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[insert title here]







The Asian Syndrome Banned Books Week The Split Decision What’s Wrong With Missiles? Top Ten Coolest Things in StarWars The Bane of Our Education Faces, Stereotypes, and the (LASA) Populace Wireless: Bound and Fined Best and Worst Presidents The Stetson The Orange Balloon Anti-Fast Food Jump Page


6 9 10 12 16

Hamsini S. Michael W. Lydia L. Hamsini S. Aaron S.

18 Lydia L. 22 Hamsini S. 26 28 30 31 33 35

Aaron S. Lydia L. Michael W. Aaron S. Michael W. Michael W.



Lydia L., 14-year old Chinese LASA student, was born in downtown Austin. She enjoys looking at pictures of hot Asian guys and bothering other people with incessant conversation. When asked about her favorite experience while working with the staff of [insert title here], she remained silent. Presently, Lydia is content making average grades, living an average life, and reaching average standards. Lydia often enjoys laughs at other people’s expense, especially the editors of this magazine. She does not want to become a doctor, contrary to popular belief. Lydia’s contributions to [insert title here] include: “The Split Decision” and “Best and Worst Presidents”

Hamsini S. is a 15-year old girl who seems to be your perfectly average Asian, but she’s not. She’s a complete soccer geek with a mouthful of (sometimes) mean words. Despite her standoffish attitude, deep down she has a good heart. Hamsini’s contributions to [insert title here] include: “The Asian Syndrome”, “What’s Wrong with Missiles”, and “Faces, Stereotypes, and the (LASA) Populace”. In her spare time, she enjoys playing soccer. One day, she hopes to become an aerospace engineer, which sounds nerdy but is actually really awesome. Her favorite part about working on this magazine was making fun of Lydia L.

Michael W. is a highly regarded member of the geek society at LASA. Although he seems to be a self-contained loner at first glance, he’s anything but that. On a typical day, he can be seen in Ezine with his head on the table, a leather jacket, and gallons of imaginary coffee floating above his head. His favorite things to do in Ezine include listening to techno and dreaming of how good it would be to take a nap. Michael most enjoyed collaborating with the other authors of [insert title here], especially on those important team decisions that involved “creative arguments” Check out his captivating article “Banned Books Week”, about illegal books, in [insert title here].

Aaron S. is a 13 year old freshman at LASA. As a vegetarian, he tends to be a major advocate for anything beneficial to the Earth. His least favorite part of working on [insert title here] was complying with A.I.S.D. censorship. However, he did enjoy researching to write his articles, which include “The Orange Balloon”, “Wireless: Bound and Fined” and the ASF “Top Ten Coolest Things in Star Wars”, which actually required only prior knowledge. Aaron is highly opinionated on most political issues, so it is best to mention anything government-related to him. Aaron enjoyed working on (and manipulating the development of) [insert title here]. aaaaaaaaaaaaa

From the Editors This magazine was created with the intention of bringing random knowledge to otherwise ignorant intellects. Originally, we had an idea to focus the theme of our articles on schoolrelated subjects, but after finding it difficult to do so, we changed our theme to include everything and anything random. Our title, [insert title here], was initially a temporary name that we would use to complete assignments, but eventually, it stuck. To this day we do not know if this is because we took a liking to it after a while or if we were so averse to thinking of something else that we just kept it. It was most likely a combination of both. And with that, we hope you enjoy the first issue of [insert title here]!



Every day, hundreds of Asian children are subject to mindless academic torture from their parents. If we are to preserve the phsychological well-being of these children, we must fully understand their plight.

The Asian Syndrome

A By Hamsini S.

fter three stressful tests at school that had left my brain-cells traumatized, I received my final report card. The results were in, and I was ecstatic to find that my scores had all managed to stay just above the brink of a B. Once home, my parents and I performed the ritualistic “opening of the report card”. I quivered with excitement, waiting for them to shower me with praises. This, however, was not to be the case. Their faces stolid, my parents hit me with the truth. A is for “average”, and next time, I would just have to clean up my act with Apluses. It was after this episode that I realized that I deserved justice, and that Asian children across the world deserved it too. After all, why should I be subject to such rigorous academic expectations when really, I should be savoring the sweet joys of childhood? With firm resolution, I decided to investigate further into this matter.


Art by Jordyn M. The Asian Syndrome: An Asian child suffers the consequences of making a measly A-

Most Asian parents would probably argue that the lofty goals they set for their children provide an impetus to the drive for success. Unfortunately, they fail to mention that what they perceive as success is rather different from what the rest of the world thinks as success, which is graduating from college. Here is the accurate Asian definition of success: Success [suh k-ses]- (noun) Obtaining the prestigious career position of a doctor or lawyer, after having attended school at nowhere less elite than MIT, Harvard, or other Ivy League schools. For related definitions, see AFFLUENT. A prime example of the repercussions of not adhering to the above definition is my life. Very recently, my parents and I attended a family reunion, otherwise known as a conglomeration of gossipmongers. Everyone from aunts to grandmothers to seventh cousins thrice-removed gathered in a circle around a small coffee table and began discussing the recent events in their lives. I, too, joined the group after finishing a round of cheek-pinching relatives chirping about

“How tall you’ve become!” The circle was moderately light-hearted and upbeat until one of my distant great-aunts turned to me and with an expectant smile asked, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” The whole crowd of people grew silent, as this question is a decisive factor in whether or not I would be disinherited by my parents according to the answer I gave. In this case, the “correct” answer would be any respectable career that averaged a sixfigure salary, i.e. doctor, lawyer, high-ranking engineer, etc. I decided to be unconventional and provide enough gossip for years to come. “I want to be a soccer player,” I stated firmly, being completely honest. After an awkward three-second silence, the crowd erupted into chaos. The events that occurred after this are now a blur in my mind. Suffice to say that my parents whisked me away from the scene as quickly as possible, and my social interactions in the following two weeks were quite literally, nonexistent. Sadly, I am not the only one to endure bizarre situations such as the one mentioned above. Many Asian children across the world are going through equally difficult, if not worse scenarios.



The minimum grade before failing in Asian terms.


The minimum degree Asian children are required to achieve.

100% The average grade expectation of Asian parents.

As if that weren’t enough, Asian parents have come up with a set of “consequences” for those (rare) situations where their children come up a bit short. For example, I once had a friend in elementary school named Lauren* who made a 97 on a science project because she misspelled the word ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis’ in her cumulative report. I did not see Lauren again till high school. I believe to this day that she was locked in a broom closet and made to write the word that she misspelled as many times as it took her to spell it correctly. This shows the extremes to which Asian parents resort to mold their kid into the ideal MIT or Harvard clone. They also believe that attending an Ivy League school automatically guarantees you a millionaire’s income. I would like to point out that plenty of people have succeeded in life by not going to an Ivy League school, or even by dropping out of school (Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard University and then co-founded Microsoft and became rich, although Asian parents would probably frown upon him and tell their children, “Don’t be like that man. He could have been richer if he had stayed in school.”). Here, we come to the ironic part of the issue. Asian parents overwork their kids so much that when it comes time to apply for college, their academic ability may be great, but socially, they are outcasts. They do not achieve the goals their parents forced on them simply because they studied too much. It is quite a disadvantage when someone asks you what your name is and you start reciting the mathematical properties of the alphabet. The social awkwardness of Asian children is a common thing and can be seen in schools



The minimum number of figures in salary after graduation.



The minimum acceptable SAT score of an Asian student

across America. For example, a few months ago, I was invited to attend an end of school year dance. The evening was proceeding uneventfully until a latecomer entered the room. The latecomer was an Asian, and he went unnoticed until a group of kids began discussing MySpace. The Asian student suddenly became very excited and jumped headfirst into the conversation, almost hyperventilating as he enthusiastically talked about the new spectrophotometer pictures he had recently uploaded to his online photo album. Needless to say, the Asian student became the laughingstock of the school. It is a well-known fact that perfect Asian children do very well on their SAT, performing just at the level where their parents expect them to be. What is not as well-known, however, is that their parents are actually standing over them while they study the nights before the test, warning them that if they slipup, the new solar-powered calculator they received for their birthday will be not be returned to them. With threats and stress like that, it is no wonder that Asian students are so serious about their grades. Something has to be done to stop this atrocity because Asian children are the future of America. It is possible they may even invent a piece of technology with a fancy scientific name that is particularly useful for diverting rogue meteors from hitting the earth, which according to CNN, might happen in the year 2014. If their mental and emotional stability is being put in jeopardy by their overreacting parents, we must take action quickly. For all you know, your life depends on it. Ω *Name has been changed for individual’s safety


Banned Books Week Censorship isn’t just a thing of the past. Michael W.


very year, thousands of librarians, bookstore owners, and volunteers will get together to protect and to celebrate the right of all Americans to read. Banned Books Week takes place every year in the last week of September, with the goal of drawing attention to censorship around the country. Displays of banned books are set up, read-ins are planned; there are posters, buttons, a manifesto; enumerable websites and blogs write about it. To some, it begs the question: Why is all this necessary? Book banning is something that only happens in Stalinist Russia or Medieval Europe, isn’t it? It could never happen in this day and time, in the USA, right? Wrong.

In the sense that there are no government sponsored book bonfires, and in the sense that a book can no longer be made dangerous or very difficult to obtain, banning of the extreme sort doesn’t happen anymore. But censorship marches on, in public and school libraries, as well as in classrooms themselves, in the form of book challenges. A book challenge is a formal request for a book to be removed from a library or class reading list, and they happen daily in the United States. Between 2001 and 2008, the American Library Association reported 3,736 challenges. This equates to 467 challenges in a year, or a little over one per day. Thanks to the actions of librarians and community members, most of these don’t result in bans, but the ones that do result in the book being removed from the library or classroom, and becoming inaccessible to those who lack the resources to buy it. Let’s back up a bit, to the basic Constitutional issue of it all. The first amendment guarantees us the right to read and write whatever we want. As Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. said in Texas v. Johnson, “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”(Continued on pg 36)

(Some of)The Books of Immorality, Heresy, and Damnation • • • • • • •

Animal Farm by Geore Orwell The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck The Peaceful Pill Handbook by Philip Nitschke and Fiona Stewart Rights of Man by Thomas Paine Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie



The Split


When LASA students walk into the LBJ High school building, they immediately walk toward the staircase. It’s not that the first floor is shunned and ignored at all costs, it’s just that LASA isn’t downstairs, it’s upstairs. Ten years ago, the building only housed one school but it included two programs. In 2007, though the building officially housed two schools, the decision that caused that change is now nicknamed “The Split”. Liberal Arts and Science Academy, is a school where kids across the city are gathered together to achieve a certain degree of academic achievement. Because of the nature of the campus, consequences were sure to follow. Now, two years later, many of those issues are still around. But these issues are different from a teacher’s point of view are also different than what students know through experience, rumors and upperclassmen. From Maricruz Aguayo-Tabor’s, point of view, the split was beneficial. “Keeping it as a school within a school meant that we had to work really hard to know where our students were and what they needed to succeed,” said Aguayo. The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills or TAKS, scores had to be self-examined and redone by the teachers in order to get information on how magnet


students were doing on standard testing. The split was able to help out many teachers in terms of planning the curriculum and knowing how to best serve magnet students. Because of the known fact that the two programs’ missions were so different from each other, this was an issue when the magnet program was part of LBJ. Such differences led to disagreements in terms of what should be taught, future goals, and how best to serve the students of both programs. “We have a mission; the school district gave us a mission,” Says Aguayo. “We needed to know where our students were, and for that to happen they needed to be taught by our teachers and that wasn’t happening before. To teachers, if the split did not occur, then many of them would not have been able to fully teach their students every topic that would have proved helpful in the building of knowledge.” “The main is issue that students disagree with is the lack of communication between LASA and LBJ students. Because of this, there are certain stereotypes maintained between the students that wouldn’t otherwise exist. “LASA has a lot of diversity, you don’t have to look at a kid’s skin color or their last name or ethnic background,” said Aguayo. “I don’t think that’s diversity.




A Terrible Misfortune? By Lydia L.

In a school where there are two schools, problems are bound to arise. But in this type of environment, students are still able to learn efficiently. The question is can students still learn efficiently in the midst of chaos.

The Two Schools At A Glance: It’s about a multitude of experiences to draw form not just a group of people who’ve had a different experience than how you had it.” At the heart of it, stereotypes do remain, but there is no actual strong dislike, just an inability to understand because of how the two schools work. Misconceptions, given the school’s current situation, are unavoidable and irresolvable. With little communication between the schools, there’s seems to be absolutely no way anything pertaining to stereotypes or misconceptions can be extirpated. Tensions also contribute to the problem the stereotype issue. Although there isn’t any form of tension based on like or dislike or malice, there are tensions based on special usage. Another would be how to continue traditions

if the school is already split. Because there are two schools and one theater or one gym, sharing the space and keeping tradition alive proves to be an issue. Stereotyping and the maintenance of these stereotypes is a problem. While these problems can only be solved by time, in the meantime many can be comforted by knowing that there are no volatile actions toward students from different school based on misconceptions. The last fight between the two schools for example, which happened a couple years back, was between two girls and one boy. “I mean it wasn’t even about tension or stereotypes, it was about two girls fighting over a boy, says Mrs. Aguayo, what do you do?” Ω

“Shared Facilities” * The Cafeteria * The Gym * Athletic Teams * The Theatre Dept. * Swim Team * Building * Library * Dance Team

“Facilities/Classes Not Shared” * Teachers * Classrooms * School Scores on TAKS * Electives * Lunch Times * Everything not listed.



What’s Wrong With Missiles?

The ups and downs of life in a foreign country.


By Hamsini S.

Tara McHale Marin in 2009


LASA freshman Tara McHale Marin was only nine years when a group of security guards surrounded her and her family in England’s Gatwick Airport. “They pointed guns at me, and I was a little kid,” Tara remembers. “All I did was walk into the airport with beautiful Bosnian missiles!” Tara describes the story in detail, explaining how she first obtained the missiles (actual working missiles) on a family trip to Bosnia. She then proceeded to travel to England (via Spain) with the weapons on hand. When she arrived at Gatwick Airport, she was stopped by guntoting security personnel who forced her to leave the missiles in their possession. Tara’s sole reason for these actions is that she loved the missiles and intended to distribute them as souvenirs once home. Tara’s exposure to various foreign countries often spawn interesting experiences, such as being held at gunpoint and bringing missiles into an airport. She has interacted with people of various ethnicities, trekked for miles on mountains in remote places, and has been exposed to the plethora of sights and sounds that the

Traveler: “It’s so beautiful!” Tara said when she reminisced on her life in Nicaragua.

world has to offer. Despite all these exciting international escapades, Tara has always had a special place in her heart for Nicaragua, where she lived for eleven months of her life. “It’s so beautiful!” says Tara, her brown eyes misting over. “I told myself when I was living here in America that I would never like Latin America because I would have to listen to Mexican music all the time, which made me not want to like Latin America. When we got there, I felt like it was my home, as corny as that sounds.” However, Tara did have some experiences in Nicaragua that she deemed unpleasant by her standards. She vividly remembers visiting a beach that seemed eerily idyllic. “Corn Island Beach is the creepiest island in the world; it’s so Barbie-like! The beach is that perfect! Perfect sand, perfect blue house on a hill, it’s just that perfect.” Tara still remembers how living in a foreign country helped her grow as a person. She specifically recalls how she found the differences in poverty levels between Nicaragua and the United States to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. “We think of homeless people as people who don’t have a home but can still buy things. Homeless people in Nicaragua die,” says Tara. The government, she says, plays a big role in the growth of the massive homeless population of Nicaragua, and she believes that the economic infrastructure of the country is precariously perched on stack of corrupt political leaders who are incapable of efficiently running a nation. Living in Nicaragua also helped Tara gain the insight and experience of a person who has been exposed to a foreign country, and interacting with a multitude of racially different humans has appealed to her love of learning. “You understand more people; you under-


stand where they come from,” Tara muses. “You see these people and their way of life.” Tara attributes this revelation to her extensive traveling. She believes that with every small encounter she has with relation to a different ethnicity, she learns something new. As Tara speaks, her hands wave about frantically in the air, as if to communicate every word she was saying through sign language. Tara exhibits this habit as she comments on the economic stability of Nicaragua and laughs as she describes local “businesses”. “Most businesses, or old ladies, are just those same old ladies selling juices in plastic baggies with straws sticking out of them,” she says. Tara was not always this cheerful. When in Nicaragua, she suffered from many medical conditions, such as scoliosis, hypermobilia, and amplified pain. These conditions limited her movement and interaction within the community. When speaking about Nicaragua, Tara always manages to steer the interview back to the subject of hospitality. She specifically remembers one incident that showcased the altruistic nature of the Nicaraguan people. “I was going to stay with my family in this guy’s house. We went to the wrong bus and walked the opposite way we were supposed to be going. We were walking on a tiny dirt path for two hours with our suitcases on the bad side of the mountain. Then a guy stopped us and said we were going the wrong way and that we had a two day walk ahead of us to get back. The guy offered us to stay in his cabana shack. He was a hospitable guy.” Nicaragua will soon be joined by other countries on the list of places Tara has lived. Next year, her family plans to move to another foreign country, although the whereabouts of this nation are unknown to Tara. Although she’s determined to live in a


“You understand more people; you understand where they come from.”


single country for more than a year, Tara acknowledges the benefits of moving to foreign countries. “Living in the United States, the media plays a big spin on the rest of the world, making it seem dangerous to leave here,” she says. Tara believes that her experiences in Nicaragua have changed her perspective on the socioeconomic liabilities that other countries appear to have become. She is aware of the fact that while the standard of living in other countries are not necessarily as high as in the United States, the citizens of those countries are more than happy with the way they live. Tara is grateful to the exposure she has received in terms of culture and tradition. “When I have experiences that are incomprehensible to what I’m used to, I get a heart-floppy feeling,” she says. “I get a sadder heart floppy feeling when I think of them taking away my missiles though.” Ω

A Day in the Life of Tara in Nicaragua 6:30 - 7:30 AM

Wake up

8:10 - 9:00

Eat Gallo Pinto (a rice dish) for breakfast

9:00 - 12:00

Climb Mombacho (a stratovolcano in Nicaragua)

12:00 - 12:05 Eat Nacatama (meat in plaintain leaves) for lunch 12:30 - 2:00 2:00 - 5:00

5:30 - 6:00

Swim in Lake Nicaragua Studies (read textbooks) Ride bikes in town

6:00 - 7:30 Eat Vigoron (a Nicaraguan salad) for dinner 7:30 - 7:50 7:51 - 9:00 9:00 PM

Walk back home Volunteer at local children’s shelter Go to sleep

Places Visited by Tara While in Nicaragua “A tourist-oriented town that offers volcano surfing.”

“Lots of garbage and an imbalance of rich and poor citizens, but very beautiful.”


“Has a huge central commons area and many old churches. Contains many historic museums that exhibit natural anomalies.”

Tara’s most treasured memories of her life in Nicaragua are from traveling to forest-like places such as the Nicaraguan Highlands. The Nicaraguan Highlands are located near the Nicaragua/Honduras border. Known for producing world-famous coffee, a quarter of these lush highlands are used for agricultural purposes, making this region a major contributor to Nicaragua’s agriculture-based economy. The Nicaraguan Highlands are home to an abundance of exotic wildlife, such as toucans, macaws, jaguars, and capuchin monkeys.

Picture Courtesy of Kaldi’s Coffee


Top Ten Coolest Things in Star Wars The Light Saber A blade of plasma contained in a force field, the light saber is the most iconic symbol of the Star Wars saga.

The Force The Force is an energy field that flows through all living things. Various groups, such as the Jedi or the Sith, used the Force for their respective puposes, such as service or domination.

The Jedi Founded 25,783 years before the destruction of the Death Star, the Jedi were an order of peacekeepers dedicated to the protection of the galaxy. After the Order’s destruction in the Great Jedi Purge, Luke Skywalker rebuilt the order as the New Jedi Order.

The Sith The first Sith Lords were outcast Jedi, banished for their usage of the Dark Side of the Force. Often making use of mercenaries and bounty hunters to do their dirty work, the Sith nonetheless drew great pleasure from combat, and never more so than when dead Jedi were involved.



You get the idea.

Yoda Easily comparable to an witty green bouncing ball with a light saber, Yoda was the strongest of the Jedi Masters, instructing many Padawans in his years. - Master Dooku, that would be a FAIL.

Star Forge The Star Forge was built ten thousand years before the formation of the Republic. Drawing on the dark side, it corrupted the Rakatan “Infinite Empire” that made it. It was later rediscovered by Darth Revan, and destroyed in the Battle of Rakata Prime.

Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader A Jedi Knight of the Old Republic, Anakin fell to the dark side and served the Empire for twenty three years. He was later redeemed on the second Death Star.

The Death Stars Planet-killing battle stations built to enforce the “Tarkin Doctrine” of rule through fear, the Death Stars proved surprisingly prone to having proton torpedoes shot at their reactor cores.

The Stormtrooper Effect Just picture a The Stormtrooper Effect states that generic antagonists don’t harm “Stormtrooper Fail”, the main character(s). This is used in movies and books to explain and you get the idea. why large numbers of enemies are beaten by the protagonist. Ω




Each student within the public education system is subject to the strenuous and yet boring ritualistic processes associated with TAKS. Each of us wonders whether or not hope is in sight....


Baneof Our

by Ashley Art

Education By Lydia L.



According to the TEA, this year 87 districts within Texas, using their TAKS scores were rated unacceptable compared to 32 districts from year 2008. Also according to the TEA, the number of academically unacceptable districts increased to its highest level since the start of the accountability system in 1994. This system pulls together a range of information on student performance based on TAKS scores, attendance rates, annual drop out rates, completion rates and combines it all together to form an annual AEIS report of the state (TEA.) Knowing this, we see that despite the TAKS supposedly being simply an indicator for student education, it has become more than that. In face, in order to increase the state report card, a annual report evaluating a State’s academic progress, bonuses are allotted to principals for student academic achievement as a motivation strategy (Austin Independent School District.) On the other hand, despite the increase in academically unacceptable schools, there is still good news. TEA reports that the number of exemplary schools have increased from 43 in 2008 to 117 this year, sadly, these numbers are overshadowed by the decline of both acceptable and unacceptable school.



o students grades 1-12, TAKS has a totally different meaning than Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. To typical grade-level students, TAKS isn’t just a poor assessment of what they have accumulated throughout the year but also a hindrance to those who want to move on to the next grade. According to the TEA, TAKS is used to compare schools with other schools both within the district and outside of it as well as track the progress of a school in comparison to previous years. Using this comparison, many schools such as Pearce and Reagan face a possibility of being shut down if they’re not already, due to not meeting state standards for standardized testing as reported by KVUE. In order to ensure the success of student education in Texas, the TAKS should be reevaluated, changed or completely removed from public education. A good candidate for an assessment test could be the Iowa Te s t i n g of Basic Skills. If TAKS continues to be the deciding point of each grade level, then more students will not be eligible to go down the career pathways that they want to. TAKS has the capability of causing unnecessary stress on students. Everything rests upon this one test. Subchapter A of the Texas Education codes states that each student be given three chances to pass the TAKS; if they do not pass any of the three tests, then they must be held back. Because of this, many students are not able to learn the things they want to learn such as 9th grade biology instead they’re stuck in 8th grade learning something that would not even arouse the slightest of interest. These students are instead subjugated to learning and relearning material for the sake of passing on test which is only meant to be an assessment of your knowledge and skills. But how can one student learn the curriculum for the next year if the basics of this year are not even solid? It stands to reason that in this aspect, the TEA is correct. In other words, knowledge is like building and each grade level is a floor. If one floor isn’t built well enough, then it is impossible for it to support the floor above it.

“According to the TEA, this year 87 districts within Texas, using their TAKS scores were rated unacceptable compared to 32 districts from year 2008.”


During each testing period in the spring, many teachers must take the time to review specifically for the test. This means that one month before TAKS, teachers must halt their planned lessons and begin cramming the minds of their students with TAKS prep. What was designed to be a test that would assess you based on what the teacher wanted to teach you throughout the year became just the opposite. Instead, teachers must fit their curriculum to the TAKS, taking some topics out of their plans in order to allow time for cramming. The only classes spared from this prep time are elective classes such as art or Phys. Ed. which go on as usual. For example, last year while in U.S. History, I was not able to get the change to do an in depth study of Supreme Court cases and debate them because my teacher had to take time away from the unit to study TAKS history question. If I were able to have learned what was taken away from me, then I would have learned more about the dif-

ferent eras of my country and the decision and bias involved in those eras. Just because an in depth study of Supreme Court cases is not testable, doesn’t mean what is testable is useful and helpful in our lives. The damage has already been inflicted upon those who graduated under TAKS circumstances. But that doesn’t mean Texas can allow more students grades 1-12 to suffer from extreme stress, low test scores which adversely affect self esteem and the robbing of ones own education. Each and every person’s education is tailored to their own personality and goals. Education should be about what you want to learn and what will help you improve your life and not something mandated or tested by the government.

Therefore, I believe the Iowa Testing of Basic Skills, ITBS should be a candidate for the replacement of the TAKS. This test is used solely to report where you are in your learning and does not have anything to do with whether or not you will be able to advance to the next grade. For the sake of education and the sake of learning, TAKS should not be mandated in public education. Without TAKS, student life would just be about him, what he wants to learn and how he likes it. In this way, students will grow up not suffering from the hindrances of a poor assessment test and strive to be something that they choose to become. Ω



f a c e s , s t e r e o t y p e s a n d


t h e L A S A

p o p u l a c e



*It seems apparent, stepping into the Liberal Arts and Science Academy, that stereotypes are prevalent throughout the student body. Here, we explore some of the individuals that make up these social categories.

The Video-Game Geek is a very antisocial individual. It is not commonly seen associating itself with the LASA populace, and would rather be left alone to fiddle with various technological items to pass the time. This individual is sometimes regarded as a “nerd”, but this is a common misconception. The Video-Game Geek normally prefers to be known as a “geek” because it feels that the word epitomizes its reason for living.


The Asian is a common individual, typically seen in the library with a pile of books. The Asian is most comfortable where there are many productive things to do, such as reading, doing difficult math, and conducting lab experiments. Often mocked for its unique appearance, the Asian is a valued part of the LASA populace.

The LASA Outcasts can be seen skulking around the outskirts of the school building. The outcasts are generally timid, quiet students who fear the social cyclone that buffets the remaining student body. As in the case of this photograph, they do not believe themselves photogenic and prefer to avoid the camera.

The subject of this photograph is known as the Drifter. These individuals tend to seem eternally sleepy, but occasionally spring alive after heavy doses of caffeine. The Drifter enjoys the musical offerings of techno and disco, and is often offended when the two genres are confused with each other.


The Gangster is a social anomaly at LASA, and is not often seen wandering the halls. The Gangster has the unusual habit of talking in a strange, garbled manner, sometimes speaking with a distinct slur. Many times, the Gangster can be seen frantically attempting to pull its pants back up, due to the fact that it frequently wears extremely large pants that seem to not fit quite right.


Art by Aiyana T.-S.

“School Policy: Students must pay to obtain all confiscated electonic devices.”

Wireless: Bound and Fined Your infallible district has done it again By Aaron S.


f you, dear reader, will permit me to go on a monologue concerning one of the many banes of existence, I will do so now. My tolerance of the current District personal electronic device policy has worn very thin, and I would like to take this opportunity to address its many problems.

using PEDs should be enforced, I believe that the public education system is going about it the wrong way.

I have several issues with the current policy that I feel have particularly important flaws. Number one is the fine itself. With so many schools containing hundreds of students from “economically disadvantaged The current system that is in place consists of this: families”, a monetary fine is a punitive measure that a device (defined as a item that electronically displays is unreasonable simply because it is cost-prohibitive audio or visual information, or allows for communica- to many students. This favors students from wealthier tion via radio waves) can be confiscated any time it is families, going directly against the image A.I.S.D. out in sight, a fifteen dollar fine must be paid for its re- has tried to create for itself. The other problem is turn, and, if this is not done within 30 days, it is “dis- the lack of an alternative. Even if a potentially deadposed of”. This mixture of authority, desperation, and ly weapon is confiscated at an airport, the traveler the shear ephibiphobia (yes, that’s a real word) of any- has the option of transferring it to checked luggage one who thinks it is enforceable or acceptable is stag- or mailing back to themselves. To say that a school gering. While I will agree that certain consequences for


would be inconvenienced by offering alternative measures is absurd.

about it. That is not only acceptable; it is cheaper than disposing of them anyway. Finally, allow teachers and administrators to teach and administrate, not be I am also quite averse to the policy of disposing of lowered to the level of highway robbers. With the isunclaimed devices. While it is reasonable to expect that sues listed here resolved, I think that the rules would the device shall be returned during the 30 day time lim- be much more effective, less controversial, and more it, I do not believe the District has the right to dispose conductive to a non-disruptive school environment. Ω of these devices. While confiscated, these devices remain private property and the District cannot “dispose” of them without providing “fair and just compensation” as stated by law. This would mean paying for the device. <Insert angry and indignant comments here> The third complaint I have is the fact that the administrators and teachers have a finite amount of time that could be better employed elsewhere. We have students flirting and kissing in the hallways outside of class, which is far more disruptive than a cell phone. I know of one incident, related to me by a teacher, where a phone was confiscated when it was taken out to check the time, which is about as disruptive as a clock on the wall. If a phone is not making or causing others to make audible noises, it is not disruptive. Making out in the hallways, on the other hand, is very disruptive, particularly since I am rarely, if ever, involved. For the reasons listed above, I believe that A.I.S.D needs to revise its policies concerning the confiscation of personal electronics. The first thing that needs to be changed is fine, which could be resolved by having the student pick up the device at the end of the day in the office. For “repeat offenders” to have a lunch detention would be a more appropriate punishmnt. This will give them an incentive to keep the devices away, and offers a punishment fair to everyone. If a device is unclaimed by 30 days, mail it to them and forget

Flawed A.I.S.D. Policies Policies Contained in:

Education Code 37.082 and Penal Code 46.01(3)

1. A “paging device” is a telecommunications de-

vice that emits an audible signal, vibrates, displays a message, or otherwise summons or delivers a communication to the possessor. The term does not include an amateur radio under the control of an operator who holds an amateur radio station license issued by the Federal Communications Commission. It's in: ham radios are cool again!

2. For purposes of state law, “firearm” shall mean

any device designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily convertible to that use. No mention of electron beam projectors, I see...

The Policies As They Currently Stand AISD allows the use of cell phones and other personal electronic devices during lunch period and any time before or after school. These are the only times electronic devices are allowed to be used inside the school building. If these time limits are not complied with, the student whose device is being used during a prohibited time slot with have their device confiscated, and the owner of the device will be required to pay $15 to the school to obtain their device. Teachers and students do find ways to circumnavigate these rules. Often, teachers and students are seen surreptitiously checking their cell phones in hallway corners and inside jacket pockets, and while iPods are “prohibited”, the rules concerning electronic use are sometimes bent in their favor.



The Good

Franklin D. Roosevelt George Washington Ronald Reagan Abraham Lincoln Lyndon B. Johnson THE

Best & Worst Presidents Andrew Jackson

George W. Bush Grover Cleveland Millard Filmore 28

The Bad

Richard Nixon

*The presidents listed were categorized based on research done by the members of [insert title here] and reflect only the opinions of said members, not factual evidence.

George Washington

As first president of the U.S. 1789–1797, George Washington kind of started a new thing. He new a thing or two about the word enough, officially proving this by declining his large salary of $25,000. At the time, he was considered by many to have qualities that practically no other president would ever have. Washington was also not part of any party in hopes that this would not form to prevent political chaos among Americans.

Art by wallyg

Nixon was the only president in the history of the U.S. to resign the office. He served from 1969–1974. He escalated the conflict of the Vietnam War and involved himself with the renowned Watergate scandal. Everyone makes mistakes, but trying to cover up what you do doesn’t seem like the right thing to do, now does it?

Richard Nixon Art By Wofford Archives

Ronald Reagan By obtaining legislation to stimulate growth, curb inflation increase employment and defense. He embarked upon a course of cutting taxes and Government expenditures and improved the American standard of living. Although the country was met with a large deficiency due to his large vision, he still persevered through trials. Overall, the Reagan years saw a restoration of prosperity, and the goal of peace through strength seemed to be within grasp.

Art by B. Tse

Andrew Jackson, by establishing the historic Trail of Tears and initiating the depopulation of the Cherokee Indians, it is blatantly clear he’snot exactly a peacekeeper. By his hand millions of Indians have died despite having every right to remain in the land they themselves established. He also used his veto power and his party leadership to assume command. Not only did he disrupt the delicate power balance of the nation, he wasn’t exactly ones personal favorite president of the century.

Andrew Jackson

Art By wallyg



The Stetson The first thing you notice when you enter room [find #, replace] on a typical workday is the atmosphere. The only sounds are of laid-back chatter and the hum of computers. There is no teacher in the room. This is where LASA’s award-winning yearbook is made. According to LASA online, The Stetson has won many of the top awards for high school yearbooks, including the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Silver Crown, and is consistently chosen to appear in Taylor Publishing Company’s yearly compilation of the top 5% of yearbooks it publishes, The Yearbook. But the awards aren’t what motivate the yearbook staff. The hardworking team of students is just committed to making a yearbook made to the very best of their abilities. “We don’t even know about the awards, really,” laughs Allison Harper, a writer and designer for the Stetson, as she walks to the plaque-covered back wall to find information about the yearbook’s various honors. Harper asks another student if she knew any of the names of the awards. She shrugs and walks over to give a friend some design advice. Many students think that you have to go to


LASA to be on yearbook, but actually it’s one of the few classes that the schools share. “It’s useful because it helps us cover both sides since the yearbook treats it as one school.” Harper commented. “It’s a pretty relaxed class,” Harper says. “People just have their assignment, what they’re supposed to design or write, and we work independently.” The students’ independence is one of the most striking things about the yearbook environment. Mrs. Elbom, the journalism teacher, has very little involvement in the later stages of the class. “Ms. Elbom isn’t so much a teacher as an advisor. She offers us guidance and teaches us the fundamentals and we build off that,” Harper explains. But as laid-back as it may seem, the staff are still serious about their work. “When we start getting closer to deadline it gets a little crazy. Everyone is rushing to make their work perfect. Yearbooks are important since people are going to buy them and keep them for the rest of their lives, so we try to make it good, you know,” Harper says. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun being involved in an organization that makes such a difference.” Ω


The Orange Balloon By Aaron S. “A nice, big, orange balloon that I could blow up" said Betsy Pirie. "It cost a full nickel.” Betsy is describing her experiences during the 1918 flu epidemic. Her mother bought her the balloon to exercise her lungs and, hopefully, protect her from the flu. With swine flu widespread across the country, many are looking to the 1918 flu to see what might be in store for us today.

able for treatment and prevention of symptoms.

“I don’t remember the boy very clearly, but I remember the conversations of the parents when he caught the flu and died, and they talked so much about the young person dying, and he wasn‘t young. He was nineteen years old. That seemed quite old to me.” This may have seemed old to a seven-year old The current “swine flu” and the 1918 flu have Betsy in 1918, but this is the age group that is usumany characteristics in common. They are both influ- ally affected least by the flu. In both flu pandemics, enza A subtype H1N1. They both disproportionately an unusually high number of deaths occur in young affect young, healthy people. And they both suck. people with strong, healthy immune systems. In most of these cases, the immune system overreacts and Luckily, there are many things the pandem- attacks all cells in sight. There is also a higher rate ics do not have in common. For one, the govern- of death among young children, who have not yet ment is not imposing wartime censorship to raise moral and is instead actively pursuing a vaccine. There are also many more medicines avail-


developed an strong immune system to begin with. While blowing up an orange balloon may not have protected her from the flu, her mother was ahead of her time in a different way. She never let Betsy, or anyone else in the family, share cups or eating utensils, and always had them wash their hands. While we have such things as Tamiflu, antibiotics for treating pneumonia, and soon a vaccine for swine flu, such items were unavailable in 1918, and things like hand washing were the best way to protect yourself from the flu. However now, as then, we still do not have a cure. Luckily, the response from the government has changed considerably since 1918. In the 1918 pandemic, the government tried to hide the fact that there was a disaster, going so far as to call it the “Spanish Flu”, to shift blame away from North America. Now, with the swine flu, it is doing far more to stop the disease, and is actively acknowledging the origin point. This is one factor that could help prevent another disaster. “To exercise my lungs. By blowing it up.” “That’s what my mother thought. That it would keep my lungs more active.” Perhaps this is why we want to know about the past. When dealing with a virus that is a near clone of one that left two-thirds of the world infected and three to six percent dead, we want to do more than blow up balloons. Ω

A: Flu cases for every 1000 people per age group. B: Deaths for every 1000 people per age group. C: Fatalities for every 100 infected people. Graphs courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.



Anti-Fast Food Michael W. When the empty plot of land a couple blocks east of my southwest Austin home started to be developed, the first stores to move in were the usual suspects. There was a Costco, a Supercuts, a Baskin Robin’s and three different banks. None of these strip mall staples generated much local interest. But construction went on with at least muted interest from residents in the possibility that they wouldn’t have to drive as far to get a haircut or buy groceries or cash a check. Everything continued as normal. That is, until the sign went up outside the combination A&W-Long John Silver’s that it was going to be torn down and replaced with hometown favorite P. Terry’s Burger Stand. The original P. Terry’s fits the ‘Burger Stand’ label perfectly. A tiny drive-through and walk up on South Lamar, it more closely resembles a Sno-cone trailer than a McDonalds. P. Terry’s nonetheless gained large popularity by appealing to Austin’s socially conscious hippy demographic. P. Terry’s promoted itself as “Anti-Fast Food.” Their mission was to provide all of the fast, with none of the chemicals, preservatives, and mistreat-

ment of animals. P. Terry’s uses locally grown organic vegetables and grass fed beef, and all of the ingredients are delivered fresh several times a week, facts which P. Terry’s touted successfully. But the new location is a big box about four times the size of the original, sharing a parking lot with a Quizno’s and a Bank One, and some people wondered how P. Terry’s would fare in the transition to the suburbs. P. Terry’s didn’t disappoint. Sporting the same fifties-throwback design as before, the new location is everything the old original was, only bigger. Their delightfully simple burgers are as delicious as ever, with a peppery patty, lettuce tomato, and their signature special sauce (and onions and pickles free on request). The quarter pounder is a solid $2, especially con-


sidering the fresh ingredients P. Terry’s pays extra for. The french-fries are cut in house daily and fried in 100% canola oil for a great potato flavor, set at $1.45 for a large bag. Other notable items off the menu are the chocolate milkshake (made with Hershey’s syrup) for $1.85 and the delicious, if crumbly, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie at 92 cents. P. Terry’s continues to do thriving business due to a winning combination of low prices, good food and for-


ward thinking policies. Their first few attempt as expansion have worked out well, and I think P. Terry’s is well on its way to becoming an Austin fixture. Ω

Jump Page (cont. from pg 9) the government still cannot prohibit others from reading it. But book challenges still happen, and it is still because people object to ideas in them. Nowadays, the majority of book challenges come in the noble guise of trying to protect someone – usually children – from the “harmful” information that books contain. This is where organizations like Parents Protecting the Minds of Children (the name alone is enough to make me cringe) come in. The mission of groups like PPMC is to petition libraries to remove materials that they think is unsuitable for children. PPMC complies lists of books that they think should be removed because of sexually explicit material, including Forever by Judy Blume and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. They frequently state that they aren’t book banners, but they have a right to choose what their children read, and they want to exercise it. While they are correct to say that they have a right to decide what their children read, PPMC left out one crucial detail – their right is to choose for their children, and only their children. When parents try to take a book out of a library, they are no longer protecting children; they are trying to remove ideas that they don’t like. And that’s what it usually comes down to: people using book challenges and the façade of protecting children as a way to remove things from the public discourse. Some of the reasons that books are challenged can even be interpreted as flat out lies. The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson, for example, was challenged in May of 2007 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma because it contained “no moral fiber” and was called by Angela Rader, the parent who challenged the book, a “sexual free for all” It was sited as being unsuitable for the age group, teenagers 12-18. Having read The Bermudez Triangle, I can say that it contains no explicit sexual content. There is kissing. There is hand holding. There is no sex. And while I don’t know what “no moral fiber” is supposed to mean, I think what it refers to is this: the two characters that kiss are both female. The real reason that Bermudez was challenged was homophobia. The thing about people that carry out book challenges is that many of them haven’t read the

books they are trying to get banned. They merely read a few highlighted, out of context passages that make the book out to be evil, and sign on. As such, they usually care little about the literary quality of the books they try to remove, and focus solely on the idea they want to eradicate. This has led to an absurd list of books, sometimes banned for incredibly arbitrary reasons. The highlights: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger have been favorites of censors and have been challenged and banned dozens of times between their publications and the present. Neither Grapes of Wrath’s Pulitzer Prize nor Steinbeck’s own Nobel Prize for Literature provided protection from its being banned many times, including a removal from two high schools in Alabama in 1982. William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize didn’t help either when As I Lay Dying was banned in Louisville, Kentucky in 1994. The same with William Golding the numerous times Lord of the Flies has been challenged or banned. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare was removed from Merrimack, New Hampshire schools in 1996 because it violated a district ban on “alternative lifestyle instruction.” Webster’s Ninth New College Dictionary was banned in New Jersey schools because parents objected to its definition of ‘intercourse’. The reason we have the first amendment, and the reason we have librarians that work hard daily against censorship, and the reason we have organizations like the American Library Association that write letters to school districts and libraries that argue the case for keeping books where they are, is to keep things like that list from happening. But it isn’t enough. It takes people. People who care about intellectual freedom enough to do something about it. That is what Banned Books Week is all about, getting the message out to normal people that censorship is still a problem, and that they can help. So please, next week, make a difference. Tell your friends. Read a banned book. Talk to your librarian or independent bookseller. And, most importantly, don’t let anyone try to shut your book. Ω


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