Monday, February 20, 2017

Lack of guilt over illegal file-sharing ensures the failure of RIAA lawsuits

Even with the specter of Recording Industry Association of America lawsuits looming over their glowing computer screens, illegal file-sharers continue to operate gleefully and generally free of guilt. Our generation is the first to be reared on the Internet, and we operate according to a double standard and a questionable ethical code: Shoplifting CDs from a store is abhorrent; downloading the same albums for free on i2hub is a fun afternoon. Why, when all other social norms of “do not steal” are understood and observed, does this maxim fly out the window when we get in front of our computers?

The technology of the Internet burst upon the scene when we were coming of age, lacking a guidebook and spreading like wildfire while our identities and morals were still developing. Without a road map or rules, parents had no idea how to handle this new tool, or even what it was, while our generation took to the technology like fish to water. Becoming computer savvy is similar to learning a language: Those who start out at an early age seem to catch on more quickly. Hence, the college students now being served subpoenas by the RIAA were mere middle-schoolers when they first learned the magic of the Internet, and they learned it before their parents or any other authority figure dispensed the moral do’s and don’ts of cyberspace.

So, we made up rules on our own — and we decided that downloading illegal copies of music and movies definitely does not count as an ethical trespass, or if it does, it is a minor one that is made less severe by the perceived transgressions of the music industry: inflated CD prices, homogeneous and subpar offerings, and so forth. Unfortunately, the RIAA — spurred by its own moral codes, or merely the bottom line — vehemently disagrees.

Many of us expect the music industry to adapt to our addiction to free music, or we revel in the idea of spoiled pop stars getting ripped off. At the very least, we operate blissfully unaware of the possible consequences of denying the music industry our dollars. A UCSD student the Guardian interviewed, likely facing an RIAA lawsuit, said the lawsuit has made him stop downloading music, but he “didn’t really feel bad” when he did it.

“If I was downloading music from Jay-Z and I saw he was having a rough year then I’d feel bad, but most of the artists I download I don’t see doing badly,” the student said.

Another student currently assigned to an IP address listed in the recent lawsuit told us, “I’m getting in trouble for having a Janet Jackson song and Usher. Usher is walking around with my college tuition on his wrist!”

Clearly, the music industry has yet to convince this generation that downloading music is significantly harming the profits of individual artists. How, in a world where VH1 and MTV lineups are stacked full of shows documenting the excesses of celebrity lifestyles — with an emphasis on female pop starlets, hip-hop artists and their entourages, all laden with bling bling — could we ever buy the argument that students are forcing musical artists out of house and home? Another UCSD ex-downloader expecting prosecution described herself as “scared shitless” about the lawsuit, but described the music lawsuits as “a lost cause that they’re stressing too much over. … I feel like people are still going to buy CDs. … There’s no way the music industry is going to go kaput.”

She speaks for a generation of American college students, and anecdotal evidence supports the assertion that downloading may be taking a small slice out of CD purchases, but not obliterating them. Whatever the economic reality, the RIAA is perceived as a greedy bully, not as a legitimate victim of stealing.

The RIAA started a suing spree two years ago that has continued with settlement after settlement — leading many to conclude that the RIAA is draining downloaders’ pockets and lining their own to compensate for a small loss from illegal file-sharing.

Although the average suit from the RIAA is settled out of court for $3,000 or so, the fines can run into the hundreds of thousands, and such financial consequences contribute to the ethos of downloading as rebellion against corporate America. Yet such a justification provides little comfort when the fat cats come knocking on your door — exactly the situation faced by the 25 UCSD students being hunted by the RIAA after using i2hub. Yet guilt and remorse are not all several of these students say they are feeling as they await court documents. Instead, they feel victimized and unfairly targeted, but resigned to their fates.

One target for a subpoena said, “I don’t think [facing a lawsuit] is fair at all. It’s kind of sad that I’d like to see more people get punished for it. It’s such a small number. Only 25 students — come on! That’s not even an elementary school classroom. ... It’s like you have three murderers and you only convict one.”

Clearly, the die has been cast. Whatever conditions that would have created a sense of ethical boundaries on the Internet community have been lost, and it’s too late to create them. Or maybe our scruples are simply superseded by the ease of downloading music, even when facing a slim chance of being caught and paying a heavy price.

What’s certain is that this generation of prosecuted file-sharers — and the droves of unprosecuted ones hiding in the shadows — spare no sympathy for musical artists and especially the RIAA. While it seems most students targeted for lawsuits at UCSD will stop sharing files online and warn their friends to do the same, it still remains to be seen whether RIAA lawsuits, or even more extreme measures, will wipe out file-sharing altogether. If history holds, several new peer-to-peer networks will spring up to replace any that are eradicated, bolstered by hordes of downloaders fueled by the convenience of file-sharing and bitterness toward the music industry and the tactics used by the RIAA.

Vigil protests human rights violations

San Diego youth activists, including UCSD's Vietnamese Student Association and various community organizations, gathered behind Linda Vista library on Oct. 24 to protest recent human rights violations and oppression of religious leaders in Vietnam. The demonstration included petition-signing, speeches, a slide show and a candlelight vigil.

David Ung/Guardian
Vigilant: Members of the San Diego Vietnamese community, including UCSD's Vietnamese Student Association, protested the imprisonment of monks.

""In the past two weeks, the Vietnamese government has begun a crackdown on the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam,"" said Natalie Nguyen, an executive board member of the VSA, which branches out to nine colleges, including UCSD. ""The government outlawed it and put on a different Buddhist church that is government-sponsored and state-controlled.""

David Nguyen, UCSD alumni and Vietnam Buddhist Youth Association member, said that the Vietnamese government was taking away human rights.

""The communist government in Vietnam took the freedom of religion away,"" he said.

According to press releases, the leaders of the UBCV have been arrested and detained in isolation.

""The leaders of the UBCV are in two years of house arrest because they are seen as a threat to the government,"" Natalie Nguyen said. ""[The government] is afraid that they're going to orchestrate and overthrow the government.""

However, UCSD VSA member Aimee Vu said that she thinks ""the government has an agenda.""

""BBC news said that the monks were contriving against the government,"" she said. ""I think the Vietnamese government is trying to go after this radical church using different methods. It's a way to silence anyone who opposes them. The UBCV has been under a watchful eye for years and now they're being punished.""

Some of the monks are on hunger strikes to protest their government's actions.

""We have the candlelight vigil to pray for these monks that are going on hunger strike ‹ to pray for their well being,"" Natalie Nguyen said.

The Vietnamese monks are not the only people that have gone on hunger strikes to protest the government's actions. Last week in Orange County, five UCSD VSA members went on a 24-hour hunger strike to voice their opposition, according to UCSD VSA President Anthony Nguyen.

""This is an international effort that started in Australia,"" Natalie Nguyen said. ""The five biggest cities staged a 24-hour hunger strike in protest. It's a campaign that is picking up steam.""

This ""Faith Over Force"" campaign will last for two months, according to Natalie Nguyen. It started with the candlelight vigil and will end on International Human Rights day, Dec. 10.

""This is just the beginning to push congressmen to voice their opposition,"" she said.

The main point of the campaign is to make the community ""aware of the violation of human rights and oppression in Vietnam,"" Nguyen said.

""We're appealing to secretaries in Congress and President Bush to speak up about it,"" she said. ""The U.S. and Vietnam have a bilateral trade agreement and we are trying to get a human rights clause passed. It says that if [Vietnam] wants fair trade, they must give more religious freedom.""

The human rights clause is currently under consideration by the U.S. Senate. Participants of the vigil also signed petitions to be sent to the United Nations.

""We want to let the Vietnamese community know [what's occuring in Vietnam],"" UCSD VSA member Tri Nguyen said. ""I was surprised to find that a lot of people don't know.""

Natalie Nguyen said that people living in Vietnam don't know about the oppression either.

""The Vietnamese government does a good job keeping info from people,"" she said. ""My cousin living there doesn't know because the press in Vietnam is state-controlled. So we here have to let the world know. Vietnam is very sensitive about their human rights freedom, so they'll release their constraints instead of persecuting these religious leaders. Awareness is the most important thing.""

UCSD VSA is considering holding a vigil on campus.

""We're hoping we can bring one here,"" UCSD VSA Vice President Internal Emilie Pham said. ""First, we have to introduce it [to the San Diego community]. Then, we can bring it to UCSD to have other students become aware of this.""

Many youth at the vigil expressed their opinions about the situation in Vietnam.

""As a Vietnamese person, I feel very concerned that people are being deprived of their religious belief,"" UCSD VSA member Amy Le said. ""It's very sad. This is a way to show that we care and that we want to make a difference.""

Tritons Capture Conference Title

“Hey Chico … I have a white flag ready for you when you want it!” These were the words shouted by one of the many rowdy Triton fans who cheered on their home team in RIMAC Soccer Stadium on Oct. 29 as it crushed Chico State 4-0 for the 2006 California Collegiate Athletic Association championship title for the sixth time in seven years.

Sanh Luong/Guardian
Junior midfielder Lauren Segars and senior midfielders Kelly Cochran (top) and Megan Dickey (right) celebrate the Tritons’ dominant victory over Chico State in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship on Oct. 29.

While dreams of a national championship entry propelled the No. 3 UCSD squad, sweet revenge couldn’t help but take its toll on the hearts of the Tritons, whose only loss of the season was to Chico State on Sept. 17 with a score of 0-1.

“This meant a lot to us as far as pride goes and we wanted to prove that the last game was a fluke,” sophomore goalie Jessica McGovern said. “It’s nice to be able to say now that we beat every team in our league.”

The Wildcats seemed to take a submissive stance from the beginning, allowing the Tritons the first touch on the ball for the majority of the game.

The first half looked much like a game of cat and mouse as the Tritons maintained ball possession, forcing the Wildcats to scurry into defensive mode.

However, the Chico State passes were not enough to overcome the Triton pressure, and a shot by senior midfielder Megan Dickey finally raided the Wildcat net with 30 seconds left in the first half.

Sophomore midfielder Kelly Mayo assisted the shot, slinking a pass from 15 yards out to Dickey, who pounded the ball through the crowded defense and past the Wildcat keeper to sink the ball straight in the center of the goal.

The goal sent the crowd into a frenzy, setting a tone for the second half that would not be disrupted as the Tritons earned three more goals for the largest scoring margin in a CCAA championship tournament final match since 2003 when UCSD defeated Cal State Dominguez Hills 5-1.

Senior midfielder Kelly Cochran extended the lead to 2-0 in the 52nd minute with her 10th goal on the season, assisted by junior midfielder Lauren Segars.

The ball was crossed from the left side into a cluster of Tritons in the goal box, eventually getting forced in by Cochran.

The third goal came in with 17 minutes left by junior forward Kathy Sepulveda, who had been sweeping up the sidelines from the beginning.

Sepulveda charged any ball or person in sight along the right and left sides of the field and it finally paid off.

Sepulveda first stole the ball from her Chico State opponent and dribbled upfield on the outer right edge of the field to put a bold shot through from 12 yards out, which came to rest in the far left corner of the net.

While the Tritons attacked the Wildcats with a force that never dwindled — outshooting their opponents 20-2 — McGovern was left trekking the goal box with a seemingly bored but proud composure.

“I can never complain about being bored because that just means that the defense was doing an excellent job,” McGovern said about the shutout.

The final blow came in the 87th minute as sophomore forward Natasha Belak-Berger, who substituted numerous times for Sepulveda, hit a right-side ball which streamed almost too easily into the left corner of the goal for a 4-0 finish.

The Wildcats, who did a lot more watching than playing throughout the match, ended with their heads down as junior midfielder Ali Lai deflected a Chico State penalty kick with her head in the last seconds of the game.

The angry Wildcat goalkeeper kicked the ball over the Triton net while the UCSD players ran through the human tunnel formed by the arms of proud family and fans before gathering centerfield to take their CCAA championship photo and receive their trophy.

“We are so thrilled about the win,” Lai said. “All the support from the crowd made it even more personal for us.”

The Tritons were met with an even larger home crowd in their previous match against Humbolt State on Oct. 27 when Dickey scored the only goal on a header 17 minutes into the first half, thanks to a solid corner kick by junior midfielder Caitlyn Ryan for the 1-0 game win, which led to the Chico State slaughter two days later.

The league champions now wait in anticipation to see if they will secure the privilege of hosting next week’s NCAA Far West regional tournament, which will feature the top four teams in the region. The announcement will be made by 2 p.m. on Oct. 30.

A Setting for Grad Writers

It's not just a rumor. After nearly 20 years of arduous planning, UCSD recently accepted its first batch of Master of Fine Arts in Writing students and will begin instruction this fall. The inaugural class was chosen from a pool of 73 applicants, and is composed of four fiction writers and four poets.

According to MFA in Writing Program Director Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, the program intends to carve out a name for itself in the MFA community with a highly interdisciplinary nature, a possible community practicum and competitive financial aid.

While the program will keep fiction and poetry as its two standard tacks, a cross-genre workshop offered in Winter Quarter will bring all eight
writers under one roof to experiment with content and form. This experimental proposal drew prospective graduate students like Lorraine Graham to the program.

'For somebody who is interested in contemporary poetry, or fiction for that matter, and especially innovative or experimental poetry and fiction, UCSD has a really great history of that,' said Graham, who already accepted her admission. 'There aren't that many programs in the entire country that would allow you to do avant-garde or experimental work 'mdash; they basically wouldn't permit it, and UCSD will.'

The program will include elements of existing MFA programs in other departments on campus. Bynum is devising a syllabus for a course tentatively offered next year that will entail cross-disciplinary collaboration with MFA in Visual Arts. Writers will also be encouraged to venture outside the literature department to take courses offered by other graduate programs on campus.

'If [our graduate students] want to take a graduate seminar in Civil War history because that informs the project that they're working on, they can do that,' Bynum said. 'They have a fair amount of flexibility in designing their curriculum to support the work that they're doing.'

This same privilege already exists for other MFA students at UCSD. Before the writing option existed, graduate students of other disciplines were free to take a course called Writing States, offered by the literature department; Similarly, space permitting, they will be free to take the new writing courses.

Bynum and her colleagues are currently seeking approval for a practicum that would require MFA in writing students to provide community outreach, meanwhile receiving course credit toward their degrees. Students could run their own off-campus writing workshops, organize readings or volunteer at elementary schools.

'We want students to know that they are expected to be taking the initiative to be designing their own outreach efforts so that this program has a presence in the larger community,' Bynum said.

While the program cannot guarantee financial aid, one of organizers' priorities is to offer as many frugal options as possible, including teaching assistanceships with partial fee remission and healthcare benefits. MFA in Writing students will be required to complete 12 units as a teaching assistant for either one of the three introductory writing courses for undergraduates or any of the six college's writing programs.

However, in order to preserve personal writing time, none of the graduate students will be required to spend more than 50 percent of their time working.

The university was initially hesitant to launch an MFA in Writing at UCSD, concerned that it couldn't compete with well-established programs at UC Irvine and San Diego State University.

Both the nearby writing programs take three years for completion, as opposed to UCSD's two.'

'Our [program] will be different,' Armantrout said. 'The MFA program at Irvine is very career centered, very mainstream-publication centered, and we hope that ours will be more adventurous and experimental and less tied into the New York publishing world. Ours will have a theoretical component and also a component that deals with literary movements, and so it won't be all workshops.'

The program's startup was also delayed' over concerns that its faculty was still too small. But, in spring 2008, the literature department hired its fifth full-time writing professor 'mdash; Cristina Rivera-Garza 'mdash; and plans to hire one more faculty member by fall 2009.

According to MFA in Writing faculty, UCSD offers several key on-campus resources for the program. The university is home to Clarion, a five-week summer workshop of science-fiction and fantasy 'mdash; the oldest of it's kind in the country. Additionally, UCSD is home to the Archive for New Poetry, a collection of poetry and poet correspondence located in Geisel library that documents the evolution of experimental writing since 1945.

'One thing that interested me about UCSD was the huge science community,' said Courtney Killian, a prospective MFA student who has not yet accepted admission. 'I do a lot in my prose with health and illness, and I'm concerned with human body stuff, so the infusion of that on campus was a big draw for me.'

With so many factors to consider in the MFA selection process, many students are turning to more comprehensive ways of narrowing their search. The Suburban Ecstasies, a program ranking site created by MFA student Seth Abramson, is one such endeavor. It directly polls enrolled students about their program funding, faculty, campus resources and financial aid. During the application season from October to mid-April, the site gets over 5,000 hits per day.

The site uses 'Modified Revealed Preference Ranking,' which means it measures student matriculation preferences.' Abramson polls students applying to these programs and assumes that because they are invested enough to pay the substantial application fees and are willing to commit two to three years at any given school, they have done their research.

'I was really intrigued by this new methodology for ranking MFA programs because certainly the U.S. News World Report version was very outdated,' Bynum said.

Although UCSD's MFA in Writing program has not yet commenced instruction, and although the bulk of its advertising has been through word of mouth, Suburban Ecstasies already ranked the UCSD program at 62 out of 100 nationwide, four slots below San Diego State University.

'There's always a lot of excitement when a new program pops up in California,' Abramson said in an e-mail. 'It doesn't hurt that UCSD is one of the top-ranked public universities in the country. Generally speaking, universities with a strong overall academic reputation always do better with new MFA programs than do lesser-known colleges and universities. UCSD is one example of this, but there are many others, such as the' University of Illinois, Rutgers University and' University of Georgia.'

Bynum said she doesn't feel as if the MFA in writing program is starting from scratch, thanks to the infrastructure of the existing undergraduate writing program, and to the large community of graduate students already working within the literature department at UCSD.

Readers can contact Joanna Cardenas at

Baseball drops series finale to Sac State

The UCSD baseball team dropped the series finale against Division I Sacramento State by the slim margin of 3-2. The Hornets took game one of the series, 6-5, and the Tritons won game two, 7-5.

Hila Moyal
Guardian file

With the loss, UCSD falls to 5-2 overall.

""We didn't play our best baseball and found ourselves very much in the ballgame until the last pitch,"" O'Brien said. ""That's a good sign. But we can't accomplish our goals if we don't play consistent baseball throughout every weekend series. Looking at the big picture, we lost two one-run ballgames to a Division 1 team and feel as though we should have won all three. Our guys know that we belong, and they act that way.""

The Tritons got on the board first in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, senior rightfielder David Hawk singled up the middle. After Hawk stole second, sophomore leftfielder Damian Fante smacked a single up the middle and plated Hawk.

Triton sophomore pitcher Byron Grubman, the 2003 California Collegiate Athletic Association Freshman of the Year, took the hill for UCSD. He had only given up two singles and three walks through four innings of play. Grubman would go on to throw six innings, give up two runs on five hits, and strike out four Hornet batters.

Sacramento State put single runs up in the top of the fifth and sixth innings.

UCSD, down 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, knotted the game up at two when senior first baseman Jeff Riddle hit a two-out single to score junior shortstop Keith Hernandez from second base.

Junior transfer pitcher Justin Allred came on in relief of Grubman in the top of the seventh inning.

Hornet second baseman Jack Arroyo led off the top of the seventh inning against Allred with a solo home run to left-center field. The run proved to be the game-winner, and Allred took the loss falling to 1-1 on the year.

Sacramento State pitcher Warren Rosebrock earned the win for the Hornets and improved to 1-0. He went six innings and gave up six hits, two runs and two walks. The Hornets' victory improves their record to 5-2.

For the Tritons, Fante and Riddle each went 2-for-4 on the day with an RBI apiece.

The Tritons open their 2004 CCAA season this week with a four-game series against Cal State Los Angeles. Single games at home on Feb. 12 and Feb. 13 will begin at 2:30 p.m. The four-game series then moves to Los Angeles for a doubleheader on Feb. 14.

Flag thrown before Super Bowl XXXVII even begins

Beverly Walker, a handicapped ""sports fan,"" threw a yellow flag, but Super Bowl XXXVII is still on its way to Qualcomm Stadium.

Earlier this month, Walker attempted to delay the grand finale of the NFL season by saying that Qualcomm Stadium, which will host this season's Super Bowl on Jan. 26, failed to fully meet the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Walker, along with three other disabled people, brought a lawsuit to the city of San Diego, the Chargers and the Padres in 1997, and said that the venue is not completely accessible to handicapped people. Walker does not believe that changes have been made to the stadium, nor have the conditions of the settlement been met.

Although it may not be enough, over 100 handicapped parking spaces have been added to Qualcomm Stadium, bathrooms now conform with the Disabilities Act, and ramps, railings and elevators have been installed at this year's Super Bowl venue as well.

On Jan. 9, magistrate judge Leo Papas said that the city has tried to comply with the Disabilities Act, and that the game is on as was originally planned.

(Papas' call to stick to the game plan has been just one of a few good rulings that have come so far during the 2003 NFL playoff season. Enough people without a helmet and pads have shaken up the outcomes of close playoff games.)

However, Papas did issue a warning to the city, saying that it must keep working toward meeting the promises that it made earlier, and Walker did not completely miss with the hit that she was trying to make against the Super Bowl. The city will pay her attorney fees for failing to completely meet the promises of the settlement.

Anyone who tries to stop the big game from being traditionally played on the final Sunday of January will eventually end up dealing with the wrath of a large group of people (by the way, Osama is the reason why Super Bowl XXXVI was played in February last year). One is only left to guess about Walker, who regards herself as a sports fan, and what she would have had to deal with if a good call was not made on her intentions of trying to postpone or move the Super Bowl out of the Q.

So upon further review of the play, there was no penalty, and real football fans and Super Bowl XXXVII will not be penalized for Walker's cruel intentions.


Seventeen UCSD School of Medicine doctors were added to America's Top Doctors, a regional guide that profiles the top medical specialists in the nation.

Stephen Wasserman was selected for his work in allergies and immunology. Richard H. Haas and Doris Ann Trauner were included for child neurology. Edward David Ball was added for bone marrow transplant and medical oncology work, Steven R. Garfin for orthopaedic surgery, and Kenneth Lyons Jones for pediatrics. Antonia Catanzaro, Andrew Ries and Lewis Rubin were selected in the field of pulmonary diseases. Stephen L. Seagren stands out for his work in radiation oncology, Kim Valji for radiology and David B. Hoyt was added for burn and critical care services.

Douglas Richman, Clifford Walter Shults, David Bruce Granet, Michael Brage and Joseph Schmidt will also receive Veterans Affairs funding in their respective fields.

The doctors were chosen based on a survey of thousands of nurses, physicians and health care professionals throughout the United States.

Educational master plan discussion is available on-line

A moderated on-line public discussion about California's draft Master Plan for pre-kindergarten through postsecondary education, which will chart the course for California's education over the next two decades, is being held to provide input for the Joint Legislative Committee, which is developing the plan.

Topics to be discussed include aspects of the plan that address student learning, uses of technology, workforce preparation, financing, facilities and governance. The extent to which the plan has the potential to create a cohesive system and to assure success at every level of education, as well as how well the plan addresses access, achievement, accountability and affordability, will also be discussed.

The Web site, which can be found at, will include copies of the draft Master Plan, working group reports and related documents.

UCSD professor wins highest award among UC professors

UC President Richard C. Atkinson awarded the University of California Presidential Medal to Richard A. Lerner on May 31 at the UCSD School of Engineering Sixth Annual Recognition Banquet.

The UC Presidential Medal was established to recognize ""Extraordinary contributions to the University of California or the community of learning.""

Lerner is president of the Scripps Research Institute. His 30-year scientific career encompasses a range of biomedical research. His most recent work involves groundbreaking discoveries of converting antibodies into enzymes, which permits the catalysis of chemical reactions once thought impossible to achieve through classical chemical procedures. The result has been the possibility of producing antibodies overnight that would be more efficient than natural enzymes.

Lerner has also been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1991 and was named to the Governor's Council on Bioscience in 1999.

Notable speaking class offered in summer session

Dana Bristol-Smith is scheduled to teach ""Presentation Skills for Human Resource Professionals"" this summer for UCSD Extension.

The course is directed at gaining much-needed proficiency at speaking in front of an audience, a skill considered one of the top 10 qualifications for successful leaders.

Bristol-Smith is the founder of ""Speak for Success,"" an organization that works with companies who want their employees to communicate with courage, confidence and credibility. She is also a certified facilitator of Speaking Circles, the foundation of Transformational Speaking. Bristol-Smith has received the Golden Gavel and Competent Toastmaster awards.

Summer 2002 courses at UCSD Extension start June 24. For more information call (858) 882-8027.


The Sunny Side of Ultraviolet Light

Researchers from UCSD’s Moores Cancer Center have found an apparent relationship between exposure to sunlight, namely ultraviolet B radiation, and reduced incidence of ovarian cancer.

The study used worldwide data through a new tool called GLOBOCAN, which is a database of cancer incidence in 175 countries.

When scientists plotted the occurrence of cancer in these countries according to latitude, they produced a parabolic curve, with lower incidences of cancer lying closer to the equator.

UVB is known to trigger the photosynthesis of vitamin D3 in the human body. This form of vitamin D has been widely thought to reduce the risk of cancer, and this most recent study is one more step toward determining if this vitamin could be a resource for prevention.

Further research in this area is needed before making health recommendations.

Drug Designing Continues to Accelerate

Researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of Washington and IBM have collaborated to create the largest protein-structure prediction ever made. Even more impressively, they did it in record time — less than three hours.

The groundbreaking simulation was done for the Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction competition, a contest among scientists to predict complex protein structures in order to design effective drugs. This three-dimensional model was dependent upon University of Washington professor David Baker’s Rosetta Code.

This representation relied on more than 40,000 central processing units of IBM’s Blue Gene Watson Supercomputer, a system that was installed at the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

Initially, Baker’s code had to be run in sequence, broken into smaller, more manageable amounts of data; however, the center’s supercomputing resources could run the code simultaneously, providing for a dramatically faster process.

The team was able to predict about 120,000 structures, greatly increasing the probability of finding the lowest energy conformation, and the high-speed process allowed more time to analyze those predictions before submission.

Most noteworthy is the amount of time the process took, according to SDSC computational scientist Ross Walker.

“All this was done within a day, with the calculation taking less than three hours,” he stated in a press release. “Run in serial, or on small clusters, as has been done heretofore, the process took many, many weeks.”

Fear and Loathing in Tijuana

Hollywood Ray’s club, Coko Bongo, is a popular hotspot for underage San Diego college students, it features exotic dancers, friendly bartenders and a convenient border transportation service.

Most students know about the “Hollywood Ray” buses that turn up in the faculty parking lot, ready to whisk the under-21 crowd down to Mexico for a night of drinking and debauchery — but few know the man behind the border-hopping business.

Following Hollywood Ray to his new club, Coko Bongo, was an exercise in endurance and insanity. The man weaves hectically from a bus pickup spot to a friend’s house to a gas run, constantly taking calls before he even starts to head down to Tijuana for the night, where he will stay until the party winds down at 4 a.m.

Hollywood Ray kicks at a rowdy audience while a drunken partier exposes herself.

Coko Bongo opened Sept. 28, the same night as the annual naughty schoolgirl bash, an event that brought 2,000 partygoers and 150,000 unique visitors to Ray’s Web site the next day.

It’s easy to see why the college crowd has found its new hotspot. Coko Bongo doesn’t fit the typical dirty and rundown model of Tijuana clubs. The club is immaculate; workers armed with brooms are constantly patrolling the club and cleaning up after messy drunks. The VIP room is filled with trendy model types drinking champagne. Everything is brand new and more like Pacific Beach than Safari, a Tijauna club Ray had a stake in until a few days ago — a move he said was based on a change in agenda.

“We had totally different ideas on the club; I wanted to invest in it, make it nicer and even though my partners said they wanted to fix it up too, it never happened,” Ray said.

Despite the break, he said there is no bad blood between himself and his old partners. But even with the good relations, he can’t help gloating when Safari looks dead on a Friday night.

“All the cabs go to Coko Bongo now, no one goes [to Safari] anymore,” Ray said.

A born promoter, he wants more events and concerts to attract the crowd. On Oct. 5, Girls Gone Wild was at the club filming and handing out free shirts to a screaming crowd. A hot-girl contest with $100 and a bottle of tequila on the line turned R-rated when a largely male crowd started chanting “show your tits” to a stage of dancing girls, they complied; Ray knows how to keep his customers entertained.

He has been in the party scene since before he could get into clubs. Born in San Jose, Calif., the promoter got his start at age 14, handing out flyers for parties thrown by his older surfer friends. Soon he began throwing house parties, promoting bands and busing people to clubs. The rest is Avenida Revolución history.

According to Ray, he recieved his infamous moniker from the band Alien Ant Farm when he was doing promotional work for them. The band told him he had a style straight out of Hollywood, and the name and persona stuck with him since then.

Although he drives downtown and to Pacific Beach, the majority of his business is in driving undergraduates to Tijuana. Anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 college students head across the border in Ray’s buses every weekend. He estimated that up to 90 percent of his customers are under 21. Until recently, San Diego State made up the majority of his business, but he said recently UCSD has caught up.

Though everyone has heard horror stories of good times gone wrong down in Mexico, Ray scoffed at claims of the Mexican police’s mistreatment of American students and insisted he hasn’t heard of anything terrible happening.

Ray is friendly with Tijuana’s law enforcement. He often calls a cop’s cell phone to see if he is on duty to provide an escort; even the federales came out to his VIP section. Running a new club in Tijuana is a high-profile endeavor that attracts attention from local government officials, and he is careful to stay in their good graces.

Besides the party buses and his new club Coko Bongo, Ray operates an air conditioning and heating business during the week. His packed schedule and expert multitasking is evident as he takes pictures of people dancing and answers nonstop calls between conversations. Even with the frantic pace and late nights, Ray is nothing if not calm and collected — a businessman in his natural habitat.

For anyone who has been to clubs on Avenida Revolución, the strip in Tijuana where most American students end up, the scene inside Coko Bongo is familiar. The relentless tequila man, pushy bathroom attendant and wasted sorority girls are ever present. The alcohol inevitably gets a few eager clubgoers too drunk to catch the bus home, but Ray tries makes sure everyone gets a ride home.

“I’ll go out of my way and take people home myself,” he said.

Even with his extreme popularity among San Diego college students, some still criticize how he makes his living.

“I think the violence and drug abuse in Tijuana comes from the disregard for the humanity and life in general in Tijuana,” Earl Warren College junior Yesenia Padilla said. “I think bussing college students anywhere for the express purpose of debauchery is deplorable, you wouldn’t want that in your backyard.”

But according to Ray, his position can’t be pigeonholed as simply an American businessman abusing the unequal border. His father is from a small town in Mexico, where he has spent time throughout his life. He also speaks Spanish well enough to pass as a native and sees his business as helping, not hurting, the system.

“I bring money into the country,” Ray said. “Of course I want things to improve.”

Waiting in line at the border, Ray spoke angrily about the divide, suggesting the border is illegal and only in place to isolate the increasingly business-savvy Mexicans.

His night ends after the last bus leaves the border. Drunk phone calls come in incessantly from riders unable to find the overpass that will take them home. He takes all the calls, not trusting anyone else to make sure the kids make it back safety.

Despite getting home at sunrise when people go out for their morning runs, Ray has no regrets.

“I love what I do,” he said.

Question This Column; Your Future Is Too Important Not To

Hi! I’m Hadley Mendoza reporting from sunny San Diego and with the Oct. 20 voter-registration deadline fast approaching I have invited two special guests to join me in this installment of “Stealing the Shoes.” I’m pleased to introduce Chris Moffat, president of UCSD’s College Democrats and Megan Rodriguez, the statewide southern region chair for the College Republicans.

The 2008 election is more important for students to vote in that any other in their lifetime. Forget that it’s historic — for the first time the White House won’t just be for white men and all that jazz — America has reached a turning point, and the next administration is going to be presiding over some of the greatest issues that our country and the world have faced to date. Though our communities are more open and accepting than ever, our government is still denying us simple rights: the Patriot Act takes unreasonable liberties with constitutional freedoms, and evangelical demagogues threaten to dismantle the country’s very foundation — separation of church and state — by governing with their religion, reversing Roe v. Wade and continuing to legislate prejudice by denying homosexual couples the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. The United States is in two big wars, the futures of which are uncertain, with men and women our age dying every day. Terrifying as it is, the economy is on the verge of collapse — it doesn’t take an expert to see that when the largest banks and financial firms are being taken over by the feds it’s a pretty dire situation, and this is the economy that students will turn to for jobs as they soon graduate. In an international arena characterized by globalization, rising nuclear powers, out-of-control genocide and entire countries so poor their citizens are dying from birth, the Bush administration has completely destroyed our credibility with the rest of the world, reducing America to a disgusting joke. And decades of frivolous waste and pollution are finally taking their toll on the Earth, as increasingly dangerous storms ravage the coasts, water levels rise and ice caps melt.

These are the facts, and while parties, politicians and pundits can argue over causes and solutions for these problems, everyone can agree that the time to address them is now and the person who will be addressing them is the next president of the United States.

So let’s open the floor to my guests: Why do you each feel it’s so important for students to vote in this election?

College Republican Megan Rodriguez: Well obviously this election is really important just because of the issues that have been happening lately … so this is a vital election where people really need to get out and vote in order to pick the right candidate that they feel will best handle the situation and get us out of this recession and help get out of the wars successfully. Personally, I really encourage everyone to get out and vote I think it’s a great right to have and something that people should definitely take advantage of. And that’s the best way you can really get your opinion out there and elect someone that you feel is right for the position.

College Democrat Chris Moffat: I think what’s different about this election … [is that people are] taking a very close look at the issues, they’re taking a very close look at both candidates and everyone seems to feel that their vote truly matters. In fact, the College Democrats at UCSD registered about 1,300 students in the past two weeks on Library Walk. I’m incredibly excited about that. And those aren’t just democratic numbers; those are everyone numbers, from what I’ve seen, of people who have registered at the College Democrats table. … You can just feel it. Whenever you go to a debate party and you see students booing John McCain or booing Barack Obama or shouting their approval of something one of them said. People feel like this election truly does matter.

But let me interrupt my guests for just a moment to remind readers that their votes are so much greater than the small pieces of paper on which they’re cast. Your vote can and will change the future — if every college-aged American voted we’d determine the election’s outcome every time. That’s a lot of power, and it’s power that I expect and demand UCSD students to take seriously, by educating themselves on the issues and the candidates. An uninformed vote is just as bad, if not worse, than an individual who denies himself a voice altogether by not voting. Allow me to illustrate this point with another question for my guests. Here is a candidate-specific question for Megan, and then Chris, you’ll have a chance to respond.

I think many students are very curious about Sarah Palin. She’s kind of been kept away from the media, she hasn’t had too many interview opportunities so far and she’s pretty new to the game, so can you speak a little about Palin and why students should really get behind her?

MR: I think Sarah Palin was actually a great pick. I think she helped boost our ratings in the polls, she gave the campaign a whole new dynamic, which is something that I don’t think any other VP pick could have done. I think Palin, yes she is a new player in the scheme of the political world, but so was Obama two years ago. He doesn’t have that much more experience, she does have the experience of being an executive. I mean, she was the governor of Alaska, which is a state and she did have the same powers that would be equivalent to a president or vice president. Yes, she’s new but she does have experience. I mean, she has an approval rating of over 90 percent in Alaska, which is phenomenal for a governor. That’s very rare, so obviously she is doing something right there. She has helped fight the oil corporations, under her leadership Alaska has actually started bringing in more money and so she returned that to the citizens instead of wasting it on earmark spending. … Something we really need to get on top of is being more efficient with taxpayer money and that’s something that Sarah Palin has done. I mean, she did give back money to the citizens of Alaska. Also, she’s someone that people can relate to, she’s not one of these politicians that’s part of the good old boys club or who’s been around forever. She’s someone that women can relate to and she’s someone that people from small towns can relate to from all across America, obviously.

CM: Well when I was thinking about who McCain would pick for vice president and when I heard that he picked Palin I was incredibly shocked and confused at the same time. First off, I had never heard of Palin, and then the fact that she has such little experience in politics, I mean we can argue the fact that she has more executive experience, being the mayor of a small town and then governor of a state, but what does that really show the American people, the fact that you’ve been a governor of a state? When you think about it a lot of our presidents have come out of the legislature, whether it’s the House of Representatives or the Senate, as many as people who’ve been coming out of the governorships of states. … Really, it doesn’t matter if you have experience in the legislature or experience in an executive position. What matters is the experience you have, and then not just experience but what you do with that experience. … The reason why it seems to me that the McCain campaign seems to be hiding her from the voters is because they don’t want them to see that Palin is a very right-wing ideologue. Specifically, the position she takes on abortion, she wants to outlaw abortion in all cases, even if it’s a rape case. That’s not even right, to me, that’s how incredibly confused I was by McCain’s choice. I would have thought he’d pick someone more moderate.

Wait, what? I’m afraid I need to respectfully intervene. These shallow answers are symptomatic of a huge problem with the political process. By failing to educate ourselves beyond what we’re told — be it by our friends, our parents or our party — we are undermining our democratic freedoms and spitting in the face of every person who fought for the 26th Amendment. Voting isn’t just about jumping on a bandwagon, it’s about thinking critically, questioning thoroughly and exhausting your research until you are absolutely sure you’re supporting something you truly believe.

Megan, your response failed to answer my question and you merely recycled the same conservative talking points we’re already flooded with. You start by telling us that Palin was a strategically good choice, which, if anything, detracts from her legitimacy. Then you take a cheap — and off-topic — jab at Obama. You go on to point out that she has a high approval rating (your figure was innacurate; it’s actually barely 80 percent) in a state that on a local level deals with very few of the same issues facing the other 49 in the Union. Next you make two misleading claims — it’s true she gave money back to citizens, but just as she distributed the budget surplus, she recommended borrowing money to pay for necessary road projects. And although while governor she made a show of cracking down on earmarking — forget that many of her vetoes were reversed since she had actually failed to understand the importance of the legislation — as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, she brought a record amount of pork to her tiny town. Finally, you say she’s strong because people can relate to her; she’s the just-like-us candidate. But does that mean hockey moms around the nation are fit for the White House? Certainly not; President George W. Bush played the “I’m just an average guy like you” card and lo and behold, average folk aren’t quite qualified to lead the country. What is this push toward the anti-intellectual? We, especially as students, should understand the importance of having leaders well-versed in the nuances of public office.

And Chris, you should be ashamed of yourself! You let her get away with this unsatisfactory answer and even legitimized it. By showing that you know even less about Palin than someone who was unable to give us a fresh answer, you make us question your support for Obama — how can you choose a candidate, or even a party, if you have no idea what else is out there? Your entire response was anecdotal, unfounded, convoluted and ultimately pointless. You have let down your organization, your party and your candidate and I can only hope that unlike you, the hundreds of people you have helped to register will give this election the respect and careful consideration it deserves.

Tritons, casting your vote in this election is the single greatest thing you can do to impact the future of your country. So please, register now — the College Democrats, College Republicans and CalPIRG will all have booths set up on Library Walk from now until the Oct. 20 deadline — and inform yourself. It might just be the most important homework you ever do.

Listen to the debate here:

or download it.


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