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]

A Day of Remembrance

Currently, over 34 million people around the world have HIV or AIDS. Additionally, 8,000 people worldwide die from AIDS every day, according to the World AIDS Day Web site, http://www.worldaidsday.org Sky Frostenson/ Guardian “”Figures like these make it seem like AIDS is winning,”” the site states. “”But all over the world, people like you are making a difference.”” World AIDS Day, one of the most effective events that takes place in hopes of making a difference against AIDS, is held annually on Dec. 1. The day is dedicated to educating people about HIV and AIDS and recognizing those individuals who have either died from the disease or are still living with it. The event continues to be the only coordinated international day of action against HIV and AIDS. The origins of World AIDS Day trace back to January of 1988, when the World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programs for AIDS Prevention made a request to open channels of communication, strengthen the exchange of experience and information, and forge a spirit of social tolerance. The organization wanted a more honest way of dealing with the newfound AIDS epidemic and has succeeded in this over the last 12 years. The proof is this: Since its inception, World AIDS Day has received the patronage of the United Nations and the World Health Assembly, as well as innumerable other countries, governments and individuals. Themes Throughout the Year World AIDS Day has a particular theme for each year. “”Communication”” was the theme for its first year in 1988. Since then, more specific themes have been developed. In 1999, the theme, “”Listen, Learn, Live: World AIDS Campaign with Children and Young People,”” stressed the importance of educating young adults on the dangers of AIDS. This year, the theme is “”AIDS: Men Make a Difference.”” According to the World AIDS Day Web site, over 70 percent of HIV infections worldwide occur through sex between men and women, and a further 10 percent through sex between men. Additionally, another 5 percent occur among people who inject drugs, 80 percent of whom are men. The World AIDS Day campaign hopes that by bringing attention to men’s roles in infection, awareness will be increased and, they feel, this may be the surest way to fight the AIDS epidemic. Student Health Advocates World AIDS Day will be observed at UCSD on Thursday. The event is being coordinated by Debbie Pino-Saballett, the outreach coordinator for Student Health Services. “”It’s such an important event and virtually every student knows somebody who has been affected by HIV,”” Pino-Saballett said. “”It’s a way for them to take an hour to show their support for continued HIV research for those who have died as well as for those living with HIV.”” According to UCSD’s Student Health News, Student Health Advocates is a program that provides students with special training as clinic aides and peer educators. One of their many duties on campus is to provide sexual health information to the UCSD community. They accomplish this in various ways, including information sessions and programs on contraception and sexually transmitted disease prevention. Pino-Saballet feels that an event like World AIDS Day is extremely relevant to college students’ lives. “”For one thing, the majority of people affected by HIV are in the college-age population,”” Pino-Saballett said. “”The purpose of World AIDS Day is to acknowledge people who have died of AIDS and to increase awareness of HIV.”” UCSD Events UCSD’s events for World AIDS Day will be held in the Price Center and on Library Walk on Nov. 30. Pino-Saballett said the events will take place a day early because they feared that a later date would bring about a lower turnout. With finals so close, organizers felt that Thursday would be better than Friday to maximize student participation. Activities begin at 9 a.m., starting with the AIDS Quilt on the Price Center lawn. (In case of rain, this event will take place in Galleries A and B.) Students can view the quilt until 3 p.m. From 11 a.m. to noon in the Price Center plaza, there will be a panel of speakers who are infected with HIV. Students will hear testimonials from these speakers and have the opportunity to ask questions about AIDS and HIV. Those in attendance will also receive a free “”condom rose.”” From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be an HIV and AIDS resource fair on Library Walk. Students will be able to view art and poetry by children living with HIV. Temporary tattoos and free condom roses will also be available. Other events will take place throughout the week at the Cross Cultural Center. The art and poetry will be on display in the gallery. In addition, an HIV- and AIDS- related movie will be shown at the Cross Cultural Center on Nov. 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. World AIDS Day is co-sponsored by the A.S. Council and is a joint program by the Cross Cultural Center, the Women’s Center, the AIDS Research Institute, Student Health Services and Student Health Advocates. For more information regarding World AIDS Day at UCSD, contact Student Health Services at (858) 534-8089 or go to its Web site, http://www.ucsd.edu/shs/ For more information on World AIDS Day in general, visit it’s Web site at http://www.worldaidsday.org/ ...

Horoscopes

Aries (March 21-April 19) The workload is heavy on Monday, but the party flag is flying by Tuesday. Your luck has just changed for the better, which should be obvious on Wednesday. Don’t get too rowdy that night, however. The headache you’d have on Thursday morning would be just awful. Watch for bargains and profitable opportunities late Thursday and Friday. Travel is forecast for this weekend. The only problem on Saturday is that you can’t take everybody with you. Your reaction to an unexpected event on Sunday lets you know you’re on the right path. Taurus (April 20-May 20) Get your lovin’ in early on Monday. The work pace picks up, and on Tuesday you’ll be racing at full speed with all the other rats. Avoid an attractive distraction on Wednesday. If you don’t watch where you’re going, you could run into something. Avoid a person who’s all talk and no action on Thursday, to save valuable time. Be flexible on Friday; it’s likely there’ll be a change in your plans. The urge to splurge will be hard to fight this weekend. Get a high-quality item after which you’ve long lusted, and your buyer’s remorse should be minimal. Gemini (May 21-June 21) Detailed work flows on Monday, so push yourself to get it all done. There’s a mess-up regarding a romantic appointment mid-Tuesday, but you’re in for a pleasant surprise later that evening. That would also be a good time for you to pop the question, if you have one to ask. Circumstances beyond your control could interfere with your love life on Wednesday. Just save up your money, and you’ll get a chance to spend it on Thursday. Collaborate closely with a co-worker Friday, and a difficult assignment will be fun. Do what your partner suggests on Saturday. That’s the partner you can trust completely, of course. Visiting friends together on Sunday should prove interesting. You might even want to take notes. Cancer (June 22-July 22) Remember to do the errands you promised on Monday, and you’ll be nicely rewarded. You’d like to sleep in on Tuesday, but your partner and/or your boss have other plans. Something needs to be done at home on Tuesday and Wednesday. If you don’t already know what it is, your roommate will be glad to tell you. By Thursday you’re ready for an outing, but it may be late before you can get away. It’ll be easier to get your chores done Friday, and then you can make a break for it. On Saturday the other person has the first serve, so take care. The more you aim to please on Sunday, the more likely you’ll win the game. Leo (July 23-Aug. 22) Shop for bargains on household items as much as you can on Monday. You might find the perfect thing at a great price on your lunch hour. If quality and style are more important to you than price, you can wait until Tuesday. If you and your mate can’t agree on Wednesday, stall. Odds are good you’ll find an alternative on Thursday that neither of you had considered. Don’t get depressed if a scheme you try Friday simply doesn’t work. It’s more complicated than that, so do more research and studying over the weekend. Save plenty of time for fun and games, too. Your favorite playmate has a few surprises in store for you. Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) You’re apt to be the one who finds the answer on Monday. Keep digging, your chances are better than anyone else’s. Financial rewards could be yours on Tuesday or Wednesday. The money’s a result of your willingness to get rid of something that’s cluttering up your private space. Something you find on Thursday could change the way you do your work. It might even change where you work, if necessary. Frustrations on Friday could have you checking the want ads. Don’t leave one paycheck before you have another one lined up. If you’re thinking of relocating, this weekend will be perfect. Or, just have a party at your place. Looks like there’s lots of chaos there anyway — might as well enjoy it. Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 23) You could be faced with a load of overdue chores on Monday. Don’t panic, just take them one at a time. Put them in order of importance. Your energy level’s high through Tuesday and Wednesday, and you’re getting smarter. You’ll find that a task that was daunting before is starting to become almost easy. Don’t get cocky, though. Thursday and Friday are fraught with peril. You may even be too tired to go out on Friday night. Schedule your romantic interlude for Saturday instead. Choose a date who’s stimulating intellectually as well as otherwise, and you’ll have a weekend to write home about. Scorpio (Oct. 24-Nov. 21) A friend can help you make an important connection on Monday. Go ahead and ask for the favor. Knowing which button to push helps you find the resources you need on Tuesday and Wednesday. Pushing them takes tact, and perfect timing, both of which you have in abundance. A mess at home could throw you off stride on Thursday — temporarily. Stay alert; you’ll get another opportunity to score. Things are not as they appear to be on Friday. Don’t say much, you could find out later that you were talking to the wrong person. Saturday’s good for losing a wager, or spending too much at the stores. Ixnay on gambling, too. Sunday’s better for fixing up your place, but don’t stay up late. You’ll need your beauty sleep by then. Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) Don’t snap back at a critical older person on Monday. If you simply say, “”Yes, SIR!”” or ma’am, whichever the case may be, you’ll increase your profits instead of losing your job. Tell the whole story to your friends on Tuesday, and they’ll give you lots of sympathy. Don’t let them solve your problem for you on Wednesday, though. That would be too expensive. Let them inspire you, and maybe teach you how to do it yourself on Thursday. Keep a low profile on Friday. Listen instead of telling what you know, and you’ll discover an error before you make it. The ball’s in your court over the weekend. Partying with neighbors and siblings would be perfect. Don’t spread gossip you’ve recently heard, however. Check it out carefully by asking a friend who would know on Sunday. Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) Looks like the coast is clear on Monday if you want to try something slightly dangerous. Your friends will be glad to help, so you won’t be alone. If you’ve been keeping a secret, be ready to confess it on Tuesday or Wednesday. It’ll come out around then anyway, so if you mention it first, you’ll look better. Don’t bother to ask for a raise on Thursday or Friday. You’re more likely to get a cut in your pay, or lose a client. Some of the things you learn over the weekend could help you improve your income, though, so don’t worry about it. Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) If you have all the facts and figures, you could benefit quite nicely on Monday. Don’t leave anything to chance. Travel’s appealing on Tuesday and Wednesday, but not a good idea. Take care of obligations instead. You’re likely to clash with an older person Wednesday night or Thursday. This person is saying your dreams are unrealistic. Don’t let that stop you. Dreams don’t have to be realistic anyway. Don’t hurt yourself by trying to push a square peg into a round hole on Friday. You’d be wise to play with a team, or bet on one, over the weekend. Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) Your partner’s got all the angles figured out on Monday, so just go along with the program. A long-distance contact on Tuesday could lead to a better job if you’re interested. If money’s tight on Tuesday, maybe it’s time to go looking. Don’t tell any work-related secrets on Wednesday, especially about the boss. He or she is apt to find out on Thursday or Friday, and would not be amused. Your priorities are constantly shifting this weekend, so stay flexible. An older person wants to take control, but may not have the route figured out quite yet. Give helpful hints. Birthdays This Week: Nov. 20: Priorities are changing. You’re growing from playing in the present to planning for the future. Nov. 21: Join friends in spiritual inquiry and find the balance you’ve sought. You’ll become more outspoken in the process. Nov. 22: Choose your friends carefully this year. They could lead you to great knowledge or into debt! Nov. 23: Old beliefs are challenged this year. Your studies lead to a deeper understanding and a stronger faith. Nov. 24: Can your dreams become reality? How about your fears? Through self-discipline, you’ll be the architect. Nov. 25: You’re awesome this year, but don’t get cocky. Play by the rules, and the world will benefit from your wisdom. Nov. 26: You’re growing so fast your friends hardly recognize you. You were already cheerful and lucky. Now you’re becoming practical, too. ...

The Editor's Soapbox

There is an old saying that goes something like this: “”A society can be judged on the basis of how it treats its prisoners.”” I happen to think this is true in many respects. However, since I have been at college I have come to my own alternate conclusion regarding criteria for judging our society: e-mail. Before I go on, I feel it is only fair that I mention that I am a copy editor here at the Guardian, and in the media world, copy editors are notorious for being nitpicking, unreasonably anal grammarmongers. That being said, I shall now continue. I am now in my fourth year at UCSD, and I began using e-mail on a regular basis my first year here. Since then, I have become thoroughly disgusted with what I encounter each time I wearily sit down at my computer and reluctantly check my Microsoft Outlook inbox. Now, I’m not one to brag, but I usually have somewhere in the range of 10 to 15 e-mails waiting for me when I check at the end of the day. Aside from the junk mail, there are invariably two or three messages that just make me cringe. For some reason, many young people seem to think that the rules of the English language don’t apply when it comes to electronic mail. I say “”young people,”” because when I get messages from my parents or older relatives, they are usually composed of complete sentences, paragraphs, and even some capital letters appropriately placed here and there. I think I know a couple of people who have yet to touch the shift button on their keyboard while writing me an e-mail. UCSD is supposed to have pretty sharp individuals studying here, but I have gotten some e-mail “”messages”” from these people that should constitute basis for their demotion back to first grade. The next time I get an e-mail along the lines of “”yo bring that cd tomorrow you know the won i lent you this wknd alrite then thanx ;-D.”” I’m going to lose it. There is one notable exception to my wrath: the drunken e-mail. I actually think those are pretty funny. I know what you’re thinking, but I am not a total freak. I am just special and unique — at least that’s what my mom told me. I don’t have any problems with the occasional typo in a quickly written e-mail. I don’t even really have a problem with the fact that not everyone knows the difference between “”accept”” and “”except.”” These can get a little tricky in the middle of the night, which is when a good amount of the e-mail I get is created. What I do have a problem with is “”emoticons.”” Emoticons are those short strings of punctuation made to look like faces. Every time I see one of those little pieces of crap, I get the gag reflex. First of all, every lame punctuation face I have ever seen has to be looked at sideways. Second, they are so disgustingly cutesy, their use should be reserved for schoolgirls of junior-high age and younger. If you cannot express your thoughts and emotions in a typed message without resorting to gross punctuation misuse, you have some serious problems. I also take issue with “”LOL,”” which apparently signifies “”laughing out loud.”” If you actually had to type that, it probably wasn’t that funny. Also … I don’t think any form of writing abuses the elipsis mark more than the e-mail. Now, I do realize that a lot of these bad e-mail habits come from using programs such as Instant Messenger and ICQ. Actually, besides their negative impact on e-mail style and social lives, I have no problem with these programs. Because of the instantaneous nature of this type of chatting, it is fine to try to go as fast as you can, and if you’re a slow typist, using things like “”LOL”” and emoticons can help you get your point across quickly. However, this is not the nature of e-mail. E-mail to me is exactly like a letter, just sent electronically as opposed to via U.S. postal services. It is almost as if “”e-mail”” is short for “”electronic mail.”” Before the Internet, when people actually sent letters to each other through the mail, I doubt they drew little emoticons after every sentence. They actually took some time to make sure their letters were worth reading. What I think many students don’t understand is that their e-mails actually reflect on them. I can say that I have better impressions of people who send me well-written messages. I know not everyone judges others on the basis of their grammar skills like I do, but I’m sure most people, if only subconsciously, actually do consider horrible e-mailers with less esteem. It is hard, at least for me, to take someone seriously who sends me sideways, buck-toothed, winking smiley faces. I seriously doubt they were actually making those faces while they were writing. Then again, I’m also against those “”Visualize Whirled Peas”” bumper stickers. ...

Fighting the Sandman

When Muir senior Roshani Patel wakes up every morning, she makes herself a cup of coffee before heading to campus. Patel, like millions of other people, has grown accustomed to daily caffeine consumption. Coffee, soda and caffeine pills have become increasingly popular among students, helping them to stay alert. According to the International Food Information Council, caffeine, which is part of a group of compounds known as methylxanthines, is a substance that is found in the leaves, seeds and fruits of at least 63 plant species throughout the world. Common sources of caffeine include coffee, cocoa beans, kola nuts and tea leaves. Depending on the amount consumed, caffeine can act as a mild stimulant to the central nervous system. According to the American Medical Association, over 80 percent of adults in the United States consume some form of caffeine. The AMA study also states that each day, the average adult ingests approximately 280 milligrams of caffeine, the amount found in about two large cups of coffee. This “”coffee craze”” is common among people of all ages, and Patel is no exception. “”On average, I drink about five to six cups of coffee per day,”” Patel said. “”The caffeine helps me to wake up in the morning, and allows me to function throughout the day without getting tired.”” While overall consumption of caffeinated beverages has increased over the years, studies have shown that the drug, if taken in small amounts, is not harmful. Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine confirmed that relatively small doses of caffeine might have positive effects. “”People who take in small amounts of caffeine say that they feel more awake and alert,”” Griffiths said. “”In higher doses, however, caffeine can produce negative effects, such as anxiety and nervousness.”” So, how much caffeine is too much? The Food and Drug Administration suggests that people who consume large amounts of coffee (more than five cups a day) on a regular basis often find that their bodies have adapted to the constant amount of caffeine, thereby increasing their tolerance to the substance. An increase in caffeine intake then becomes necessary in order to create a stimulating effect. Those who are dependent on the consumption of a certain amount of caffeine, and who go without the substance for some time, may suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue and headaches. The physical and psychological dependence on the drug can also lead to irritability. Griffiths warns that the substance can be addictive and can lead to mild side effects. He refers to caffeine as the world’s most widely used “”mind-altering drug.”” Patel has experienced some of the side effects of caffeine consumption. “”I have been drinking coffee since I was 14 years old, and over the years I have increased the amount of caffeine that I am able to consume,”” she said. “”I am so used to having a certain amount of caffeine each day that if I go without it, even for a few hours, I get headaches.”” Regular caffeine consumers often overlook all of these factors. The IFIC states that approximately 110 million Americans drink coffee on a daily basis. A large percentage of this figure includes those who are between the ages of 18 and 24. Although caffeinated drinks are popular among people of all ages, college students have been shown to rely on stimulants such as caffeine pills in order to increase their alertness. One such pill is Vivarin, a FDA-approved, over-the-counter product. Many college students rely on this pill to restore their mental alertness. Several studies have determined that students tend to use caffeine pills to stay up late, especially during midterms and final exams. Students have also been known to use these stimulants to increase their attentiveness during the day. Patel, a self-proclaimed coffee addict, often relies on caffeine pills such as Vivarin to increase her energy. “”Sometimes the caffeine in coffee and soda does not keep me up,”” Patel said. “”Caffeine pills such as Vivarin often succeed in making me more alert, even when drinking caffeinated beverages doesn’t.”” College students contribute a large portion of sales for companies such as Vivarin. Use among students is so widespread that Vivarin claims that over 40 percent of college students have tried a caffeine pill at least once in their lifetime. Vivarin, as well as similar drugs such as No Doz, caters most of its marketing plans toward young adults, since the market for the pills includes mostly college-age people. Like Patel, Revelle junior Tanmai Saxena has used the Vivarin pill several times in order to increase his alertness. “”The amount of caffeine in a Vivarin pill is equivalent to about two cups of coffee,”” Saxena said. “”I have taken Vivarin several times in the past in order to maximize my efficiency in terms of being able to stay up late to study.”” In 1997, The Center for Science in the Public Interest successfully urged the FDA to encourage manufacturers of soft drinks, as well as other products containing caffeine, to properly label their products. The CSPI claimed that consumers have a right to know the amount of caffeine in the products they purchase. Recently, a number of studies on the potential dangers of increased caffeine use have been conducted. In 1999, Consumer Reports on Health conducted a study of these dangers. The study found that an unusual dose of caffeine can raise blood pressure levels temporarily, and if occurring during stressful periods, can be dangerous to people with hypertension. The study also concluded that those who experience irregular heartbeats should eliminate caffeine from their diets. Also, those who suffer from anxiety problems should avoid caffeine use since large doses of the substance can trigger panic attacks. Finally, it was concluded that insomnia and emotional distress were effects of long-term use of the drug. Despite the apparent side effects of excess caffeine consumption, most students feel that the substance increases alertness and decreases drowsiness. Many claim that the increase in energy they experience is worth the few minor consequences of caffeine use. Patel admits to her dependency on caffeine, but insists that if it were not for her daily cups of coffee, she would be unable to function with the same amount of energy. “”Am I addicted? Of course,”” Patel said. “”But old habits are hard to break.”” ...

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 http://www.planned.org. 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 http://www.cdc.gov. ...

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/ Guardian 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/ Guardian 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. ...

Horoscopes

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. ...