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]

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. ...

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/ Guardian 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. ...

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.”” ...

Horoscopes

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. ...

The Editor's Soapbox

Allow me to stand atop this magnificent soapbox and indulge in a moment of shameless self-promotion, or give background information, depending on whose side you are on. I play four musical instruments. I have played the clarinet for nearly a decade. I have played the guitar for nearly three years. I also dabble with the piano and I sing, though the quality of my voice may be called into question. I own dozens upon dozens of CDs, including diverse names such as Tricky, Chicane, My Bloody Valentine, Depeche Mode, Miles Davis and Sasha & Digweed. I have spent many hours and a lot of cash so my band could cut five tracks in a recording studio. My experience in a recording studio has to be one of the most exhilarating experiences in my life. My mother is a fantastic piano player. My father has dabbled with the guitar and the trumpet, and he also has a wonderful voice. My 13-year-old sister has been playing the violin for many years and has also picked up the flute with much enthusiasm. Music is the perfect friend. Music will never turn its back on me nor will it stab me in the back. I suppose I have an unhealthy obsession with all things musical, but music has been able to console me and lift me out of the low points in my life. Beautiful lyrics and passionate melodies have been able to grab me by the arms and drag me forward when I have fallen by the wayside. That being said, I hope it has become obvious that I have a great passion and love for music. It causes me great pain when I see that music or any of the arts are being neglected, or that funding for the arts is the first to be cut. There seems to be too much focus in this world on higher test scores and making six-figure salaries. Children are being pushed to become doctors, lawyers or engineers. It seems rare to me for a parent to tell his children to grow and become a rock star or an artist or a fiction writer. I know many people regard music and art as mere accents on their sparkling college transcripts. Music, art and other forms of creativity must be nurtured at a very early age. Studies have shown that musically oriented people have better study habits and seem to be more focused. Music and art must not be lost, because they define what we are as a society. Currently, we are being defined by the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. I find that highly disconcerting. Music, art and writing allow people to express themselves outside of the confines of an office. The arts allow people to express feelings about themselves and to comment on society in a vibrant way. I believe that the arts create a well-rounded person, not a selfish, career-oriented person who will step on anyone to reach the top. Ambition makes you look pretty ugly. That is why we must continue to fund and support federally funded programs such as the National Endowment for the Arts. Since its creation in 1965, the NEA has been dedicated to helping everyone in the United States. Over the decades, the NEA has awarded over 111,000 grants in all 50 states. It has supported the design of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, the original production of “”A Chorus Line”” and jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. The NEA has funded thousands of “”schools for arts”” education programs as well as in-school and after-school arts programs. The NEA is currently funding projects that implement programs to help children get involved with music in their communities. The NEA’s ArtsREACH program is dedicated to supporting artists, musicians and local governments in rural areas and small towns to ensure that art and music continue to represent the culture in these places. A three-year study of the NEA’s YouthARTS program has shown that arts programs have helped lower the delinquency rate among youth. This study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice and was the first to show statistical information that offered quantitative evidence on how the arts enhanced the development of a child and how the arts improved behavior and academic performance. With a presidential election year upon us, I shall provide an interesting bit of information. Upon researching the candidates, I found a large difference in their views on the arts. On http://www.algore.com I searched for “”NEA.”” What I found was that the NEA had recommended Al Gore for president due to Gore’s progressive education program. On http://www.georgewbush.com, I had a difficult time finding anything about Bush and the NEA. What you get from that bit of information is up to you. Here is an interesting comparison. Over the next four years, the United States will spend nearly $1.6 trillion on defense. That means $1.6 trillion on bigger and better weapons to kill people faster and more efficiently. Over the next four years, a mere $390 million will be spent funding the National Endowment for the Arts — a paltry $390 million to give children the opportunity to express themselves through art and music. A paltry $390 million over the next four years to promote art and music in small towns, inner cities and suburban communities. I find this quite troubling. Now the part of the soapbox where there seems to be some wise parting words or a bit of advice. I urge everyone not to forget about how important art is. Go to your local museum. Buy paintings from local artists. Buy local music. Go to jazz shows at small coffee shops. Vote. And vote for someone who will support art in the schools. Find a way to express yourself through art or music or writing. Discover that creative outlet within yourself. You might discover that your creative outlet is the best part of your day. ...

Several Local Attractions Offer Spine-tingling Fun

“”Be scared and don’t piss your pants.”” Jayme Del Rosario/ Guardian Those are the rules given at the beginning of the tour of the Haunted Hotel, located in the Gaslamp Quarter at 424 Market St. in downtown San Diego. This place is one of the many scary spectacles in town during the Halloween season. Although entertaining while it lasts, the tour is a mere 15 minutes long, which is not worth the lengthy wait and the steep $9.95 admission price. The tour begins with a shaky elevator ride, setting the mood for the chills ahead. Then comes a descent into complete darkness, as the spectator fumbles through the corridors to reach the rooms in the hotel. There are re-creations of scenes from horror films such as “”Scream,”” “”The Exorcist,”” “”Nightmare on Elm Street”” and various others. There are real actors portraying characters from the films, staying still until an unsuspecting person passes by. During the blind walk, chain-saw-carrying-madmen and other nightmarish ghouls frighten and chase people. One of the rooms has a moving floor that shakes the spectators as they tear at the walls to stay on their feet. Another room, which is filled with optical illusions and psychedelic lights, could very well resemble an LSD trip. Both rooms make the audience lose their sense of balance and leave them feeling vulnerable to the horrors ahead. There are more rooms which put the observers ill at ease as they maneuver around body bags hanging from the ceiling, avoid the grasp of a caged maniac and witness the levitation of a possessed woman. But those who cannot take the jolt of a good scare should proceed with caution, so as to avoid a ride to the hospital. One unfortunate spectator has already experienced this fate. If you have the time and money, the Haunted Hotel is a marginally enjoyable place to go. The negative aspect of the tour is that it progresses very quickly, which leaves you feeling cheated out of the ticket price that could have gone towards a couple beers at Porter’s Pub. ...

Top 1O Halloween Movies

Halloween provides not only a perfect chance to go out and party, but also the perfect opportunity to view scary films that will cause sleepless nights. Here is a look at great horror films that can be rented at a local video store for Halloween: Halloween: An escaped insane asylum patient goes on a murderous rampage on Halloween in this scary thriller. The film provides the standard to which all other teen horror flicks are held. Music by director John Carpenter adds to the nerve-wrenching anticipation as the murderer, Michael Myers, starts killing off his victims. Friday the 13th: When a group of teens stays at a summer camp, a killer starts to pick them off one at a time. The movie is fairly predictable, but it is one of the classic teen horror films. Many should know by now the real killer from the first film. (Hint: It was not Jason.) The Exorcist: Considered the scariest movie of all-time by many, “”The Exorcist”” is a dark, haunting and thrilling drama packed into two hours. Linda Blair does a memorable performance as Regan MacNeil, an innocent child possessed by the devil. Trouble ensues when her mother and a priest try to understand what has happened to her. Re-released in theaters just in time for Halloween, “”The Exorcist”” can be seen once again on the big screen. Nightmare on Elm Street: Several teen-agers are held captive in their own minds by Freddy Kreuger, a character who enters people’s dreams and goes on to kill them in their sleep. It is an ingenious way to murder that keeps one up at night. Scream: Wes Craven’s smart parody of other teen horror flicks is full of twists and suprises that many will enjoy. The story revolves around Neve Campbell’s character, Sidney Prescott, and a killer that seems to know everything about Prescott’s life. The numerous references to other horror films make this film enjoyable for its tongue-in-cheek comedy. The Shining: Here’s Johnny! A boy and his parents travel to an isolated hotel in order to maintain it during the winter. During their stay, the boy’s father, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), loses his mind and starts to attack his family. Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of a Stephen King novel provides a surreal look at the mind of a man gone insane. Children of the Corn: Stephen King’s short story about a group of children that takes over a city is very scary, despite primitive special effects. The cult is frightening and builds suspense throughout the film. Poltergeist: A family moves unknowingly into a haunted house and is tormented by spirits. Gore is not used much in this film; instead, it relies on a good story line. Psycho: Taking a shower was never the same after Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film was released. Something strange is going on at the Bates Motel. A missing woman’s sister is searching for her whereabouts. “”Psycho”” pulls on all the emotions of the viewer with its plot twists and eerie music. Pet Semetary: A film based on a Stephen King story that revolves around Louis Creed’s (Dale Midkiff) family and a nearby pet cemetery. There are some strange happenings at the cemetery and the Creeds make a startling discovery. ...

It's in the Cards

The origins of many Western holidays lie in ancient pagan celebrations, and Halloween is no exception. Halloween conjures images of people dressed as ghouls, ghosts and witches. Melissa Chow/ Guardian Leslie, who reads tarot cards at Psychic Eye Bookshops in downtown La Jolla, happens to be a real-life witch. On Halloween she celebrates the traditional pagan holiday of Samhain (pronounced sah-wen). “”Because it is a big party season I usually work. When I’m not working I have a religious ritual,”” Leslie said. “”Samhain was traditionally the time in which it was believed that the dead could communicate most freely with the people on Earth.”” On the night of Samhain, Oct. 31, the veil between the living world and the dead is said to be the thinnest, and “”is a very strong divination holiday”” for witches, according to Leslie. Samhain “”primarily is about connecting with [the witches’] sense of tradition, our ancestors, our spirit guides, the invisible world. … Often there’s an offering of food, or something like that is left out for the ancestors … to let them know we’re thinking about them,”” Leslie said. Even newcomers to pagan lore can celebrate Samhain right here in San Diego, and no this does not include sitting at home with a Ouiji board. While Samhain celebrations may seem scarce compared to the gluttony of Haunted Houses on Market Street, Witches’ Night Out 2000 offers a traditional pagan celebration. Witches Night Out 2000 is an annual ritual, put on by Covenant of the Goddess, and took place Saturday at the Scottish Rite Center, 1895 Camino Del Rio South, in Mission Valley. Nonetheless, Samhain rituals are still often difficult to discover. “”The pagan community in San Diego tends to be pretty loose knit. … So there’s not a lot of public ritual in San Diego”” Leslie said. Another reason that Samhain celebrations are not as prevalent as trick-or-treating and jack-o-lanterns is that there are many misconceptions about the holiday. “”There is no sacrificing of babies that goes on,”” Leslie said. “”Nothing spooky and terrible. It is much more about connecting with our sense of history and our past and honoring that, and respecting that, and respecting the people who have gone before us.”” If spiritual gatherings are not your cup of tea, you can still have some metaphysical fun this Halloween without leaving the posh security of La Jolla. At Psychic Eye Bookshops, located at 702 Pearl St., readers, including Leslie, will gladly deal the cards and decipher the runes for you. Leslie has been reading Tarot Cards since she was 10 years old. While attending University of Missouri at Columbia, earning her degree in journalism, she began reading at psychic fairs. She started working at Psychic Eye when she moved to San Diego in 1996. Like the celebration of Samhain, fortune telling is also victim to many misconceptions. “”I cannot immediately access all information that is relevant to every single person’s life just by looking at them”” Leslie joked “”There are a lot of misconceptions about what we do and what we are capable of doing … just because you go to see a psychic and you get a 15-minute reading, that does not mean that they can channel your dead grandmother; that does not mean they can give you the exact time and place of your death. There are some things that are not very feasible, particularly in a short period of time.”” There is also a difference between psychics and tarot card readers. “”Psychics can use any number of different methods, “” Leslie said. “”Some of them will just read intuitively … some of them work with tarot, some of them work with runes, some of them work with numerology or astrology.”” Most professional fortunetellers use a combination of methods. If you have your heart set on a particular type of reading, make sure you let your reader know before hand. It is important to find a trustworthy reader. Leslie warns people about phone psychics because “”the vast majority of them, in my personal experience, are unreliable,”” she said. Wicca, paganism and divination are often lumped together under the generic title “”new age.”” However, unlike witchcraft, tarot and other forms of divination “”are not religious or spiritual systems per se. … They are not a faith or a spiritual practice in the same sense that witchcraft or wicca is,”” Leslie said. If insight into your life and the decisions you make is what you are interested in, a tarot card reading may be just what you are looking for. But of course if you are confused about what classes to take next quarter, you should stick with Academic Advising. So, if you are disappointed with the same old Halloween parties and VH-1 rerunning the “”Rocky Horror Picture Show,”” remember there is a lot more to Halloween than face makeup and “”The Monster Mash.”” Like Santa Clause, Disneyland and the Easter Bunny, Halloween loses some of its magic with the passing of childhood. But hopefully discovering its ancient heritage will revive its mystique. No matter how you celebrate this Halloween — the modern or the old way — happy haunting and blessed be! ...