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]

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. ...

10 Questions

What were you doing when you heard about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks? “”I was working.”” If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? “”I would change my major.”” What is your most embarrassing moment? “”I dressed up like a woman in high school at lunch and danced to a song for a rally. That’s also my proudest moment.”” What do you do when you’re not in class? “”I work and read.”” What do you think the United States should do in response to the attacks? “”I think that they should try and find who is responsible and put them to justice, and not kill innocent people. I am very much against war.”” What was the first concert you attended? “”I went to a Dave Matthews concert a couple of years ago.”” What is the most important thing in your life right now? “”My girlfriend.”” How do you feel about campus life? “”It’s only two days old. It’s OK.”” Do you think that the entertainment industry contributes to the recent increase in violence? “”No, I think that violence is inherent in people and that it doesn’t matter what they watch or see.”” What do you plan on doing after college? “”I plan on becoming a math teacher.”” ...

Local efforts help victims of terrorist attack

This month’s devastating terrorist attacks may have hit hardest thousands of miles away from San Diego, but pain and suffering has reached people across the nation and sparked a zealous local response. Organizations and individuals have united to show their support for fellow Americans and to do what they can to ease the shock. Local chapters of national organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Liberty Fund, the Salvation Army and the Firefighters Relief Fund have all been involved in the effort to rebuild and recuperate. Many organizations, including the American Red Cross, reported monetary donations reaching into the millions. In addition to monetary and blood donations, the Red Cross is also providing mental health care crisis counseling for any who feel they need it. Specially trained mental health workers have also been sent to New York and Washington, D.C. to provide services to the vast numbers of witnesses and families of victims. The San Diego Red Cross has sent several volunteers to the attack sites. On Sept. 11, local members of the Spiritual Care Aviation Incident Response awaited a military transport to New York to provide spiritual care. Local radio and television stations have also made immense contributions. On Sept. 22, radio station Star 100.7 FM organized the “”Human Flag 2001,”” which 6,000 people attended, forming the American flag to represent and remember the victims of the attacks. The event was held at Qualcomm Stadium at 7:30 a.m. Photos of the event will be made into posters that will be sold for $5 on the Star Web site. All proceeds from poster sales will benefit the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Star also helped create “”Together We Stand”” pins, distributed with a minimum donation of $1. Again, all proceeds go to the Red Cross fund. Pins are available at Westfield shopping centers. 760 KFMB has also displayed its American pride and patriotism by giving away flags since Tuesday and setting up information hotlines for the city of San Diego. KFMB Channel 8 was also involved in the nationwide effort to benefit relief and recovery efforts. Channel 8 was one of four major television stations and at least 20 other affiliated channels that simultaneously broadcast Sept. 21 the “”America, A Tribute to Heroes”” telethon. The event was a collaboration by the networks and featured notable celebrities and entertainers such as Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. The San Diego Blood Bank has asked all eligible San Diegans to donate blood or money to aid its efforts to remember and assist the victims. The blood bank also teamed with the San Diego County Credit Union to create a San Diego Blood Bank Visa card. For every purchase made on the special credit card a contribution will be made to the San Diego Blood Bank. The local chapter of the Salvation Army has also been heavily involved in recovery efforts. Nationwide, the Salvation Army has already collected $1.6 million in donations. The Salvation Army National Commander, Commissioner John Busby spoke about the organization’s response. “”The Salvation Army has a center of operation in nearly every city in this country and each is fully mobilized and on alert to help all affected by this act of terror both physically and emotionally, now and in the days to come,”” Busby said. The Salvation Army is sending canteens to the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, Calif., which has been reopened to planes transporting supplies. Planes will also be carrying evacuees from dangerous cities. The Salvation Army will be serving two or three meals per day in New York and Washington. San Diego firefighters have also been doing what they can to help. Near fire stations throughout the county, local firefighters could be seen standing outside and on neighboring streetcorners, accepting donations in their rubber boots. Their locations were broadcast on several local radio stations, letting San Diegans know where they could contribute. The community has also had a deeply personal response to the events of Sept. 11. Vigils have been held throughout San Diego, including here on campus, and cars and houses can be seen decorated with American flags to demonstrate national support. The community effort is a vital and important one. We as a nation cannot hope to fully recover and unify if local communities cannot strive for solidarity and American pride. San Diego has had one of the most impassioned responses where individual efforts have contributed to the cause to rebuild, recover and prove America’s strength to the rest of the world. The following organizations are accepting contributions: United Way of San Diego County Melissa Warwick Campaign Analyst for San Diego Chapter of United Way 4699 Murphy Canyon Road San Diego, CA 92123 (858) 492-2000 AmeriCares 161 Cherry St. New Canaan, CT 06840 (800) 486-HELP American Red Cross San Diego Imperial Counties Chapter 3650 5th Ave. San Diego, CA 92103 (619) 542-7400 http://www.sdarc.org Salvation Army 180 East Ocean Blvd. Long Beach, CA 90802 (800) SAL-ARMY http://www.store.yahoo.com/salvationarmy New York Firefighters 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund International Association of Firefighters P.O. Box 65858 Washington, D.C. 20035-5858 (202) 737-8484 http://www.firedonations.com ...

Though distant, attacks rekindle desire to help

I have struggled for the past two weeks with an overwhelming sense of uselessness. Oh sure, there have been other emotions in reaction to the events of Sept. 11. I’m tired of hearing those events called “”tragedies.”” That word seems somehow inadequate, although I can’t imagine a word that better describes it all. I could rattle them off, from disbelief to outrage and, naturally, grief. The last has been largely repressed, because I know that if I allow myself to sink into sadness, I’ll be paralyzed. Not that I can do anything to help anyway. I’m so in debt that I can’t give money as freely as I’d like. Five dollars in a fireman’s boot is a nice gesture, but such tokens do nothing to calm my restlessness or allay my feeling of impotence. My time is also severely limited. I have a full load of classes. I work 20 hours per week. I have commitments at the Guardian and at KSDT. Despite this, I have flirted with the idea of packing up my car, filling up my gas tank and driving east for three days. I can see myself knee-deep in pieces of what once were impressive skyscrapers. I am covered in ash. I don’t miss school or work or my baby sister. Committed, purposeful, useful, I am satisfied. I know perfectly well that I can’t drop everything and charge blindly into the wreckage, asking to be put to use. There are others, though, who can do exactly that. Libby, a friend who lives in Boston, told me about two of her classmates who went to New York. Both students only had one class that day, which they opted to skip. They took a bus to lower Manhattan and dedicated the entire day helping to clean up the “”enormous mess.”” “”What they told me gave me goose bumps,”” Libby said. “”They were let in through a back door, so to speak, and rode through the streets in the back of an Army van. Apparently, thousands of people stood on the street side waiting to help as well. Thousands. A lot of them had to wait all day and after waiting all day, many were turned away because there was too much help. But they were all still cheering on the volunteers and shouting out love for America, waving flags, singing, etcetera.”” Such a story is inspiring. Maybe I should take a lesson from those people in New York who, unable to physically assist, offered instead their love and support and accepted that this is what they could do. But I’ve never been one to sit on the sidelines. In case you couldn’t guess from the schedule I recounted above, I’m high energy. I have to be busy. At some point — and here I’m sure I’m going to sound fatuous and self-important, if I haven’t already — I realized that I have been blessed by circumstance. I come from a great family who has given me gifts of good genes and a healthy attitude. They were sufficiently well-off to live in neighborhoods with fine schools, to feed me good food and give me interesting books to read. I am intelligent and inquisitive; I learn things quickly. Obviously I have myriad weaknesses, and I’m well aware of them. Just ask me about my ex-boyfriends. But it is much more important to be aware of our strengths, to know what we’re good at, so that we can do those things for the betterment of ourselves and our loved ones. I don’t know when this started. I don’t know when I started feeling like a part of the Collective, obligated to give of myself to help my fellow man. It’s entirely possible that all this high-toned rhetoric is nothing more than a bid at renown and respect. I like to think I have purer motivations, of course, but there are some who claim altruism is an illusion, and they may be right. Whatever the reason, I have known for some time that I want to do more than live placidly in my ivory tower. Once, I wanted to do exactly that: work in academia as a professor in literature. While I don’t detract from the importance of the amazing teachers and researchers we have here at UCSD, and indeed at universities all over the world, I know now that’s not the path for me. I couldn’t be satisfied in that role, I think. This led me to decide to join the Peace Corps after graduation. I guess I’ll be sent to some developing country, providing whatever service I’m able. It will be scary. My mother, I think, hasn’t realized yet that I’m serious. Neither of us will handle separation well. But it’s worth it to be cut off for a time from everything that is comfortable and safe. And after that — who knows? It’s all well and good to look forward to graduation, but that doesn’t help the way I feel now. All of this has come to a head lately because of acts that have little direct effect on my life other than to force me to restructure the page of a college newspaper. But I am connected to it nonetheless, if only by my own reflections. But here I am at this particularly illustrious ivory tower, with the chance to at least develop something that could be put to use. And so I am enrolled in independent study of Arabic this quarter, prompted by the FBI’s announcement that they are sorely understaffed in fluent speakers of that language. And I can write for the Guardian. The pen is mightier than the sword, right? I don’t think I believe that yet. I do believe, however, in the power that those people in New York had, encouraging those luckier than they; I’m doing my best to smile and cheer whenever possible. It gives me something to do. ...

Plan of Attack on Terrorism

The media have been relentless in their coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on two of our country’s most famous cities. Pat Leung Guardian Last week’s incidents are not unique; other countries have been targets of terrorism as well. The result of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, however, will put the fight against terrorism at the top of America’s list of priorities. Experts and pundits have been weighing in on the subsequent events, and we at UCSD are fortunate to have many faculty members knowledgable in the field of terrorism and international conflict. “”We are now engaged in a coalition, an effort to build an international fight against terrorism,”” said Susan Shirk, a professor of political science at UCSD’s Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. “”It will help build a common ground between countries like China and Russia.”” There have been solicitations for blood donations and funds for relief. Shirk said she believes that it is now crucial to show tolerance and a sense of patriotism, one that does not target any specific group. In addition, she said, the United States should reach out internationally, particularly to countries such as Pakistan and China. However, UCSD political science professor Sanford Lakoff is skeptical about the effectiveness of an international coalition and doubts the validity of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s emphasis on diplomacy. Efforts to create an international coalition against terrorism are not new. They first began during the Gulf War, but dissolved soon afterward. Lakoff sees any attempts at creating a united force against terrorism as an illusion because many countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Syria, already support or are sympathetic to terrorists. Even France, with its history of U.S. support, has assisted such individuals as Saddam Hussein, he said. “”If we’re concerned about getting terrorism, are we going to go after everybody?”” Lakoff asked. He cited examples such as the Hamas Palestinian terrorist group in Saudi Arabia, which sponsors acts against Israel. “”I don’t know what it means to declare war on terrorism . . . [or] whether it’s practical,”” Lakoff said. Lakoff argued that descriptions of the terrorist attacks has been problematic as well, particularly comparisons to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He acknowledges that in terms of casualties, last week’s attack is unprecedented, but says that drawing analogies with the “”date which will live in infamy”” with what occurred on Sept. 11 is inaccurate. He explained that Pearl Harbor was a completely different situation wherein one sovereign state attacked another, and that both sides were aware of who the enemy was and that future battles would result. Today, he continued, we do not know who the enemy is and it is not clear if this is, in fact, a war. Thus, Lakoff argues, President George W. Bush’s description of the event as “”the first war of the 21st century”” and similar rhetoric is deceptive. Lakoff said that terrorism must be understood as a form of low-intensity warfare. “”I think [politicians] are hoping that by talking this way, they’ll bring a consciousness that this is a great crusade and everyone should join in,”” Lakoff said. “”In the absence of an operational plan, it is just feel-good propaganda.”” The government’s response has been appropriate and Bush has shown good leadership and has a unified country supporting him, which makes the situation easier, Lakoff said. Lakoff claims that sustained retaliation from the United States is also necessary, though the specific shape it will take is unclear. Yet the message should be clear. “”We are not going to accept or sit passively by when there is terrorism against us or our allies and friends,”” Lakoff said. “”We’ve lost symbols of strength but not the strength itself.”” He also said that Muslims need to recognize that there are fanatics in their midst. The question, according to Lakoff, is whether one recognizes it and deals with it, or just rationalizes it and sponsors it. Lakoff also said he is appalled by recent hate crimes toward people of Middle Eastern descent. “”It’s despicable and should not be tolerated,”” he says. “”It demeans the nobility of our sacrifice and our sense of patriotism.”” Valuable insight also comes from local activists, who bring different points of view than can be found in the halls of a university. Martin Eder, the director of social justice network Activist San Diego, advocates pacifism and said he is disappointed by how the United States and its people have responded to recent events. “”I don’t think most Americans have the vaguest idea about … what people in the Middle East have lived through in the last 50 years,”” Eder said. “”The travesty that happened at the World Trade Center — things of that magnitude have in fact happened in the Middle East and have the fingerprints of the United States on them.”” Eder cited examples such as the recent bombing of Baghdad’s water system, as well as Middle Eastern civilian casualities outnumbering those of military casualties in the Gulf War. According to Eder, the United States has chosen to ignore the facts and has opted to remain focused only on events that cater to American interests. Eder said that retaliating with violence is both futile and dangerous. “”You can’t carry out surgery with a machine gun,”” Eder said. “”War is like beating a child: In the short run it seems terribly effective, but in the long run you’ll create an uncontrollable monster. We cannot extinguish the fires of hatred by throwing gasoline on the perpetrators.”” When a country declares war, he explained, it starts by presuming the guilt of others. Consequently, it accepts often massive “”collateral damage,”” or the bombing of innocent civilian areas, because those areas might harbor terrorists. A war allows free-fire zones within a country, yet with each unwarranted death comes a new generation of children who will dedicate their lives to becoming future terrorists. “”Among the most dangerous times are when people are blinded by grief and patriotism against an enemy that is foreign, misunderstood, and who we generally view as having a barbaric religion,”” said Eder of the U.S. reaction. “”So we raise the flag and the Bible to blind us from the pursuit of rational solutions.”” The erosion of civil liberties, the increased surveillance on all foreigners and dissenters, as well as hate crimes ignited by patriotic zeal are among Eder’s concerns. He is also critical of the Bush administration. “”I have absolutely no faith in an individual who had hardly set foot out of this country prior to becoming president,”” Eder said. “”His understanding of the world is minuscule.”” Stephanie Jennings, the president of Activist San Diego whose husband is a professor of pediatrics at UCSD, shares a similar sentiment. “”The media says [Middle Easterners] hate freedom, but that’s not true,”” she says. “”The pain and suffering that the Middle Eastern people have experienced is so enormous and immense the average American has no idea.”” Reports of Arabs celebrating en masse in the streets are exaggerated, according to Jennings. During the Gulf War she saw what she called “”some of the most inhuman, ugly behavior”” by Americans. In recalling what she says is the hypocrisy of the United States, Jennings described a story about the mothers she met during her 1997 stay in Iraq. According to her, U.S. forces poisoned Iraq’s water supply, forcing many children to choose between starving or dying a slow, agonizing death. She also is quick to dispel notions popularized by U.S. media that Iraq is an all-Islamic, primitive and barbaric country. Jennings is adamant about the United States finally recognizing its role in the suffering of Middle Eastern countries. She points out that Osama bin Laden was trained by the CIA. In response to arguments that she may be naive and unrealistic, Jennings defended her position. “”People call us activists ‘utopian’ but the fact is that if we don’t have a goal to go for — a more fair and just world — then what’s the point of life if we can’t improve and grow?”” Jennings said. “”People should consider a new approach for the purpose of self-preservation because we are creating a very dangerous world and the choices we make are going to affect us 20, 30 years from now.”” Undoubtedly, the months to come will bring America’s leaders challenges to cope with and new situations to address. The analysis of activists and scholars alike will become a focal point as tensions increase and military escalation continues. For more information on Activist San Diego, visit http://www.activistsandiego.org. ...

Fight against media bias now proves perplexing

Whoever created Superman misled millions of comic book-readers. Journalists are not superheroes like the mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. Newsflash: Journalists are just people. Most Americans don’t think about who is behind the “”news”” they read, hear or watch. For most of my life, I didn’t. But one morning in high school, I read a local news column in which the writer discussed media bias. The news was never the same for me. I never again took media at face value; I always thought about the motivation of the people behind it. “”The bias of the press”” became my obsession. I kept articles on the topic, taken from the three newspapers that my family received, in a scrapbook. I also began my quest to become an honest journalist. This year, I have the power to make a difference. As news editor, I plan to work hard to honestly and fairly represent the people and organizations at UCSD. Journalism is a business. A small number of corporations own a majority of the country’s daily papers, magazines and television stations. The Hearst Corp., for example, owns 12 U.S. daily newspapers, 18 U.S. weeklies, 16 U.S. magazines, two newspaper syndicates, 27 broadcast TV stations, 11 cable TV networks, six radio stations and countless other ventures. It is a business, and all readers, listeners and viewers need to keep that in mind. I took a class last year on the “”rhetoric of the news,”” in which the concept of objectivity was challenged. The instructor argued that objectivity — the act of representation without extraneous factors — is not possible. I do, and do not, agree with him. While complete objectivity cannot be achieved because human beings are imperfect, the highest level of objectivity is still sought by many noble members of the profession. Readers, listeners and viewers sometimes forget that the news is brought to them by other human beings. It is subject to human error, as are the fruits of any labor. Deliberate error is what I try to be wary of. I believe that it does occur. Right- or left-leaning newspapers publish unflattering pictures of unfavored candidates and this is not accidental. The position of the management of a newspaper often is not only exhibited on its editorial page, but throughout the newspaper. I believe that such partiality is immoral. A one-way slant on the editorial page is not wrong; the staff members are entitled to their opinions. If this bias appears elsewhere, there is a problem. If you can tell the political leanings of a paper by its news coverage, there is a problem. In the news rhetoric class, we analyzed the “”framing”” of issues in the news and searched for inconsistencies in coverage of similar events. When I began the class, I already looked skeptically at the news. All the discussed examples of bias could easily be seen as deliberate. Maybe because I have trouble believing that people are all bad. Maybe, because I’m a journalist myself, I thought that this was hard to swallow. I could not, and still cannot, believe that most journalists deliberately try to lead their audiences one way or another. Sometimes it happens, but I do not consider it the norm. Maybe I have a more optimistic view due to my experiences at The UCSD Guardian. Because the Guardian is a college newspaper, none of the editors have a major financial investment in the paper, and because we represent a wide range of opinions, I have noticed very little intentional bias in our paper. If the Guardian, particularly the news section, seems to under-represent or misrepresent anything at UCSD, I can honestly say that it is not due to editorial bias; it is because we were unable to determine how to find information in other directions. I apologize now for the unintentional bias that will undoubtedly appear in the news section – it’s sadly unavoidable. As this year’s news editor, I ask for your help in my quest to fairly represent what goes on at UCSD. Educate me. I’m a person and a student like you. I take classes, I have tests and I try to be social as well. As a result, I miss things. I’m not Superman and I don’t have bionic vision that enables me to see everything going on everywhere. There are several way for people to inform the Guardian of events and circumstances. The staff box on page two of every issue lists the editors, their phone numbers, e-mail addresses and the location of the Guardian office. Use this information. Our newspaper is here to inform and represent the students of UCSD, but we need everyone’s help to figure out how. Unintentional bias results from being uninformed. I weed through massive stacks of press releases each week, but few are actually pertinent to UCSD. What is? We’re students like you, and we want to know what you find informative. Our Web site at http;//www.ucsdguardian.org provides a forum for comments. Letters to the editor are always welcome; if we do not print them, we at least try to consider their message. We were reminded this week that journalists are just people. Dan Rather, tired and affected by the tragedy, stumbled repeatedly over his words after several hours on the air Sept. 11. The tragedy emotionally affected the whole nation, and journalists did not escape the toil. I believe that the purpose of journalism is to fairly represent the facts and to provide people with the information they need to make up their own minds about occurrences and issues. Journalism should not reach beyond this. To some, journalism is no longer seen as a noble profession. I promise to try my best to provide the most objective news coverage possible this year, and I ask for help. Feedback is important. Please help the Guardian accurately represent UCSD. ...

Surviving the college 'crack up'

What was I most afraid of when I came to college? I would have to say the “”Freshman 15.”” It is what legends are made of and what made me buy three different-sized pairs of jeans, worrying that my waist would quickly expand to unthinkable proportions. Unfortunately, that was the least of my problems. While I have no reliable diet advice, I can offer some advice on another freshman epidemic: the college crack-up. I’m not talking about the feeling that you are losing your mind during finals. That’s normal. What I mean is a long tradition of severe college-induced nervous breakdowns. From Sylvia Plath to Elizabeth Wurtzel, many great women have had them. If you look at the history of famous females, a lot of them were, shall I say, a little nutty. A bout of psychosis is not a sign of weakness: It means you’re “”special.”” With today’s pharmacology, almost everyone can be effectively treated for what ails them. But considering that most antidepressants take four to six weeks to start working, there are some great books to read in the meantime. Plath, Wurtzel and Virginia Woolf kept me company in the darkest hours of my freshman year. I hope someone, somewhere will find solace in “”The Bell Jar”” or “”Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women.”” Perhaps the quintessential piece of fem-depression literature is Plath’s “”The Bell Jar,”” which is based upon her own breakdown at Smith College. “”‘The Bell Jar’ chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood,”” notes its publisher, Harper Collins. “”Brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented and successful, but slowly going under.”” Aren’t we melodramatic? If it is any consolation, if you ever feel that you are “”slowly going under,”” just remember that you are also “”brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented and successful.”” While Plath has her place in history, a better recommendation for the modern nutcase is “”Prozac Nation,”” by Elizabeth Wurtzel. Of all the sad teenage girl memoirs — and there are quite a few — this is by far the best. In fact, all of Wurtzel’s books, “”Prozac Nation,”” “”Bitch”” and “”Radical Sanity”” are essential for anyone losing her mind and trying to find it. In “”Prozac Nation,”” Wurtzel writes about her colorful life as a child of divorce who spent the school year cutting her legs in the girls’ bathroom and her summers overdosing on anti-histamines at summer camp. That story has a somewhat-happy ending. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but perhaps you can infer it from the title. A movie based on the book will star Christina Ricci, Michelle Williams and Anne Heche, and will be released soon. You always feel smarter when you go to a movie and say “”Oh yeah, I already read the book,”” don’t you? Wurtzel also picked up a “”Rolling Stone”” college journalism award while attending Harvard and survived an attempted suicide — “”brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented and successful, but slowly going under.”” In “”Bitch,”” Wurtzel, who always writes with a distinctly feminist slant, traces the history of women who refuse to follow the rules, who refuse to stop crying, who refuse to behave, who refuse to go quietly. While it is discouraging to look back on Plath, Woolf and Anne Sexton and realize they all killed themselves, there is some hope that the world is becoming a better place for “”difficult women.”” Wurtzel, Susanna Kaysen (who wrote “”Girl, Interrupted””) and Beverly Donofrio (author of “”Riding In Cars With Boys””) are still here. So remember: If you feel like you are “”slowly going under”” the bell jar this year, you’re not nuts. You are special and in good company. ...

University community hit hard Tuesday

The morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11 seemed like a relatively normal workday in Washington D.C. For Muir senior Amanda LaRoche, a participant in UCSD’s Academic Internship Program and an intern at the U.S. Department of Education, nothing seemed out of the ordinary in the nation’s capital. LaRoche and her coworkers were going about their normal business in the department’s offices, located next to the Capitol building. Miles away in New York, an incident would take place that would forever change America as we know it. It was not until shortly after 9 a.m. that LaRoche and her colleagues first learned of the events that were unfolding in New York City. Upon learning that American Airlines flight 11 took an unexpected turn from its course to Los Angeles and crashed into Tower One of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, LaRoche and her coworkers did not feel they were in danger. They, like many people across the nation, were watching on television as the second plane, later identified as United Airlines flight 175, also en route to Los Angeles, crashed into Tower Two of the World Trade Center. According to LaRoche, the atmosphere in the office building was one of astonishment, as many found it hard to believe that the scenes they were watching on television were real. However, shortly after 9:40 a.m., when a third plane crashed into the nearby Pentagon, employees at the Department of Education were told to evacuate the building. LaRoche remembers the chaos that followed. “”There was a lot of fear, and we were told to evacuate the building quickly because the Capitol was seen as a target as well,”” she said. “”That was the first time I have ever felt a physical threat on my life. By the time we got outside, the streets were overflowing with people and everyone was panicking.”” After she was ushered out of the building, LaRoche waited alongside hundreds of federal employees who were standing outside the Pentagon, watching as the flames began to consume a part of the building. From the nearby metro stop right outside the Pentagon, Muir senior and fellow AIP participant David Butler also watched as the plane first crashed into the building, disintegrating into the flames “”I couldn’t understand how this could have happened at the Pentagon, of all places,”” Butler said. “”This building is known worldwide as being incredibly secure and impenetrable and I couldn’t understand how this large, American carrier was able to hit a building as safe as that.”” But apparently, even the safest of buildings was not strong enough to resist the attack that took place that day. UCSD alumnus Terri Duggan Schwartzbeck, who works just blocks from the White House, also witnessed the attack at the Pentagon. Upon hearing the plane crash at the Pentagon, Schwartzbeck and her colleagues quickly evacuated the office building. According to Schwartzbeck, there was a widespread fear that other buildings in the area would be attacked next. “”After the Pentagon was hit, we realized we were near a big target — the White House,”” Schwartzbeck said. “”It was strange, but that day you evaluated everything as a potential target.”” As terrorists attacked symbols of modern-day American democracy, UCSD students and alumni who were present during the attacks — along with those watching on television nationwide, and around the world — felt a sense of helplessness. Still, the most difficult aspect of this national tragedy will most likely be the aftermath. According to those who witnessed Tuesday’s events first-hand, Americans will never regain the same sense of security that they felt prior to the attacks. Although the government has ensured that increased security measures will be taken, the trauma that these events have caused will not be easily forgotten. “”We have to fly back home in less than nine weeks,”” LaRoche said. “”I have no idea how I am going to do that, because once you’ve been through something like this, everything changes. It is very difficult to salvage that sense of security.”” According to students, the aftermath of the terrorist attacks has also fostered a sense of community among all Americans. This sense of unity was seen at a candlelight vigil that thousands of people attended in Washington the night after the attacks took place. “”We all have something in common now,”” Butler said. “”No matter what part of the United States you live in, you were affected by these events, and because we all have this shared experience, there is a sense of unity among all Americans following the tragedy that took place.”” While few can soon forget the images of the attacks, these students are now struggling to somehow cope with this tragedy. As the search for those missing continues in both New York and Washington, Americans hold with them a sense of hope that one day, they will recover from the anguish caused by the loss of thousands of innocent lives. “”This will definitely be a day I will never forget,”” Butler said. “”This was a day I was forced to review my own invincibility — and that has given me a whole new perspective on life itself.”” ...

Study breaks just got sicker

Computers: Sure, they’re lovable, but are they actually useful? Aside from firing up the old beige box to, say, write a term paper or exchange e-mails with grandma, why push that little green button at all? How about the sheer, irrational joy of watching a foul-mouthed frog be pureed to bits at the click of your mouse? This, and much more, is available at www.joecartoon.com. The Web site: riotous. The creator, who goes only by Joe Cartoon: a mystery. The inimitable purveyor of Flash animation of the most despicable, tasteless and hilarious kind has been making the world a little funnier since March 20, 1961, his birthdate. The scant personal information he offers on his site raises more questions than answers. Can Cartoon really “”take a toothpick and from 200 yards away slam it right through your forehead, substantially lowering your IQ forever?”” Does he really play “”a mean bluesharp?”” And is it indeed true that he is, as he claims, a ninja? One fact Cartoon offers cannot be disputed: “”If Joe thinks it’s funny, it is; if you don’t, you’re stupid.”” When it comes right down to it, Cartoon’s identity is irrelevant. All that matters is that, for whatever reason, he is one sick guy. And that makes for some funny cartoons. As www.joecartoon.com loads – slowly – it becomes apparent that these short films have more in common with “”South Park”” and “”Beavis and Butt-Head”” than Disney or Dreamworks. In the tradition of the former two, the animation quality is low. Also, much of the humor centers on blue-collar, white trash Americana, at once ridiculing rednecks and celebrating their unique approach to life. Take, for example, the Joe Cartoon classic “”Lump, The No-Legged Dog.”” The screen fills with a bright-eyed mutt, but as the title suggests, cute little Lump is missing all appendages. The unseen narrator, his owner, belittles Lump’s pathetic attempts to perform tricks like staying (“”Like you could go anywhere!””), lying down (“”Didn’t have very far to go, did you boy?””) and sitting (“”You fat, stinky dog!””). His hillbilly twang and outrage over Lump’s destruction of his treasured Garth Brooks T-shirt reveal Cartoon’s lowbrow roots. If the humor of the piece doesn’t come through in print, take it on faith that it’s worth your log-on time. Animals figure prominently in many of Cartoon’s best cartoons. “”Joefish”” features a hamster with a beluga-sized attitude being dropped into a tank of piranhas. The carnage is gratuitous and thoroughly entertaining. The “”Superfly”” series chronicles in four parts the epic adventures of flies who drink beer and get a wicked contact high (“”Dude, I’m buggin’!””). Perhaps the best-known of Joe’s twisted creations are two cartoons not condoned by Black & Decker or any other kitchen appliance manufacturer: “”Frog Blender 2000″” and “”Micro-Gerbil 2001.”” The former puts you at the controls of a blender and pits you against an insulting frog – who happens to be inside the jar. “”You ain’t got the balls,”” he taunts you in a lazy drawl, “”Ya pansy.”” Needless to say, once you have clicked your way through the blender’s 10 speeds, the frog is in no mood for conversation. “”Micro-Gerbil 2001″” builds upon the same principle of an obnoxious animal primed for your destruction, this time in a microwave. The catchphrases are different, of course, such as the immortal “”Who’s yo daddy?”” The wait-don’t-click-the-back-button-yet ending makes it a standout. Over the past few months, Cartoon’s once-pristine shop of horrors has become commercialized. Banners and pop-ups now slow download times and are annoying. Also, the line of “”Joe Stuff”” – merchandise such as T-shirts and coffee mugs with characters and catchphrases – seems cheap and opportunistic. However, they do make great holiday gifts, and the ubiquitous ads keep the site free. Cartoon may not have class, a trust fund, good grammar or good spelling, but he does have the best game in town for on-the-Web laughs. His humor is random and his punchlines hot from left field, and some of the jokes may make you cringe. www.joecartoon.com is definitely not a site to show to your kid sister, as expletives and candy-colored violence dominate. But at 3 a.m., when you thought your keyboard could only bring you endless misery as you hack and sputter through a 10-page paper due the next morning, it hits the spot. Finally, something practical on your computer. ...