Students miss Napster, China misses the world

    Fall is upon us once again, and with it comes the perpetually increasing freshman cohort that descends upon UCSD, espousing tales of how involved it was in its high school track team, band or — God forbid — newspaper.

    One-third of these precocious youngsters will no doubt migrate south for the winter, participating in the ritualistic orgies of Tijuana, with their counterparts at San Diego State University and in the Marines.

    The other two-thirds, however, will predictably participate in an orgy of their own, downloading MP3s of a purely educational nature in the public domain. These will no doubt include academic discourses by such renowned authors as J.Lo and Lance Bass. But perhaps, like the last three years, UCSD’s hobbled residential network will prove insufficient to handle this activity and reduce the Internet traffic on campus to a crawl — rendering perfectly valid Counter-Strike servers run out of dorm rooms unplayable.

    And although ResNet has instructions on its Web site detailing the settings students should use for their file-sharing software to avoid crippling the (albeit now upgraded) network, my guess is that the crush of freshmen on campus experiencing broadband for the first time will force network operations to block some file-sharing software again (as it did in February 2000 with Napster, making national news with a number of other campuses).

    The ungrateful freshmen will probably be peeved, but they should feel lucky in comparison to the Net denizens of China, who must deal with Google being blocked (and then unblocked, with politically subversive search terms still restricted). A list of blocked sites at http://code.law.hardvard.edu/filtering/list.html reveals that the Web sites of upstanding science and engineering schools, such as Georgia Tech, MIT and Cal Tech, are occasionally or always restricted from access. However, in spite of all our success as an engineering university, UCSD apparently has yet to make the short list; the Chinese seem to think that our Web site is innocuous.

    Maybe that’s because our undergraduates spend their time playing Counter-Strike and downloading music (as opposed to wiring their dorms to check on the status of their laundry machines from the Internet like Cal Tech and MIT do — maybe electronically enabled washers and dryers are politically subversive). If it’s any consolation, UCLA is not blocked either. Then again, we don’t have Noam Chomsky, either.

    s much as Transportation and Parking Services’ new “”Cityshuttle”” serving the various apartment complexes along Gilman Drive and Nobel Drive will be appreciated, one must note the duplication of some effort: City bus lines 34 and 41 already serve the proscribed area every half hour, as well as several stops in UCSD. All things equal, it seems likely that while students who formerly dealt with the vagaries of the city bus system will now have a more palatable alternative, those who drove three blocks to school to park in Regents lot and bus in will be little swayed from their current patterns.

    Perhaps, if the new shuttle system is a success, parking problems could be alleviated not only by forcing freshmen to park in the outlaying lots during the day, but also by restricting parking permit purchases to those who can demonstrate residence outside of a reasonable bussing/biking radius, as well as improving the atrocious on-campus biking situation to encourage more people to do so. In fact, the November 2001 report of the Transportation Policy Committee recommended to “”improve north-south and east-west bike connections, and install additional bike racks.”” And, in spite of this recommendation and shorter passing periods, students this fall will look forward to violating an average of eight signs and nearly mowing down four pedestrians in order to get from class to class on time by bicycle.

    nd in world news (besides Iraq), there was a World Summit in August that Mr. Bush pointedly ignored, sending a hapless Mr. Powell to be derided by heckling demonstrators during his speech. But why bother the chief of state with such trivial issues as global poverty, AIDS and sustainable development (a doublethink term that the current administration has gladly hijacked to mean “”burning coal””) when there is Iraq to be dealt with? The timing of the administration’s unilateral push for an attack on Iraq to coincide with a high-profile summit meant to force the world’s largest economy into hard decisions through global consensus is too coincidental to be ignored. Or maybe ignoring it was the entire point.

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