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‘Easy A’ is easy on the eyes

Smoke Signal

SEPTEMBER 24, 2010


Truth of the Matter: Ground Zero mosque

By Ravneet Kaur Staff Writer Imagine Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter, not in 17th century Boston, Massachusetts, but in the cliché-filled, juvenile halls of a typical Southern California high school. The much awaited teen comedy, Easy A, follows the webcast narratives of Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) who goes from social pariah to scandalous rumor mill. The webcast begins with Olive avoiding a weekend camping trip with her friend Rhiannon’s (Alyson Michalka) ludicrous family, using the excuse of a date with a college boy. Rhiannon returns from her trip awaiting details from the date, and Olive fibs about losing her “v-card”. To her dismay, self-proclaimed virgin Marianne (Amanda Bynes) overhears about her weekend escapade and informs the whole school. Overnight, Olive transforms into an object of lust for boys and one of disgust for girls at Ojai North High School. When Olive is approached by her tormented gay friend to renovate his image, she agrees to “fake rock” his world and convinces the school that they slept together. She begins to embrace her new image and embroiders a red A on her wardrobe, paralleling the storyline of The Scarlet Letter. Nerds and geeks alike approach Olive for her “services” in return for gift cards and coupons.,

Americans are split over the proposal to build a mosque three blocks away from Ground Zero in New York City and how the freedom of religion applies to the controversy. Left, a man holds a sign in support, and, right, Imam Rauf views opponents of the Islamic community center at a speaking engagement.

By Megan McLaughlin News Editor The Dispute. The Cordoba Initiative, headed by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is a plan to build an Islamic community center in New York City, three blocks away from Ground Zero. Media attention has magnified the dispute, and misinformation is common. Its proposed location polarized the nation, and the debate over the mosque grows more convoluted every day. Supporters. The most prominent supporter of the planned building is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In a speech defending the mosque, he cited

New York’s history of religious freedom and tolerance. The Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer supports it, as do Florida Governor Charlie Crist and former presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Paul called the furor “grandiose demagoguery” and implied that the political interference in the issue is designed to distract Americans from the sluggish economy. Opponents. Many of those whom Paul accuses of using the mosque as a tool oppose its construction because of the tragedy suffered at Ground Zero. Former governor and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said the

Robots open doors at MSJ Emma Stone stars in Easy A.

See SCANDAL, A&E Page 12


September 25 • PUPS Pancake Breakfast at the Little Theater, 8am - 12 pm September 29 • CSU Worshop in C-120 during lunch September 30 • UC Workshop in C--120 during lunch October 6 • College Night at Ohlone College from 6:30 to 8:30 pm October 25-29 • Homecoming Week October 29 • Homecoming Game at TAK Fudenna Stadium at 7:30 pm October 30 • Homecoming Dance at 7 pm

By Alissa Gwynn Editor-in-Chief On September 15, students in math teacher Mehebub Karmali’s fifth and sixth periods were given the opportunity to assemble their own light-responsive robots in a hands-on electrical-engineering activity, thanks to the help of two Santa Clara University (SCU) students. Laura Bica, a rising senior majoring in computer engineering, and Jocelyn Wong, a graduate student working towards her Master’s Degree in mechanical engineering, presented and discussed engineering and its various sub-fields in efforts of getting students, especially girls, interested in engineering as a career path. “Historically, only four of my female students have gone into engineering,” Karmali says. Similarly,

Bica, one of only three women at SCU in her major, said, “it’s different, but you get used to it … I have a lot more guy friends now!” Karmali emphasized that he is trying to address this lack of female representation in math and science related fields. For although women make up nearly half of today’s workforce, they constitute only one-fifth of the nation’s engineers, one-third of chemists, and approximately a quarter of computer and math professionals. Karmali had the idea to bring in Bica and Wong after his fellowship this summer through Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME), during which he worked at the Robotic Systems Lab at SCU. IISME, founded in 1985 between a consortium of San

See ROBOTS, News Page 3

plan was a stab through America’s heartland. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich concurred, calling the site an attempt at Islamic supremacy. Rudolph Giuliani, New York City’s mayor during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is firmly set against the proposed mosque, as is Mark Williams, the leader of the ultraconservative Tea Party. People in the Middle. Some haven’t been able to define their positions so clearly. President Obama gave a speech apparently defending the construction of the mosque, but clarified his remarks the next day as only affirming the right to build rather than the wisdom in building so close to Ground Zero.

The intensity of the debate surrounding the mosque is such that the middle ground has been eliminated. The shades of gray have become black and white, leaving many Americans unsure. The people in the middle generally agree that the mosque ought to be built, but would prefer a location farther away from Ground Zero. Donald Trump offered to buy out a major investor in return for a promise to move the planned center at least five blocks away from its current location on Park Place. A New York Times poll shows that 67 percent


Gaming in college By Jordan Zhang A&E Editor In 2009, UC Berkeley began offering a class in competitive Starcraft, a renowned science-fiction real-time strategy game, with a basis in Calculus and with the goal of improving real-world decision making skills. University of Florida followed suit in 2010, adding a course called “21st Century Skills in Starcraft,” and Wabash College placed the critically acclaimed 3D puzzle game Portal on its mandatory “reading” list for freshman. Video games, deemed mindless entertainment since their inception, are now rightfully being considered by academic institutions as a serious art. Like a good book or movie, a good video game challenges the player to use higher order thought processes like analysis and evalua-

tion. Starcraft accomplishes this by using a balanced mechanism where no unit or strategy can guarantee success and by employing “fog of war”, which limits vision to a small range within a player’s own units so that players always face uncertainty. The metagame, or the strategies and thoughts that transcend the basic rules, approaches the level of psychoanalysis. What was the opponent doing when I scouted him? How should I counter this? Is this his actual plan or is it a mind trick to cause me to prepare unnecessarily? Players sometimes have seconds to decide whether to defend or counterattack before both options become invalid, leading to inevitable defeat. College courses in Starcraft train students to make these kinds of

See NOT JUST A GAME, Opinion Page 5

2 News

News in Brief Khmer Rouge leaders charged with genocide On September 16, 2010, four living leaders of the Khmer Rouge, the party responsible for the Cambodian Genocide that resulted in the deaths of 1.7 million people, were indicted by a Cambodian genocide tribunal. The court, with the support of the United Nations, charged the four with war crimes against humanity, murder, torture, religious persecution, and genocide. The trial will begin in 2011.

Former head of state during the Khmer Rouge regime, Khieu Samphan, 79, has been charged with genocide.

Youth walks country to raise awarensss for homeless Zach Bonner, a 12-year-old boy, native to Tampa, Florida, walked from Tampa to Santa Monica, California—a total of 2478 miles— to raise awareness of the hardships of homeless youth throughout the country. He journeyed across 8 states, averaging about 20 miles or more per day, and was joined by many other people for his final mile. Bonner’s story has been chosen as the basis for a film titled Little Red Wagon. To donate, visit

High-Risk Pipeline Under Fremont According to a PG&E filing last year, two of the highest-risk gas pipelines in the Bay Area are located in the East Bay. Line 107 between Livermore and Sunol ranked highest, and Line 131 in Fremont was rated second. The exact reasons why these pipelines are rated so high have not been released, but engineers say that because Line 131 is so close to the Hayward Fault, there is more danger. Replacement of the pipes is scheduled to begin in 2011.

news editor megan mclaughlin

The squares mark PG&E’s deadliest pipelines in the Bay Area, the triangle marks MSJ. COMPILED BY STAFF WRITERS ALEKYA RAJANALA, COURTNEY TAM, AND ELLIE WONG

Friday, September 24, 2010

After Hurricane Katrina: New Orleans is reborn By Sarah Li Graphics Editor

There is no stronger proof of the resiliency of the people of New Orleans than the ways in which they coped through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina—the months after the storm hit and now, five years and a massive oil spill later. Aug. 29, 2010 marked the fifth anniversary of the catastrophe, one that sent shock waves through the country, making us painfully aware of the fallibilities of our government. After 9/11, our country’s leaders began preparing for a war, for another attack from the outside, unaware that just short of four years later, the next national disaster would come from the inside. How Far We Have Come Four months after the levees broke, many of New Orleans’ main roads opened to traffic, but it was evident in the following months that much of the residential areas were still unsafe. A population of 380,000 has now reappeared in New Orleans (compared to the 450,000 pre-Katrina), and the forward-thinking approach being taken towards reconstruction is attracting even more people. Since 2005, much of the focus in the federal government has been on flood prevention and evacuation. Emergency supplies and evacuation plans were improved, while the Army Corps of Engineers built new levees and floodwalls they say can withstand future Katrina-strength storms. A significant portion of the direction New Orleans is taking towards reconstruction can be attributed to Mayor Mitch Landrieu,

who took office in May. The first item on his agenda was reducing the extent of the city’s corruption by lowering government salaries, rewriting the system for hiring outside contracting, and replacing the police chief. His plans for increasing public services and knowledgebased industries are paving the way for the New Orleans of the future, which Landrieu imagines as a clean energy technology center. Such a positive attitude is reflected in many of the city’s local leaders, who have stated that all their county facilities have been repaired and over 80 percent of the Federal Emergency Management Agency large projects are complete. But perhaps the greatest indication of this “new New Orleans” is the emphasis on community. The number of small businesses is multiplying. A large network of community clinics was established after the reorganization of the city’s healthcare system. Redevelopment projects are creating affordable, sustainable housing. Louisiana’s Recovery School District increased the number of charter schools, and testing shows that public school students are doing better than be-

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

California loses in Race to the Top By Mekala Neelakantan Staff Writer

Zach Bonner lifts his arms in celebration. He began charity work as a 6-year-old in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

The Smoke Signal

On August 24, 2010, California’s application for education grants from Phase 2 of President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top (RTTT) Fund was denied by the US Department of Education. Had the state qualified, schools could have received as much as $700 million in education bonuses. The RTTT is a competitive grant program created and funded through the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). The idea behind the RTTT is to reward states that consistently show increased success rates in student achievements and plan to implement educational reforms in the future. According to the RTTT Program Executive Summary, states are awarded grants based on how they scored on a point scale. Points are distributed based on criteria such as state success factors, turning around lowachieving schools, and meeting set standards. Although RTTT officials said that no single reason precluded California from qualifying, some factors did put California in an unsatisfactory position. One reason why points were deducted from California was because teacher unions disagreed with the state on several matters, including creating a link between teacher performances and student standardized test scores. According to the grant

application, the test scores were to be used for 30% of teacher assessments. Tensions also arose over the requirement to transform poorly performing schools into independent charter schools, as charter schools are often non-union.

graphics editor cassie zhang

However, the majority agreed on many of the changes required for the competition, including improving the education data system and placing effective teachers in poorly performing schools to improve instruction. California also agreed to switch to federal education standards for mathematics and language arts, as per the RTTT requirements, which caused much controversy because the new federal standards are said to be less difficult than the existing California standards. “If California does adopt federal standards for math and English language arts, I hope that they would maintain the rigor and quality of the current state standards,” said MSJ Assistant Principal Diana Brumbaugh. Without funding, California’s ability to implement even non-controversial changes is looking bleak. ▪

fore Katrina hit. How Far We Need to Go Five years after the storm, Washington has largely moved on, passing much of the burden of reconstruction to churches and non-profit organizations. New Orleans still has $5.4 billion left of the $20 billion federal aid, but legal issues sometimes delay projects for months. Money set aside for environmental

overtaken by nature; the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans’ hardest hit part, has not been cleared of destroyed homes but has instead been overrun by wild grasses. Invasive species have destroyed native wildlife, and Louisiana’s barrier islands, which had acted as natural flood barriers, remain torn up. Today, the precarious situation of New Orleans’ locals is most evi-

Floods submerged New Orleans homes in the aftermath of Katrina.

restoration has yet to be approved by Congress, and FEMA has delayed water and sewage system repairs. Much of the emergency relief set aside for hurricane season preparation has been drawn away by the effects of the oil spill. Meanwhile, many civil engineers argue the levees still aren’t strong enough and won’t be able to withstand another Category 5 hurricane. Though organizations have been working to rebuild New Orleans’ residential areas, many civilians are still displaced. Less than 10 percent reside in federally funded trailers and hotels, but 28,000 are still on the waiting list for low-income housing. Parts of the city have been

dent in their children, who have been emotionally compromised by the horror of the past and the instability of their future. Many still go to unsafe schools, and residents have criticized the school system for not providing equal educational opportunities for all students. Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina engulfed a city in water and a nation in conflict. Some might say our country has greater issues at hand now, but the ways in which New Orleans resisted and rebounded through such tragedy serves as a powerful and haunting reminder— of our strengths, our weaknesses, and the indomitable will of the human spirit. ▪

Applications go electronic By Sloka Gundala Staff Writer Organizing college applications for seniors has always been an arduous task. This year, in order to expedite the process, MSJ will send transcripts and letters of recommendations electronically. With the number of applications on the rise, college admissions officers often lose letters. “In fact, we have had a college lose a student’s letters of recommendation three times, which was very inconvenient for the school,” said Counselor DeAnne Andrews. Sending documents over the internet ensures they won’t get lost and that the colleges receive them on time. And if the colleges don’t receive the information the first time, it takes five minutes to resend as opposed to five days. All counselors will be doing letters of recommendation electronically, unless a student doesn’t have access to a computer. Teachers, on the other hand, have the option of doing a paper submission or submitting their letter of recommendation online. If a teacher opts to send his or her recommendation electronically, students have to invite them through their Common App account, which then allows them to monitor the status of their letters to each school and resend the notification e-mail to counselors or teachers who have yet to begin a form. In both cases, students will have to submit a Teacher-Student agreement to their counselors, in-

forming her which teachers they are receiving recommendations from and whether the teacher is doing a paper or electronic submission. Transcripts are now to be submitted through www.docufide. com. By creating a Docufide account, students can request transcripts to be sent directly to the colleges, and they will also be sent when each counselor sends their Secondary School Report. Because this is the pilot year for the method of submission, the administration has decided to continue with paper submission for schools that are not Common Application members, since completing the application electronically is extremely complicated. Students are required to print out all the school forms required for nonmembers and turn them in to their counselor along with their senior profile, which is due October 1 for early decision, and October 15 for regular decision. Students still have a cap of ten private schools, only five of which can be outside the Common Application. Students are still required to have two teacher recommendations from teachers in two different disciplines. Midyear and Final Transcript reports still have to be sent out, and still cost three dollars per school. Andrews said, “We are the first school in the district to use this system, which I think says a lot about Mission. Although the process is still a work in progress ... we can make this work. I think this new way will be a good fit for Mission.” ▪

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Smoke Signal

ROBOTS | Robots visit MSJ

continued from page 1

graphics editor cassie zhang

Juniors Edwin Li and Oleg Repkin examine a robot during the presentation.

Francisco Bay Area companies in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, “provide[s] teachers with experiences and tools they need to adapt their practices … so that all students are prepared to be lifelong learners … and productive employees,” according to their website. The robot presentation is one example of how Karmali has been applying the ideas he learned in his fellowship to his classroom. After a brief introduction to engineering, in which Bica and Wong expanded their interest in engineering and the types of work they do (Bica, for example, helps write the

software that “talks” to the satellites NASA launches into space) the students got to work assembling their robots. Bica and Wong had already programmed the robots to move forward in the presence of sunlight and spin around “in search” of light in the shade, so Karmali’s students had to figure out how physically assemble the robot’s parts and wires. A self-professed “science geek,” Junior Anna Demchuk said, “[The activity] was an out-of-this-world experience; I’ve never done anything like it before … there was a lot of new learning.” ▪

San Bruno ablaze

By Matt Farberov Staff Writer

however the official toll is 4 fatalities. Temporary shelters have been San Bruno residents were return- set up across the city for those afing home from fected. If you work on Sepwish to help, tember 9 when The Red Cross a gas explosion is asking for ripped through cash donations the neighborfor the victims. hoods of ClairThere is also an mont and Glenimmediate need view. The fire that for type “Oresulted from the NEG” blood massive explodonors to help sion destroyed 37 burn victims. gilroy dispatch homes as it raged Firefighters battle the flames. Leadership 2 is uncontrollably for also collecting donations of hours until PG&E was able to shut food, clothing, and money for vicoff the gas line feeding the blaze. tims of the fire. Donations can be Current death tolls are disputed made in the office. ▪

News 3

MOSQUE | Facts behind the media frenzy

continued from page 1

of all New Yorkers think that the mosque should be moved to a less controversial location. Supporting Argument. The same poll reveals that 51 percent of Manhattan residents, who live nearest to Ground Zero, support construction of the mosque in its current location, and 27 percent of all New Yorkers believed the mosque should be built because “moving it would compromise American values.” Bloomberg concurred. “We would be untrue to the best part of ourselves … if we said ‘no’ to a mosque in Lower Manhattan.” Manhattan Community Board 1 is a miniature city council for the area that includes Ground Zero and the mosque site. Its Financial Committee approved the Cordoba Initiative, hoping that it would “bring much-needed amenities to the neighborhood” where the community center will replace an empty Burlington Coat Factory. The Cordoba House itself ought to do so: it will include a restaurant, auditorium, and library, as well as educational classes, childcare, and aid for domestic violence victims and small businesses struggling financially. It will have an interfaith board with Muslim, Christian, and Jewish members. The center will also contain a monument to those lost on 9/11. Rauf has travelled through the Middle East as an emissary for the US State Department during two administrations. His mission is to discuss America’s religious freedom for people of all faiths and promote religious tolerance. Opposing Argument. The protests against the mosque are often distorted by people who are more concerned with self-promotion and appearing on television than with the actual issue. Florida Pastor Terry Jones threatened to hold a Quran-burning outside of his church on September 11, igniting fury in America and abroad. Jones cancelled the burning after political

A map of the proposed mosque site and its relation to Ground Zero

pressure, public outcry, and violent demonstrations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These and other emotional outbursts from high-profile opponents have detracted from legitimate concerns. September 30, 2001, Rauf appeared on Sixty Minutes, where he said, “US policies were the accessory to the crime that happened” on 9/11. He also stated that Osama bin-Laden was created by the US, casting doubt on his identity as a moderate Muslim. The constitutional right to build the mosque is not contested, but the wisdom of the building site is. Obama said, “I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there,” which has led many Americans to believe the President opposes the mosque site. Ground Zero is thought to be hallowed ground and the mosque’s proximity is viewed as insensitive to the 3,000 Americans who perished in the World Trade Center. New York Governor David Paterson said that relocation “would … change a lot of people’s minds about Islam, which is really a peaceful religion practiced by peace-loving people.” It would acknowledge American suffering caused by 9/11. The Reality. Democratic and

Republican parties are in tumult, with members on each side of the debate. Families of 9/11 victims are split. America is divided over the issue of where the mosque should be built. As the political battle escalates, it is even harder to distinguish the voices of the ordinary people from the politicians. Two demonstrations were held on the anniversary of 9/11: one supported the mosque, the other opposed it. The rallies were only blocks away from Ground Zero, and distracted from the solemnity of the day and the mourners’ grief. The world is watching America during this ongoing struggle. Whatever the final decision is, half of America will be unhappy. If the mosque is built as planned, opponents say Muslims will view it as a victory over Americans on their own soil. If it is moved, supporters of the mosque fear that extremists will be angered and retaliate against the US. Fidel Castro, former Cuban president, observed that the entire issue is “a huge media show” that only the US could put on. Hopefully, it is also a show that the US can end peacefully. If you would like to share your own views on the mosque, please visit ▪

Save Fremont Students earns $500,000 to save FUSD teachers By Cassie Zhang Graphics Editor

Over the last several weeks of the 2009-10 school year, Save Fremont Students (SFS) saved four

dents, and three MSJHS seniors who graduated last June. David Cao, Eric Chin, and Rebecca Xing met last May to discuss their concern for FUSD’s financial deficit. Together they set a goal to raise $4.5

MSJ students held signs promoting SFS on Mission Boulevard in June.

elementary school teachers from unemployment. The campaign took root when Virginia Hom, the mother of two Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) elementary school stu-

million by the end of July 2010. High school students involved organized a summer Celebration Gala, “Stairway to the Future” in August, which included dinner, entertainment, and a silent auction.

Other fundraisers included singing at the local Irvington farmers’ market, raising awareness of SFS through door-to-door campaigning, and hosting a block sale. The parent branch engaged corporate sponsors who promised to match the money that SFS raised. In total, SFS raised over $500,000 in roughly six weeks. Despite falling short of their goal, four elementary school teachers were saved with $400,000. The remaining money was shared among secondary schools to fill various financial gaps. This year SFS will focus on Measure K, an FUSD parcel tax. School officials calculate that if approved, Measure K will generate about $13 million over the five years it is in effect. The tax will provide funding for various local education and programs, such as required math, science, and reading programs; keeping school libraries open; improving classroom technology; maintaining college and workforce preparation programs; and retaining qualified teachers. The proposition is on the November 2, 2010 ballot for all voters in the school district. It requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

Currently a senior, Aditi Amlani waves a sign at an SFS rally in June.

“We need to get a lot of parents involved,” said Hom. To help pass Measure K, SFS plans to raise awareness by posting signs and campaigning door-todoor around local neighborhoods. Raising awareness may seem trivial, it has a large impact. Last

school year, FUSD made a negotiation to maintain and save as many teachers as possible after parents complained. As Hom pointed out, “Although we didn’t raise enough money to save secondary teachers, it was clear to many people that [we] really cared. Cao said that students who want to help “can form a group and organize themselves for the November elections to call voters and inform them about local funding Measure [K]. Cao says passage of Measure K will help FUSD mitigate some of its largest budget woes. Cao, who is grateful for all of the support he recieved from MSJ students, has a message for them: “I would like to express our thanks to those who supported our campaign and gave their time and money to help the campaign. I hope they will remember that we are not powerless. Together, we truly can make a difference. So go out and help FUSD pass the local funding measure this November.” Visit www.savefremontstudents. org for more information on how to help save Fremont students and teachers. ▪

4 Opinion


Smoke Signal

Mission San Jose High School Est. 1964 Vol. 46, No. 1 | September 24, 2010

Roger That Boarding a Train

41717 Palm Ave. Fremont, CA 94539 (510) 657-3600 Editors-in-Chief Alissa Gwynn, Elisa Ting News Gurleen Chadha, Megan McLaughlin Opinion Roger Chen, Arthur Jeng Feature Sonia Dhawan, Audrey Wu Centerspread Aileen Lu, Tina Tseng A&E Vishal Yadav, Jordan Zhang Sports Grace Han, Amit Patankar Graphics Sarah Li, Cassie Zhang Web Mary Lan, Richie Zeng Tech Vaishaal Shankar, Kevin Zhai Business Ravneet Kaur Circulation Matt Farberov Fundraising Stephenie Yuan Marketing Jamie Lin Ads Rebecca Dutta, Joy Xu Events Chelsea Dass, Mekala Neelakantan, Diya Roy

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It’s not that fun being a senior. I mean, sure you get to go to Waterworld, show off your independence by driving yourself around, do all these senior things that you’ve been looking forward to since you stepped onto this campus. But on the other hand, all those seniors that you used to look up to for advice and have good times with are spread to the winds. When you start seeing the younger siblings of friends in your classes, you get the full blown impact of how old you are. Count yourself lucky though. At least you’re not doing the swimming unit in PE right now. When I trudged into my Chinese class at Ohlone on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I fully expected that, like at MSJ, I would be the oldest one around. The thought was depressing, but I had to deal with it; I wanted to finish up with those credits before I left MSJ. To my surprise, I was not the oldest, but the youngest person in the class of six. In fact, I was the only student under the age of 18. One of the students was an American who had lived in Taiwan in his 20s, worked with Lockheed Martin for his entire life, and came back to Ohlone after he retired to relearn Chinese again. Another student had moved to the US from China when he was very young, found a job after graduating from college, and wanted to learn Chinese to get in touch with his heritage. All around me, I saw people

Friday, September 24, 2010

get Jengky with it Monkey See, Monkey Do

By Roger Chen Opinion Editor

The Smoke Signal

By Arthur Jeng who did not see age or background as a barrier to their learning. They weren’t aiming for credits to waive off courses in college; they were sincere in their enthusiasm towards the Chinese language and culture. Their inspiration was self-motivated, their goals self-determined. Somewhere along the line, we as high school students decided to devote more focus to immediate benefits rather than long-term goals. We hit up Sparknotes before a test rather than reading the book itself, not thinking about how the content of the book is worth reading and beneficial to our lives. CalcChat gets a day of calculus homework out of the way, and we’ll just deal with tests when they come around with an all-nighter cram session, don’t mind the AP test and college. Too often we find limits when they don’t exist and believe that we can ever be finished. When we spend our time doing something, we can only call these objectives points on a ray, from where we are right now towards what we want to accomplish with our lives. We might diverge from what we intend on doing, but we shouldn’t stop because of some self imposed ends. There are only beginnings and more beginnings; it’s never time to close the book on something you’ve learned. I may be older than three fourths of MSJ students, but hell, I can still learn, even from you young whippersnappers. No way are my white hairs going to stand in the way of that. ▪ Send letters to the editor to

Opinion Editor

preemptive emotion.) Even politics are included in the mob mentality. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign was in many ways a bell drawing millions of Pavlov’s dogs. The Howard Stern show spotlighted a case where people were asked how they felt about Obama’s anti-stem cell research stance. Interestingly, the supporters answered away while not knowing that Obama is actually for stem cell research. They came to his side without regard for the truth. After all, the caveman that wanders away from the tribe is more vulnerable to saber tooth attacks. Similarly, whether or not we are the same personality IRL and online is up to how others view the situation. Just think for a moment that you are the sole person in society that uses “fail” to describe a misgauged ninja fart that was actually a rather explosive one during silent read. You would in fact, be an “epic phail”. Now compare that to what we already know is happening around us In our society, it’s perfectly acceptable to throw in some internet slang like “lols” and “troll”. The only difference between the two scenarios is who else is doing it. No matter how you look at it, we all take comfort in bandwagons. Who else is rooting for Miami this year?

In elementary school, it was dashing to sport the roller backpack look even if there was only a Spacemaker pencil box and some dried Elmer’s glue inside. Sometime during that period, telling other people to spell “icup” was pretty trendy, too. For a society that defines itself by opportunity and a generation that supposedly draws from originality, it seems the social phenomenon that connects us is actually comeand-go fads. Though we boast that the members of our society enjoy the freedom to express their minds, the majority do not embrace it. Be it the newest fad, fashion trend, or internet meme, we engage in it because well... everyone else is. Anyone not keeping up would be behind the times and out of the fast paced social loop. Take for instance a recent Youtube vogue: witty comments about the number of people disliking a video. Sure, the comments on the viral video were funny the first time when 316 people didn’t hide their kids or wives when the Bed Intruder climbed through their windows and snatched people up. During the struggle, the victims accidentally pressed the dislike button. Other comments about the number of people missing the like button are all over Youtube as well. As shown by the number of green Diagram 1: Q.Q thumbs of approval, these supposThis poor nose is out of both edly humorous were well-accepted. But, the comments about the mis- loops. ▪ clicks have since started to ebb Send letters to the editor to away. I think so, at least. I may be out of the loop. (See right for my

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Smoke Signal

Opinion 5

NOT JUST A GAME Gaming curriculum continued from page 1

decisions under high stress conditions and to thoroughly evaluate what went right or wrong. Moreover, these skills, which are traditionally learned through trial-and-error in real life, can be learned in a game where mistakes do not mean the end of a career (unless said career is in professional gaming). Life skills aside, games are now as powerful at communicating messages as literature has. In Portal, a supercomputer called GladOS disguises itself as a benevolent administrator testing a newly developed portal gun. Players soon learn, however, that in order to survive, they will have to question what they are told. Another award winning game called Braid explores the possibilities of a world where every mistake is reversible, but dem-

onstrates in the finale that the mistakes in the foundation of a person’s mindset cannot be fixed even when time can be reversed. Because video games involve close interaction with characters, sometimes from a first person perspective, they are perhaps even more effective than literature at sparking thought on such philosophical questions. Our elders often warn us that video games are dangerous and addictive. For many games this is true, but doesn’t reading novels like Twilight waste just as much time? Most of America has yet to embrace video games as a positive addition to academia, but as our generation, one that grew up amidst Nintendo and Xbox, takes the torch, this new and immersive form of entertainment will undoubtedly join books and film as a media for learning. ▪

Know Your College Rank By Rebecca Dutta

ing system for trying its best to present students with an unbiased ordering of the best Staff Writer schools in the US. Harvard and Princeton There is a common misconception, espe- University may have earned their impeccable cially in our high expectation-crazed MSJ rankings, but the right approach to college population, that stellar college rankings rep- rankings should be more specific to a student’s resent best personal fit. A generic number interests. Instead of choosing from a generic assigned to a university is rapidly becoming list of the top schools in the country, narrow replicated on our personal college lists. Even down your search based on programs that worse, we have started to apply to these “top you are interested in. Individually research tier” colleges simply because they are “top each program through college visits, college tier.” How many times have you heard some- research sites, and current student reflections. one (or maybe even yourself ) say that the rea- You may look at the rankings, but do not let son they are applying to Stanford is because them be your primary decision making factor. This will prove “it’s one of the to be a far more best colleges in valuable search the US! And evstrategy because eryone applies, so the ranking’s baI will too...even sis is much more though I doubt geared towards I’ll get in.” The your personal whole world is goal. Once you applying to highacknowledge ly ranked colthese rankings, leges, so we will do not forget to too because, well, emphasize your it’s the “Mission” own ranking systhing to do, right? tem. Think about Government location, cost, Teacher Jaime majors, social life, Richards foland you may find lows any type of a small liberal ranking with one arts college like cynical question: Pomona Col“On what balege ahead of UC sis?” We should Berkeley or Stannot blindly beford University. lieve in a ranking If we learn to without clearly create our own ranking understanding why it was system for colleges, we will given a particular rank. So not only be less dependent on what basis do organion sources catering to genzations such as US News eral masses, but we will also or Princeton Review base be more insightful about their college rankings? US our final college list. The News claims that their college list should instill a college rankings are heavsense of pride in every stuily based on objective data dent if he or she has picked such as graduation rate, each college because of a selectivity, and courses ofpersonal fit. On the other fered. Yes, these factors hand, if you are applying to should be highly weighta college just for the sake ed in any prospective graphics editor cassie zhang, of applying to a top-notch applicant’s mind; however, such facts and figures tend to clog our rea- college, you know that you have not dug in soning capabilities to the point where we deep enough. If you can’t come up with a few forget to consider the college subjectively. valid reasons to attend a particular university, Each college caters to a different type apart from the fact that it is number one or of mentality. Technical schools are usu- number two, don’t bother wasting time over ally not for students who are looking for a the application. Yes, it might be fun to boast core connection to humanities because they your college sweatshirt around for the last few focus mainly on applied science and math- months of senior year, but after that, you’re ematics. So, if you want to be an English on your own with thousands of other colmajor, it may not be in your best interest to lege freshman who have a much deeper, more choose Caltech, Carnegie Mellon, or MIT. profound passion for the school than you ever On the other hand, if you are a technol- could. So get past the generic ranking system ogy junkie, you probably should not apply and get past your pride. Learn to accept that to Swarthmore, Claremont, or Amherst. sometimes, a university with a lower ranking Of course, I cannot fault the college rank- may just become your number one choice. ▪

Students at UC Berkeley apply strategies in Starcraft to real world topics including military theory.

Standardized Assessment for Teachers By Mekala Neelakantan Staff Writer

In February 2010, the superintendent and state education commissioner of Rhode Island agreed to fire every single staff member, principal included, at Rhode Island’s Central Falls High School because of poor performances on student standardized test scores. In July, 241 teachers working in Washington, D.C. were let go due to inadequate student test performances. Another 17 percent were given notice that, if scores did not improve in the next year, their jobs would be terminated as well. And, in August, the Los Angeles Times published a formula evaluating 6,000 elementary school teachers based on student standardized test scores. These events have been caused in part by the Obama administration’s Race to the Top Fund that promises large grants to states who demonstrate educational reform. This turnaround plan, including steps to terminate poorly-performing teachers and institute ones that will increase student success, is causing turmoil for hundreds of teachers; they are unfairly losing their jobs because of issues beyond their control. Evaluating teachers based on something as narrow and partial as standardized test scores is unthinkable. Teachers do not instruct students on how to fill in hundreds of multiple choice answers about mathematics and language arts; they teach students how to think outside of the box and apply education to everyday life. If determining whether or not a teacher is adequate is based on one test, then teachers should prepare students for the test, and only for the test, throughout the year. But that is not education. That is regurgitation. In a nation where serious education and critical thinking are so important, it is absurd to believe that the test-taking skills of students can make or break a school. There are too many variables that could explain a poor performance. For example, a student could have been ill during STAR tests and not performed to his/ her best ability. Students might simply buckle under the stress of test-taking, but excel in school otherwise. Does that mean that their scores should affect the jobs of qualified teachers? This is punishing teachers for something that was, possibly, entirely the students’ faults. For example, many MSJ students treat standardized tests as something of a joke. For most, studying for these tests is out of the question. And, as seen by the school’s overall performance, MSJ students tend to perform

quite well on these tests. But, that does not mean that every single teacher is the most effective. Similarly, in poorly-performing schools, teachers cannot be blamed for trying their level best to teach students who simply may not be able to perform up to par. This type of assessment lacks the complexity of actual education, and does not do teachers justice. In addition, publicizing rankings and including test scores as a component of evaluation can spark unnecessary, unhealthy competition between teachers, creating a race to see which teacher is ranked higher, or which one can produce the best test-takers. Instead of this system, we should evaluate teachers on a more individual basis, assessing how they instruct different students. There are so many factors that describe the quality of a student’s performance, including his/her home environment, parents, and economic status. Only when a teacher can effectively teach students with varying factors does it show that the teacher is a capable instructor. Evaluations based on standardized tests do not take into consideration these differing factors, and cannot be such a major factor in “grading” a teacher. Like most other evaluations, standardized tests can be used for assessment to a certain point. However, that point does not extend to assessing teachers. We cannot threaten education like this, or dismiss staff on something as restricted as these test scores. There may be pressure from the Obama administration to implement educational reform by turning around inadequate schools, but we need to find a different, holistic way of determining which teachers are fit to instruct.▪

staff writer frank chen

6 Feature

The Smoke Signal

Friday, September 24, 2010

By Sloka Gundala & Diya Roy Staff Writers

Being at a high school is a change of pace for Officer Gregory Pipp. He has been a patrol officer in Fremont for the past 22 years and has also been a detective, field trainer, and a street crime detective. Excited for: “This is my first high school, and so far I really enjoy the staff and student body. I’m excited to meet all the students and get acclimated into school life. I’m also looking forward to the after school and sporting events!”

Jason Cain was a history teacher at Kennedy High School. Talent: “Umm I don’t know. Can I make one up? I’d like to wrestle gators in the Everglades.” Excited for: “I am excited for every new day here at MSJ.”

Herbert Gomez is one of the two new language teachers here at MSJ. He has taught all around the Bay Area. Talent: “I kind of like belting out notes like Luther Vandross.”

Rachel Tevlin was a database analyst for several companies including Cisco Systems before deciding to get her teaching degree. She is now a history teacher at MSJ. Talent: Has been Ceili dancing, a type of Irish and Scottish folk dance, for 20 years and really enjoys folkdance.

Lillie Allgaier, a native of Pennsylvania, has spent many years in many different positions in education. She’s been a Remedial Reading Specialist, a counselor, and a Special Education Teacher. Excited for: “I’ve been searching for a district that has put both time and thought into making a program for kids who need support ... and I’ve found it in Fremont. It’s the best district, by far... I am definitely hoping I stay put this time!”

Gabriel Estabrook, one of the new Biology teachers, taught at Horner Middle School and Livermore High School before coming to MSJ. She is originally from Germany and has also lived in Canada. Excited for: “I’m excited to have older students now. The students here are more mature than in middle school, and it’s a good change.”

Suzanne Vargas, who graduated from MSJ in 2004, may be one of Mission’s youngest teachers. After going off to college and even some foreign countries along the way, she has come back to the Bay Area. Talent: “Yes, I can rap. I actually wrote a rap about teaching at San Lorenzo. And I have the whole “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” memorized. Plus, I’ve never lost a game of thumbwars!”

Mark Holtebeck was a teacher at Caesar Chavez Middle School for nine years in Hayward before joining MSJ as a special education teacher. Talent: Loves to bike. Before becoming a teacher at MSJ, he used to bike on the pathways near the campus.

Basudha Mukherjee is one of MSJ’s new Biology teachers. She started teaching in India and has taught in the US since 2008. Talent: “I don’t have any talent but I’m very patient with my kids... I sing Indian songs (mainly Bengali) and can do fabric painting and mehendi. I used to write for a Bengali magazine on a regular basis.

Shelley Hulseman, the new library media technician, used to teach art classes to children at the City of Fremont Recreation Department, and worked as a Graphic Design Aide at the Smith Center at Ohlone College. After that she worked at the library at Kennedy High School for a few years before coming to MSJ. Excited for: “I am looking forward to more classes coming in and helping the students and staff with whatever they need. I also hope that we can have at least one special activity in the library this year, not sure what it will be yet. Ideas, anyone?”

Geoffrey Gales is originally from Canada where he taught French, Canadian History and US History in Montreal. He then taught at Los Arboles Middle school before coming to teach French here at MSJ. Talent: He enjoys kite surfing in the San Francisco Bay and has been doing that for the longest time.

Lindsay Rotter is the newest counselor at MSJ. Before being a counselor at Kennedy High, she taught adults with developmental disorders. Excited for: “It’s great to be here. It’s really exciting to see all the different students. I’m very happy to be here, and I’d love it if students who have a free moment come in and say hi!”,


Friday, September 24, 2010

The Smoke Signal

Feature 7

By Jordan Zhang A&E Editor

Cafe Zen is situated at the far end of Pacific Commons, near Yoswirl. Like Tapioca Express, it serves various Asian style drinks like pearl teas and milk teas, as well as light meals like pork curry on rice. The service is somewhat classy: after ordering and choosing a seat, a waiter brings the food to your table, each item is on its own decorative plate. Cafe Zen lives up to its name: it is the perfect place to relax after a hard day. Located at the corner of Bay Street and Fremont Blvd., Bay Street Coffee is perhaps the coziest coffee shop in Fremont. The drinks are less expensive than their Starbucks counterpart, and the shop feels like a college dorm lounge. Bay Street Coffee is open until midnight from Monday to Thursday and open twenty-four hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This in no way endorses all-nighters but, if you must pull one the Sunday before APs, here is the place to do it.

Cafe Zen

Bay Street

There are two Panera Breads in this area: one in Gateway Plaza near Chipotle, and one in Pacific Commons. Panera offers a variety of baked goods including gourmet breads, cookies, scones, muffins, and pies. Dinner is an option too, with several specialty sandwiches and soups, although the entrees can get a bit pricy at $8 for a salmon panini. Once the food has been ordered, students can settle down at a table or on one of the sofas near the fireplace to study.


The Fremont dog park has recently moved to a new location on Fremont Blvd., next to the police station. Not only is this a great way to let your pets off their leashes, but also an opportunity for dog lovers to socialize with each other. The park features a large section of real grass for smaller dogs and astroturf for the large dogs. Clean water fountains and shaded areas are also provided for both dogs and owners. If you love dogs but are not an owner, this is the place to go!▪

Hitting the gym with a training partner is a great way to push each other to the limits while having fun, and Fitness 19 offers this for under twenty dollars every month. Personal trainers are also offered with workouts tailored to specific sports. For people who want to get in shape or lose a few pounds, Fitness 19 offers a well equipped place to work on muscle strength, tone, endurance. The Fremont gym is located on Fremont Boulevard next to Connolly’s Furniture.



Beginning of the Year Advice By Sonia Dhawan & Audrey Wu Feature Editors



1. Enjoy having your home in the N-wing! But don’t just stay in one place. Explore the whole campus. 2. Get involved in your first homecoming— it sets the basis for the next three years. 3. Take a risk and run to McDonald’s at least once. It’s a staple of the freshman experience! 4. Don’t stress out about SATs just yet. 5. Get involved in clubs! Just don’t overdo it—you do not need to be a member of every organization on campus.

1. Make a schedule and stick to it—trust us, this will help make this hectic year much more manageable. 2. Get ready for junior prom! 3. Make it a point to hang out with your friends. Everyone’s busy this year, but don’t let that affect your relationships. 4. You’re upperclassmen now! Get your licenses and go out! 5. Try to finish all your major tests before senior year so you don’t have to worry about the SATs as a senior!

Sophomores: 1. Get a job. Junior prom next year is going to be expensive! 2. Keep up your grades. Just because you’re not juniors yet doesn’t mean your classes aren’t difficult! 3. Let the freshmen take the Nwing. It’s hard, we know, but you’re not freshmen anymore. 4. If you want to get into L2, Yearbook, Smoke Signal, or Peer Resource, now is the time to make yourself stand out. Show interest and learn more about these organizations and what they do. 5. Read for pleasure. As you get older, reading gets pushed to the back of the to-do list.

Seniors: 1. Go to all the dances! Experience high school life as much as you can. 2. Visit the teachers who contributed to your high school experience—even if you’re not asking for a recommendation. 3. Make a list of things you want to do with your friends before you leave. 4. Take an underclassman out to lunch. Didn’t you dream of charming seniors asking to take you out when you were freshmen? 5. Get ready for Senior Ball! ▪,


8 Centerspread

The Smoke Signal

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Smoke Signal

Centerspread 9

Welcome to a new school year at MSJ! Well, not really new. The school atmosphere is still the same, full of romantic snafus, competitive classmates, application pressure, and a fair amount of stress. In this issue, the Smoke Signal examines the MSJ social and academic scene. By Stephenie Yuan Staff Writer

Any student attending MSJ has undoubtedly experienced the competitive and rigorous environment. Stress can come in any form and is an inevitable part of high school. This stress, however, may come at completely different levels depending on the grade of the student. Freshmen As a freshman at MSJ, you’re exploring the numerous opportunities on campus to discover new interests. You are just getting used to the teachers, schedule, and sudden independence. Finding a core group of friends may be difficult, but as a freshman you are always welcome to join clubs and organizations offered on campus. Stress may also come with dealing with academic courses. Freshmen year is known to be comparatively the easiest year of high school, so spend your spare time getting involved in clubs to gain leadership experience, organizational skills, and maybe even a few friends along the way! Sophomores When it comes to becoming a sophomore, expectations are unknown. Sophomores generally participate in Homecoming and then focus on studies for the rest of the year. It is much like Junior year in that the work load increases noticeably compared to the previous year. Curiosity about school activities fades during the transition to sophomore year, but don’t let that stop you from joining new organizations. There are fewer activities to get involved with as sophomores; for instance there is neither Junior Prom nor Senior Ball—just Winter Ball. However, sometimes it’s nice not to have anything to do and to have the time and opportunities to explore your interests.

Juniors There have been many sayings about Junior year that mostly gear towards it being the most stressful year of high school. However, becoming an upperclassman comes with its perks. It is extremely convenient to be able to drive to a friend’s house or get lunch. There is so much going on for juniors—SATs, weighted classes, career exploration, job opportunities, Junior Prom, Homecoming, and more. As the work load for juniors increases, so do stress levels. Make small changes to habits that may hinder your productivity. It’s time to crack down, but remember to give yourself a reward every now and then! Seniors Senior year is the one year that almost every activity is planned just to be memorable for you. Homecoming, Senior Waterworld, Senior Breakfast, Senior Ball—the list goes on and on. Senior year seems like a breeze, but in reality it is just as tough, if not tougher, than Junior year. The first few months of senior year include taking your last SATs, writing college applications, and asking for teacher recommendations. Seniors often get a case of “senioritis”—a commonly known behavior of cutting class and slacking off that often affects grades, which in turn jeopardizes college admission chances. The misconception that senior year grades are unimportant can lead to students being rescinded from colleges. Remember that there is never enough time, so learn how to use it efficiently. Although experiences at MSJ may fall into the stereotypes as stressful and sometimes overwhelming, you want to look back on each year with lots of memories. High school inevitably comes with stress, but stress is something that everyone encounters at some point in life. When senior year and graduation roll around, you’ll want to be able to congratulate yourself on surviving four difficult years, and as Dr. Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” ▪

By Aileen Lu Centerspread Editor

By Joy Xu Staff Writer

The reputation of MSJ students who only study and have no social life isn’t true in the slightest. We are in high school after all; love, flirting, and dramas are just a few of its everyday dynamics. What separates MSJ from other schools is our so-called “MSJ Bubble” and the way it affects our perception of relationships. One thing won’t change regardless of what school you attend: people are on the lookout for love. Sure, there are some people who have no interest, but for many of you, you can’t deny the curiosity. The thought of dating will cross your mind at some point. Every time you see couples walking each other to class, or watch your friends getting asked to Winter Ball, you may think, when will this happen to me? We’ve all been there one time or another. To have someone as an escape from all

the pressures of being in a highstress environment (a.k.a. MSJ) is a very tempting prospect indeed. The large number of people jumping into quick, casual relationships seems to be understandable. Unfortunately, that’s just not the right way to go. Students will find out entering a relationship haphazardly often leads to broken friendships, broken hearts, and broken trust (not to mention wrecked grades while being consumed in drama). If it really was meant to be, you’ll meet someone, so don’t let your sky-high standards limit the possibilities. Despite what some may say about not getting serious too young, there’s nothing wrong with being in a semi-serious relationship in high school. In fact, it’s a good way to go. You just never know who you might end up becoming attracted to. The great thing about MSJ is that we are mostly accepting of who dates whom. Granted there will be gossip left and right, but when is there not in high school? We are accommodating towards diversity, and all over school you’ll spot interracial, inter-grade level, and samesex couples. If you want to join the dating scene, perhaps consider that at the end of the day you’ll be happier having been in a serious relationship. If it allows you to learn about commitment and honesty, and you’re happy, it’s

much better to be tied down and stable than constantly moving from person to person in a roller coaster of emotions; if anything, you won’t regret it once it’s over. The downside to serious relationships, which I’m sure what critics are concerned with, is a teenager’s lack of balance and losing oneself in fantasies of romance, because balance is key. What students regret is allowing it and their emotions to consume them and allowing it to mess up their grades or friendships. Relationships are an inevitable part of being in high school and growing up. This sounds very cliché and cheesy, but you do choose your own path. Whether you remain single or are in a relationship, be happy. MSJ is no different from any other school, as we’re all just teenagers looking to survive and enjoy these four crazy years. This time of our lives is crucial, so don’t stop living it up and let someone else dictate who you are, because only you can do that for yourself. ▪

Look at this newspaper. Now look back up to your classmates. Did you take a class because they told you it was great for college applications? Did their involvement in clubs spur you to join several of your own? Have any of them convinced you to join a sport despite your terrible hand-eye coordination? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, congratulations: you are a victim of MSJ peer pressure. Playing follow-the-leader is no longer playground business. No one can stand being left behind if he or she can help it, and the same logic unfortunately applies to selecting high school courses. More often than not, students choose to take more difficult classes not because of interest, but because it looks good on transcripts and “everyone’s doing it.” If a class happens to be difficult, we’ll all suffer together, right? Wrong. Everyone has different levels of intellectual aptitude and talents, and these make each of us unique. If you dislike numbers with a passion, perhaps enrolling in AP Calculus BC isn’t the best option. However, some fear not opting for the high-level class will

By Tina Tseng Centerspread Editor

Why Join? There are numerous school organizations around campus, and all of them contribute to the quality of our high school experience in a big way. Dances, entertainment, enlightenment, and even personal counseling are provided by major organizations around the school. Most of the major organizations around campus utilize applications and interviews in order to pick their new generation of workers. The process is arduous, but once you get through it, you’ll find that being part of a school organization is one of the most valuable experiences of high school. There is simply no better way to get directly involved with the school. The major organizations make the decisions that affect everyone. Get your voice heard by joining one. If you’re more concerned with adding to your college

cause others to view them unconditionally as slackers, as many have internalized it as part of a standard “MSJ curriculum” full of science and mathematics courses. Similar judgmental and cutthroat behavior at MSJ shows through college applications. Seniors are currently in a state of frenzy, churning out college essays and badgering overworked teachers for letters of recommendation. But through all this effort and added high stress levels, they are aware that not everyone will get into his or her dream school. Competition makes them feel secretive, and they refuse to discuss their plans beyond “Where are you applying to?” in fear of their friends gaining an advantage at their cost. Colleges love applicants who can occupy a special niche on campus and contribute to the community. Feeling at risk of classmates copying their trump card of individuality, seniors drown in a pit of paranoia of never becoming accepted into the college of their dreams. Adults encourage us to be above the influence when dealing with drugs, but when it comes to academia, we cannot resist the urge to struggle for success. Coping with peer pressure at MSJ will

applications, consider this instead: applications and interviews are a fact of life. The sooner you start practicing, the better. So don’t be hung up over simply boosting your resumé—whether you are accepted or not, the experience will teach you what to expect and how to present yourself. Be Aware Every spring when application time comes around, hundreds of applicants spend hours on their applications. Only a fraction will be accepted. Last year, Leadership 2 only selected around 20 of their 90 applicants, while Yearbook rejected around three-fourths of possible candidates. Because of the tight competition, organizations work hard to eliminate bias in the selction process. Giving each student an equal opportunity is important to all groups. Applicants who want to be considered need to know what each organization looks for. For example, if you are interested in singing, Senior Elaine Kuo, Director of MSJ’s acapella group, the Syncopasians, said, “Our selections are based on a variety of criteria, such as solo voice, musical sense, and tuning.” One should know that there are often many talented applicants, but not everyone may be right for a particular organization. The best way to deal with rejection is to remember that it is in no way a reflection of your abilities and worth. Some organiza-

be one of the largest trials of a student’s four years here, but turning it into a positive rather than a negative experience will help. Maintain common sense in all situations. Would you take the road more traveled if the road caused you incredible emotional and mental pain? The obvious answer is not any more different inside or outside the classroom; peers cannot dictate the future if you look beyond the muddled waters of blind teenage ambition. If you intend to remain in the mindset of “OMG I must do everything my friends do in order to succeed,” I recommend you take a class on discovering your identity and snapping back into reality (sorry, no AP credit for that). ▪

tions may simply be looking for different talents than those you possess. Keep trying—remember that part of the value of applying is the experience. And remember, organizations that don’t ask for applications can be rewarding and fun as well. Raise Your Chances, Starting Now Many of the characteristics that organizations look for in their applicants, can, in fact, be achieved easily if you start early. Senior Mika Tohmon, Co-Editor-in-Chief of Yearbook, said, “Build your portfolio and your public speaking skills! We look for people who can communicate their thoughts clearly.” This tip works for every single application process you will go through. Organization officers—and future employers— always favor applicants who can present themselves well. ASB President Tarang Patel also provided a helpful tip: “Show us what you can do to help our school! Take part in the various activities that happen around school and show the world your MSJHS pride!” ▪

layout and graphics by centerspread editors aileen lu & tina tseng

10 Feature

The Smoke Signal

The SOCIALLY INEPT Network: A guide to Facebook etiquette By Jamie Lin Staff Writer

Facebook. The ultimate time waster. Admit it: we all spend hours there, tracking what our friends are doing on the stalker – sorry, news – feed. But some things people do are so irritating they ruin the fun of Facebook for everyone else. So please, for the sake of your fellow procrastinators, try to follow the general rules of Facebook etiquette. We would be quite grateful; in fact, we’d “like” it very much. Speaking of which, while liking is fun, what isn’t fun is receiving fifty-three notifications seeing that so-and-so has liked your status, your photos, and everything in between. If it doesn’t pertain to you, why like it? Just because you like someone as a person doesn’t mean you have to like everything they do. In fact, don’t. It’s overbearing and, quite frankly, a little invasive. It’s like someone’s watching your every online move. If we don’t like being stalked in real life, why would we like it online? Besides, liking has more gravity the less it’s used. Another thing that should be used less on Facebook is sarcasm. As we all know, sarcasm is a little harder to portray over the internet. As a result, we’re usually stuck between sarcasm that’s too subtle (e.g. “That test was so fun!”) and sarcasm that just reads as mean (e.g. “Good job, idiot.”). To avoid confusing and/or offending your friends, just use sarcasm wisely.

Birthday wishes, believe it or not, can also be somewhat offensive. While wishing someone “Happy (Number)th Birthday!” on FB seems like an easy solution, if you wouldn’t say it to them in real life, why leave an insincere message online? On the flip side, if people are taking time to leave you heartfelt birthday wishes, the least you can do is respond with something more in-depth than a simple “Thanks!”

DEAR DIARY... School Blues By Rebecca Dutta Staff Writer

Dear Diary, September 7, 2010 7:00 AM Today, my alarm clock rang at least five times before my sister finally barged into my room and yelled, “shut it off!” Moments later, my dog ran into my room and brushed his furry coat against my face, demanding attention. As if that weren’t enough, my mom walked in to tell me sweetly that I needed to wake up, and when that didn’t work, she pulled off my blanket, leaving me shivering in the Tuesday morning chill. 9:30 AM

These are just a few things we can all do to make the Facebook experience enjoyable for everyone. Just remember: people will like you when you don’t overlike, annoy, offend, or degrade them.▪

Friday, September 24, 2010

The irony of first period after Labor Day weekend is that the cheerful, excited attitudes on the first day of school have magically disappeared. It’s as if the adrenaline has worn off, leaving me aware of the fact that the next however many days of the school year will the same over and over again. I grudgingly pulled out the homework that had taken up most of my weekend and left it on the desk to get stamped. I copied down today’s assignment and promised myself it would be finished by 10:30 pm, not 7:30 tomorrow morning then zoned out for the rest of the period. 10:15 AM Our first chemistry test is next week! Just great. Now I have to spend my weekend studying for those dreadful Mission tests.

Is the answer A, B, C, A and C, or all of the above? Do I really even care as long as I learn?! I miss the freedom of summer when I was in charge of my own life! Dear Diary September 9, 2010 3:50 PM Today I realized how much I miss eating lunch with all my friends! I haven’t laughed or goofed around so much while eating since last school year. Sometimes- just sometimes- I actually think that school can be a little fun. I mean, minus the tests and the constant, “What did you get?” parrots, it can be pretty enjoyable…I guess. Dear Diary, September 13, 2010 7:30 PM It’s been one week since the PostLabor Day depression hit our school, but I must say that it’s starting to get a little better. Summer has its perks, but school can be equally exciting…well, not really. But yesterday, we had the most amazing lab in chemistry! Definitely not something I could have done at home. So even though I now have to spend hours toiling over my lab write up, I guess I’m o.k. I mean, if I make an effort to make my day more interesting, school’s really not all that bad.▪

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Smoke Signal

Photo Page 11

photos by staff writers leland bernstein, andrew han, angie wang, stephenie yuan, graphics editors sarah li and cassie zhang

12 Arts & Entertainment

SCANDAL Easy A a hit with teens

The Smoke Signal

‘1000 Suns’ dimmer than a candle

continued from page 1 At this point in the film, the development of the characters begins to pick up and Emma Stone keeps the audience laughing with welltimed one liners. Though at times Olive’s parents (veteran actors Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci) overpower the main characters with their quirky dialogue, they help the film more than they detract, with their excellent comedic timing. Soon enough, Olive begins to realize her new reputation is doing more damage than good to her self esteem and plans to turn her situation around. The plot takes a somewhat unpredictable turn and her chances to set things straight become distant. The clichéd situations that follow with Olive’s childhood crush Todd (Penn Badgley) revive the feeling of an 80’s-era John Hughes movie. As so aptly put by Olive, the story ends “not with a fizzle, but with a bang” and all points come full circle. Emma Stone anchors the film with strong and relatable acting that keeps the audience engaged throughout. The younger supporting actors fail to add depth to the film, but the experienced remainder of the cast more than makes up for this. Easy A delivers a hilarious modern version of the tale of Hester Prynne and though the movie may not be an ace for adults, it certainly will be for teens. ▪ Rating: A-

By Vishal Yadav A&E Editor

Sometimes even the best of artists make mistakes. Linkin Park’s effort Minutes to Midnight was full of them. Their new album, A Thousand Suns, was a chance to correct this. If it was good, fans could excuse the poor showing that was Minutes to Midnight. Sadly, their new album does little to win fans back. In crafting this album, Linkin Park tried going back to the classic way of making an al-

‘Kaleidoscope Heart’ dazzles By Aileen Lu Centerspread Editor

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sara Bareilles has some large shoes to fill for her return to the music scene following her Grammy-nominated hit “Love Song” and platinum album Little Voice. But you won’t find the Californian singer-songwriter among the ranks of pop stars Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. With a style resembling Colbie Calliat and Ingrid Michaelson’s, Bareilles does not disappoint in Kaleidoscope Heart, her second installment of captivating melodies for the soul. The album opens with an eponymous vocal arrangement, proving Bareilles’ ability to harmonize without her signature instrumentals. She follows up the serene introduction with “Uncharted,” the song that inspired the entire album, and “Gonna Get Over You,”

of empowering lyrics that somehow intertwine in a conversational tone. Like “Love Song,” “King of Anything” applies to a romance gone rotten and her frustration with the music industry attempting to mold her into the next pop sensation. She demands her freedom of judgment, telling off boyfriends and music producers alike: “Who cares if you disagree, you are not me; who made you king of anything?” Throughout Kaleidoscope Heart, Bareilles provides the optimal mixture of mellow and tunes. She tends to deceptively lull the listener with her soft voice through the first verse, luring him or her into a false calm. Then comes the strong chorus and the percussion beats, and the energy levels quickly rush upward. For example, “Let the Rain” seems like it would be full of delicate acoustic guitar, but

a rhythm and blues version of post-breakup reassurance. The barrage of peppy tunes then breaks with “Hold My Heart”; emotional crooning tugs your heartstrings, lamenting the pain and denial of drifting away from a significant other. With a motley collection of lyrics based upon relationship and personal issues, Bareilles finds a way to keep interest alive until the very end. The album’s lead single “King of Anything” holds truest to Bareilles’ charmingly snarky attitude. The alternating “oh oh oh’s” and trumpet notes draw you into a whirlwind

she breaks the illusion with a masterful use of hand claps that snaps the mind out of potential monotony. Needless to say, Bareilles successfully avoids the sophomore slump that afflicts many new artists in this day and age. For hearts young or old, Kaleidoscope Heart has a song for everyone. Even if powerful lyrics are not high on your priority list, Bareilles’ infectious singing and simple yet catchy piano chords will definitely appeal to any musical tastes for hours of listening to come. ▪ Rating: A


bum: basing the songs around a theme rather than making a few unrelated singles and using filler for the rest of the album.. Interspersed with heavy-handed sound bytes from the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Hindu scripture The Bhagavad Gita, the band attempts a grand call to action and revolution. It’s an admirable effort, but it just doesn’t work, sounding overbearing and contrived rather th an genuine and inspiring. The songs, taken on their own, don’t fare much better either. Though for the most part

they abandon the mainstream rock sound from Minutes to Midnight, their new experimental style isn’t much of an improvement. From the oddly reggae influenced “Waiting for the End” to the mixture of rap and tribal-sounding chanting that is “When They Come for Me” the tracks of A Thousand Suns are more a mess than avant-garde masterpieces. Oddly enough, the two songs that are worth a listen are near the end of the album, by which time most listeners would have given up. Both songs are on the softer side, and the break from the clashing sounds of the rest of the album provides a needed contrast. “Iridescent” is somewhat reminiscent of “My December” from Hybrid Theory. The last track of the album, “The Messenger” is easily the best track ECORAZZI.COM on the album. Lead singer Chester Bennington’s powerful vocals along with the song’s stripped down instrumentals prove to be a great combination. Hard as it is to admit, the Linkin Park of old is gone. The band’s ability to create brilliant songs has slowly diminished and is now barely enough to complete an album. To any diehard Linkin Park fans: stick to their first two albums. For those who still want to listen to the album in its entirety, good luck. ▪ Rating: D

‘The American’ fails its mission

By Ginger Werner Staff Writer

Amidst the close ups of George Clooney making various faces that highlighted his incredibly attractive facial features, The American relates the saga of Jack, an American assassin and craftsman constantly on the go. Throughout the movie, moviegoers witness Jack building complex weapons our of every day materials, spending time with various gorgeous women, and creatively slaughtering many enemies, whose origins are never explained. The American moved incredibly slowly. Although Jack drove very fast and ran everywhere, he appeared to go absolutely nowhere. This film style may have been used to emphasize the monotony of Jack’s life, but it ended up accomplishing absolutely nothing. Spending three minutes on a scene of snow in the mountains, or Jack walking down a dark alleyway with grim music playing was of interest to nobody. The movie compensated for its tedious plot with visually appealing imagery- with stunning Italian villas, gorgeous hills and roadways, and quaint cottages appearing in every scene. Other than George Clooney, there were no well-known American actors in The American. It does end up being all about Clooney though; the majority of the movie is spent showing Clooney’s face in the exact same tortured expression in dark foreboding lighting. Although one may admire Clooney’s attempt


to break free from the typical Hollywood films he is usually in, he appears to have taken a risk that may cost him quite a few fans. As it is with all cliché spy movies, there are multiple beautiful European women that appear throughout the film. Although he is in hiding, Jack manages to find time to visit multiple attractive women, and his main beauty appears nude in literally every scene she is in. The American did little to offer background information or details about the plot, which lacked any sort of complexity or specifics. Although the ambiguity may appeal to some, most do not enjoy having to speculate about everything that goes on in a film. Without anyone ever giving him any sort of direction, Jack always knows where to go and when people are following him. Ultimately, The American was beautifully shot, but was poorly edited and did not offer enough details to keep a viewer entertained or even remotely interested in the plot. If you are a fan of George Clooney, particularly his face, watch The American. If you are a fan of movies with a substantial plot, skip it. After witnessing the person next to me finally wake up from a deep slumber because the movie literally bore them to sleep, I heard them ask their seatmate, “So why was everyone trying to kill each other anyways?” and I realized that I did not know the answer to this question myself. ▪ Rating: C

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Smoke Signal

SUMMER RECAP & By Jamie Lin Staff Writer

Movies It was a sad summer for movies, but a few superstars shone above the rest. Animated family fun reigned supreme with Toy Story 3, appealing to those who grew up with the first two as well as the new generation of kids. Despicable Me, another animated kid-friendly flick, also proved as formidable as its supervillain characters. While big-budget films like The Last Airbender and The A-Team disappointed critically and financially, Inception was the mustsee movie of the summer. Besides keeping its number one spot for three weeks, it has the best international gross of 2010 for a movie not released in 3D. Nerds continued to rejoice with Scott Pilgrim vs the World, an action/fantasy/romantic comedy adapted from Bryan O’Malley’s comic books. Though critically praised, Scott Pilgrim has yet to defeat the world financially. Music Summer music really kicked off with Lady Gaga. Her “Alejandro” video was provocative and very Gaga. Whether you love or hate her, there’s no denying that her tour is one of few that actually was financially successful this summer. Then came Katy Perry’s infectious “California Gurls”, along with a Candyland-esque music video to boot. Eminem made a fabulous Recovery, especially accented by the sizzling music video for “Love the Way You Lie”, featuring Rihanna. The indie scene didn’t disappoint either, with Arcade Fire’s much anticipated third album The Suburbs easily becoming a charttopper while earning universal acclaim from critics as well. But the most memorable and unfortu-

nately explicit song of summer was Cee-Lo’s “F--- You”, a fun and ridiculously catchy song with an equally fun video. Too bad we’ll never hear it on the radio. TV Shows Before any show could hope to establish themselves, they had to contend with the fervor of FIFA World Cup 2010. America cried as we lost to Ghana in the round of 16, and the world watched intensely as Spain beat Netherlands for the title. Post-FIFA, cable TV reigned supreme. F r o m U S A’s fun and f a s t paced Covert Affairs to the return of acclaimed shows like AMC’s Mad Men and HBO’s True Blood, cable hooked its viewers. With summer also came the return of reality competition shows like Project Runway and Top Chef, which this year won the Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program, breaking The Amazing Race’s streak. The Emmys ended summer famously, awarding new shows like Modern Family for Outstanding Comedy Series and again rewarding favorites like Mad Men for Outstanding Drama Series. ▪

Radio RAdar By Chelsea Dass Staff Writer

The most commonly listened to stations on the radio are probably WiLD 94.9, 89.3 KOHL, and MOViN 99.7; they’re known for their late night remixes, top billboard pop and hip-hop hits, and danceable tunes. While their playlists are fun, try exploring the other frequencies on the radio for a change—they may open up some new favorites. 95.7 The Wolf “Country for the Bay Area,” 95.7 is a one hundred percent country station with more than just Taylor Swift. Tune in for classic country in addition to the top label artists like Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, and Lady Antebellum. The Wolf is the perfect station for smooth sing-a-long songs with lyrics that make magic out of the mundane parts of life. Country music serves as a respite from songs about girls and partying. 96.5 KOIT The Bay’s “lite rock, less talk” station is characterized by its softer playlist fit for a work place environment (remember the dentist’s office). But don’t be turned away, because the playlist includes a variety of classic hits ranging from artists like Sade, Norah

Jones, Kelly Clarkson, and Beyoncé. 96.5 is one of those rare stations that still has oldies like 80’s music and the dearly missed Michael Jackson. Come winter time, 96.5 plays Christmas and holiday music (from “Frosty the Snowman” to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You”.) 97.3 ALICE 97.3 is a mixture of old and new with rock, pop, and some Top 40 hits. Listeners can expect Jason Mraz, Colbie Caillat, and John Mayer, but also enjoy Prince, Timbaland, and The Smashing Pumpkins. 97.3 is one station where the radio hosts have a significantly greater part on air, where they dish in on celebrity gossip, upcoming Bay Area concerts (most commonly at the Shoreline Amphitheater), artists, and current events. LIVE 105 105.3 is the Bay Area’s alternative station with a strong emphasis on today’s alternative hits. Rise Against, Muse, and 30 Seconds to Mars are some commonly played artists, but hit songs from other genres, like Eminem’s rap “Not Afraid” and Travie McCoy’s reggae “Billionaire” are occasionally slipped in. From Jack Johnson to Bob Marley to Metallica, 105.3 covers a wide range of those irresistibly catchy alternative, rock, punk rock, and heavy rock jams. ▪,

By Sarah Li Graphics Editor

Movies With the cooling seasons comes a cascade of new films. The Social Network, dramatizing the turbulent history of Facebook’s founding fathers, hits theaters next Friday amidst a flurry of online chatter. Red (Oct. 15), a film about a retired black-ops agent threatened by an assassin, manages to squeeze itself in just before the annual onslaught of Halloweeninspired thrillers: Paranormal Activity 2 (Oct. 22) and Saw 3D (Oct. 29). The final months bring a number of highly anticipated hits with the first segment of the final Harry Potter installment (Nov. 9) and Tron: Legacy (Dec. 17). Family films, including Megamind (Nov. 5) and Tangled (Nov. 24), pepper the winter season. Rounding out 2010 is a group of potentially great films—perhaps in a last-ditch effort for Oscars—with psychological thriller Black Swan (Dec. 1) and Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere (Dec. 22), starring Elle Fanning, a film about a reckless actor whose daughter’s surprise visit forces him to alter his lifestyle.

Arts & Entertainment 13

Music With three-quarters of a fantastic year in music behind us, the final seasons promise to end the year spectacularly. Bruno Mars kicks off October with his debut Doo-Wops & Hooligans (Oct. 5). Since their last album, Belle & Sebastian have led a successful four years in which they were featured in indie flicks Juno and (500) Days of Summer. Their eighth album Write About Love (Oct. 12) features actress Carey Mulligan. Sufjan Stevens’ electro-heavy The Age of Adz, and Ne-Yo’s aspiring chart-topper Libra Scale will be released on the same day.Taylor Swift’s Speak Now (Oct. 26) and Kanye West’s Dark Twisted Fantasy (Nov. 16), whose release dates are separated by less than a month, will likely draw relentless media attention, especially with their clashing VMA performances. After a highly successful year, Cee Lo Green ends 2010 in hip-hop and funk with the release of his third solo album, The Lady Killer (Dec. 17). TV Shows After the conclusion of many loved shows last season, the networks have been itching to fill the gaps in their schedules. Capitalizing on the success of sci-fi, The Event (NBC) follows Sean Walker who becomes involved in an alien invasion cover-up, while No Ordinary Family (ABC) revolves around a family who gains special abilities after crashing in the Amazon. The spy genre grows this season as J. J. Abrams (of Lost fame) introduces Undercovers (NBC) and the CW premieres Nikita. Being introduced this fall is also a bevy of comedies: $#*! My Dad Says (CBS) based on the eponymous Twitter feed, the cheer drama Hellcats (CW), and Outsourced (NBC) based on the romantic comedy about culture clash. ▪,,

3D Falling Flat By Mary Lan Staff Writer

International hit Avatar encouraged a whole new experience for moviegoers: a 3D option of “immersion” into a dreamlike reality. Such a huge success of 3D graphics prompted eager followers. A slew of Real-D/3D/IMAX features consumed movie theaters, jumping from three widereleased movies in 2008 to at least three movies a month of this year. The plastic glasses sensation has invaded the nation—with side effects including a thirty percent color loss, fifty percent illumination loss, and a slight headache. How’s that for “immersion”? Unlike the vividly designed Avatar (poster-child movie for the 3D campaign), recently featured films appear suspiciously to be a plot for easy money. Catering to the audience with an “innovation”, 3D movies finally resurfaced mainstream from a brief trend in the 1950’s. Is Hollywood ready for 3D now—with one success suggesting a new generation of film to make a revolutionary impact like sound or color? Regrettably, this young 3D technology is falling flat because studios have just been exploiting the feature, not improving it. With popcorn and a drink, a 3D movie night totals up to about twenty bucks a person. 3D showings generally earn fourteen times more than 2D showings, and the effort required for the illusion is a real bargain. 3D effects can be added last in film production via an “illusionof-depth conversion process”—a few effects blurring the screen here and there and viola! The movie is deemed 3D (Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans). America is soon to tire of distractive “floating” and “jumping out” images (which are fine—in Disney theme park rides). If movi-

emakers and conglomerate studios want to ensure a future instead of a trend, they need to take 3D effects seriously and improve on the technology. What James Cameron en-

graphics editor cassie zhang

visioned as an element of cinematography is instead coming off as a moneymaking gimmick. Judging from the season’s recent 3D disappointments (what’s with new titles like Step Up 3D being labeled 3D straight off?), this feature is not living up to what it could have become. Hollywood is taking a bad turn, churning out 3D movies packed with special effects (and lacking in pretty much everything else). Since Avatar, has there been a notably successful or memorable 3D movie? The latest must-see is Inception, of which the director flatly refused 3D. That’s because the movie didn’t need it. To be honest, isn’t a 2D movie already in 3D as far as your mind is concerned? As critic Roger Ebert pointed out in Newsweek, “When you see Lawrence of Arabia growing from a speck as he rides toward you across the desert, are you thinking, “Look how slowly he grows against the horizon”?” Our minds already come with a free built-in perspective, so an artificial one distracts more than it offers. How to decide which type of the same movie to see? Personally, I’d rather save the money and save the 3D for actual holograms in the future. ▪

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The Smoke Signal

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Smoke Signal

ADMIT it with GRACE By Grace Han & Amit Patankar Sports Editors

PILOT: “Time to Hang Up the Shoes” Whether it’s MSJ Warriors or the Golden State Warriors, look to us to keep you updated on the latest news from the world of sports. We’ll be giving you our take on various topics and we promise to stay true to our opinions. Whatever the issue, don’t be afraid to step up and speak the truth. There is a difference between a veteran and a player who is too old to play. Athletes who can never call it quits not only harm the sport by holding playing time from talented rookies, but also hurt their own legacies with year after year of declining numbers. There comes a point in an athlete’s career when it’s time to hand their legacy to someone else. Shaquille O’Neal Shaq has been playing since 1992. After his golden years in LA and his championship in Miami, his ability to productively help his team has vanished with age. At 38 years old, he has bounced around from Miami to Phoenix to Cleveland and now to Boston with no 5th championship ring on his fingers. While

After a rather unsuccesful stint with King James in Cleveland, Shaq is now taking his play to the Boston Celtics.

he was at Phoenix, he held them back from advancing in the playoffs by falling victim to the famous Hack a Shaq technique, where teams fouled him in an effort to force him to shoot free throws. In Cleveland, he took away playing time from fellow center Zydrunas Illgauskas and prohibited the advancement of JJ Hickson. Now he has teamed up with the Boston Celtics, a team that is used to giving veterans a legitimate shot at a championship. There, he will join the Celtics “Big Three” of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, who are also already past their glory days. Brett Favre “I am officially retiring from the NFL.” So much for that statement; it’s been two years since the famous football warrior proclaimed his supposed exit from the game he loved so well. Its all small talk now, but Mr. Brett “Ironman” Favre will soon officially begin his 20th NFL season. Backed by his indomitable spirit, Favre has managed to last two decades playing a sport where even the toughest are made weak in their strength. But is it right to continue extending his career, stirring up controversy about his return every season while skipping out on offseason training camp at the same time? This year, it took three of Favre’s teammates to fly down to his home in Mississippi to persuade him to return for another shot at a Superbowl title. If Favre continues resorting to these tactics, he is only tarnishing his reputation as a legend and hurting his once adoring fans. There comes a time when veterans need to step down and humbly leave the game. When a player takes a selfish turn and decides to stick around, he not only harms young talent but also keeps his team and the league from developing. ▪

Coaches’ Corner: Girls’ Volleyball By Grace Han Sports Editor

After leading the MSJ Boys’ Volleyball team to their first league title in 2009, Daniel Yang (Class of ‘09) is back at school coaching the sport he loves best. Hired in the offseason to become the new Girls’ Volleyball head coach, Yang looks forward to a rewarding season with the squad and hopes to continue the recent success of the team. The Smoke Signal spent some time with our newest head coach as he shared his thoughts. Smoke Signal: What prompted you to return to Mission so quickly? Daniel Yang: My original intention for the girls this season was to be an assistant coach. When I found out that the previous head coach was unable to coach this season, I figured that there would be a possibility for me to fill that position. With a lot of thought and consideration, I decided to take the initiative and applied for the position. SS: How has your experience as a player affected your coaching style/strategy? DY: Everything that I do right now, I have learned from my coaches. However, I’m learning new things every day.

editor-in-chief elisa ting

Spotlight: Daniel Yang Favorite Athlete: Favorite Quote: Interesting Fact:

Dwyane Wade “Just Do It” - Nike My right leg is slightly shorter than my left leg.

SS: What are some goals you hope to achieve with the Girls’ Volleyball program? DY: We want to win MVALs, but most importantly we want to maximize our potential. SS: What’s the tougher job: being a player or being the coach? DY: It’s definitely tougher to be the coach because you’re responsible for all the players. ▪


Mission San Jose Varsity Football defeated De Anza High School 27-6 at TAK on Saturday September 10th. Up 7-0 at halftime, the Warriors scored three more touchdowns to pull away from De Anza. Keep making MSJ proud!

Sports 15

Stacked Teams: Fair Play? By Elisa Ting Editor-in-Chief

The world of sports has become more popular throughout the years as competitive leagues like the National Basketball Association and National Football League have grown to attract viewers from around the nation. A problem that has arisen, however, is the issue of having too many talented players on one team. The question of whether or not stacked teams are fair is one that only time and statistics can judge. Instead of the story of the underdog finishing first after months of rigorous training, the richer teams that can afford to sign superstar players are expected to take home the championship. This summer, the Miami Heat miraculously signed all-stars Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwayne Wade for the upcoming season. A starting lineup composed of these three players already makes the Heat a strong contender for the 2011 NBA championship. The Heat are not necessarily the team to finish first, but their talent-loaded team is already making other competitors seem insignificant. But depending on how Head Coach Erik Spoelstra spreads out his players, it is too early to determine how this stacked team will perform. Like the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers also have their share of stars, but the main difference between the two is the team chemistry that only time can develop. Lakers players Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gas-

ol and Andrew Bynum all played together for many seasons and have a feel for each other’s style of play. The Lakers have an advantage over the Heat because of their experience and time spent playing together. In the end, having a stacked team could be detrimental to the team since not all players are close in range to the superstars’ level of play. While the trio dominates the court at all times, the bench players are left in the dust, waiting hopelessly for their chance to shine. However, the NFL has been almost immune t o stacked teams for years now. Because of the sport’s many positions to fill, it is difficult for a team to have superstar players on both the offensive and defensive side. It is unlikely that every position can be filled by an outstanding player, which is why football teams have generally avoided this issue. Football requires at least 22 players to be ready to step on the field at all times as opposed to basketball’s five. Because of football’s nature, there is no one player who can hog the ball and score by himself. It’s essential that the team works together to advance towards the end zone. The challenge in sports is becoming far more advanced and competitive as the level of play continues to increase. Normal and stacked teams are expected to compete for the championship trophy. As this year passes by, we can only wait to see which team will finish with the title. ▪

16 Sports

The Smoke Signal

Friday, September 24, 2010

MEET THE EDITORS Editors-in-Chief


Alissa Gwynn & Elisa Ting

Gurleen Chadha & Megan McLaughlin

In 2008, Elisa Ting and Alissa Gwynn first stepped foot into N9 as sophomores amidst a sea of upperclassmen outfitted in black and red. Little did they know that they would soon emerge as editors in 2009, with Alissa dominating the Feature section through text wrap and ambitious graphic journeys while Elisa captured the moments as Graphics Editor with her Nikon D300s. Now it’s 2010 and they are co-Editors-inChief, leading a group of 53 journalists through the inner-workings of the Smoke Signal. Though they may both appear very similar in height and name, don’t be fooled. In her free time, Elisa enjoys six-packing girls in the face with volleyballs and then yelling, “YOU’RE EASY!” to finish off her swag while Alissa spends hers high-kicking dancers off the stage at competitions. Email us at

Just a red-haired girl, living in a crazy school She took the Mission train going to N-9. Just a black-haired girl, born and raised at MSJ, She took the Mission train going to N-9. Editors in a crowded room, The whole News section, and deadlines are doom. For a smile they can share the work, It goes on and on and on and on Writers waiting, Pacing down the corridors, Searching for sources through the night: They are Smokies, living just to get you the news, Writing, editing in the night. Some will win, some will lose These two were just born for NEWS. McLaughlin and Chadha, They goes on and on and on and on. Don’t stop believing in News, talk to us at



Sonia Dhawan & Audrey Wu

Roger Chen & Arthur Jeng

We know a section, Where the stories are really better, (Uh-huh) Fun, fresh, and festive, There must be something in the editors You could search the whole paper, But nothing comes close to the Feature section, Once you read us, You’ll be falling in love, (Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh)

We can’t sing, uh huh And we’re not going to try, uh huh Making songs for songs. Given the stories We’re the voice of MSJ Stirring up those thoughts. But what we do best ‘Cept writing Opinion Is counting fingers. Give us your opinion at

Feature editors, we’re unforgettable, Never dull nor boring nor sad, Audrey and Sonia, we’ll make your head spin, (Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh) Contact us with comments or suggestions at!


Arts & Entertainment

Sarah Li & Cassie Zhang

Vishal Yadav & Jordan Zhang

Wake up in the morning feelin’ like A. Leibovitz. Grab our cameras, we’re out the door, we’re gonna snap on blitz. Before you leave, check your face and the clothes on your back, ’Cause when we leave for the shoot, we’re gonna be on attack. .... Don’t stop, Photoshop, Adobe crop our pictures up. Tonight, gonna fight ‘til we’re on our last byte. Click, click on the spot, but the shutter won’t stop. OH oh OH oh OH OH OHH. ISO oh OH oh OH OH OHH. Shoot us your thoughts at

Arts and Entertainment is more than just reviews and recaps, previews and satires. “Music is like Magic” and when the beat drops you’ll be jumping Up in the Air. A truly Kick-Ass movie will rock your world like a tornado meeting a volcano, or fill you with Glee until you “Defy Gravity”. Take a break from searching for that Easy A in school. Don’t be “Hot and Cold”, yes then no, U2 can join the fun (Morgan Freeman’s voice commands you to)! So if you truly want to be “Like a Boss”, Reach for the A&E section. And check out the website for Arts and Entertainment updates! Contact us at



Grace Han & Amit Patankar

Aileen Lu & Tina Tseng

Amit and Grace are known as two of the best, Dedicated to what they do and give 100 percent Amit - Nobody knows how or why he knows all about sports Its like inDesign is spinning in his head every time Before he touches the key or makes a prediction on a dime, You’ll see him at work this year when his creativity will shine. Grace - She doesn’t need her name up in lights She just wants to be heard whether it’s the wrong or the right It’s not about glory, it’s all about honesty and being the best That means when she steps down Amit’s pickin’ it up! This is ten percent skill, twenty percent drive Fifteen percent the daring will to survive Five percent commitment, fifty percent passion And a hundred percent reason to ADMIT it with GRACE. Hit us up:

We’re climbin’ in your backroom, we ‘shoppin’ centerspreads up Tryna make ‘em so y’all need to hide your fonts, hide your art, and hide your layouts cuz we’re ‘shoppin’ errythang out here You don’t have to go and digress, we’re better than you We outdesign you, we outdesign you So you can run and tell that, run and tell that, run and tell that M-S, M-M-MSJ! Discuss the benefits and the horrors of the pen tool with us at

layout by centerspread editor aileen lu and sports editors grace han and amit patankar, photos by graphics editors sarah li and cassie zhang,

The Smoke Signal Vol. XLVI No. 8  
The Smoke Signal Vol. XLVI No. 8  

September 2010