Features

Long-form investigative articles covering people, events and issues that affect the student body. If you have an idea for us to cover, contact us at [email protected]

10 Questions

What exactly were you thinking before I stopped you? I was thinking about what I’m going to eat for lunch today. If you could go to another university, where would you go and why? I would go to UCSB because it’s almost as beautiful as San Diego. Has there been any improvement in student events since you started UCSD? I don’t know — I’m not much of a participant. How many times have you been to Tijuana? About four. What do you think the biggest slacker major is? Why? Undeclared, because you don’t have to make any commitments. In any major there will be slackers, though. Who would win in a street fight between Peter Jennings and Dan Rather? Dan Rather. Actually, I don’t know who either one of them are. Are they football players? If you could go anywhere for spring break, where would you go? Mallorca — it’s an island off Spain. Although Jamaica would be cool too; I can’t decide. What radio station is your radio tuned to right now? Z90. If you had a hot cousin, would you hook up with him or her? No. If I didn’t know they were my cousin, it would be OK, but I just wouldn’t do that. If your partner wanted to give you an olive oil massage, would you be down for it? Yes ...

A contagious fear

A panic seems to have spread through the United States in the past few weeks. Americans are wondering if they are at a high risk of biological or chemical warfare and if such an attack could effectively be conducted against the United States. Pat Leung Guardian Fears of an attack intensified last week after Robert Stevens died from inhaling anthrax in Florida. While the circumstances surrounding his death are still unclear, many fear it is a harbinger of biological warfare as a new form of combat. The scare is reminiscent of other attacks in which chemicals were used as weapons. In 1995, terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo spread aerosols of anthrax and botulism through Tokyo on eight occasions. Most of these attempts were only marginally successful, killing a total of 12 people. In 1979, 64 people died of an accidental release of weaponized anthrax in Sverdlovsk, Russia. Other possible biological agents include smallpox, cholera and plague. An outbreak of smallpox would be “”devastating,”” according to Gerard Spahm, director of occupational health at the Salk Institute. “”It would be horrendous. But we have every indication that there is no other smallpox.”” While small amounts of smallpox still exist in laboratories in the United States and Russia, it was declared eradicated in 1977. Of the biological and chemical agents that could be used in an attack, anthrax seems to be on most people’s minds. There are three types of anthrax infection: inhalation anthrax, cutaneous anthrax and gastrointestinal anthrax. Cutaneous anthrax is the most common form, with about 2,000 cases reported annually and a 20 percent death rate, according to the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies. FBI officials and Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York, spoke Oct. 12 in a press conference about the NBC employee who has been diagnosed with cutaneous anthrax. “”There is nothing that ties it firm and hard to the Sept. 11 events,”” Barry Mawn of the FBI said. However, Dr. Brian J. Murray, director of Student Health Services at UCSD, is skeptical. “”Cutaneous anthrax is fairly uncommon,”” Murray said. “”I would say the relation between the NBC woman and terrorist activities is highly suspect.”” The cutaneous form of anthrax is usually transmitted by infected animals, which places wool sorters at industrial mills at the highest risk. Gastrointestinal anthrax is less common, since it is spread by eating undercooked, contaminated meat. The strain of most concern is inhalation anthrax. When distributed as an aerosol, it is an odorless and invisible enemy, and can travel many miles before spreading. Inhaling airborne spores causes infection, but it is not contagious. Once the spores grow, the disease follows two steps. The first stage shows symptoms of fever, cough, headache, vomiting, chest pain and weakness. The second stage is red-flagged by a sudden fever and shock. From the time that the first symptoms appear, most victims last from 24 hours to three days without medical treatment. However, many victims do not show symptoms for a long time. But if a victim is treated with antibiotics such as Cipro at the first signs of the disease, anthrax is not fatal. There is also a vaccine against anthrax, though it is almost exclusively used for the U.S. military and its reserves. The vaccine is not recommended by public use because of its harsh side effects, as well as the cost and logistics of a large-scale vaccination. Authorities are also trying to discourage people from creating a personal stockpile of antibiotics in case of an anthrax attack. Dr. Jeffery Kaplan, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Oct. 2 that the centers “”do not recommend that physicians prescribe antibiotics at this time. “”We currently have enough antibiotics to prevent the disease in two million persons exposed to anthrax,”” Kaplan said. “”We could rapidly get preventative medicine to those who may be affected by the disease, which cannot be transmitted between people.”” As nice as that sounds, this statement has done little to allay people’s fears. “”There is no doubt in my mind that they [terrorists] have the capacity to unleash a biological offensive,”” said Muir senior Elijah Zarlin. “”And if it happens, it would be devastating, no matter how many precautions you take.”” While terrorists may have the ability to unleash these agents, it could be difficult to effectively spread it. A successful attack would use a confined space to discourage dilution into open air. The effectiveness of a chemical attack would also depend on the location and weather conditions. Spahm said that San Diego residents would not be prime targets for a chemical attack. “”The prevailing winds from the ocean to the mountains would disperse the particles, therefore dramatically reducing its effectiveness,”” he said. Since the primary symptoms of inhalation anthrax resemble that of influenza, there is a growing concern that an increased public panic could lead to a psychosomatic reaction. That means that people could convince themselves that they have inhaled anthrax spores instead of simply acquiring influenza. Following the death in Florida, for example, over 60 people who had an affiliation with the man, or the company he worked for, convinced themselves that they had acquired the disease. “”We would encourage people with possible complications to come in first for the flu vaccination, which comes out in the end of October,”” said Sylvia Wallace, assistant director of public affairs for Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. “”Those without complications should wait until November and December, when supplies trickle in to get this year’s flu shot.”” Flu shots will also be available at the UCSD Student Health Office on Oct. 23 for $15. Officials have also reassured the public, which is unaccustomed to living in fear of terrorist activity. The CDC and the World Health Organization urge citizens to continue their normal daily routines. Wallace pointed out that the government has “”stockpiles”” of antibiotics to treat most of the possible diseases from biological or chemical pathogens. “”As a system, [hospitals] have emergency preparedness and [practice] simulated drills,”” Wallace said. “”We also work in cooperation with the fire department and other regional and federal systems. Many thought healthcare would fold in New York, but it didn’t fail.”” Most authorities interviewed said that there are few practical precautions for a biological or chemical attack. “”In order to be protected, you must wear [a gas mask or air-tight suit] 24 hours a day,”” Spahm said. Student and faculty seem to favor continuing a normal routine. “”I don’t take any precautions,”” UCSD employee Katy Pilikova said. “”I think we have to be worried. But still, I am going on vacation.”” ...

The Editor's Soapbox

If you’re one of those people who has ever said, “”I think I’m going to take the LSAT just to see how I would do,”” I have this to say in response: Don’t even toy with the idea of law school unless you have hundreds of dollars to throw around. Now, when I mention dollars, you probably think I’m referring to the astronomical tuition fees associated with most of the top-tier law schools. Harvard, Yale and Stanford all demand something around $25,000 per year. Even the lower-ranked, but still noteworthy schools — such as USC, Cornell and Columbia — will cost you a pretty penny. Still, the steep tuition is expected. What you might not expect from law school is just how much it could cost you to simply take the test and apply. Let me enlighten you, dear prospective LSAT-takers, with a few insightful bits of wisdom that constitute the sum of all I learned while studying for the Big Test over the last three months. It costs $96 to register for the LSAT. On top of that, most test-takers register for the “”Basic Law School Data Assembly Service 12-month subscription fee”” for $95. The $95 buys you one free score report and ensures that your letters of recommendation will be on file with the LSDAS. It already sounds like an expensive proposition. The average applicant applies to 10 law schools. You get to pay $9 for each additional score report that the LSDAS sends out. After registering to take the LSAT and deciding which 10 schools you’re applying to, you’ve got a bill of $281. Let’s be fair and imagine that you’re taking the test just to “”see how you would do,”” and that you thus have no need for 10 score reports or for the filing service. Being there on test day is still going to cost $96 and if you ever do apply, you’ll still have to register for the LSDAS for $95. Now, let’s imagine another scenario: You paid the $96 just to see how you would do, but now that the economy and the world seem a tad wobbly, you want to apply to your 10 schools and ensure your position on the student deferment list rather than your position on the front lines in Afghanistan. First, you’ll be hit by that $95 fee and then you’ve got to order those additional score reports at $9 each. Then, a month later, you’ll forget that you’re a communications or political science major and you’ll think, “”What the heck? I might as well apply to Harvard. I mean, I do have a 3.90.”” Now you will have gotten your little legalistic self into a quandary — you only ordered 10 score reports! Never fear, of course. The LSDAS loves to predict your blunders and make money off them, and they predicted this one perfectly. You can order additional score reports for Harvard at a later date, but the price goes up from $9 each to $11 each. Now that’s $95 for the test, $96 for the LSDAS subscription, $90 for score reports and $11 for the Harvard decision. That adds up to $292. And you haven’t even paid your application fees yet, which run between $50 and $70 each. Ten applications at an average of $60 per application is $600. The grand total has now risen to $892. Oh, and what about those preparatory courses you’ve heard such wonderful things about? They must be worth something — I mean, they’re the reason the LSAT is getting harder every year. Well, don’t even consider trying one unless you’ve got about $1,000 to drop. New grand total: $1,892. Before I go on, I’ll admit that the LSDAS does offer fee waivers for U.S. citizens. The general condition upon which such waivers are granted, however, is an “”absolute inability to pay for the LSAT and other essential applicant services.”” That seems sort of reasonable, but LSDAS also states that, “”Because the cost of these services is only a fraction of the cost of a legal education, the need criterion is considerably more stringent than for other financial aid processes.”” Here’s my reading of that very fishy statement: “”If you can’t afford to take the LSAT, you probably can’t afford law school. You should be intimidated by these looming costs and shouldn’t even bother applying.”” At first, it seems like I sound a lot like the LSDAS booklet. But here’s how my LSAT philosophy differs: Even if you’re empty-pocketed, you should save up and apply, you should still go if you get in, and, of course, you should apply for the fee waiver no matter what. Just be aware of the price tag attached to your decision and prepare for it. I wasn’t and now I’ve got a new $1,300 student loan. ...

The Editor's Soapbox: Quest for 'hotness' misguided, insincere

It happened nearly a year ago, but I don’t forget things quickly. Late one night in October, my normally quiet, mild-mannered roommate stumbled into the house fresh from his company’s Halloween party. Drunk as a pig, he was full of brilliantly witty declarations regarding the disposition of the female gender, most of which boiled down to the statement, “”Women are bitches.”” Another of my roommates, ineffably amused, asked him, “”Just how drunk are you?”” at which he burst out, with a grin, “”Drunk enough to think that Jennifer is hot!”” He quickly guffawed and tried to reassure me with a slurred, “”Just kidding.”” I smirked back at him, but things were already working within my mind. I did not know which should have been more offensive: the first statement, or its retraction a moment later. What I did know was that whichever way his words were taken, he was speaking not just his own point of view but indeed even my own, and that he reflected, to a degree, what others around me are prone to think as well. The difference between the way I feel about my appearance and the way some others do, however, is that I don’t feel any obligation to change anything. “”Nine out of 10 UC girls are hot, and the tenth goes to UCSD.”” Doubtless many of you, especially the older ones, have heard this self-satisfied sneer at some point or another. I could easily counter it with the presentation of any of my female acquaintances, but I could not exhibit myself as a counter-example. So sorry, boys — I’m that 10th girl who’s ruining your statistics. However, most of you lads aren’t so hot yourselves, so you may want to think about that the next time you sit down for a laugh at the expense of your female classmates. After several years of contemplation, I have noticed a couple of things about “”hotness””: First, it’s a sin not to have it, but second, it’s an even greater sin not to want it. I am content with my lot, so don’t think this is a rant about how bitter I am that I look nothing like Catherine Zeta Jones. Like the mindless masses, I worship at the delicious altar of beauty and pledge my undying zeal without a second thought. However, I wish people would quit trying to make me want that distant, unattainable zenith for myself when I know I am demure enough not to try to be so. While a person can be perfectly comfortable for failing to meet the criteria that make for “”beauty,”” it makes others uncomfortable as hell when they have to deal with someone who willingly steps outside that fold. People seem to take a particular delight in trying to play dress-up with those who won’t subscribe to conventional standards of beauty. I can’t tell you how many slumber party friends have asked to do a makeover on me, and how many times I have squeamishly refused. Finally, though, something gave way during my first year here, and I consented to become a mannequin to my roommates for an evening. I found it uncomfortable but bearable, goaded on as I was by their compliments, and I decided to make small changes in my appearance for a while. I occasionally ditched glasses for contacts, dared to wear my hair down — I enjoy a famous reputation from Walnut Creek to San Diego for always keeping it pulled back — and started shopping for things other than sweatshirts and baggy jeans. People reacted positively to how I looked. They found it novel and impressive that I would have consented to appear more as a 1990s girl than a late-nineteenth century portrait. When I would revert back to what I considered my normal appearance, they would ask when I was next going to appear in my “”hot”” guise, as some called it. I used to laugh this off with embarrassment, but as the summer after freshman year wore on, I began to feel the first tinges of offense creep into me. I noticed that I was becoming less comfortable with the style that I had adopted; that I felt it did not encapsulate the side of me with which I was at ease. Dressing up in that manner was more like putting on a mask or a persona, and I felt untrue to myself. I am not one to do things that go against my instinct; I reverted more and more to my normal appearance, with which I was perfectly comfortable and content, though I did keep the wardrobe changes. And then it started. I had ceased to change my appearance any longer and stayed the same old comfortable me, the one I like the best. But some of my friends began to ask more insistently when I would next be playing dress-up, and would even urge me to come out to certain social functions only if I’d be “”properly attired.”” This had always made me uneasy, but after two years of this badgering, it had begun to make me downright angry. I would dismiss their beleaguering questions absent-mindedly, or laugh sardonically at the mention of my alter ego. Nobody was any the wiser. I realized that people had taken to the other appearance I created for myself; there was nothing wrong with that, in my book. What was infuriating was that I considered it a fake incarnation of myself, and many people seemed to prefer the fake persona to my real one, the one with which I was happy. This vexed me considerably. It doesn’t bother me to walk by the Bebe store and see an enormous poster of a model whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie. It is bothersome, however, to imagine the indignation of those who stand behind me, condemning me just because I don’t want to try in vain to make myself look like that same model. Before my sophomore year, I stopped scrambling for the unattainable and realized that I was most content with what I had been given. Some of those around me are not, however, and I’ll still get the occasional request to be my “”other self.”” I got over my perpetual irritation with others’ pointless pleading when I realized that I was comfortable with my appearance, no matter what others might have thought of it. Indeed, I came to realize that their nagging actually reflected more on their discomfort with my own desire not to conform than on any objective notion that I could actually be good-looking. Hotness is delicious — on the people for whom it was intended. But most can’t get it through their heads that not everybody can be hot or want to be. This comes as a shock to many people, since hotness is certainly one of the more lauded and thirsted-after values of our society. I’m not a mover and shaker, though; I stay within the comfortable boundaries of my locative realm. Not to want to be hot, and to be truly satisfied with that state, seems to be too much for some. Even if you come to accept yourself, it’s funny to realize that there are still going to be a lot of people who won’t accept you, particularly if you go against the grain. ...

10 Questions

What is one thing you love about UCSD? The weather. The sun is out when you need it and it’s never too hot. And when you want it cool, it’s there. Better than Los Angeles. What is one thing you dislike about UCSD? It’s too quiet during the weekends. There is no nightlife. What is the best means of transportation around campus? The shuttles. What do you think of UCSD’s school spirit? What school spirit? How do you party like it’s UCSD? We don’t party at UCSD. We study. The only party here is Sun God! How do you think having on-campus fraternity houses would affect our school? I think it would generate more of a social life for some people. It might bring some life to the campus. Beer vs. Books: What do you think of alcohol and academics? Alcohol is a great excuse to use books as … wait. What books? How many hours a week do you study? Ten to 20 hours. What is the funniest or worst story about bad roommates you’ve been told? A friend of mine’s sister went home for Christmas break and her roommate stole her toilet paper from her closet. What is the worst thing you have seen or experienced while here? I got caught drinking by the resident security officer. Me, drinking? I was a goody two-shoes in high school, so getting caught was weird. ...

Keeping the Faith

Navigating Library Walk during Welcome Week can be overwhelming with so many organizations there trying to attract your attention. Among the political and social clubs are some that many students find just as important as debating or partying: organizations that cater to UCSD’s spiritual needs. Rebecca Drexler Guardian There are 42 religious organizations on campus, according to a Student Organizations and Leadership Opportunities pamphlet. The groups cover many world religions, and vary as much in their size and level of on-campus visibility as they do in their practices and values. Each contributes to campus life in its own way. At first, UCSD can be intimidating, so many students affiliate themselves with a religious group to find a comfortable atmosphere that allows them to socialize, but also to remember what they are living for. Roosevelt sophomore Rebecca Cohen joined the Union of Jewish Students because it gave her the feeling of being with a family while away from her own. Tyler Huff Guardian “”For me, Judaism is linked to my family, and without that part in my life, I would feel disconnected,”” Cohen said. Muir freshman Amber Martin feels that joining a religious group on campus is “”consistent, making it easier to adjust to campus life.”” She said that she thought of joining Campus Crusade for Christ because it would help her maintain a religious connection away from home. CCC’s purpose is to help students meet people and find satisfaction through their faith. According to its mission statement, the CCC is dedicated to giving “”every student the opportunity to know how they can have a personal relationship with God.”” The club’s president, Roosevelt senior Craig Shigyo, said the CCC’s priorities are “”to offer the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the campus, and also to build a community of love, grace and truth.”” The organization, which has about 200 members, does this through meetings at which a different guest speaks each week. “”That time is meant for Christians to come together and for others to come learn,”” Shigyo said. He said that each college has its own Bible study group to provide a more intimate environment and discussion. The CCC also fosters student connections by providing festive environments for its members. Each Bible group goes out together after sessions so people can get to know one another. Shigyo added that CCC is planning a camping trip and a conference in Los Angeles with other Campus Crusaders. Marshall senior Richard Chen described the group as a “”tight-knit community.”” He explained that many of the other Christian organizations on campus, such as the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, work with CCC on events. This cooperation, Shigyo said, offers different viewpoints and chances to meet people. CCC emphasizes communication among different religions. It plans to hold a comparative religion forum this quarter. Marshall junior Victor Ha, who is the CCC’s outreach chair, is organizing a “”nonthreatening, nondebated forum, to allow people to deduce for themselves, and get their questions answered.”” Ha, along with the Crusade committee, believes that many come to UCSD unsure of themselves and their religious beliefs. He thinks that this forum will be educational for many. Ha said his goal is to unite speakers from the Muslim Student Association, UJS, and other organizations to individually explain their beliefs. The MSA is an active organization of about 50 members. Despite being smaller than other clubs, the MSA is “”very active”” on campus, according to Margaret McKnight, a manager at the Office of Religious Affairs. According to MSA president Muir senior Ahmad Salem, the MSA is “”an area for Muslims to come together.”” It offers Koranic Studies on Tuesdays and holds meetings Thursdays. “”One of MSA’s main goals, other than reaching out to Muslims on campus, is to reach out and educate other UCSD students,”” Salem said. The MSA accomplishes this through various high-profile campus events. It sponsors Islamic Awareness Week, in which nightly lectures aredesigned to explain Islamic doctrine to non-Muslims. Last year MSA held its first annual Culture Fest, where it displayed on Library Walk the worldwide reach of Islam. MSA plans to hold another Culture Fest this year. Like CCC, the MSA reaches beyond its membership to connect with students. Last week, MSA and 10 other student organizations together held a rally, “”United in Peace,”” which encouraged healing after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. MSA member Muir sophomore Iman Salem said the rally was to show solidarity. “”Muslims were shocked by the bombings, and we are hurting, too,”” Salem said in reference to the persistent fear and suspicion of Muslims among some Americans. “”We wanted to express our concern and pain to students.”” Marshall junior Nadia Aziz joined MSA three years ago unsure of what to expect. “”It is a whole different community,”” Aziz said. “”As Muslims, we are big on brotherhood and sisterhood, and the MSA is like my family. I can count on them for anything.”” She said that the organization is still growing and that it hopes to reach out to more students with each new event. Most organizations are experiencing an influx of members this year, especially UJS. Marshall senior David Weisberg, president of UJS, said a record number of people attended UJS’s Welcome Week barbecue, “”Shmooze with the Jews.”” The rising number of participants may be due to growing awareness about what UJS offers UCSD. Weisberg explained that UJS “”provides religious, educational, social, political and cultural facets in the community. If there is a need for it in the community, we do it.”” He listed examples such as political lectures, Israeli dancing and networking events with other UJS groups in San Diego. The most popular service that UJS provides, according to Weisberg, is the Friday night Shabbat service. Attendees gather for religious services, then divide into Reform, Conservative and Orthodox groups, based on the differing practices and traditions within Judaism. After services, all members socialize while eating dinner, which is, Cohen said, a “”nice Kosher meal.”” UJS plans to focus on a large community service activity this year. Weisberg has suggested visiting a children’s hospital or a nursing home. “”Our goal is to have one long-term project,”” Weisberg said. Weisberg said UJS does its best “”to reach out to all the Jewish students”” and that he is very pleased with the positive responses the organization is getting this year. The Baha’i Club blends the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths into one belief system. The Baha’i organization has about 100 members, and according to club president Warren senior Sam Shooshtary, 50 of them are active. Shooshtary said that the Baha’i embrace all scriptures. “”We believe in the common foundation of all the religions: the belief in one God and in one humanity,”” Shooshtary said. “”It is important to show that we are one, to express tolerance and to promote unity. Our goal is to educate.”” The club has educated UCSD for years through the Hate-Free Campus campaign. Shooshtary said other activities include their services, held every 19 days, in which “”the community gets together for a dinner and a discussion about what is facing our community.”” The officers and members of each organization feel they have much to offer UCSD’s students. They all focus on creating a welcoming environment. They share the common characteristic of becoming like a second family, a group with which students can have fun, relieve daily stress, and connect to their faith with people who share their vaues. For so many, it is the religious aspect of their lives that makes them feel like they are balanced individuals. Not only do they find long-lasting friendships, but become stronger individuals in the process. ...

The Editor's Soapbox: Don't be so impressed by my Rubik's Cube

I recently learned from a friend while on a trip to Washington, D.C. exactly how to solve a Rubik’s Cube, regardless of state. It takes the understanding of a few simple concepts, in two dimensions, of how pieces move around the cube, and memorizing a fairly intuitive sequence of about 32. The ridiculous thing is that I don’t understand the cube whatsoever. If someone were to hand me a cube, and ask me to place it in some arbitrary configuration, the only result I could produce would be the canonical one. What this illustrates is the fact that what I’ve basically done is memorize the solution of someone who actually comprehends the problem at hand, and conceptualized it to the point where someone like me only has to think in two dimensions instead of four. I’ve learned the solution for all outward appearences, but in reality, I understand very little of how the inner workings of the thing actually work. Even worse, I’ve created no solutions — there’s no thought involved anymore when I solve the thing. It’s all recitation. The Rubik’s Cube is a great analogy, then, for my academics at this university thus far (and probably for a long time to come). Taking computer science and physics courses means a lot of solving Rubik’s Cubes: We learn neat little equations or programming techniques that represent the natural world in our math and engineering classes, see examples of how they work, follow them and get passing grades in our classes. It’s one big game of “”monkey see, monkey do.”” While some physics problem can look huge and ugly, rare is the problem that has a non-intiutive answer that is at once simple, elegant and creative. Most of the time, due to the realities of the way students must learn the material, we are forced through canonical methods over and over again, much like my practice with the Rubik’s Cube (I can do it under 4 minutes now, by the way). And this is fine and perfectly good — when we engineers graduate and go out into the “”real world,”” engineering majors (and doctors, for you biology majors out there) get paid ridiculous amounts of money to follow canonical solutions (though they may differ greatly in context) to a tee. What I cannot stand, however, is when an engineering or biology or economics major will mistake the higher starting salary of their discipline’s graduates for increased levels of presitge and intelligence. I’m tired of hearing theater, English and political science majors ooh in amazement and say, “”wow, that’s a hard major”” when I say what I do at this university, because our society (and for that matter our own university) equivocates wealth in profession with true objective worth. The truth is, as much as snide engineering or science majors will tell you otherwise, what we do is no more difficult than the hours an English or political science major must invest in a paper, or a theater major must invest in a production. I personally hold the arts, humanities and social sciences as a whole in much higher esteem than the recitated science at the undergraduate level (more on higher academics later). Why? It’s because these majors are forced to produce creative, nonintuitive output on a continual basis for excellence. In a lower-division mathematics course, if you can recite something at 70 percent accuracy you’ll be near the top of your class. I find this absurd. The only reason people perceive “”the sciences”” as any more difficult in our modern society is that there are a great many people whose talents do not fall within the realms of the engineering or biology major. These people have chosen these majors for socioeconomic reasons of “”prestige”” and money. My engineering classes are chock full of people who barely grasp and recite the material. Motivations and intents are very difficult to get a grasp on: Ask any aspiring doctor if it’s the money and prestige motivating him and you’re likely to get some answer about a great concern for the well-being of others — but what if we paid our doctors $30,000 per year and our teachers $120,000? The truth is that no matter how much people profess what their actual intents are, socioeconomic concerns will motivate a drive for a choice of profession and major (though I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that; it’s how economics works intrinsically). I’m willing to bet that if computer science turns into an unromantic prospect (say, an average graduate garners $24,000), that the glut of people in my math, CSE and ECE courses who barely recite material and then go off to complain to their English and political science friends about the complexity of the material at hand would disappear. The saddest thing about this, however, is not that we devalue perfectly valid and, in truth, beautiful subjects such as rhetoric and history. No, the sad thing is that in pursuit of greed, people complain and recite the material, but they never understand it, much less realize that it is as beautiful in its complexity as poetry or any classical work. Now, don’t get me wrong about sciences and engineering: I have a great amount of respect for my professors and those graduate and undergraduate students in my major who are driven to constantly take what they learn, turn it over in their heads and unravel the puzzles that make up the intrinsic laws of nature and man-made puzzles like digital logic. At its core, the laws of relativity are as incomprehensibly beautiful as the poems of W. B. Yeats. It’s annoying and sad to watch many people wonder whether they can get through this material in four years so they can start going out to pursue careers and make money — and deride their peers around them whose talents and interests fall in areas less rewarded by our society’s economic structure. I wish my friends and peers who chose majors of creative output and analysis derided as “”one-way tracks to teaching careers”” would hold their heads high because lowly engineering majors struggle to comprehend the beauty in the material they’ve chosen for socioeconomic reasons. I wish the engineering majors around me would stop worrying about their grades, try to stand in awe of the genius that created the equations they must use to solve their problems and try as best they can to understand their derivations themselves. Then again, I also wish I actually understood how a Rubik’s Cube works. ...

Students conduct energy-saving experiment

With ever-increasing energy prices and the end of our supply of petroleum an inevitable threat, more and more alternative energy and fuel sources are being considered for the future. Madison High School in Clairemont is leading the way in experimenting with just such a resource that, if supported further, could be a solution. Tyler Huff Guardian In the last few years, biodiesel, a combination of vegetable oil, methanol and lye, has been experimented with as an alternative fuel for diesel engines. Greg Quirin, automechanics instructor for Madison High School’s Regional Occupation Program Autoshop and former UCSD transportation services mechanic, began working with his students to produce his own version upon learning of biodiesel’s many benefits. In his research, he found that biodiesel is not only a completely renewable, nontoxic alternative, it’s also a means of recycling used vegetable oil that would normally be taken to a landfill. “”A large restaurant gets rid of 500 gallons of vegetable oil in a month, 90 percent of which can be reclaimed, filtered and used to make biodiesel,”” Quirin explained. Furthermore, used or unused, the vegetable oil can be taken from any number of sources ranging from soy bean to canola oil. What further distinguishes biodiesel from standard diesel fuel is its drastically lower emissions rates, which translates to a much more environmentally responsible fuel source. Its only by-product is glycerin and it has between 40 to 60 percent lower emissions of government-regulated by-products such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulates or soot. Biodiesel can also be used in any diesel engine without requiring any modifications or conversions to the engine. “”Another advantage is the lubricating effect biodiesel has that has been shown to increase engine life,”” added instructional aide Daniel McKinley. Motivated by the promising results of his study of biodiesel, Quirin set out to create a biodiesel lab within the autoshop. Guided only by information offered in Joshua Trickell’s book on biodiesel, “”From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank,”” Quirin and his students were able to manufacture their own biodiesel for around 80 cents per gallon using little more than a trolling motor and a steel drum. “”I tell the students that if you can bake a cake, you can make biodiesel,”” Quirin said. The fairly simple process requires only two ingredients beyond vegetable oil: lye and methanol, which are required to create a catalyst for the reaction necessary to produce the fuel. Not satisfied with merely producing biodiesel, Quirin decided to challenge his students further and put their fuel to real-life application. The result after nearly a year of work and experimentation was the “”Veggie Volvo,”” a Volvo 760 equipped with a diesel engine made by the students in the autoshop. Quirin and his students entered the Veggie Volvo in the 2001 Del Mar Fair, taking home first place for Transportation Group Project as well as an environmental awareness award. The recognition and recent media coverage of the project has helped earn grants from groups such as the Greater San Diego Educational Industry Counsel. “”In the United States there’s only a handful of universities researching biodiesel,”” Quirin said. “”We’re probably the only known high school that not only experiments with it, but produces and uses it in our own shop’s vehicles as well.”” Such a statement reveals how new and relatively unknown biodiesel is and therefore how unique Quirin’s program is. As awareness about biodiesel spreads, it’s becoming clear that its role in the future has great potential. Biodiesel is compatible with any diesel engine; therefore, it could potentially power boats, buses, trucks and even power plants that run off a large diesel engine. The government has already begun using biodiesel in fleets, and in several parts of the country, public buses are being powered by the vegetable-based fuel as well. The trend may catch on further, as a large-scale conversion of vehicle engines from petroleum-based fuel dependence to relying on some sort of alternative fuel source is unavoidable in the near future. “”Within the next five years, buses and all diesel vehicles will have to meet federal and state emissions standards and current diesel engines are not clean-running enough to pass these standards,”” Quirin explained. He also said that compared with other options such as natural gas or cars powered by electricity, biodiesel is a much more viable choice: Natural gas is a limited resource and cannot be used without expensive conversions for engines, and electric cars have yet to be perfected. So what’s next for Quirin and his research? He has set his sights on a more efficient vehicle intended to run only on biodiesel. With the help of a Perkins grant for vocational classes at the high school, Quirin said he plans to take a “”small, efficient engine from a Volkswagen Rabbit and adapt it into a custom kit car with hopes of achieving 45-50 miles to a gallon running on vegetable oil.”” The Veggie Volvo currently gets approximately 25 miles to the gallon, so Quirin has high hopes. Financial support seems to be his largest obstacle, because the project is currently funded primarily by donations received from work the autoshop students perform on the shop’s cars. ...

10 Questions

1. If you could change one thing about the UCSD campus what would you change? More bike riding hours. 2. If you could invent a sport, what would it be a mix of or what would you call it? A mix of soccer and water … oh, wait. That would be waterpolo. You’d swim upside down and use your feet. 3. Who is your favorite celebrity at this time? Tom Cruise … short, dark and handsome. 4. What movie can’t you wait to see? “”Serendipity.”” 5. If you could be a fruit, what would you pick? A pear; I like the way they taste. 6. Have you ever been inspired by something or someone on campus? Not just yet. 7. What food do you miss the most on campus? Anything my dad cooks! 8. If any artist could perform at UCSD, who would you want it to be? Sum 41. 9. What on-campus activity do you want to get involved in this quarter? Innertube waterpolo. 10. What is the oddest class you have taken or have heard of? Empowering Female Studies. ...

Exploring the Far East

When a friend from class unexpectedly approached me and exclaimed, “”We should go to China!”” I thought there was no way he could be serious. But he was. He told me about an organization called Legends of China, which didn’t sound very concrete. We went to the information session. The trip appeared to be some sort of peace relation conference. But we discovered the catch: They wanted you to sign up over the Internet with a credit card or send a check right away. I was afraid it was a scam, but for $985, an all-inclusive trip to China was definitely a good deal. I took a chance and after a little thought, I went for it and sent in the form. I had never thought seriously about going to China (except to see the Great Wall). When I told people about my summer plans, their reactions showed they had some of the same fears that I had. When I signed up for the trip, it was right after the U.S. spy plane incident, and my Southern family had many preconceived ideas about the communist country. However, I was on a personal peace mission. Once I arrived, I realized what the trip was really about. Legends of China was able to show us culture, as I had assumed it would, but mostly it was a tour group. Though I felt slightly misled, the trip did show me a lot about Chinese culture and society. I began seeing cultural differences right away. It was hard not to notice that young girls in China are much more affectionate with each other than Americans are. After getting to know two of the locals our group met at a university, they started walking right next to me, with our shoulders touching. I was rather flattered that Lucy and Cher felt so comfortable with me, but in 95 degree weather I wanted some breathing space. Along with seeing the usual tourist attractions, the Americans were able to visit a university and meet some of the students. University life in China has some similarities to American college life, but also many differences. One student, Van, told me that the amount of time a student spends studying is up to them, but that Chinese students are in class about eight hours a day, five days a week — much more time than Americans are used to. The dorm life is also much different. Students are not allowed in the dorms of members of the opposite sex. Also, six people live in each room, and the rooms are small: only a little bit larger than 150 square feet to hold three bunks and usually one or two desks. Erica Cazares, a student on the tour from Long Beach State University, asked Van what Chinese guys thought of American girls. He said politely, “”American girls are much stronger than Chinese girls.”” Cities in China are highly populated, and due to this density, I saw several traffic accidents, including bike-on-bike accidents. Something that was hard for us Americans to comprehend was the fact that in China, it seems to be that the bigger vehicle has the right of way. My second night in China I saw a bicyclist get rear-ended by a car. The driver got out of his car and looked at his bumper, then drove off. Luckily for the bicyclist, the only damage was to his bike, because in China, the bicyclist would have been held responsible for any damages. Overall, the trip was amazing. The country is beautiful and safe. I didn’t feel the need to keep everything under close watch as one does when traveling in Europe. The people were very nice and would often approach Americans, wanting to have their picture taken with us. Loren Thompson, assistant vice chancellor of Student Educational Advancement at UCSD, initiated the school’s involvement with the program. He said of the trip, “”The greatest cultural difference was how extremely friendly the people were. Everywhere we went, if you smiled at someone, people were ready to smile back.”” A trip like this would be especially interesting for people who like history and different cultures. China is full of ancient traditions. For me, it was incredible to go through the cities, see the things that I had learned about and visit the places I studied that are now tourist attractions. For once, the things I heard about in my Making of the Modern World courses had a purpose. I have heard about trips such as this advertised for UCSD students, such as one to Israel for students of the Jewish faith. I encourage everyone to look into these programs because they really are a great bargain. Altogether, the airfare, hotels (these really were four and five stars) and meals were included for less than the airfare alone would have been if we had booked it on our own. The experience was well worth the cost. For Thompson, this is not the end of this program. “”UCSD is definitely going to work with Legends of China again,”” he said. Giving more students the opportunity to experience what I did and … find their own personal peace abroad. ...