Thursday, August 17, 2017
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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]

The Editor's Soapbox

Tuesday evening started out as every other Tuesday does. I went to my three classes and then stopped by the Guardian to see how everything was looking. Everything after that point, however, was far from ordinary. I am sure by this point everybody has been informed about what transpired on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. What isn't as well known is the ramifications of the events.

When looked at in retrospect, Nov. 7 raised two very poignant questions that will have to be answered before the next presidential election.

First of all, there is the question of the media's erroneous reporting. I have had a few quarters of statistics and econometrics, so I understand how the media use samples to predict the winner in specific states. If the sample is large enough, it is possible to run studies where you can be all but sure about the overall results. This is not what I have a problem with.

The problem I have is how they factor in previous results into their prognostication. In a nutshell, what they are doing is using previous results and comparing them to the results that they get from their exit polls, and making a prediction based on those numbers. Theoretically, this would be a good practice, but the problem is that populations in certain areas change drastically between elections.

Take Florida, the primary contentious state for this election, for example. Florida's population is growing at one of the fastest rates of any state in the union. Also, the makeup of the different counties in Florida has been altered greatly of late. This caused the media a great many problems because they assumed that they were polling a representative sample of last election's voting population in each county of Florida. This turned out to be far from true, and the inaccuracy of their polls caused them to call Florida for Vice President Al Gore way before they should have.

This problem only caused confusion among the American population and may have changed the voting patterns of people in states other than Florida. I figured the race was over when Florida was given to Gore, and if I hadn't already voted I may have decided to stay home rather then waste my time on a hopeless cause. If there were enough people like me in the Western states, this mistake by the media may have altered the results of the election.

Even though this mistake seems extraordinarily unprofessional and damaging to the electoral process, the media made another mistake Tuesday night that may have been even more damaging.

The media is not allowed to announce their predictions for a particular state before all the polls in that state are closed. Florida was announced for Gore after most of the state's polls were closed, however there was a section that was still accepting votes. The panhandle of Florida is in the Central time zone, and its polls closed an hour after the majority of Florida's polls. As a result, prospective voters in Florida's panhandle region saw that Florida had gone to Gore, and consequently, many of the voters that were going to vote for Bush may have stayed home rather than voting.

Therefore, as a result of the media's wrongful announcements, the legitimacy of Florida's vote count may have been jeopardized. CNN and NBC had better hope Bush wins, or they may have serious lawsuits on their hands.

The other problem that was revealed by the events of election 2000 revolves around the possible discrepancy between the popular vote and the electoral vote counts. Although it isn't a sure thing yet, it appears as though Bush is going to win the electoral vote and the election, while losing the popular vote to Gore. Although reports that this will cause upheaval throughout the nation and lock the president-elect in endless red tape are erroneous, this discrepancy does beg the question of whether the electoral college is consistent with democratic ideals.

How can the will of the people be thwarted in this way? How can the majority of the people vote for one candidate while another one is chosen? The answer to these questions is simple: This is our system.

It was originally set up because a national election was not feasible in the 18th and early 19th centuries, so people voted for a delegate and that delegate voted for the president. Many people argue that with the Internet and altogether improved communications networks, a popular vote would be optimum. The 2000 election has affirmed that belief for many people.

The problem is that the electoral college now functions to protect the rights of smaller states. Alaska and South Dakota would never receive any concessions in a popular vote because of their relatively small populations. But because they each have three electoral votes, which are actually much more than representative of their population relative to the rest of the country, they are visited by the candidates and given promises if they elect that candidate.

When this is considered, a switch to a pure popular vote may not be the best path for the entire country. What should be done? Got me! All I know is that we are now aware of the problem and can no longer consider these problems hypothetical and ignore them. This election has made them all too real and put them in the forefront of our minds.

Something must be done about the media and the issue of the electoral college must be addressed before the next election so these problems don't manifest themselves again.

Let's Talk About Sex

According to recent surveys, the average college student thinks about sex, sexual behavior and sexual issues over 100 times per day. I do not know exactly how this information was gathered, however I do know one thing: UCSD students have always been above average.

Back in the 1960s, people who are now the age of our parents thought they had literally reinvented the wheel when they started the sexual revolution. Suddenly, sexual behavior, previously described as illicit, sinful and evidence of moral depravity, became a sign that the participants were enlightened.

Whereas before when most premarital sex had gone on between people who at least intended to marry each other (engagement sex), now people were going to bed with whoever they ended up with at the end of the night. This led, unfortunately, to a lot of unsafe sexual practices in the name of ""free love,"" which has consequently left our generation holding the proverbial bag. Because we have the knowledge and information to effectively prevent disease transmission and pregnancy, it is important, now more than ever, that people take precautions.

By the time we reach college, most students at some point or another have heard an unhealthy mix of both factual and incorrect information regarding birth control. The truth of the matter is that the only sure way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease is to abstain from sex.

Studies show, however, that this is not the preferable option for most college students. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, 86.1 percent of college students nationwide have had sexual intercourse during their lifetime. In fact, more than one-third of college students nationwide have had sexual intercourse with six or more partners.

What this shows is that people are having sex. But even if you have already had sexual relations with someone, it is never too late to begin being safe.

Birth Control and STD Prevention

It is important to note that according to the CDC, 35.1 percent of college students nationwide reported that they had been pregnant or gotten someone pregnant. Assuming that not all of them meant to get pregnant, this means that there are educated, young adults that are still making unsafe or unwise decisions regarding birth control.

If you have decided that complete abstention from sexual behavior is not the most desirable option, rest assured. There are other ways to protect yourself. The best protection from sexually transmitted disease and accidental pregnancy begins with accurate and complete information.

The decision to be unsafe can be unintentional, however. As we all know, it only takes one encounter to transmit disease or cause a pregnancy. According to the CDC, college students are not being safe. Although 79.8 percent of college students reported using some form of birth control during their last sexual intercourse, these methods included everything from birth control pills and condoms to the withdrawal method (coitus interruptus), which is not a safe form of birth control.

""Only 29.6 percent of students who had sexual intercourse during the 3 months preceding the survey had used a condom at last sexual intercourse, and 34.5 percent had used birth control pills,"" reports the CDC.

Before deciding to become sexually active, it is best if you and your partner step back and take a few precautions before jumping into the sack. Both opposite sex and same sex partners need to be aware of sexually transmitted diseases.

First, all participants who have engaged in sex previously should be tested for any sexually transmitted diseases. Women who have had their annual exam should not assume that a healthy pap smear means that they are disease-free. STDs such as HIV and AIDS, hepatitis, gonorrhea and others are not always automatically tested for. Doctors often require that patients not only verbally request the test, but that they sign consent forms. These tests can require blood samples, urine samples or swabs from the genitals. Not all STDs have visible symptoms, so it is highly advisable that anyone engaging in sexual activity with a previously sexually active partner request these tests.

After all the tests have been taken, the second step for heterosexual partners is appropriate birth control. There are several ways to stop pregnancy, and all have positive and negative side effects. The best plan is to pick a form of birth control that is acceptable to you and your partner.

Some people prefer chemical methods like birth control pills or a Depo-provera shot that is effective for three months. The pill is an option, provided the woman does not react negatively to the hormones in the pill, and takes it consistently. A second form of birth control should be used in the event that a woman on the pill fails to take her required dosage more than one time during the month.

""Millions of women use the pill because it is convenient, reliable and safe. It is more than 99 percent effective -- depending on how correctly it is used. It is safer than pregnancy and childbirth for nonsmoking women of all ages,"" states the Planned Parenthood Web site.

Women who smoke should not take birth control pills. According to Planned Parenthood, women over age 35 who smoke and take the pill are nearly 40 times more likely to have a heart attack than women who do not smoke or take the pill.

For women who do smoke, or who have difficulty remembering to take birth control pills every day at the same time, there is another chemical alternative. Depo-provera, or DPMA, is the brand name of a prescription method of reversible birth control. It is a hormone like progesterone, one of the hormones that regulates the menstrual cycle.

""A shot of DMPA in the buttock or arm can prevent pregnancy for 12 weeks. The shot keeps the ovaries from releasing eggs, thickens cervical mucus to keep sperm from joining eggs, and is 99.7 percent effective against pregnancy,"" states the Panned Parenthood Web site.

The shot is one of the most effective reversible methods of birth control. Of every 1,000 women who use it, only three will become pregnant during the first year. Protection is immediate if you get the shot during the first five days of your period. Otherwise, use an additional method of contraception for the first two weeks. Protection will last for approximately 12 weeks. It is a safe form of birth control, but it does not prevent transmission of STDs. The Depo-provera shot and a variety of different birth control pills are available at the student health center.

Condoms or diaphragms are also acceptable alternatives. Diaphragms are a safe form of birth control, however they must be inserted two hours before sex, and must stay in place at least eight hours after sex. The advantage of condoms is that they are an excellent way to prevent the transmission of STDs. Other forms of birth control do prevent pregnancy when used correctly, however they do not prevent disease transmission. In all cases, spermicide should be used in addition to condoms and diaphragms.

Some people complain that each of these options takes away the spontaneity of sex. However, planning for sex can make the actual act much better. Anticipated, coordinated and deliberate sexual activity forces both participants to take full responsibility for their behavior, but can also ultimately increase the enjoyment.

Emergency Contraceptive

In the event that your primary form of birth control does fail, there are alternatives. The Student Health center and Planned Parenthood provide an emergency contraceptive. Emergency contraception, or EC, is birth control you take after you have sex, but before pregnancy. It should be used for emergencies only, because it is less effective than regular methods of contraception.

EC is used in the event that you have engaged in unprotected sex, if your primary form of birth control failed (like a ripped condom), or in the event of sexual assault.

""Emergency contraceptives are regular birth control pills administered in higher doses over a short period of time. EC works in several different ways. It thickens the mucus at the opening of the womb (the cervix), making it harder for sperm to get through. If it's taken at certain times in the menstrual cycle, it may prevent ovulation. Or, it may make the lining of the uterus thinner, so an egg does not become implanted,"" states the Planned Parenthood Web site.

Be aware that emergency contraception is not the most pleasant experience. Most women who take it experience some nausea. According to Planned Parenthood, it is not as effective as birth control pills or barrier methods. However, nearly 75 percent of pregnancies may be prevented by EC. It is most effective if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. It does not work if someone is already pregnant.

Be Safe About Being Safe

Accurate information is not always easy to come by in this society where discussion of sexuality is often taboo.

Even people with the best of intentions may not be completely informed on the subject of sex, because there is so much false information. Be sure that you check multiple sources, or at least verify your information when seeking out the best possible forms of birth control and STD prevention.

Here are a few tips: Be wary of anyone telling you that more is better. Some may think that if one condom is safe, then two is even better. Rubber rubbing against rubber equals a ripped condom. Under no circumstances should couples ""double up,"" and that includes using a female and male condom together. To be safer, consider using two forms of birth control, like the pill and condoms, a Depo-provera shot and condoms, or something to that effect. A barrier method coupled with a chemical inhibitor greatly reduces the harmful effects of human error.

Some ""how-to"" guides may inadvertently contradict themselves or provide dangerous tips for sexually active couples. One book prescribed using mineral oil as a lubricant on one page, and cautioned people to use condoms on another. Be aware that any oil-based lubricants compromise the integrity of a latex condom, and virtually ensure breakage or leakage. This includes mineral oils, hand lotions, massage lubricants and whipped cream. Avanti condoms are nonlatex condoms that will not break when partnered with oil-based lubricants. However, they do not provide any protection against STDs. Additionally, introducing oil into the vagina can result in uncomfortable infections. It is best to stick with water-based lubricants, such as KY jelly or others when using lubricants during sexual intercourse.

One final warning: Birth control pills become less effective, to the point of being completely ineffective, when taken with any antibiotics. Some doctors fail to realize that their female patients are on birth control pills when they prescribe antibiotics, and this can result in unintended pregnancy. Be sure to let your doctor know that you are on birth control pills when he is giving you a prescription. It is best, if you need to take antibiotics, to use an additional method of birth control while taking the medication.

In no way should this be considered a comprehensive treatment of birth control, or of safe sexual behavior. If you are considering becoming sexually active, or are interested in amending your previous forms of birth control, Student Health services on campus has a free clinic to help people choose the right birth control method for them. Additionally, information is available from Planned Parenthood, or from your health care provider.

For more information regarding birth control and safe sexual behavior, contact the student health serveces at (858) 534-8089. You can also contact Planned Parenthood at (619) 683-7526, or go to their Web site at If you feel that you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, please call Student Safety Awareness at (858) 534-5793. For more information regarding statistics on college sexual activity, go to the Center for Disease Control's Web site at

Cycling @ UCSD

People don't like getting hit by cars. However, to the many students at UCSD who use bicycles as an alternative form of transportation, the threat is very real.

Melissa Chow/

About 20,000 students attend UCSD, the population of a small town. Although not all students are on campus at once, the rules pertaining to bicyclists in small towns can be applied to our own campus. The number of students who bike on campus is small compared to the number of pedestrians, but cyclists still make up a significant portion, since they are spread across the campus.

One major problem for student cyclists are the roads surrounding the campus. Because of UCSD's close proximity to Interstate 5, there are many major roadways, which means more cars, faster speed limits, fewer pedestrians and more danger.

The intersection of Genesee Avenue and North Torrey Pines Road is a very tricky to cross for some cyclists. Not only is there a banked incline on North Torrey Pines toward Genesee, but the bike lane from the right also crosses between the slow lane that turns left onto Genesee and the right-turn lane. For bikers with backpacks trying to stay alert, the intersection, with cars passing at high speeds, proves to be very dangerous.

Another extremely dangerous route is on La Jolla Village Drive, where cars can merge into Interstate 5. On both sides of the street, the bicycle lanes are nonexistent, which makes the road dangerous for commuting cyclists. Cars speed up to 40 to 50 mph to get onto the on-ramp, and student cyclists are in the middle of it. On top of this, in order to pass the on-ramp, student riders must ride between two car lanes for a distance before the on-ramp lane ends and the bridge over Interstate 5 begins.

A similar situation occurs at La Jolla Village Drive toward campus where a right turn lane goes toward Gilman Drive. Students are forced to take this road because of the steep incline of Villa La Jolla Drive that leads to the new parking structure near Eleanor Roosevelt College.

Other dangerous intersection zones for bikers are Gilman Drive and Voigt Drive, near the Scripps and Ximed Center. The T-junction is busy with shuttles passing through to the East campus parking lot, cars emerging from the Pepper Canyon parking lot and speeding cars on the straight-away from off-campus. The intersection may be a three-way stop, but with the traffic congestion, construction, uneven roads and drivers who take up the center of the intersection coming into one of the lanes, it proves to be dangerous.

According to UCSD traffic officer Jeff Cox, the various roads and intersections around campus such as the ones mentioned above, as well as others including Justice Lane and the three intersections of Gilman Drive with Russell Lane, Library Walk and Mandeville, are all quite dangerous.

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Campus Planning Jeff Steindorf provided much information concerning the various city plans for bicyclists.

""Bike lanes already exist all the way up to North Torrey Pines Road to Del Mar and along old Highway 101 to Encinitas,"" Steindorf said. ""However, La Jolla Village Drive was not designated a bike route in the community plan. But Nobel, Genesee, Regents, Villa La Jolla and Gilman are all designated to eventually include bike lanes. The City of San Diego will be responsible for this funding, implementation and improvements.""

Also, the concern for ""smart"" traffic lights that do not require a person to touch the signal but will be automatically timed, is also a major issue since some cars, not to mention cyclists, run red lights. Whenever the school is made aware of traffic light mechanisms that are not tripped by bicycles, the city's bicycle coordinator is contacted so that the problem can be fixed right away. Still, there are traffic lights that do not switch right away.

""To be a biker on campus sucks,"" said sophomore Austin Leach. ""The motorists don't give us any respect and see us as mere speed bumps.""

The school and city are not all to blame. If students see the number of cyclists on campus, they should try to count how many wear helmets. The result is disappointing. Wearing a helmet is required by state law for minors. That does not mean that people who wear helmets are simply too old to wear them. The old adage that it is better to be safe than sorry rings true in the case of bicycle helmets. Despite that, the vast majority of students on campus do not wear helmets.

Since November, there have been eight major bicycle accidents on campus. Five of the eight cyclists involved were not wearing helmets and resulted in serious injuries. The ignorance and lack of observance of this simple rule is baffling.

The fact that some student riders do not follow the rules also causes more problems. Last year, a collision at Voigt Drive and Gilman Drive occurred due to an unhelmeted student running a stop sign.

On Justice Lane, which goes from the shuttle stop to the Warren apartments (also another hazardous road because of the volume of vehicles passing through), a student with no helmet was not paying attention and slammed into a vehicle that stopped.

Two accidents within the last year happened on the intersections of Gilman Drive with Mandeville Lane and Matthews Lane, with both sets of students not wearing any protective gear.

The school's history regarding cyclists is not a long one. UCSD was not originally planned to have a large student bicyclist population, and thus exclusive use of bicycle lanes was not implemented. The school, however, is continuing to implement a loop road shared by bicycles and vehicles, with interior loops for bikers to get to key parts of campus.

For those bicyclists who complain about constantly having to bike up a hill, they should take into account the several locations that the campus could have been located. Those include Balboa Park and Lake Murray, both of which would have provided considerably more hills for bikers to climb. Much of the present campus is located on a hill with a relatively modest incline, with the highest elevation being at Peterson Hall.


Interviews & Photography by Brian Moghadam

The Editor's Soapbox

Now, I know that I've written a soapbox already this quarter and some of you may be tired of my rants. Well, that's just too bad. I'm the features editor, and since I have something on my mind, I'm going to abuse my power and lecture y'all for a while.

Normally, I'd take this opportunity to try to persuade your vote in the upcoming election. However, since both George ""Excuse me officer, I know I'm drunk, but do I have any coke on my nose?"" Bush and Al ""Let me take a public opinion poll before answering the question"" Gore are pathetically lacking in political appeal, I'm not going to waste my time.

Instead, I'm going to voice my opinion on something that has really been bothering me lately. As I sat in the movie theater with my friend last week and watched the gorgeous Elizabeth Hurley flaunt herself around the screen in skimpy outfits in the new movie ""Bedazzled,"" I was struck with a moment of clarity. (Yes, I know that is a phrase reserved for alcoholics. I'm comfortable with myself, are you?)

The movie revolves around the basic notion that we can all be the popular, cool person we want to be if we just have confidence in ourselves and forget about what other people think. Your initial reaction may be that things like that don't really work in the real world. Some people just aren't popular and never will be. That is the attitude some people took as they left the theater. I just chuckled to myself at their utter stupidity, for I knew the truth. The truth is that it is that simple.

Too often, people want to think that the world is just too complicated to figure out. Occum's Razor is a scientific notion that, all things being equal, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. Now, which would be simpler: There is some supernatural force that judiciously pre-selects who will be popular and who won't -- or we are all created equal and simple self-confidence is the only thing separating the popular people from the unpopular.

For those of you who refute sound scientific evidence, how about a real-life tale of how confidence changed the life of an unpopular geek? Yes, I am talking about myself, unfortunately.

I was completely unpopular when I entered the eighth grade. Prior to that, I was a geek. I had never gotten any grade below an A in my academic career. I had never been suspended from school, nor even had a detention, for that matter. I don't even think I was tardy until I was 12.

The bottom line was that I had no self-confidence. I completely doubted myself. I was always crushing on some girl, but I never had the cajones to talk to her. I had a few friends, but I mainly kept to myself. I was completely horrified at the notion of rejection. I just kept to my school work, something I knew that I was good at and something that could not possibly reject me.

I stayed like that until I entered eighth grade and met my best friend, Matt. Matt was a popular guy who lived in the nice part of town and hung out with all the popular rich kids. He was athletic and had girls all over him. I was envious.

To this day I don't know how it happened, but for some reason we connected. We started hanging out. I always felt weird because we would hang out with the other popular kids, whom I didn't really know. They would all talk to me, but I still felt like an outsider. I felt like I didn't belong. I still had no confidence in myself.

Matt and I continued to be great friends in high school, becoming closer with each passing year, yet I still could not help but feel like an outsider.

I continued to have that feeling until my family went on a vacation to Palm Springs the summer before my junior year. We were staying there for a week. On the third night there, I decided to go to the pool alone and relax in the hot Palm Springs night air.

As I entered the pool, I feasted my eyes on the most beautiful creature known to man. She was completely gorgeous. Well, that's what I thought back then. Of course, I have seen several hundred ""most beautiful creatures known to man"" since then.

Looking back now, I see that moment as a turning point in my life. As I made the decision to give myself some credit and go talk to her, I knew that it was going to be something big. I just didn't know how big until now, because I've had time to reflect on the ensuing path that my life took.

I still can't believe that I actually talked to her. Even more amazing than that, though, was the fact that she was smiling at me and talking back. I was stunned as she leaned over and kissed me as I walked her back to her room (as sad as it is for me to admit, even though I was 16, it was my first kiss). We spent the next few days together. Just walking around with her by my side and seeing the other guys look at me with jealousy did wonders for my confidence.

When I returned to school that fall, my first order of business was to get me a woman. I succeeded after only a few weeks and found a very attractive tall blond.

In addition to having a girlfriend, I also started going to parties with Matt. I remember the look on people's faces when they saw me drinking at the first few parties that I went to. A few people came up to me and asked, ""You drink?"" I just smiled and pounded my beer with newfound confidence.

After a while, the looks on people's faces at the parties went from disbelief to welcome. They were actually getting excited to see me at the parties. My friends and I would show up a few hours late and bask in the stares of all in attendance as they watched our grand arrival. People would rush up to greet us and hand us alcohol. I was in heaven.

My transformation was not limited to late-night partying. I was also getting more popular at school. I noticed that more girls were smiling at me as I walked by. More guys were coming up to me to see how I was doing or what party I would be going to that weekend.

By the time I was a senior, I was one of the kings of the school. I could walk up to any social group and be immediately accepted. I was friends with everyone. I couldn't walk 50 feet around my high school campus without having to talk to somebody that I knew.

At the time of my graduation, my house had become one of the premiere party stops. In fact, my New Year's Eve celebration for the millenium was deemed by many as one of the best-ever parties.

Now, the point of this long-winded recap of my life is that change can occur. It doesn't matter how lonely or awkward you may feel now. Just a little bit of confidence is all you need.

For me, that little spark came from a life-changing decision: I decided to believe in myself. That was all that it took. Everything else grew from there.

I look back now and wonder why I was so afraid to take that step sooner in my life. I really wish that I had. It taught me a lot. I learned that ""popular"" people are not all that much different from you and I. They have the same wants, same needs and same desires that other people have. They are not some strange breed of human beings who are totally different from the rest of us. They are just the ones who decided to believe in themselves at an earlier age.

For those of you out there who are wondering if this really works, try it. You can even start small and build up your confidence from there. Go up to someone in one of your classes and talk to them about the last midterm. Ask them about their other classes. Just talk to them.

After that, build up from there. Go talk to a stranger who's waiting in line with you to get food. I guarantee you will start to feel more confident. Then, when you feel up to it, go up to those people who you've been wanting to hang out with. Start a conversation with them. They will not laugh at you. Trust me.

Once that confidence is there, it won't go away. It's kind of like riding a bicycle or having sex -- just climb on and start going. It will all come back to you.

Well, there you have it: A guide to gaining confidence in yourself and using it to break out of your self-imposed isolation and get social. Even if you really have no desire to hang out with the ""popular"" people, the confidence you can gain just from talking to them can be used in an infinite number of ways that will make you a happier person in the long run.

In the words of George Zimmerman, president of the Men's Wearhouse, ""I guarantee it.""

The Days of the DEAD

Each culture has a different way of mourning those who have passed on. Death is very hard to deal with, to accept and to appreciate. There is no right or wrong way to mourn.

Sky Frostenson/

In America, death is dealt with in a very dark way. It is very solemn and quiet. A few miles away, however, people deal with death with a very different attitude, as it is celebrated in a two-day festival known as ""dias de los muertos.""

Dias de los muertos translates to ""days of the dead."" It is a time when people in Mexico recognize, and at the same time celebrate, those who have died. It is a happy celebration where the dead come back to the world of the living for a day to be with loved ones. They come back to eat, drink and have a good time.

Deceased children come home to visit on the night of Oct. 31 and must be gone by the afternoon of Nov. 1. That is when the adults come home to visit and stay until mid-day Nov. 2.

David Pilz/

The family greets the deceased adult with several offerings, including aromas from candles, copal incense and food, among other things. They are then thought to remain with the living, silently enjoying their company like in the old days. On the evening of Nov. 2, they are thought to have left, though some try to stay a little longer. These ghosts are chased back to their graves by people wearing bright and colorful masks.

Performers abound at the cemetaries, playing tunes enjoyed by those who have died. People everywhere are happy, celebrating with friends as well as family. The days are filled with prayer and festivities, a mixture of respect for the dead and the happiness of life.

How it is celebrated

This celebration has many traditions, some of which are universal and some that vary among regions.

Perhaps one of the most common traditions is the making of altars, mostly in people's homes, although they are seen at the workplace as well. Altars consist of flowers, candles, pictures of the person to whom the altar is dedicated, food, water, clothing and things that describe the person's personality. For children, there may be toys and candy. There is usually a candle for each spirit. Religious symbols are also used, such as figurines of Jesus and Mary, and crosses. The altars are bright and beautiful, as much time is given to them by the deceased's friends and family.

Decorating gravesites is another common tradition. They are often painted freshly and covered in flowers. Marigolds are used very often in covering gravesites, as well as to make trails leading to homes. This lets the spirits know how to get to their friends and family. People hang out at the gravesites, visiting friends, both alive and dead, in addition to deceased family members.

Other traditions include ""pan de muertos,"" a sweet bread made for the dead that is placed on the altars. The living will often eat the pan de muertos the day after the spirits have left and contend that it was kissed by the dead when they came to visit. They say that it tastes a little sweeter after the dead have come to visit. Pan de muertos is sold all over Mexico at bakeries whose windows are covered in paintings of skeletons enjoying the bread.

Skulls, or ""calaveras,"" are seen everywhere in decorations, paintings and food. Sugar calaveras are seen in many places. Some people celebrate the tradition of eating a sugar calavera with one's own name on it as a memorial to one's body.

The skulls and skeletons seen everywhere in Mexico are not portrayed the way they are here. In America, on Halloween, skeletons are very dark and foreboding. They are something to be feared. In Mexico, they are joyful. They are often dressed in certain attire, an imitation of life.

The affection for the dead is displayed by the time, effort and money put into preparation for the dias de los muertos. Decorations are very elaborate and heartfelt. The respect for the dead is very evident everywhere one goes.

Overcoming death

All societies must have a way to deal with death, of overcoming great loss. The sadness that comes with losing a loved one is inescapable, but at some point there must be acceptance. The Mexican days of the dead are a way for people to transition from the cold feeling of loss to the acceptance of death. By feeling that the spirits are with you again, you feel close to them again and feel their warmth. It is not a sad time, because the living and the dead are reunited, which calls for a happy celebration with a lot of festivities.

The tradition is similar to the Irish wake, in which after mouring the death of someone, the person's friends and family get together to drink in celebration of the person's life. It is a way to gain peace with the passing of a loved one.

A common attitude toward death in Mexico is the belief that life is suffering, and that death is a release from that suffering. Life is unpredictable and is filled with worry, but will eventually end in a liberation from this: death. This is why there are such happy attitudes toward the days of the dead. The dead are free from this world.

And so the spirits once again leave, sometimes stubbornly, back to the world of the dead. They are happy to have been back for a day to visit, but it is not their world anymore, and must return to the infinite, and peace between the living and the dead is achieved -- at least for one more year.


Aries (March 21-April 19)

Let your conscience be your guide on Monday. It'll be harder on Tuesday because that little voice may tell you something you don't want to hear. Around Wednesday you start feeling agitated and eager to take action. If you wait until Thursday and plan all the possibilities before making your decision, your chances of success will improve. On Friday you may have to defend your position, especially if money's involved. Hold off on shopping until Sunday, when you're more apt to choose things you can live with.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

You and a partner can bail out a friend on Monday. Don't take a financial risk on Tuesday. Wait until it looks like a sure thing. Confer with your partner on Wednesday and then push your plan forward. You're pushed on Thursday, but that's OK. Stick up for your rights on Friday. Don't budge from what's right on Saturday, and the others might bend your way. Relax on Sunday and give thanks for a valuable gift.

Gemini (May 21-June 21)

You're anxious to get going Monday, but don't jump the gun. Something you learn by Tuesday could change the direction you're headed. A friend's in a tizzy Wednesday and Thursday. Advise discretion and guard against gossiping yourself. You'd only make matters worse. Settle in for the long haul Friday and Saturday. It's OK to be stubborn then. Everybody else is. Your plans start flowing on Sunday.

Cancer (June 22-July 22)

Monday's a hassle, but that night could be romantic. Check out a new foreign restaurant. Surprises at work add stress Tuesday. Try not to get rattled; the outcome is positive. You should be prepared for an exam on Wednesday. The boss has a short fuse both then and on Thursday. By Friday the pace slows, not a moment too soon. Plans may change on Saturday, so be flexible. Hide out and read a good book most of Sunday.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)

The money's tied up most of Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday you're ready, but your partner's not. More complications surface on Thursday and Friday. Don't rush, or you'll have even more messes later. Consult with an older adviser Saturday. Then forget your troubles with friends by playing on Sunday.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

Support your mate's ideas on Monday and Tuesday by adding a measure of good common sense. The money is flowing on Wednesday and Thursday, and quick action's needed to stop up the leaks. Work messes with travel on Friday and Saturday; just focus on going as soon as you can. A parent's delighted to see you on Sunday, and then loads you down with goodies and love.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 23)

Creativity's challenged on Monday and Tuesday. It isn't all easy, but work could pay well. Your partner's obnoxious on Wednesday and Thursday. Don't let your own stresses get into the mix. Check over your checkbook to be sure on Friday. Then shop on Saturday as if you were broke. That way, you'll have plenty for travel on Sunday.

Scorpio (Oct. 24-Nov. 21)

Watch for surprises when bartering Monday. Find out what you're getting first; then set the price. Wonderful romance could sour on Tuesday. A household project's expensive on Wednesday. Measure it three times before cutting once. A co-worker's advice helps you fix it on Thursday. Familiar hassles with your mate on Friday go through Saturday without relief. Agree to disagree by Sunday; then get yourselves a big treat.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

Household affairs have you jittery Monday. Keep talking Tuesday, and wisdom prevails. True love emerges from the chaos Wednesday. By late Thursday the bond will be made. Business demands your attention on Friday. Study Saturday to get the best deal. Hand the car keys to your partner on Sunday.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

Something you're learning could explode on Monday, making a mess that takes days to clean up. Exercise caution most of Tuesday. Financial woes are annoying on Wednesday. You can't buy that great thing you want. Try another store Thursday. Romantic feelings stir on Friday. Don't spend too much, though, because that's a turnoff. On Saturday later is better for dating. Finish your paperwork Sunday and read.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

Leave your checkbook in a safe place on Monday. If they're still pestering you for cash on Tuesday, offer your skills as a way to help. You and an older jerk clash on Wednesday. Too bad this person's the one who signs the checks. Thursday is better, due to a new interest. Friday is slower, but don't give up hope. Sleep in for most of Saturday. You won't compromise and neither will they. Sunday's better for good conversations.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)

You could have the winning idea on Monday. Something you're planning starts happening on Wednesday. It's not quite what you thought, but it's OK. Ask for the money on Thursday and get it. Study on Friday to upgrade your skills. Postpone your travel for most of Saturday. You can find everything closer to home. Hang out with family and talk on Sunday.

Birthdays This Week:

Nov. 6: If at first you don't succeed, try another tactic. Don't take a risk with your savings, though.

Nov. 7: Polish up your act the first half of this year so you can take it on the road. Start by listing all your promises.

Nov. 8: Frustrations with work lead to action this year. The results may be better than you thought possible.

Nov. 9: Expect lots of action this year. Once you make up your mind, you'll be unstoppable.

Nov. 10: Looks like a good year to clean house. Something's lost, but more is gained if you do it right.

Nov. 11: You're breaking free, but not wildly, this year. It's a carefully calculated maneuver.

Nov. 12: Experience is a tough teacher this year, but you'll never forget the lesson. You'll be a better person for it, too.

Learning the Voting Process is Important

For many students at UCSD, this will be the first presidential election in which they will be allowed to vote. One would hope that after years of waiting for this chance to assert their political preferences in the voting booth, these eager young voters would have a firm grasp on the election process. However, the sad but true fact of the matter is that many students are still left without a clue as to how the president and vice president are elected.

The candidate that receives the most votes does not always win the election. In fact, there have been two instances in the nation's history in which the person who won the majority of the popular vote failed to win the election.

The first instance was in 1824 when nobody received a majority of electoral votes and the House of Representatives narrowly selected John Quincy Adams for president, despite the fact that Andrew Jackson had received the plurality of the popular vote.

In 1888, Benjamin Harrison won narrow victories in several big states to win the election over incumbent Grover Cleveland, despite Cleveland getting more than 110,000 more popular votes than Harrison.

The fact is, presidents are not elected by the people. They are elected by the Electoral College, a system that has been around since the beginning of the country and has evolved over time to fit the needs of the election.

Each state is allocated a number of electors that is equal to its number of U.S. Senators, which is always two, plus the number of its U.S. Representatives, which changes based on the state's population.

Each political party submits a list of individuals to the state's chief election official. These individuals pledged their vote to the party's presidential candidate. The number of individuals is equal to the number of electoral votes the state was allocated.

When voters vote on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November, they vote for the slate of individuals from the party that will in turn vote for their presidential candidate.

The party that wins the most popular votes in a state gets to have its slate of electors cast that state's electoral votes. This is true of every state except Maine and Nebraska, which have two electors chosen statewide, while the other electors are chosen by each congressional district.

Each elector is given two votes. One vote is for the president and the other vote is for the vice president.

In the event of a tie in electoral votes, the U.S. House of Representatives will determine who becomes president.

Some students may ask themselves why such a system would be used if it did not always represent what the majority of the people want.

The early United States was made up of 13 states of various sizes that fought hard for states' rights while remaining suspicious of a central government.

The Constitutional Convention of 1787 considered several options for electing the president and vice president before settling on the Electoral College, according to William C. Kimberling, the deputy director of the Federal Election Commission Office of Election Administration, in an essay of his titled, ""The Electoral College.""

One of the first ideas was to have Congress choose the president. This idea was quickly rejected because many people at the Constitutional Convention felt that this would cause too much political bargaining and corruption among candidates and members of Congress. Others thought that it would upset the delicate balance of power between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.

Another proposal was to allow the state legislatures to select the president. This idea was rejected because some feared that candidates may become too loyal to the influential legislatures that they would shift the balance of power from the federal government to the states, undermining the idea of a federation and central government.

A third, and more practical option, was simply to have the president elected by a direct popular vote, with the candidate receiving the most votes winning the election. While this might seem to many people today as a viable option, it was rejected by the framers of the Constitution.

The early citizens of the United States were very spread out along the East Coast. A national campaign would be very difficult for a presidential candidate. The framers feared that without sufficient knowledge of candidates, some voters might simply vote for those in their home state that they had heard about. This would cause the large states to gain a majority of the power in electing a president and leave the small states with little say in the election.

The framers finally decided on the College of Electors. According to Kimberling, the original idea was that the most knowledgeable and informed people from each state would select the president based on merit alone, without any regard for his political party or state of origin.

The structure of the Electoral College bares a strong resemblance to the Centurial Assembly system that was used by the Roman Republic. This was no accident, as many of the framers were well-schooled in ancient history. Under the ancient Roman system, adult males were divided into groups of 100, called Centuries. These Centuries each had one vote on proposals submitted by the Roman Senate. In the Electoral College system, the states act as the Centurial groups.

The Electoral College has undergone several different phases since its inception in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.

The initial model of the Electoral College differed in that the initial electors were not chosen by the people on election day, but rather by the individual state legislatures. The electors were each given two votes for president. One vote had to be for someone outside their home state, in order to prevent electors from voting for their home-town candidates. The vice president was not elected as a running mate with the presidential candidate. The vice president was the person who had the second-highest total electoral vote in the presidential race.

After the first four presidential elections, the Electoral College was changed. The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution states that each elector only gets one vote for president, while the other vote would go for the vice president. The amendment also stipulates that if no one receives an absolute majority in the election that the U.S. House of Representatives would select the president from among the top three candidates. Also, if no candidate received a majority in the vice presidential election, then the U.S. Senate would select the vice president between the top two candidates.

Through the years, the Electoral College has evolved into what it is today. While the manner of choosing the electors is still left up to the State legislature, all states now have systems where the voters choose the electors. All states except for Maine and Nebraska use direct statewide elections to choose their electors.

The Electoral College is not without its criticisms, according to Kimberling. Among the questions raised about the Electoral College is the risk of electing a president who won the electoral vote but lost the popular vote, the risk of ""faithless"" electors who vote for a candidate other than the one that they are pledged to, the possibility of the Electoral College discouraging people from voting and the college's failure to accurately reflect the national popular will.

The current system is not, however, without its merits, according to Kimberling. Some arguments for the Electoral College that he cited are that it requires a distribution of popular support to be elected president, it enhances the status of minority interests and it maintains a federal system of government and representation.

That is our system for electing the president in a nutshell. Hopefully you will be a little more informed about the process as you shuffle into the voting booths tomorrow.


Aries (March 21-April 19)

On Monday, travel looks like fun, but don't ignore an important item on your list. Perform perfectly under pressure Wednesday, and by Thursday you'll have made a profitable impression. Your group can get a lot done Friday, but keep it confidential. A friend's idea can help you make a long shot Saturday. Reality could mess with your fantasies Sunday, however.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

Financial shenanigans could leave you sadder but wiser Monday. Negotiate and shop Tuesday through Thursday. Follow instructions on Friday and turn a tidy profit. Understanding what others want on Saturday may be tough. Take it slow and remember what you've learned on Sunday.

Gemini (May 21-June 21)

Tensions at home mar the ambiance Monday. Keep talking Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday the compromise should be obvious. Clean house as fast as possible Friday so you can play from Friday night through Saturday. If you don't get too rowdy, you'll avoid a familiar problem on Sunday.

Cancer (June 22-July 22)

A deal that looks sweet on Monday could turn sour by Tuesday. Wait until Wednesday or Thursday to make agreements, in romance or business. Friday's promising possibilities could poop out by Saturday, however. Talk it over with your best friend on Sunday and discover the lesson you've learned.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)

On Monday ditching work to play isn't a good idea. A significant topic requires attention on Tuesday. The work's pouring in from Tuesday through Thursday. Follow your partner's lead on Friday, but don't take leave of your senses. Your good judgment's required all weekend to keep a fun time from becoming a fiasco.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

Speak up if you disagree on Monday. Seek what you want on Tuesday, and you're apt to find it. An expectation is unmet Wednesday. If you keep pushing, it's possible by Thursday. You may be swamped Friday, but don't freak. You can always come in to work on Saturday if you must. Don't work on Sunday, though. You're too apt to mess things up then.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 23)

Leave dreams of last weekend behind on Monday. Tuesday's off to a difficult start, but a fabulous idea pops up later. You may have to turn down a child's request Wednesday, but heed an older relative's advice to save money. Play wisely Friday. Hide out with your sweetheart on Saturday, but don't talk too much. Save the serious topics, like finances, until Sunday at the soonest.

Scorpio (Oct. 24-Nov. 21)

Don't bankroll a friend on Monday. Start your new project late Tuesday. You'll hit a few snags on Wednesday, but by Thursday you should be in the clear. Fix an old problem at home Friday night. If you go out, you're apt to find a new one. Keep it light on Saturday. Keep trying to get your message across, and by Sunday you should succeed.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

Monday begins well, but don't get reckless. Excesses could lead to a clash with reality on Tuesday. On Wednesday a friend's idea can be profitable if you follow through on Thursday. Mum's the word on Friday. Stick to the facts -- and not even those unless asked. Let a neighbor steal your heart on Saturday. The best conversation's at your place on Sunday.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

A beautiful dream leads to a money-making scheme on Monday. Don't jump the gun Tuesday. Play the ace you've been holding on Wednesday. You can win with it then and on Thursday, too. Promised funding may be tardy on Friday, however. Let friends take you out on Saturday. Keep your wallet tucked away on Sunday except for a gift you love giving.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

Friends spark your imagination Monday, but don't get too crazy. On Tuesday and Wednesday study the ideas from all angles before launching your plan or project late Wednesday or Thursday. Don't flirt on company time this Friday. Visit friends Saturday, but don't stay too long. Rest on Sunday; you'll make better choices.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)

A pleasant surprise inspires you on Monday. Don't bet too heavily on it. The action you'll take could change greatly by Tuesday. Wait till Wednesday or Thursday, and friends help you succeed. A good partner's good to have, too. Listen and learn from a wise person on Friday. Staying in works better than going out then. Your dreams are bouncing with insights on Saturday, but give them some time to mature. A drive and a private conversation on Sunday help you leave an old worry behind.

Birthdays This Week:

Oct. 30: You could strike it rich, but can you keep your winnings? This isn't a gamble; it's a shrewd move. Do the calculations.

Oct. 31: This year you'll learn through experience. Move cautiously, or the lesson could come the hard way.

Nov. 1: Update old skills and acquire some new ones. The more you learn, the more confident you'll become.

Nov. 2: Your determination plus practice make your aspirations achievable. Want the home of your dreams? Start planning.

Nov. 3: Your focus is on home and family. A situation that looks impossible is your excuse to make changes.

Nov. 4: Get rid of the stuff you don't need and replace it with better. Nagging doubts are the ghosts of issues you've left hanging.

Nov. 5: Once you've got your nest just right, love takes top priority. Devise a plan with your partner.


Interviews by Malavika Gangolly & Photography by Lyon Liew