Monday, May 29, 2017

American Patriotism: A Dark Dichotomy

There’s nothing like a good dose of prime American patriotism. As highlighted in a series of surveys at the International Social Science Programme, Americans are number one at thinking they’re number one. American patriotism...

When No One Shaves, Everyone Loses

In November, seasons change, the birds fly South for the winter, and
men’s facial hair gets way out of hand. It’s the biggest phenomenon
to sweep college guys since the bromance: No-Shave November.

How to: Keep the Environment Healthy While You Are Sick

Many folks dread flu season — and why not? Being sick is not the most fun you can have during midterms and can be harmful for your body, your immune system and those around...

Global Warming: Killing Jobs and Bears

The U.S. Department of Energy released a report last week that world emissions of carbon dioxide jumped 6 percent in 2010 — a figure far worse than what climate scientists predicted four years ago. And half of the increase is attributable to China and the United States. Despite all of this, President Obama halted the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate air quality in September, succumbing to a belief that regulations would kill jobs.

Revisiting Old Wounds: The Tragedy of the Oklahoma City Bombing

It only seems fitting that as April 19 arrives, an article is written to observe one of the most tragic events in our country's history: the Oklahoma City bombing.

It has been six years since the terrorist bombing killed 168 people, 19 of whom were children, and still the scars have not healed. In fact, some have professed that the wounds have been reopened for a few reasons. The first is that the scheduled execution of Timothy McVeigh is arriving soon; the day of emotional release for those murdered and their families is set at May 16. The second reason is the recent release of a new book about the bombing, which also includes interviews with McVeigh.

The controversy surrounding the book, titled ""American Terrorist,"" and the interviews in it is that it presents McVeigh's story of the crime and his embittered life. Tom Morganthau of Newsweek writes, ""[McVeigh] claims total responsibility for the worst act of domestic terrorism in American history"" in the book.

Families of those killed are angered by how the book approaches this still-painful subject. ""[Lou] Michel and [Dan] Herbeck have been denounced by some for exploiting tragedy, for being too willing to accept McVeigh's version of events and for providing McVeigh with a national platform from which to advance his claim to political martyrdom,"" Morganthau stated.

Indeed, the sixth anniversary of the bombing has scratched at an unhealed wound, hurting not only the families of those killed, but all Americans. Rarely before the bombing did we consider a terrorist attack within our own borders and by our own citizens a possibility, but the explosion that ripped apart the Murrah Federal Building likewise ripped apart America's innocence. It was a hard slap of reality for a country that had considered itself above the terrorist violence that has plagued Israel and Northern Ireland.

The memory of the Oklahoma City bombing has burned itself into the fabric of American society. The writers of the book compare speaking to McVeigh with sitting down with Lee Harvey Oswald or John Wilkes Booth. This being the case, it can be easily argued that the bombing was an important and course-changing part of our history, just as integral as the assassinations of presidents John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

Many older Americans often say that they remember distinctly what they were doing when they heard over their radios that Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. So, too, I think, can people recall what they were doing when the news of the bombing was first broadcast.

I can remember exactly what I was doing on April 19, 1995. I was still in the 10th grade and had just come home from school. I stepped in and my mom, who was starting to cook dinner at the time, told me that there was a bombing.

""No, it must've been in Israel or something,"" I said, looking briefly at the news coverage on the television, not even thinking that a terrorist attack of such a magnitude was possible in this country.

But my mother was correct. I stood silently as the camera panned over the devastation and confusion, the crowds of people around the area and what was left of the building after half of it, along with 168 men, women and children, was blown to oblivion. The pictures left to us are likewise ingrained in our memories. Who can forget the now world-famous Newsweek cover of the firefighter cradling the body of a dead child, one of the 19 children who died?

""American Terrorist"" is another chapter in a book many Americans had originally thought to be closed. Some people are afraid that this exposure will only give McVeigh the attention that he craves and transform him into a martyr. I don't think such a thing will come close to happening. In fact, the exact opposite will happen: The book will amplify how insane McVeigh is NOT, but rather how cold and calculating he is. People will see how remorseless this man, who views the death of the children as ""collateral damage,"" truly is. And when he is executed, he will simply fade into history. Nothing more, nothing less.

The scare and hype over the rise of militias has similarly come and gone. The bombing gave the militias exactly what they, like little kids, wanted: attention. And now, more than half a decade later, militias are a thing of the past after achieving their 15 minutes of fame. Good-bye and good riddance.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wrote in an article after the Aug. 7, 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, ""Let [the terrorists] have no illusions. We will not be intimidated.""

As a country, we have survived tragedy after tragedy and we have not been intimidated. We have stared down the petty and paranoid groups that try to bully the nation into seeing the world through their own myopic eyes. What does not tear us apart can only make us stronger, can only open our eyes to reality.

We are not any more safe from the IRA, Hezbolah or Hamas. Unfortunately, it took the deaths of 168 people to learn this. But, as Albright continued, ""To give in to terror, or hide from it, is not an option.""

The bombing -- now six years in the past -- and the people that tried to terrorize the nation are merely an insubstantial premonition of the past. With McVeigh's execution date arriving in less than a month, perhaps the final chapter can at last be written. Ever since he committed his heinous crime, McVeigh's existence has been a stain on the fabric of American society. Good-bye and good riddance. The sooner he starts burning in hell, the better.

Laziness is Life's Finest Pleasure

The other day, someone called me the laziest person he had ever met. Really, who's the lazy person in that situation? I make significant efforts to meet people lazier than me so I can learn from them and make my life that much easier than it is. This is partly why I decided to write this: to help you lead a happier, less productive life.

That, and if I ever get off my ass and head over to the Guardian office, they're presumably going to give me $20. I was actually over there last week, but they wanted me to wait 10 minutes to get my paycheck. Keep in mind they weren't paying me to wait 10 minutes, they just wanted me to wait.

If I really wanted to be lazy, I would have looked up lazy in Webster's and written ""Webster's dictionary defines the word lazy as ...,"" but then I'd actually have to get a dictionary and look up the word. This wonderfully stupid technique was suggested by my 10th grade English teacher as a good introduction to essays.

""Hamlet"" is a good introduction to essays. Take whatever topic you're writing on, and relate it to a character in ""Hamlet"". If I were ever to teach a master class in B.S., that would be lesson No. 1.

B.S. is an important skill for any person trying to succeed in being lazy. It's what separates the run-of-the-mill, white-trash lazy person from the successfully lazy person. White-trash lazy people sit at home and watch television all day. Successfully lazy people sit at home, eat Bon-Bons and watch television on a big screen all day.

The important thing about being lazy is balance. You can't just sit around and do nothing all day. You have to find that happy medium of doing the minimum amount of work to propagate your lifestyle of doing nothing all day. Let's start with everyday problems and work our way up to harder ones.

You're hungry. What do you do? You have a few options. The average lazy person would just order a pizza. But then what? Tomorrow, you'll be hungry again and you might not have enough money for a pizza. Here is where preparation comes in handy. The secret weapon against hunger is the Ralphs' Big Buys section. All the things you need are in that aisle.

At the beginning of the year, I purchased paper plates, paper cups, a big box of ""Crystal Cutlery"" and 40 White Castle hamburgers. Whenever I get hungry, I pop one of those burgers in the microwave, hit ""66"" because typing in ""60"" would require me to move my finger, plop it on a paper plate, and eat. If I'm still hungry, I repeat the process.

But take something more difficult, like a 20-page paper. If you're a girl, you have your work cut out for you. Acquire the syllabus, figure out your professor's office hours, go to them, and then sleep with your professor. If I were a reasonably attractive heterosexual girl, and I had to choose between a 20-page paper and oral sex, there would be no contest.

And if you're a guy, you've also got your work cut out for you. Acquire the syllabus, figure out your professor's office hours, go to them, and then sleep with your professor.

No one said being lazy was easy. Most people assume it is, but it really isn't. It's a state of mind that you have to work at day by day until you have it down. Still with me?

Try a worst-case scenario: You've been caught plagiarizing a 20-page paper and the professor is adamant about you getting expelled. You guessed it, you have to sleep with your professor and the dean of your college. The real difficulty is figuring out the location of the dean's office and whether a threesome is appropriate.

What if you don't want to sleep with anyone? How does laziness work for Mormons? Here's a good alternative to going to class: Find someone who takes good notes. Give her the impression that you will sleep with her and then copy her notes. Suggest that you be ""just friends,"" mention how you're in the never-been-kissed club and are damn proud of it.

Then, just as your friend is reacting, hop in your Suburban, drive over to Disneyland and jump on a trampoline with your nine siblings.

I would write more, but I'm just about hitting the 800-word minimum ... 770 ... not quite ... 773 ... almost there .... 776.

This is a lot like when you're writing a letter to someone and you have nothing to say, so you start writing larger and then put a big fat ""Sincerely"" at the bottom, followed by an even fatter space for your name.

Oh, look, I'm done.

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Nobel’s Pat on the Back Won’t Bring Home Troops

Only nine months into his term, President Barack Obama was handed the most prestigious award for peace in the world — and he hasn’t done a damn thing to deserve it.

Since its inception over 100 years ago, the Nobel Peace Prize has been the highest form of international peace props you can score. Greats like Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela are among a few of the prize’s past recipients — people who lived for their respective causes and took radical action for a better future.

Not to get nitpicky, but Alfred Nobel’s will says the peace prize should go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

Simply put, the awardee usually can’t be, say, leading two wars and serving as overseer of Torture Island.

Apparently, the Norwegian Nobel Committee was able to overlook such details and focus on the president’s efforts to improve relations between the U.S. and the Middle East and decrease the world’s nuclear missile stockpile.

True, Obama has advocated that world leaders agree to collectively eliminate over 200 of the 1,700 nukes currently in existence. Of course, it’s a step in the right direction, but might not be the most concrete accomplishment. I’m pretty sure Jong and Medvedev didn’t trash their nukes the moment he said that.

A much more important factor of peace is the whole not-fighting-and-killing thing. In this category, Obama sacked a Nobel Peace Prize as reasonably as Rush Limbaugh might earn a lifetime achievement award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

First, let’s consider our war in Afghanistan. Since Obama took office, 21,000 more soldiers have been deployed to posts around the war-battered country. His top military advisors have recommended sending an additional 40,000 troops in the near future, and the president has consistently referred to Afghanistan as the “just” war, signaling no end to the bloodshed.

Taliban or not, the war in Afghanistan is still a war, and more than enough citizens have paid the price on both sides.

Old Nobel would be stirring in his grave if he knew that the most recent recipient of his esteemed award had actually increased the standing armies abroad.

Nobel also probably wouldn’t have appreciated a little place called Guantanamo Bay. One of Obama’s first initiatives as president was to close the island prison on the island of Cuba that currently houses some 250 suspected terrorists. During a Bush administration that saw the bastardization of American values under the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay became its paragon. Shutting down the prison would have been a fantastic start for Obama’s projected plan of change. But after encountering a strong opposition in Congress, where it faced a 90-6 vote, Obama shelved his plan to close Guantanamo.

I understand the bureaucratic nightmare that would have awaited Obama had he tried to overcome a 90-6 vote, but the fact that he immediately gave up and hasn’t mentioned it since makes me question how sincere he was about ever actually closing the prison in the first place. Perhaps it was simply a way to market himself.

While previous Nobel Prize winners were awarded for persistence in the face of serious adversity, Obama was given the same award after losing a staring contest with House Republicans.

Granted, I do believe that Obama has done a great deal to improve the U.S.’s global image after eight horrendous years of President George W. Bush’s administration. I was lucky enough to be in Egypt after he spoke there last spring, where locals were thrilled to talk to me about our new president.

Obama’s successful public relations shouldn’t go unnoticed, but they hardly warrant a Nobel Peace Prize.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s commissioner, Thorbjoern Jagland, said last week that Obama’s actions to date “have contributed to — I wouldn’t say a safer world — but a world with less tension.” If the qualifications for a Nobel Peace Prize now include simply decreasing tension, we could have saved a lot of trouble by just treating all the world’s leaders to a day at a shiatsu massage parlor.

For eight years under Bush we were frustrated, depressed and bitter. Obama came along and offered a large body of people some hope. They latched on to Obama’s “change” wagon and rediscovered feelings of national pride that had disappeared long ago.

There were a few of us out there who were critical of Obama’s actual program from the start, but the majority saw him as the savior of American politics, both here and abroad.

The simple truth is that Obama isn’t a savior. He won’t fix all our problems, and of course no single person ever can — but chances are, he won’t even come close.

I hope Obama will do great things one day, but for now, he’s drifting on a worldwide public-relations campaign and a never-ending bouquet of flowery speeches.

After winning the award, Obama said he was “surprised and deeply humbled” — and I believe him. Even Obama himself doesn’t think he deserves the award. Yet here he is, one Nobel Peace Prize richer.

Not every prizewinner has succeeded on the MLK/Mother Teresa level, so I’m not saying that Obama has that requisite.

But after nine months of unfulfilled promises, endless warring and an open torture center, can we really hail the president as any sort of peacekeeper?

The Melding of Politics and Religion

Throughout his campaign, President George W. Bush sought to portray himself as a different type of Republican. His policy proposals and campaign speeches were all centered around the idea that he is a compassionate conservative.

Austin Hsia

Congressional Republicans had been hurt in the past by Democratic portrayals that painted all Republicans as greedy politicians who were out to get single welfare mothers and take their welfare checks away. In seeking to immunize himself from any such negative attacks, Bush made one aspect of his compassionate conservative campaign centerpiece a proposal to allow faith-based charitable organizations to compete for federal money.

In the president's own words, what his plan would do is ""set out to promote the work of community and faith-based charities. We want to encourage the inspired, to help the helper. Government cannot be replaced by charities, but it can welcome them as partners instead of resenting them as rivals.""

It is evident that faith-based organizations have been doing compassionate work to the helpless for centuries, and have been quite effective in doing so.

What the Bush plan seeks to do is simply to extend a helping hand to those who are already in the trenches battling homelessness, alcohol and drug dependency, and various other social ills. Bush went on to say at the National Prayer Breakfast that ""Millions of Americans serve their neighbor because they love their God. Their lives are characterized by kindness, and patience and service to others. They do for others what no government program can really ever do: They provide love for another human being. They provide hope even when hope comes hard.""

Countless lives are changed by these faith-based organizations on a daily basis, and those lives are testimony to their efficiency. It would be completely illogical if government did not do all it could to help these charities.

Liberals who have been critical of most everything that the Bush administration has proposed -- from the nominations of Attorney General John Ashcroft and Interior Secretary Gale Norton, to school vouchers and tax reform -- are critical of the Bush proposal, saying that it would blur the lines between church and state. Opponents claim that federal money being funneled into such religious organizations is a simple violation of the First Amendment prohibition of an established religion.

However, when one looks at the proposal, it can be seen that there are three prongs that should pass almost anybody's constitutionality test, save perhaps the members of such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Bush faith-based proposal allows for more tax deductions for the American taxpayer. It allows for those 80 million taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions to deduct charitable donations from their taxes.

The plan would then go on to allow for charitable donations from individual retirement accounts without penalty, and it would also raise the charitable donation limit from 10 to 15 percent of companies' taxable income. The first part of the president's proposal is simply a plan to give American taxpayers more incentive to give to charities. There is no constitutional controversy with this aspect of the plan.

The second part of the Bush plan creates a new office in the White House and asks five cabinet departments to look for ways to encourage cooperations between the government and religious groups. In addition to the new office, the new administration's plan is going to create a fund from federal and private funds that will help small community and faith-based groups apply for grants. Assistance to these groups in helping them apply for grants should also be innocuous enough not to stir any problems.

The third and final prong of the Bush proposal seems to be causing the most ruckus. The plan expands ""charitable choice,"" allowing religious groups to receive funding for a variety of social programs such as inmate rehabilitation and the setting up of after-school programs for low-income children.

Before those on the left start screaming about a violation of the separation of church and state, they should see who supports Bush on his initiative. When Bush initially made the proposal, the man who introduced him was none other than Democratic nominee for vice president, Sen. Joe Lieberman. The Senator from Connecticut has been an avid supporter of such programs for quite some time. In addition to Lieberman, former Vice President Al Gore came out in favor of charitable choice so that our nation can ""meet the crushing social challenges that are otherwise impossible to meet.""

Liberal groups will have greater problems trying to explain why the Bush's idea is a bad one. The key word from the Bush proposal is to ""expand"" charitable choice. Religious charities that are highly effective in changing people's lives, such as the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, already do receive federal grants and those grants make a large portion of these organizations' annual budgets. What the Bush plan does is expand the amount of money that these efficient programs receive.

Finally, under a program the president has proposed, proselytizing or using government money to fund religious activities is strictly prohibited. What the Bush plan does is support the armies of compassion and not the armies of conversion. By prohibiting funding of religious activities or proselytization, the perception of a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment is completely dashed away.

The Bush plan is a step in the right direction. It allows for the federal government to assist those charities that have one success story after another. The proposal simply enlarges the amount of federal contributions to these groups, giving them more resources in their fight against the social ills of our country and restoring the lives of hurt people. All of this is done in a manner that is consistent with the federally protected rights that we as Americans hold dear.

Off-Campus Shuttles Projected to Make Their Biggest Stop in April

As the academic year rolls on, it is becoming increasingly obvious that student transportation must face cuts.  


UC Regents Held $17,600 Party the Night Before Raising Tuition, Have...

The night before the UC Board of Regents voted on Jan. 26 to raise tuition by $282 for the 2017–18 academic year, the university...