious class, there was no room for wandering thoughts. With 10 to 15 students per period, everyone had to be on top of their work and ready to participate. However on the same train of thought, this all very much depended on the teacher. BC Calculus, the class just before lunch, was a good break from the

direct teaching style common at Castilleja. It was much more personal, individualized and, quite frankly, a little off topic. A tangent about the teacher’s upcoming trip to New Zealand took the majority of the class period and, surprisingly, he had no problem with it. To be fair, it was two days before their spring break and many of the students were already off on college trips, but nevertheless, the class did entertain a lighter atmosphere. With such a limited number of students, I could really sense the closeness all the girls had with each other. They might not have all been friends, but they knew each other well. For example, at Gunn, I meet new people in my classes every year, even if they are not new to the school. Something like that is foreign to a Castilleja student. Everybody knows everyone in her grade, making my presence somewhat like a shock to the system. However, my host’s introductions were helpful, and I am sure by the end of it, I had basically met everyone in the entire grade and some. For me it didn’t feel too much like high school, or upper school, as they call it. But then again, I was only there for one day and as an observer. Also, the very tiny sixth graders that also attended the school didn’t help much to the high school image Gunn has left me with. So I ate lunch (chili and salad— although a bad lunch to them, the meal seemed gourmet compared to our hot lunch) ,and I ended the day. As a final note—the bathrooms were very clean, so much in fact, contrary to the Gunn lavatories which I try to avoid, it actually made me smile. —Golshan, a senior, is a Copy Editor.

Spotted on campus: The Rejection Wall

Wendy Qiu

In the span of a few weeks, the right wall of the Student Activities Center (SAC) has turned a blinding white: it’s college rejection season, and the letters are up. Seniors who receive rejection notices from colleges post the letters up for the school to see. The Rejection Wall is a long-standing tradition at Gunn for a few key reasons. “It allows students feeling miserable to have solidarity,” senior Matteo Lieb said. “It really cheers people up.” These letters scattered on the wall are indicative of the competitive admissions process that most seniors go through as they seek a suitable place to continue their education. “As an underclassman and especially as a junior, I didn’t understand them, and sometimes I laughed at them,” Lieb said. “But as a senior, I understand now how the letters on the wall affect the person receiving it. It’s a lot more personal and comforting.” —Jennie Robinson


18

THEORACLE

Features

All-female robotics team celebrates strong season n ROBOTICS from pg. 1

Center located near Moffett Field alongside Bellarmine College Preparatory’s robotics team, with whom they share resources and collaborate. “However, in the end each team’s design decision is its own,” Lai said. “We each make our own individual robot.” During building season, the girls are in the lab everyday for hours. “Working with a small group of girls is great and different,” senior Christina Wettersten said. “With Space Cookies everyone gets a chance to work on almost everything.” According to Christina Wettersten, Space Cookies are also unique in that they don’t represent a school. “If we were a school team, you would usually see your friends on campus,” she said. “For us, some drive about an hour to come to the NASA Lab, so we have to work hard in communicating and keeping everyone together as a team, which can sometimes be a challenge.” The girls are joined in the lab by mentors, guiding figures every robotics team can have. “The degrees a mentor is involved varies from team to team,” Lai said. “We’re lucky Courtesy of Callista Jerman to have mentors from NASA.” For the season, NASA hires Space Cookies members, senior Christina Wettersten and juniors Christina Kyauk and Cara Lai, work on the robot. one mentor and one college student to help the team, and Space Cookies also receive mentors from BAE Systems and in 2-dimensions with SolidWorks first,” Lai said. “It’s a re- Award. Later on, at the Silicon Valley Regional, the team other engineering companies. “They help us with the design ally easy way to test out an idea without actually building ended up as finalists and won the Innovations and Controls process by throwing in ideas and introducing us to concepts,” it.” The team usually runs through several prototypes before Award for the autonomous programming of their robot. The Christina Wettersten said. “The girls are still the ones who deciding on a final design. win at Davis qualified Space Cookies for the FIRST chamreally think about it and come to a decision.” According to Space Cookies are financially backed by Girl Scouts of pionship in the summer. “We haven’t not gone to ChampionChristina Wettersten, the mentors are also needed for the the USA and NASA. Although the Girl Scouts aren’t allowed ships yet, but I’m sure the year will come when we don’t,” safety measures NASA enforces in the lab. Before the season to fund the team directly, being backed by the organization Christina Wettersten said. “However, our team isn’t focused starts, the mentors teach all of the girls safe lab procedures, attracts many sponsors for Space Cookies. Organizations on ‘Oh, we need to win.’ We just want to build a robot and and, later on, operate certain machinery the girls aren’t al- like St. Jude’s Medical Foundation and companies like BAE learn something from it.” lowed to use. Systems offer monetary support, while businesses like Royal The positive attitude the girls apply to competition can be The process of building a robot is a long and arduous one Metal Finishing offer services that include welding and pow- seen in the team’s interaction with GRT. This year, eight girls and begins early in the year with simple discussion. “The der coating, both of which are essential to the construction chose to join the Space Cookies instead of GRT. However, first thing is to develop a strategy,” Lai said. “We talk about of the team’s robot. The team also holds various fundraising according to Christina Wettersten, having two teams in one how we want to play the game and the best way to play the events, such as its annual troop garage sale and Girl Scout school isn’t as troublesome as it may seem. “It’s really not a game.” According to Christina Wettersten, anyone is invited cookie sales. huge issue,” Christina Wettersten said. “We want to be friends to come by and share an idea, no matter how ridiculous or Every member of the team is required to attend two with all the robotic teams, including GRT. It’s all about the crazy. The girls then sort through the ideas and narrow them fundraising events as well as put in 100 hours at the lab in people you get to know that make this fun.” to two or three designs. After finally making a decision, order to be on the travel team. The girls usually attend two The girls prefers keeping Gunn and the team separate. “At the girls being prototyping, or testing out their design. The traveling regional competitions, both of which they performed the end of the day, I still go to Gunn and nobody wants to see team does most of its work using SolidWorks, a mechanical extremely well at. At the Davis Regional, the team won the their own school do badly,” Lai said. “When I’m at competicomputer-aided design program. “I like to design everything entire competition and picked up an Engineering Inspiration tion, I want Gunn to do just as well as we do.”


Sports

Sports

19

Monday, April 25, 2011

1

Time your jump. You need to levitate before the birdie gets to you.

2

Jump high enough so that you can hit the birdie before it starts to fall.

3

Smash the birdie with your racket using your wrist and arm strength. Try to hit the birdie with the center of your racket.

4

Prepare to land with both feet after hitting the birdie.

5

Recover and get back into a steady stance.

—Compiled by Kevin Zhang Info provided by senior Stanley Hung Henry Liu


Sports

THEORACLE

By the Numbers

4.5 widt h in inches of at hletic director Chris Horpel’s beard

13

strikeouts by sophomore pitcher Claire Klausner at the Gunn vs. Monta Vista softball game on March 28

Spring sports continue competing, Junior Michael Rundell runs and holds the ball away from defenders. According to assistant coach Erik Fowle, the season has been a great learning experience for the team. The team currently has a record of 5-6 and plays Woodside Priory on Wednesday at Woodside at 4:00 p.m.

Boys’ Lacrosse

20

We’re always trying to improve and we’re getting better at a lot of things. —junior Jackson Gardner

185

Victor Kwok

1

senior on the varsity boys’ tennis team

131-55

Softball

students on the track team

The smaller numbers help us communicate better with each other. —senior Nicole

s cor e of t he va r sit y g i rl s ’ swimming team at the Gunn vs. Los Gatos meet on April 1

12 events won by junior JJ Strnad at the track meet against Los Gatos on March 30

Jonathan Yong

Juniors Alex Bartholemy, second from the left, and Joe Suh, first from the right, leap over hurdles as they progress down the track. Off to a strong start, the track and field team has a record of 4-1 for both teams. According to senior Reet Moitra, the team hopes to continue being a competitive group. On Thursday, at 3:15 p.m., the team will compete across town against Palo Alto High School.

Gymnastics

—Compiled by Rani Shiao

Jonathan Yong

Boys’ Tennis

El Ca m i no Div ision w i n percentage of varsity boys’ baseball

Grimwood

Track and Field

0.438

Sophomore pitcher Claire Klausner swings towards the ball. The softball team has started off strong with a league record of 6-2 and an overall record of 12-8. According to senior Nicole Grimwood, although the team this year is very small, it is still very competitive in the league. The team’s next opponent is Santa Teresa, played at home at 4:00 p.m.

Wendy Qiu

Junior Chrystal Chern maintains balance on the beam, doing the splits in midair. “This year’s team has many new members,” Chern said. “We’re really happy to see that the team is bigger and even more talented than last year.” So far, the team has only participated in one meet where it placed 4th. The next meet is on Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. against Lowell at Twisters.

Jonathan Yong

Sophomore Ameya Rao concentrates as he returns the ball with a topspin backhand. “I really like the attitude on the team,” junior co-captain Kevin Macario said. “We all enjoy each other’s company, which makes practices and matches more fun and helps us win. We know how to joke around and have fun.” The team has an overall record of 11-8.


Sports

Monday, April 25, 2011

show strong records in midseason Baseball

Junior Graham Fisher stands ready to bat. The baseball team currently has an overall record of 7-8-1 and a league record of 4-4. According to junior Alex Baker, the team has high hopes for the rest of the season to come. The team’s next game is at home on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. against Santa Clara.

Sophomore Cassandra Kent cradles the ball away from the opponent. “I think the season is going really well,” junior Madison Sabbag said. “Although the end scores don’t always show it, our team is getting better and working together. The team has definitely improved from last year.” The team has a record of 3-10 and plays Saratoga on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. at Saratoga.

Girls’ Lacrosse

Jonathan Yong

The team has definitely improved. Last year we finished third, but the incoming JV players are part of a team that handily won the El Camino JV title, so hopes are high. —junior Alex Baker

Swimming and Diving

Wendy Qiu

We’ve had many ups and downs but we’ve really stepped it up. —junior Erika Cagampan

Jonathan Yong

Golf

Badminton

Senior Shelby Newman comes up for a quick breath of air. For swimming and diving, the girls’ team has a record of 6-1 while the boys’ team has a record of 3-4. Both the swimming and diving teams have been performing well. “[The season] is really fun and we’re really close,” junior Rachael Acker said. The diving team has a great team dynamic as well. “We work really well together,” junior Emily Igler said. “It’s easy for team members to help each other out.” The two teams start league trials the first week of May.

Victor Kwok

Junior Stephen Wong swings at the ball. With a record of 5-1-2, the golf team currently holds first place in the De Anza League and is well on its way to success. “The season is going great and so far, it’s looking promising,” senior Andrew Leung said. “In league matches, we’re undefeated.” The team will be competing next against the Homestead Mustangs on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.

Senior Nick Talbott stands ready to return the birdie. The team already has a record of 6-1. According to senior Catherine Wu, the team has a lot more depth this year with a lot of strong underclassmen who will be able to carry the team. “We’re also doing a lot more drills and strategy this year, which is good,” Wu said. The team plays Los Altos next on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at Los Altos. –Compiled by Lydia Zhang

21

The flow of being a lax bro

Ryan Griffiths Although exploding in popularity, lacrosse is still not a well-known sport. Naturally, as many people do not know how the game is played, the sport and its players bring a sense of mystery to the minds of the uninformed. What is certain to any observer is that every aspect of lacrosse marches to the beat of a different drum. As one walks through campus on the typical spring day, they may see many an athlete—not just any athlete—making his way to class with a lacrosse stick in hand: the lax bro. Like any skilled athlete, the master of lacrosse is an intimidating figure—the confusing lingo, the unyielding camaraderie with his team—yet the lax bro has a complex essence about his ways that set him apart from the norm. Like samurai warriors were to Japan in its feudal days, the lax bro is to the sport of lacrosse—the expert. A lax bro is far more than a lacrosse player; a lax bro is one who lives life connected with the game of lacrosse. The lax bro is the moptopped dude in the back of your class who never puts his lacrosse stick down; he is the guy who walks around in a practice jersey when it is forty degrees outside; he is the guy that wears flip-flops until January, and then again in March. The lax bro is the king of the lacrosse field; his players look to him for his skill and humor in times of dire need. With a keen understanding of the game and the world of partying, lax bros leave a crucial stamp on the gurus of today’s society. While it may seem complex and multidimensional to the untrained eye, the essence of the lax bro boils down to one thing: flow. When an individual becomes aware of the flow—what it is, how it moves around one’s self, how it fits into every situation—one truly knows the nature of the lax bro. Then the elements of a lax bro—the natural mop of hair (also known as lettuce), the beach ridden apparel, the laid-back attitude, the easy-going manner of speaking, the insane lacrosse skill, finesse, ability—all fall into place with ease. While it is difficult to explain in words what flow is, it’s easy to imagine in concept. Think of how a Jedi knight harnesses the power of the force in the Star Wars series; the powers of the lax bro are much the same. Like the force in Star Wars, the flow exists all around us, a constant presence—always flowing. The lax bro feels these currents of flow and uses them to get through every situation with unflinching coolness whether it is on the field or another one of life’s less important conflicts. Many go through the entirety of their lives not aware of the existence of the flow around them, but tapping into its energy is what makes the lacrosse player into the lax bro. As the sport of lacrosse gains in popularity, it is inevitable that the ways of the lax bro— connected with the flow of the world around us—will catch on in the masses. —Griffiths, a senior, is a guest columnist.

Melissa Sun


22

Sports

THEORACLE

Heart-related deaths trigger testing

Local professor leads studies on cardiac risk for high school athletes Sarah-Jean Zubair managing editor

In light of recently publicized events involving sudden cardiac-related deaths in high school athletes, Gunn athletes were given the opportunity to participate in on-campus heart testing. The tests, which are part of a research study conducted by Stanford professor Viktor Froelicher, are intended to pinpoint high school students’ risk factors for cardiac illnesses. Sophomore Nikhil Kumar, one of Froelicher’s interns, helps coordinate Froelicher’s work with on campus students. “One of his [Froelicher’s] key interests is in researching cardiological risks associated with professional and college athletes,� Kumar said. “High school athletes have not been the focus of such research—at least not as pervasive as professional athletes—in the past.� It is p erhaps t h is previous lack of attention to high school ath-

letes’ cardiac risk factors that explains why the recent string of student heart-related deaths across the country has been such a shock to the world of high school athletics. According to Kumar, it was the recent reports of cardiac-related deaths in high school athletes that spurred his desire to further his involvement with Froelicher’s research and to bring cardiac testing to Gunn. The on-campus tests, which started in February and ended on March 31, were available to all male athletes. After obtaining parental consent, the participant detailed his medical history in a questionnaire. The participant then underwent a blood pressure test, which was followed by an electrocardiogram (ECG). The data

from the ECG was analyzed for any cardiac abnormalities such as arrhythmia and heart murmurs. Froelicher and his staff will validate the results, and notify the participant of the test’s findings. This awareness allows the athlete to take further action with his own doctor if any cardiac abnormalities are found, allowing him to get treatment. With the data collected from the testing at Gunn, Kumar and Froelicher’s research staff plan to spend the summer analyzing the cardiac risk factors present in students. They will seek to find out if any particular sport has greater cardiac risk associations. Kumar will also compare high school athletes’ data with that of college athletes to assess whether there is a correlation between when cardiac risks become apparent. While anyone can fall victim to heart-related health problems, Froelicher’s research targets male athletes specifically because they undergo greater cardiac strain while participati n g in sports, making them more suscept ible to

cardiac arrest. There is also a greater likelihood for cardiac troubles in men than in women. According to Kumar, young males are five times more likely to have a sports-related sudden cardiac death. Sudden cardiac death (SCD), as defined by the American Heart Association, is “death resulting from an abrupt loss of heart function (cardiac arrest).� The halt in the heart’s functions cuts the blood flow to the brain and other vital organs, causing death in minutes. SCD’s main danger lies in its unpredictability. Often the victim has a heart or artery defect of which he or she is unaware, perhaps not even having displayed any outward symptoms of cardiac problems prior to his or her death. The most prevalent of these “silent killers� is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition wherein the heart muscle is thicker than usual and inhibits the heart’s natural pumping rhythm. Early detection of such problems is key in treating them effectively, especially for athletes, whose physical exertions can easily exacerbate any underly-

ing cardiac conditions. American Heart Association president Dr. Ralph L. Sacco recommends that all athletes take part in cardiac testing for that reason. “The American Heart Association regards cardiovascular screening for athletes as an important public health issue, for which there are compelling ethical, legal and medical grounds,� he said in a recent press release. “We strongly encourage student-athletes and other participants in organized competitive sports to be screened with a careful history, including family history, and thorough physical examination.� The statistics from the cardiac testing at Gunn will be available after Kumar and the rest of Froelicher’s researchers finish their data analysis over the summer. “My hope is that we have a heart healthy Gunn athletic community, something that can be easily provided by the screenings I’ve been conducting,� Kumar said. Over 100 Gunn athletes were tested between Feb. and March 31. George Hwang

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23

Sports

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sisters support each other in athletics Jesse Klein reporter

Sisters Erin and Sarah Robinson share more than just curly brown hair and the same last name—they are both star athletes who excel at a multitude of sports. Both girls participate in track and cross country, while freshman Sarah devotes the remainder of her time to a third sport, soccer. Last year, senior Erin placed first in Central Coast Section (CCS) for the 3200 meter race. Earlier this year, Erin placed second in CCS for cross country while her younger sister managed to win both All-League and All-CCS. Sarah also played on the varsity soccer team this year. “We both started in [American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO)], but [Sarah] started in kindergarten and I started in first grade,” Erin said. Although Erin eventually quit during her sophomore year, Sarah has stuck with the sport, never forgetting her inspiration. “[Erin] started AYSO when I was three and I wanted to be just like her,” Sarah said. Sarah played on the varsity team this year as a forward and is currently on the national team and travels all over the world for tournaments. Once soccer season was over, Sarah joined her sister on the track team. Erin first started running with her parents in middle school and joined a track club; three years later, Sarah joined the same track club and the sisters have trained together ever since. “We try not to pressure them,” track coach Matthew Tompkins said. “We focus on the small daily goals and the big ones work themselves out.” The Robinson siblings are known for getting into friendly competitions, but helping each other succeed is still their top priority. “We get really competitive,” Erin said. “It was good having her on cross country this year because we both push each other to do better.” Even though Erin no longer plays soccer, she still coaches and practices with her sister. However, more of a rivalry can be seen in track. “She’s older so I expect her to win but I always try really hard to beat her,” Sarah said. “It makes us better.” According to Tompkins, the sisters have a good, fun-loving relationship, but the typical antics between siblings still occur. “Sometimes, Erin has to draw the ‘I’m older so you need to listen to me card,’” Tompkins said. Erin admits playing the same sports can sometimes make it feel like the two are a package deal. “In cross country people started noticing that we finish really close together,” Erin

said. “But in track we do different events so it’s not really an issue.” Should Sarah decide to follow the same path as her sister, the option will always be available. “We want people to do what they want to do,” Tompkins said. “If in the future Sarah wants to focus on track more like her sister then we are more than willing to help her.” Both sisters want to continue their sports in the future and reach the next level. “I know Sarah would love to go to the Olympics for soccer,” Erin said. “But I’m just focused on running in college right now.” Erin is currently deciding between University of California Los Angeles and University of Southern California. “They are both in the Pacific Ten and have strong running programs,” Tompkins said. “She will have an immediate impact on either team.” Although the sisters have differing goals, they still try to help each other and want to see each other succeed. “We have a pretty close relationship,” Erin said. “I would say that [Sarah] is my best friend.”

Courtesy of Erin Robinson

Courtesy of Erin Robinson

Melissa Sun

Melissa Sun

Top: Sisters Sarah and Erin Robinson pose together after a stunning victory. Bottom left: Erin races to the finish line in the 2010 cross country state meet. Bottom right: Erin and Sarah are having fun during their track warmup.

Charles Liu Some of the most vocal leaders of today’s society have preached acceptance and inclusive communities. Unfortunately, these values are often left behind when it comes to joining a school sport, where cut sport policies prevent students who want to participate in athletics from exercising and competing. A more advantageous option is no-cut sports. No-cut sports provide students with opportunities to develop physical and social skills that will greatly benefit them long after their sports ventures have come to an end. With sports participation, students will be able to build lasting fitness skills that will help ease the increasingly problematic health problems that are overcoming our country. Allowing students to take part in sports will give them more time to exercise rather than sit at the computer or on the couch. A 2000 study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine showed that students who participated in sports were more likely to retain healthier habits, such as eating a wide variety of food and avoiding drugs. No-cut sports also teach students skills they would not easily be able to learn outside of a sports team. Participating in a group sport builds teamwork and allows

students to develop responsible work ethics. Also, students will be able to find supportive social groups that help them build self-esteem and have more respect for their own achievements. A study by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association in 1995 found that athletes performed better in school than non-athletes. The average grade-point average of athletes was almost a full point higher than that of non-athletes. Students who participated in sports also showed a dropout rate of less than one percent, compared to nearly nine percent for students not on sports teams. Sports participation has been shown to relate to better academic performance, and giving students the opportunity to take part in sports has resulted in overall improved academics. Many people contest that no-cut sports will detract from training the most talented athletes. Coaches, however, can focus on developing the athletes with the most potential while still opening the opportunity for others to participate in a school sport. This allows the more focused athletes to achieve their goals and other students to reap the benefits of participating in sports. Although not all sports can be nocut, students should take advantage of those available to them. Simply participating in sports will allow to students lead happier and healthier lives. —Liu, a freshman, is a reporter.

CON

PRO

Student athletes debate validity of no-cut policy Boot Bullwinkle The athletes that participate in no-cut sports are at a significant disadvantage compared to the athletes of cut sports. With so much teaching and guidance needed for the athletes who are not at the required level of their sport, the more talented athletes are left to fend for themselves, rendering them unable to reach their full potential. In no-cut sports, anyone who wants to can join and be part of the team regardless of skill. This allows students who are “just in it for the prep” to join the team. They half-heartedly go through the motions and drills just to avoid their physical education classes while simultaneously depriving the real athletes of attention from coaches. Allowing these types of kids to join the team wastes coaches’ time, their teammates’ time and their time. Some people argue that no-cut sports allow kids the opportunity to try new things. If a student really wants to try something new, then the student’s effort alone will shine through. If the coach thinks that the student doesn’t have the necessary ability to participate in the sport, then he should tell the students. This ensures that the student doesn’t waste his or her time trying to reach a goal that he or she can’t achieve. Instead, he or she could use this time to discover or

explore other things that he or she may have a talent for. With cut sports, students are given the maximum chance for development. It organizes a sport that takes the kids with best mentality and the best physical skills. It highlights the importance of teamwork. In almost all of the no-cut sports, besides football, the events are mostly comprised of individual efforts. However, when one person doesn’t fulfill his or her individual requirement to the best of their ability, he or she drags down the whole team which may have completed its own personal feats. In order for a sport to become a team that is held together by the glue of teamwork, everyone needs to have an equal commitment, which cannot be achieved by no-cut sports. Students who happen to be particulary gifted in academics need an equal amount of instruction as students who are behind in their studies do to improve. Sports are the same way. The gifted athletes need as much attention as the lesser skilled athletes. It is possible for both types of athletes to reach their maximum potential, but if athletes are not in it for the right reason, then they drag down the entire team. In some schools, kids aren’t able to play their sport. Luckily, Gunn has the equipment and coaches necessary for our no-cut sports to thrive and succeed. However, the efficiency and skill of our teams could be greatly increased if there was a filter. It does not have to be strict, but just restricting enough so that the people who are “just in it for the prep” don’t drag down the program. —Bullwinkle, a sophomore, is a reporter.


24

THEORACLE

Distressed denim

Entertainment Animal Print

High-waisted shorts

Combat Boots

As seen on campus:

Spring Fashion

Asaf Rotman Junior

Maya Joye Sophomore

Cuffed Jeans Geometric-printed sweater Dad’s closet

“I just do my own thing and try to look fresh.”

Dark wash jeans Levi’s, $50

Printed dress Empire Vintage Clothing, $25

Woven belt Mom’s closet

Basketball Shorts “I like to dress cute and fun with a splash of crazy.”

Beaded sandals Zappos, $30

Knits

Brown Nike sneakers

pickyourshoes.com, $95

—Compiled by Samantha Donat, Tiffany Hu and Hannah Plank-Schwartz

Photos by Samantha Donat

Ankle Boots


Entertainment

Moday, April 25, 2011

The Oracle investigates modern addiction to technological gadgets

25

Get to know your gadgets

Are today’s technological inventions as useful as they claim to be or are they making life more complicated for society? CON

PRO

Linda Yu

Emily Yao

Jesse Klein

Is it challenging for you to listen to your iPod and run at the same time? Do you ever lose your phone when you need it the most? Fortunately for you, new ideas and designs could provide some solutions for these problems in the future. Erick Sauxedo, an industrial designer, came up with a design for a new kind of listening device in March: the Shell MP3 player. The earbud is modeled after a seashell, paying homage to the peaceful ocean waves that can be heard with one, and it is designed to fit perfectly and comfortably in one’s ear. In addition, the device is wireless and the headphones are built-in, so when listening to music, one does not have to worry about the earbuds falling out. The transfer of music to the device is easier than transferring songs from iTunes to an iPod. Simply insert a memory card into the slot and the music will be ready in no time. More portable and even lighter than an iPod or MP3 player, the Shell MP3 player is fit for people who love listening to music while doing physical activity. To save the time spent on activities like laundry, Louis Filosa came up with the Electrolux Renew, the futuristic washing machine that speeds up the laundry process. All that one has to do is “swipe” the piece of clothing like a credit card between the steam blades, and the clothes will immediately be clean and wearable. In addition, the Electrolux Renew has radio-frequency identification sensors that detect the materials, and, using that information, recommends the best ways to clean the clothing. Without having to research how to take care of one’s clothes or spend more than an hour doing laundry, the Electrolux Renew will do everything for you. Finally, to avoid wasting time looking for a lost phone, Alexey Chugunnikov designed a phone that is conveniently rolled into a watch: the Rollerphone. At first, the Rollerphone looks like a futuristic watch that projects the time onto the wearer’s wrist. However, on the other side of the wristband, a flexible, transparent screen can be rolled out and used to make phone calls. One can even watch videos, listen to music and play games on the screen. With its modern and convenient attributes, the Rollerphone will eventually replace phones, iPods and MP3 players. Instead of having to bring multiple devices, the Rollerphone truly embodies all-in-one. Even though these inventions are just concepts at the moment, they will help society in the future.

The world is dependent on technology. Just try meeting someone without a cell phone. Try getting information about a small independent movie that came out in the 1990s without using the Internet­—it’s hard. The score of a March Madness game without the iPhone app? Running without iPod music? It’s impossible to go through one day without needing to use at least one if the technological inventions that have become intricate parts of our daily lives. Most of these inventions have made life easier and more efficient, but even technology can somtimes go too far and become insipid. Do you really need an alarm to tell you when to eat? A Japanese inventor created an alarm-equipped fork that goes off when it’s time for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack time. Have we become so busy that we don’t even have time to listen to our own stomachs? Along with the alarm-equipped fork is the self-turning spaghetti fork. This motorized fork spins at the press of a button and the fork coils the spaghetti on your plate without even an ounce of energy exerted by the consumer. I think we have discovered the root of America’s obesity problem. If we are so lazy that we can’t even spin the spaghetti on our own forks, there is no way we are going to get the needed 30 minutes of exercise every day. The next category of dumb inventions is scientists trying to recreate the technology from science fiction movies. An example of this mimikry can be found in 1963 when Hugo Gernsback invented TV glasses. Sounds cool, right? Like something out of Star Trek—but, frankly, it just looks really ridiculous. Not only would the wearer be unable to see anything in front of them, but the antennae sticking out of the sides resembles those of a bug. The last invention takes a simple problem and makes it complicated. Ever have a new book with stiff binding doesn’t bend back easily? Now instead of bending it back yourself you can use the Thumb Thing, a thumb-like ring that pushes the pages back for you. This is again more proof that America’s are looking for even easier ways to do the simplest of tasks. Technology helps most people. The problem is when we start wanting and expecting technology to do everything in our lives. If this trend continues we will all be sitting in our rooms with a robot living our lives for us.    — Klein, a senior, is a reporter.

Vs.

— Yao, a sophomore, is a reporter.

Faces in the Crowd

Rank your dependence on technology from 1 to 5, with 5 as most dependent.

“I’d say 5 because everything I do involves technology.” Eric Xue (9)

“3. People who rely almost solely on technology probably have smart phones and laptops and I’m not like that.” Michael DePass (11)

“0, because I’m really selfsufficient and if you put me in Man vs. Wild I’d obviously win.” Peying Lee (12)

—Compiled by Tiffany Hu

It happens at home. It happens at school. I am sorry to say that you may be guilty. When you turn on the news or listen to the radio, you will likely hear stories of murder and crime, amongst other tragic incidents of assault and injury. But there is one case that has been neglected and left in the dark corners of unattained justice. Though these victims ceaselessly work for us and help make our lives easier, they are often subject to a cruel and unusual punishment. Ladies and gents, I am speaking of computer violence. Search in your soul and admit to yourself—have you yelled at your computer before? Have you cursed at it, sworn at it, or given it the finger? Have you hit it, perhaps forcefully? Have you kicked it? Or worse, have you ended its life? Imagine it, sitting forlornly on your desk, waiting for you each day to jab your fingers at its slick keyboard. You stare into its screen, but you are not looking lovingly at it—you are looking past its glossy screen and into worlds of virtual reality. You may think Gunn’s academic pressure creates a competitive and stressful environment, but think about the pressure your computer undergoes. While you complain about your teachers and parents expecting you to try your best and achieve great things, you turn around and expect perfection of your computer. It freezes for a millisecond, and you are already on the edge of your seat, glaring at it and threatening it with battering insults and accusations. Think about it. Have you ever complimented your computer before? Have you once praised it for staying up with you all night, allowing you to type up that five-page paper, or for offering a platform for you to chat with your friends or pour your thoughts out on Tumblr? Your computer has helped you achieve emotional balance, yet you batter it with damaging remarks to its self-esteem. And even so, it has nowhere to turn. It can’t go to a counselor, and it’s so busy serving you it has no friends, especially since the one person who always uses it never bothers to acknowledge the importance of its presence. No wonder it crashes from time to time. Please learn to take care of this creature. It too, needs to hibernate. It too, needs to sleep. Sometimes, it needs a refresher—let it restart. It is also susceptible to viruses, so please, monitor the content you feed it. You may have overloaded its memory with some unnecessary applications or programs—clear it of its burden. Give it a chance to function at its optimal condition and prove itself to you. I admit, I once committed such acts of computer violence. But really, the same moral laws of humanity should apply to our treatment of computers. Physical and verbal abuse will never solve any problems or make your computer work faster. Do unto thy computer as you would thyself. So next time, be patient and give it a gentle stroke and a smile. — Yu, a senior, is Editor-in-Chief.


26

Entertainment

THEORACLE

Reality shows reveal best, worst of society Secret Millionaire Divya Shiv

W

News Editor

hile other reality TV shows deal with people getting into catfights, getting drunk or just acting plain stupid, Secret Millionaire is a show that highlights the plight of people living in impoverished cities in America and features the work of people who are trying to make a difference in their community. In the show, a multi-millionaire is sent to live in an impoverished city for a week. This “secret millionaire” goes under-cover and finds worthy causes to donate

a minimum of $100,000 of his or her money. For the first five days of the week, the secret millionaire looks at many different volunteer opportunities and organizations so that, on the last two days, the secret millionaire can reveal to the people in charge of the organizations that he or she is a millionaire and is going to donate some of his or her money to help their organization. In the first episode of season two, secret millionaire Dani Johnson met with many people who were in charge of a variety of organizations, from an organization that redecorates the rooms of children who are terminally ill to a soup kitchen called The Love Kitchen where two elderly women serve and deliver free homemade food with love and affection to people in need. In the end, Johnson

donated $100,000 of her money to all of the causes that she learned about while helping them over the course of her first five days. Although each episode is set in a different city and has a different secret millionaire, every single episode is capable of bringing tears to the viewers’ eyes. The greatest thing about the show is that instead of purely showing viewers the plight of different people, it also shows people being helped by the donations of the secret millionaire. While the amount of the donations are small to the secret millionaire, the look on the people’s faces when they receive the money is pure happiness. In a time when many shows feature unrealistic, soap-opera style drama or inappropriate behavior, Secret Millionaire is certainly refreshing to watch.

Toddlers & Tiaras

Shedding for the Wedding Elaine Liu

R

Lucy Oyer

business Editor

ecently, the entertainment segments of Hollywood have exploded with an excess of reality TV shows that provide almost zero viewer satisfaction. Combined with the latest trend of weight loss programs, the concept of being fit is being warped into a race for some convoluted and twisted prize at the end of a tunnel. In all honesty, I do not have anything against the idea of losing weight or becoming a healthier individual. But TV shows like Shedding for the Wedding have gotten it all wrong. Shedding for the Wedding is a entertaining series in which engaged couples compete against each other to lose the most combined weight. Throughout the episodes, the couples participate in ridiculous tasks to win different parts of their wedding dream, including bridal dresses, invitation cards and silverware to serve on their “big day.” It seems sweet that these couples are putting so much effort towards their wedding, except that the love and romance of the situation completely evaporates into shallow physical wants. When one couple gushes over its victory of the perfect floral arrangement, the fiancé says, “It’s almost become like a celebrity wedding, things you only see on TV.” Since when did a ceremony that is meant to promise love and a life of happiness turn into a need to throw the most glitzy and glamorous party? Many of the couples on the show do not even need to spend weeks trying to fit into a dress just one or two sizes smaller than before. As usual, there is a wide range of contestant sizes, all slightly over the average weight line. But some of these couples appear to be only several dress sizes above something you or I would wear. Nor is it necessary to be spending so much thought and energy into winning silverware or invitation cards used by Hollywood stars. Marriage should be about the people involved and not the thousands of accessories used during the wedding. Shedding for the Wedding just further enforces the idea that reality TV has commercialized every aspect of American lives, even the most important declaration of love.

T

Top: Jersey Shore, a show that has gained popularity exponentially. Middle left: Dani Johnson, participant on the show Secret Millionaire. Middle right: Sara Rue hosts the reality show Shedding for the Wedding, in which candidates compete for a dream wedding. Bottom: In Secret Millionaire, millionaires visit impoverished cities for a week incognito and donate money.

Jersey Shore Monica Cai

A

Courtesy of Lindsay Cronin, Dani Johnson and Golda Poretsky

Sports Editor

nyone who owns a television has heard of Jersey Shore. A show created in 2009 by ingenious executive producer SallyAnn Salsano of Music Television Network (MTV), the reality series follows the crazy lives of eight housemates living together in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Every Thursday night, a new episode featuring the latest bar brawl or drunk hookup airs, capturing the attention of eight million viewers nationwide. While the show isn’t exactly the classiest series, it is without a doubt good reality television show. Jersey Shore has received a lot of criticism for supporting

the Italian-American “Guido” stereotype, portraying New Jersey in a negative light and encouraging excessive use of tanning beds and sprays. The cast members are crude and lack a certain amount of dignity at times, and their daily routine of sleeping through work and drinking until the sun comes up isn’t exactly the healthiest lifestyle. However, the eight housemates are extraordinarily talented at doing exactly what television is meant to do—provide entertainment. Every episode is like its own soap opera; the amount of petty, albeit hilarious, drama that circulates through the house exceeds even that of a middle school dance. Every cast member is outrageous in his own way—they’re like Saturday Night Live performers without the parody. The quirks and eccentricities of each housemate makes every one of them ridiculous, but one can’t help but love all of them after watching a few episodes. Yes, Snookie eats deep-fried pickles and doesn’t

Reporter

he competition for “most revolting reality show” is fierce. However, TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras could very well take first place. The show profiles young girls (and, on occasion boys) as they navigate the world of child beauty pageants. Cameras follow three contestants throughout the week preceding the pageant as they prepare and compete. Viewers are invited to watch as the girls are spray-tanned, fitted for fake teeth and forced to repetitively practice their “routines” for hours until they are perfected. While some of the children are very into the pageants and are just as fierce about winning as their parents, other children seem to want to enjoy a normal childhood, and have to be coerced and bribed with promises of money and toys. Not only are the over-the-top beauty products appalling, so are the morals that the parents instill in their young children. The message the show sends, that beauty is everything, is certainly not something that should be taught to kids. By judging girls based on categories including facial beauty and modeling, it becomes ingrained in the children’s mind that being beautiful is a must and that if she loses the competition, it is her own fault for not being pretty enough. With all that said, probably the most objectionable part of the show is the sexualizing of the young contestants. A majority of the pageants feature a “swimsuit” category in which the little girls run around the stage in skimpy bikinis striking various risqué poses. Not only that, a large proportion of the other outfits the girls wear would be something you would expect to see on a Las Vegas showgirl, not on a four-year-old. The show is an unbiased portrayal of child pageantry but one has to consider the fact that by paying the families to appear on the show, TLC is essentially endorsing pageantry. Some of the things the parents do to their children, such as forcing a 5 year old to have her eyebrows waxed, is bordering on child abuse. Watching this show means supporting this controversial industry, which is just unacceptable.

like wearing underwear, but that’s what makes her so fun to watch. The housemates have even spurred new slang, like “grenade,” which is an unattractive woman and “G.T.L,” which stands for gym, tan and laundry, both terms which are frequently heard around campuses in Palo Alto. People often forget that television is just television—watching the show doesn’t change the viewer as a person. If that were true, tanning salons would be overflowing. Television is simply meant to entertain, and no show does it better than Jersey Shore. Furthermore, a lesson or two can even be picked up from watching the series. For example, don’t drink until you puke and don’t get in a relationship with someone who describes herself as the “sweetest bitch you’ll ever meet.” Jersey Shore may be seen by some as a horrible show lacking taste, but let’s face it. It’s so bad, it’s good.


Entertainment

Moday, April 25, 2011

27

#@$% You Auto-correct (The Oracle Version!) Students spend so much time on their phones these days, it’s no wonder some things get lost in translation. Have a laugh looking over students’ funny and auto-corrected text messages.

Wendy Qiu


28

Entertainment

THEORACLE

Highp owere d vocals, catchy songs, insane music videos, and crazy style. These are a few things that may pop into your mind when you hear the name, “Lady Gaga.” The 25-year old songstress truly embodies the avant-garde spirit of music: she designs most of her outfits with her style team, Haus of Gaga; she writes all of her lyrics and melodies and performs all of her synth work. In a few short years she has conquered more music milestones than most artists ever dream of. However, before the fame and fortune, the crazy style and opinions, before she was “Lady Gaga,” Gaga was simply another girl grow-

ing up in New York City. She was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta on March 28, 1986, the eldest child of two Italian-American parents. Gaga showed her talent and interest in music early when she learned to play the piano by ear at age four and was performing at open mics by 14. However, despite her artistic interests, Gaga attended a Roman Catholic school in New York City through her teens. “I didn’t fit in, and I felt like a freak,” Gaga revealed in an interview with Intouch Weekly magazine. After waiting for someone to recognize her band, “The Stefani Germanotta Band,” Gaga was finally signed to Def Jam records at age 19, but was quickly dropped three months later after failing to produce any recordings. Gaga was then discovered by music producer Rob Fusari. Together they produced her first single, “Boys, Boys, Boys,” a mashup inspired by Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” and AC/DC’s “T.N.T.” Fusari is credited as giving Gaga her iconic name; when she walked into his studio, he would sing “Radio GaGa,” by Queen, comparing her vocals to those of Freddy Mercury’s.

Gaga’s debut album, The Fame, combined different genres of music and became a worldwide hit. It won a Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album. “[It’s] about how anyone can feel famous,” Gaga states in her official website biography. Gaga’s second album, The Fame Monster, was released in Nov. of 2009. The title is self-explanatory: the darker side of fame and fortune, a “fame monster.” In her famous bloody 2010 VMA performance, she opens with the line, “Amidst all the flashing lights, I pray the fame won’t take my life.” Each song contributes to the theme of a “fame monster.” Gaga became the first artist to have three singles pass the 4 million mark in digital sales. Many of her music videos including “Alejandro” and “Telephone” have become wildly popular and controversial, earning her the title of first artist to receive 1 billion views on YouTube. Both of Gaga’s albums received 6 Grammy nominations each. Gaga has been featured on many magazines including Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and V, and she was chosen by Barbara Walters as one of the “10 most fascinating people of 2010.”

The Secret Life of the American Celebrity Making a splash in the music industry, 23-year-old singer, song writer and composer, Mike Posner, most widely known for his radio hits “Please Don’t Go” and “Bow Chick Wow Wow” was born in Detroit and raised in Southfield, Michigan. He graduated from Groves High School and went on to attend Duke University in 2005. In high school, Posner was already developing his musical style in his basement, dubbed the “Lab.” He had a close circle of high school buddies, and when they left to attend their respective colleges, Posner’s friends made sure his music was heard. They played his songs at house parties, requested them at clubs and directed others to his website. Soon, colleges around the area began booking shows. At Duke, Posner released three mix-tapes from his dorm room: Reflections of a Lost Teen, A Matter of Time and One Foot Out the Door, as well as participating in the Sigma Nu fraternity. Soon after their release, Posner hired his manager, Daniel Weisman and in 2009 Posner signed with J Records, who also signed musical dynamos Alicia Keys, Leona Lewis, Jamie Foxx and Pitbull. In an interview, he joked that the excitement interfered with finals and caused his then 3.7 grade point average to drop down to a 3.59. However, Posner was still able to balance his budding career and school successfully. Posner finished his classes at Duke early which allowed time for him to work on his first album. Posner continues to promote his school by wearing Duke apparel in his music videos and is currently touring the nation as one of America’s top rising stars. Kimberly Han

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that all NorCal rowers look up to the singer Kesha, literally. In the rafters above the team’s weight room, there hangs a cardboard poster of Her Glitteriness, in all her glory. The exact reasons behind the presence of the poster aren’t exactly clear, but one thing is unquestionable: her music has taken the entire world for an exciting, self-described “garbage-chic” joyride. Kesha Rose-Sebert, born March 1, 1987, originally planned to attend Columbia University to study psychology. In a move that she would later describe as “crazy,” Kesha dropped out of her high school International Baccalaureate program to turn her attention to her music career, which disprovres anyone who thinks she is an idiot. In doing so, she would soon meet Dr.Luke, who was working with Flo-Rida at the time. During the interviewee process, Flo-Rida duly informed Dr.Luke that he wanted a female vocal on his single, “Right Round.” Kesha happened to be at the right place at the right time, and the song would soon climb to No.1 on the Billboard Top 100 Charts. “When I first heard my voice on ‘Right Round’ on the radio, I started screaming and crying,” Kesha said on her website, keshasparty.com. By the age of 18, Kesha was a full-fledged member of Dr.Luke’s label. Her first single, “Tik Tok,” quickly became the best-selling single album of 2010. “I’m working really hard to make this happen, and it’s nice to see that hard work pay off,” Kesha said in an interview. A real life rags-to-riches story, Kesha has experienced extraordinary poverty and doesn’t take her success for granted. “Three years ago, I was stealing canned vegetables from a dollar store just to survive,” she said. “Now, I’m on a No. 1 song.” —Compiled by Josephine Jen, Jennie Robinson and Steve Yang


The Oracle (April 2011)  

April 2011

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