Opinion

NATO is Still Needed Despite the EU's Presence

After the Cold War, many believed NATO was dead. After all, the Russians are no longer a threat and the Cold War is over. Many wonder why the alliance is still around and criticize NATO’s presence in recent crises in Bosnia and Kosovo. Many say that the alliance is a military organization with no political concerns whatsoever. NATO has always been misunderstood: The alliance is more important now than ever before. While we no longer have to worry about doomsday scenarios that were the reason for NATO’s formation, the alliance is striving to make the “”best case”” scenario. The purpose of the alliance has always been to maintain the status quo and form solidarity against the Soviet threat. But the status quo is no longer on the agenda; NATO has survived because of its ability to respond to change. This versatility is why the alliance is an important and relevant part of not only Northern European security, but global security as well. To understand the importance of NATO’s presence, one must look at the overall effects of its current operations. But first, the misconceptions of what NATO is and what it stands for must be dispelled. The most common misunderstanding is that NATO is merely a military alliance. Like the alliances that started wars before NATO’s establishment, NATO is seen as a gang of countries that pledge support for each other should any member encounter a hostile situation with a nonmember country. NATO is more than just a military alliance or a counterthreat to warring countries. It is a community of nations, striving to foster security and peace throughout not only its member countries, but other countries as well. Another myth is that the alliance’s purpose is not limited to keeping the status quo. Much to the contrary, NATO’s purpose has changed as often as the political climate in most countries has changed. NATO’s goals change from defending its member countries against nuclear threats to proactively fostering security. The most important point in NATO’s current agenda is partnership. As a basic element to European stability, NATO has founded the Partnership for Peace Program and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Many critics do not know about this council, which boasts 46 member countries. Among them are NATO members, former Warsaw Pact countries and neutral nations. The Partnership for Peace Program allows participating countries to discuss security issues, and train and carry out peacekeeping operations jointly, thus opening communication with countries that have not previously been open to NATO’s initiatives. In fostering inclusion and cooperation, NATO has been able to achieve the first step to global security. NATO is also enhancing security for its existing members. Increased security in unstable countries sets a prime example for those who seek NATO membership. Other countries have seen possible NATO membership as an incentive to organize their country and resolve long-standing social, political or economic conflicts. As a result of NATO’s open membership, many bilateral treaties have been signed and border agreements settled. While the day that Russia joins the alliance is nowhere in sight and the Russia-NATO relationship could be better, NATO-initiated consultations are occurring regularly. NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson hopes to establish a NATO information office in Moscow as a step toward better communication and dispelling lingering Cold War sentiments. NATO’s presence in Kosovo has also been under scrutiny. Popular opinion does not consider NATO’s war. On the contrary, it is. Defending democracy and peace where diplomacy failed, NATO’s presence in Kosovo stands in accordance with NATO’s goals. The crisis affected members’ security. Indifference to the situation meant supporting ethnic cleansing and martial law. The alliance’s presence in Kosovo has proved fruitful as refugees have returned to a more stable country. NATO affects the overall stability of the continent because, slowly but surely, it is working with countries that were once the source of instability, violence and aggression. It is enhancing European capabilities and relations that will make them better partners with their North American counterparts. Because it is bound by democratic values, NATO will defend the peace for future generations and will be important to global security as long as a need for economic and political assistance exists. ...

Excess Booze Causes Much Heartache

We’re in college. You may have already realized that. These four (or maybe more) years are some of the best of our lives, as responsibility hasn’t fully swept in and fun remains the ultimate goal. That’s where alcohol comes in. As college students, we accept drinking as a vital part of our social lives, and even as a constituent of our daily lives. For some, it was prominent before arrival at UCSD, and for others, it crept up and surreptitiouslyworked its way into weekly or daily routines. Alcohol takes root in people’s lives in many different forms. For some, it truly is social and it helps them feel more comfortable in situations and allows them to have more fun. But, I ask, is this really what you want? What does it indicate when someone cannot be outgoing or meet people when acting completely for him- or herself? People should work through their inhibitions, rather than push them aside temporarily by being under the influence. I’ve seen what alcohol can do to all kinds of relationships. I’ve seen what it can do to lives. People in college take the term “”alcoholic”” lightly; it should not be taken as such. Depending so completely on anything is detrimental to the human spirit. Alcoholics really do lose their lives because of the substance. Alcoholism apparently grows and breeds during the college years. I don’t know what I can say to make those people who drink alone in their rooms for the sake of feeling the effects realize what they do to themselves and others, but I know that I wish there were some way to make them stop. This year, I received some of the worst news of my life. I was informed that the person I love most in this world was hospitalized for drinking too much. She could have died, the doctors said. Her blood alcohol level was extremely high, especially considering how long ago she’d stopped drinking and how sick she’d been. I didn’t, and still don’t, know what to say to her to make her realize the impact that had on my life. Less than two months later, I had to watch her come near that level again. I saw her too sick to control herself. This girl is 15 years old. She has a head start on many of the people I watch grapple with the same issue here at school. Maybe the difference for most is the freedom. Once we’re out of the house, we don’t have to deal with returning home drunk to face the wrath of Mom or Dad. But, most likely, the cause of the increase in drinkers is the atmosphere. Drinking is so highly valued at every college. (Well, maybe not at certain ones in Utah, but almost every one.) I fell prey to that pressure. I don’t regret it, but I do wonder how I allowed my values to change so drastically. I only hope that other people in the position I was three weeks ago stand firm and don’t give in to themselves. (Peer pressure is not what causes most people at this point to start drinking. By the time you’re in college, you’ve refused so many times, that to give in now you must actually make a choice for yourself.) Why do people indulge in this drug when it has such awful effects at times? I don’t think I’ll ever understand the appeal of drinking so much that you can’t make it to the bathroom to get sick and mess the rug in your suite or the stairs in your apartment. I don’t understand how people rationalize the use of drinking as an escape from their lives, when so many drinkers get depressed while under the influence. It feels worse to cry when you’re drunk because you lack any sort of control. Control may be the issue. The only time people can control how out of control they are is while drinking. I still don’t understand the appeal of being out of control, even in the slightest. It’s never a good idea to spray shaving cream on walls. Why would a person want to place himself at such a level where he would think it is a good idea? Alcohol is not an escape. It does not help anyone act more suave or seem more appealing in the long run. It’s addictive and it screws up entire lives, for the people who overconsume it and all the people around them. I’m not saying don’t do it; I know how impossible that is. Just be aware of what it does and does not do. These are the alleged “”best years of your life.”” You do want to remember them, don’t you? ...

Two Koreas Must Reunify Gradually

Talks of an imminent reunification have been rampant and indeed seem inevitable in light of recent developments in the two Koreas. First, there were the numerous family reunions among dozens of relatives who had had no communication since the Korean War. Next came the historic summit last June between leaders of South and North Korea, signaling a new era in Korean political relations. During the summit, the leaders agreed on a number of things, including allowing reunions between war-torn families and promoting closer economic ties, in the hopes that these actions would lead to an eventual reunification. To date, about 7.6 million South Koreans — 15 percent of the population — have relatives in the North whom they haven’t seen since the end of the war. Indeed the meeting was unprecedented. A Korean scholar and former Russian diplomat who was posted in Pyongyang in the late ’80s called it a “”landmark event in Korean history, tantamount to putting a symbolic end to the Korean War.”” Although reunification appears to be inevitable in the long run, the transition will and should take much longer. In other words, don’t expect the two Koreas to become one any time soon. Essentially, an attempt at reunification is an attempt at marrying two very different creatures. Ever since the start of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, the two sides have been at odds with each other. Intense fighting lasted nearly three years between North and South Korea. The three-year fighting between the South, backed by the United Nations, and the North, backed by China and the Soviet Union, cost the lives of approximately 2.4 million Koreans. Bitter from old wounds and a tenuous truce that ended the war, the two Koreas have maintained their separation for 50 years. In fact, the two are still technically at war: the creation of a guarded demilitarized zone and the fact that each is still heavily armed is a testament to this. Within the passing of that half century, both countries have taken very different paths. The North embraced a communist dictatorship with Kim Il Sung at the helm. For years, it remained an isolated country, struggling from decades of being cut off from modern technology, only now facing the effects in the form of starvation and poverty. Kim imposed a Korean form of Stalinism that raised his persona to that of cult status, reminiscent of China’s Mao Tse-Tung. With the death of Kim, the North has continued to encounter severe economic problems. Put simply, the North needs help. The South, on the other hand, has enjoyed much greater luck since the great divide. It has evolved into a capitalist democracy that has made its mark as a viable manufacturing force, playing a major role in the new digital economy. The South, in contrast to the North, has enjoyed great prosperity. Yet it has experienced its share of hardship as well. After the war, South Korea suffered two military coups, a series of popular rebellions and years of chaos under authoritarian leaders. Since the financial crisis that hit Asia in 1997, South Korea has struck back as an economic force to be reckoned with. Many Koreans have conflicting feelings about a quick reunification. I am one of them. The biggest concern would have to be trust. The question lingers — “”How can two countries, at odds with each other for so long with two completely different ideologies, merge to make one?”” What analysts have deemed the “”Korean shuffle”” becomes appropriate to this question. With every step forward the two Koreas take, two steps back always seem to follow. For instance, both sides worked tirelessly at an agreement on improving relations, only to have then-North Korean leader Kim die soon afterward. More recently, in response to the North’s dire poverty, the South provided aid to famine victims. Its philanthropic mood was quickly spoiled, however, when it was discovered that a North Korean spy was watching the South from southern waters. The answer may lie in other precedents, such as the reunification of the two Germanys late last century. If the present is any indication of the uphill struggle the process entails, you don’t need to look any further than Germany and all the difficulties it has faced after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Easing tensions between the two Koreas will not be easy. Although reunification is an obvious step in the right direction, the process should take time. At one of the reunions, one woman’s dilemma of reconciling her love for her long-estranged sister with her differing core beliefs served as an apt metaphor for the same challenge South and North Korea will no doubt face if reunification is ever to occur. During the meeting, emotions were high as the two embraced after decades of complete isolation. It only took a few hours, however, before both siblings were at odds with each another. The sister from the South could not believe how “”brainwashed”” her sister from the North had become, in her profession of utter devotion to communism and her abhorrence of democracy. Indeed, it was hard for both of them to realize how different each had become and how hard it would be to come to terms with this. Critics claim that the North’s increased openness to the world is motivated purely by economic reasons. They point out how North Korea has concluded that American generosity is beginning to wear thin and that the most attractive alternative is South Korea. In other words, the North appears to have shifted its focus from the United States to its southern neighbor for economic aid, hence the summits and talks of reunification. Undoubtedly, this is true because the North is suffering. Just the same, a deeper motivation still exists. Ultimately, unification should be seen as a shared aspiration of all the Korean people. Years from now, a reunification may bridge most of the heavy gaps that prevented all previous attempts before. Economics aside, the two need to reunify, but with one condition — gradually, without haste. Ten to 20 years down the line will prove to be the best time for Korea to recover the homogeneity of a people that has been lost in 50 years of division. ...

Unsavory Ties Connect Bush, BJU

In last year’s presidential election, George W. Bush was quick to say that the Republican Party was filled with compassionate conservatism and was the true party of inclusiveness. Yet, how does the Republican Party reconcile that promise of inclusiveness with their celebrated relationship with Bob Jones University, a university known for its racial and religious intolerance? That Bush visited and spoke at the university during the presidential race exposes how uncommitted he is to what he preaches, for his mere presence speaks volumes of his acceptance of the university’s discriminatory policies. At the time that Bush visited the Christian fundamentalist university, interracial dating and marriage were explicitly prohibited to Bob Jones students. In addition, Bob Jones University has displayed intolerance toward Catholics and Mormons. Even with these blatantly racist and intolerant policies, Bush made it a priority to stop at the university during his campaign to give a speech. It was made evident through his mere presence that all his touted beliefs of a new inclusive GOP were nothing more than a facade donned to win the trust of the American people and the coveted office of president. All of Bush’s preaching of a more racially inclusive party is no more than a temporary and superficial face-lift, for racial intolerance still remains at the core of the Republican Party. The fact that Bob Jones University is a frequent stop for conservative politicians is evidence of this power. For example, when U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft was still a senator, he spoke at the university’s commencement ceremony and earned an honorary degree. It is clear that a politician must woo Bob Jones’ extremists as a rite of passage of acceptance into conservative power. So the question that remains is this: Just how inclusive is the Republican Party if they readily embrace their relationship with Bob Jones University? We can only deem the actions of President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft as an acceptance of the university’s bigoted policies. To be fair to Bush, he did apologize for not taking the opportunity while speaking at the university to address his difference of opinion with the school’s policy toward racial and religious intolerance. In a letter to Cardinal O’Connor, Bush wrote that his appearance at Bob Jones University was a “”missed opportunity causing needless offense, which I deeply regret.”” Yet interestingly enough, Bush did not apologize for going to the university in the first place. This deafening omission on his part leaves the door open for more visits, thus securing the extremist religious conservative base of the Republican Party. That is how Bush successfully neutralized John McCain’s threat to his candidacy for president last year by securing the all-powerful conservative base. The old cliche that actions speak louder than words is aptly applied to Bush. He speaks of being racially inclusive, yet he overtly caters to the extremist and bigoted base of his party. It does not add up. In my mind, Bush is like a little boy who only apologizes for stealing a cookie after he is caught with his hand in the jar. But in Bush’s case, he only apologized after he was caught in a blatant case of hypocrisy because of the media frenzy surrounding his visit. Bush’s appearance at Bob Jones University completely drones out his political rhetoric of inclusiveness and “”compassionate conservatism.”” That the Republican Party still cultivates and embraces its connection to Bob Jones University and its extremist base of support is nothing short of political suicide. Though a fluke made Bush president, the Republican Party’s inner fragmentation and hypocrisy toward racial inclusion will be its undoing and political power will be lost. All it takes is enough fed-up people to force those extremist bigots into extinction, thus severing this unsavory connection with Bob Jones University once and for all. ...

Making the Move

Don’t you off-campus residents love meeting freshmen every year? There’s a particular gleam in their eyes, a certain thrilled-to-be-alive voracity as they recount to you their exciting tales of residence hall life in tones dripping with reverence. You listen and smile and nod, but you probably feel smug, because you know that you have the better deal. It’s a fact: Those who live off campus may not always have it easier, but they have it better by far in many ways. James Pascual Guardian The one thing that makes everything else easy about living off campus is the ability to choose one’s living companions. The importance of this oft-overlooked blessing cannot be understated; if you live with compatible people, nearly everything else will fall into place. Living with the right people makes things fun, relaxing, free from hassle and makes life conducive to studying and productivity, should you choose to engage in such anomalous behavior. Sometimes I feel quite certain that the colleges’ residential life staffs match roommates up by a process whose scientific credibility seems roughly on par with that of Teiresias’ reading of bird auguries. Though I have known several people who have met their closest friends through their roommates, I know many more who endured the hell of living with an utterly mismatched personality and turned out all the more scarred for it. My on-campus housing experience left me with severed friendships, a seething hatred for all Warren college residential life staff and a paralytic, though somewhat founded, fear of being run over by a particular ex-roommate shuttle driver. That, however, is a story for another day. In all but a few situations, living off campus affords one the freedom to choose one’s living companions, the importance of which cannot be underestimated. You will never understand what it can mean to choose the people you room with until you have been assigned to live with a tactless nymphomaniac, a Tijuana-bound partygoer who cannot hold her alcohol, a Limp Bizkit-blasting pothead or — far worse than any of the above — someone who steals your toiletries. (And you wondered where all your Pantene was going.) Surprisingly, if done right, living off campus can be much cheaper than living in the residence halls. In terms of a simple cost-benefit analysis, living off campus opens a window of opportunity that on-campus life simply cannot provide. It’s true that UCSD students do not live in an area known for its student-friendly rent costs and infrastructure. The only worse place to put a college that I can think of is Walnut Creek, Calif. However, those who scour the housing market with diligence will be rewarded. Your housing costs on campus will get you a furnished cubicle, an Ethernet connection slowed by everyone else’s Napster downloads and the unique opportunity to experience a variety of tacky, RA-concocted bonding sessions. All this, and you might have to share your 150 square feet with two or three other people. In contrast, many off-campus residents will tell you they know people living 10 minutes from campus paying less than $500 a month for their own bedrooms. It’s true that living off campus means you must cart your own furniture from home or buy it new, but at least you can be guaranteed that your bed was never host to a wild night of body shots during the 1996 Sun God Festival. And, going on the assumption that you are living off campus with people you know and trust relatively well, you can take for granted that your roommate won’t bring her new Internet boyfriend home to consecrate your Ikea breakfast nook set. The most frequent complaint of those who live off campus is about the commute. UCSD has no reliable parking, and San Diego has no reliable public transportation. Well, what were you expecting? If you want to see efficient mass transit in action, you’ll need to go to school in someplace like Belgium. Anyone who expects an easy time out of the commute to campus is in for another thought, but anyone not prepared to endure a little hardship needs to be forced to spend a semester at Downtown Barstow College to see how truly paradisiacal a San Diego student has it in nearly all facets of life. What else do on-campus residents have that I can tear into? The one thing that comes to mind that’s hard to contest is their ability to rise and lope to a class 20 minutes before it starts. While that is fun for the first quarter or so, after that it becomes downright decadent. I too enjoyed waking up at 7:55 a.m. to scamper off to that 8 a.m. Warren Writing section, but self-indulgence can only go so far. One of these days, you’re going to have a job that starts just as early as the earliest class, and it won’t allow you to stay up until 4 a.m. playing networked Age of Empires, only to stumble out five minutes before 8 a.m. in your rubber ducky pajamas with a cowlick that would put Dennis the Menace to shame. Good habits are acquired through practice, not natural genius, and everyone needs to start practicing as soon as possible. I do not intend to create sour grapes for people enjoying their on-campus living experience. In fact, some of my fondest memories spring from the time I spent on campus. However, I would trade the rocky ups and downs of my freshman year housing term for the more level, more sane, more sanguine days that I have had ever since I severed my ties with the Housing and Dining Administration. ...

Lost Treasure Found in Old TV Shows

The other weekend, my roommates and I had a rousing game of Monopoly, and it got me thinking about what incredible things we learned when we played the game as children. The idea of owning property versus owning cash, negotiating and trading, bonds maturing, paying rent — the list goes on. As our evening dedicated to our far simpler lives continued, we watched “”Sesame Street”” and I marveled again at the lessons those puppets taught us. Unlike children today, we were quickly fed valuable information about life situations and how to interact and deal with people of all kinds. In simple and subconscious ways, we formed an idea of how the world worked and how humans could work together effectively. As the debate rages about how to curb violence among children, especially in our schools, there have been many proposed causes and just as many proposed solutions to this problem. Violent television shows, movies and video games are popular scapegoats, while tighter gun control laws, ratings for television shows and other minor forms of censorship have been proposed as Band-Aid solutions. However, it seems that as the search for a suitable fall guy and the most politically advantageous solution continues, bureaucrats and activist groups alike are slightly off target. The activities that children engage in today are introverted in nature and do not involve the healthy interaction among children that is crucial to learning how to relate to others in a harmonious way. The murders that children see on television and the violence in video games cannot be entirely blamed for violence in schools. Instead, parents need to examine how their children spend their time and what lessons they are learning throughout the day. Let us step back to when we were in kindergarten. What did we do? After an arduous day of school that ended around 11 a.m., we invited friends over to play games, climb trees, go to soccer practice, or maybe watch some TV. Video games were just coming onto the scene when we were that young. Let us look at what children today do in their spare time. They play video and computer games, use the Internet, some play sports, and nearly all watch TV. My younger brother and sister have never even heard of “”Sesame Street,”” and my brother wakes up to play video games before school each day and throws a fit when my dad tries to make him turn the computer off to go to bed. The characteristic that nearly all of our childhood activities had in common was that they required other children. Board games require at least one other person and we learned that we sometimes won and sometimes lost. Dealing well with winning and losing with friends was essential, because no one wanted to play with a sore loser, or a sore winner. Team sports force children to interact with others whom they may not know and collaborate for a common goal. Children learn teamwork, respect and sportsmanship. Even those who do not enjoy sports can learn lessons about how to work in situations in which they do not necessarily feel comfortable. There are countless other examples of how we learned valuable life lessons as children without even knowing it. Take “”Sesame Street.”” What did the two-headed monster do? Each had half a word, and only when they worked together and combined the two halves could they create a real word. We didn’t realize it, but those goofy monsters were teaching us how to work together. Bert and Ernie showed us that roommates don’t always get along but can still remain friends. Video games and the computer are, for the most part, noninteractive activities — you don’t have to deal with other people. Today’s video games are more individual in nature. If you lose while playing a video game, you can start over or continue. It has essentially no consequences, and thus children never learn that losing can often be very hard to accept and can involve uncomfortable situations. The problem-solving skills attained while playing video games are all reclusive in nature, as they do involve actual human situations. Video games teach children nothing about real life, and nothing about other people. Staring at a screen — even with other children — is not a substitute for sitting around a table and actually interacting with other children. Using the Internet is touted as a valuable resource for children yet requires very little problem solving and does not teach children anything about their peers. They may learn facts and figures and even how to gather information, but that knowledge is useless if they have never engaged in a discussion or an argument with someone their own age. A University of Michigan study concluded that compared with 1981, children in 1997 spent less time outdoors, less time playing with other children and less time reading. In addition, the report stated that children who played games and puzzles at home with their parents scored higher on most standardized tests. These and other interactive activities were determined to increase problem-solving skills. Winning and losing create situations that require accommodating, cooperating and collaborating. Those children who have can handle such situations and will be the ones who succeed in school both in the classroom and on the playground. Those who face defeat in schoolwork and other activities at school for the first time are ill-equipped to deal with these situations. These children are more likely to resort to violence, as they have no other means of solving problems to come to a nonviolent solution. Psychological research has shown that children who grow up learning how to deal with conflict have an easier time handling major loss (such as the loss of a parent or loved one) than children who grow up introverted, with relatively little experience dealing with discord in their lives. Parents are the key to raising nonviolent children who are equipped to handle life situations. It is ultimately up to parents themselves to monitor their own children. Frightening as it may be, many of us are going to be parents in the not-too-distant future. It will be up to us to make sure our children learn to interact with other children in a peaceful and productive manner. Children are not going to change overnight with a new program or law. Change is gradual. In this case, change is going to necessitate a new breed of parents who are active in their children’s lives, teaching them right and wrong and encouraging them to participate in activities that will assist them in learning about people. As the progress of entertainment technology channels children to introverted activities, it will be our job as parents to refocus their attention outward to other children, so violence moves far down on the list of possible ways to deal with problems. ...

An Expert's Guide to Safe and Happy Drinking

Dear Littles and Germinates: Nothing ruins my night quicker than four shots of vodka poured in my lap … especially when accompanied by a fast food teriyaki burger, a large shake and whatever else you downed before coming to my party and puking it back up. Talk about faux pas. I firmly believe this reputedly dull and studious student body harbors intense desires for all-night action, but I know full well that many arrive at UCSD without ever having tasted the heady brew of the college party, much less the head-spinning brews offered there. You can party, friends and frosh, without getting knocked down or knocked up by the more seasoned carousers out there. This is where I come in. Want to survive the winter quarter flurry of fiestas? Then study (and clip and save in your wallet) this, my guide to the ins and outs of nonsober partying. It’s the next best thing to me holding your hand all night long. Select a designated driver. This noble soul holds the wheel, holds the money, holds your hair back while you puke. The “”DD’s”” job is not just to drive but also to take care of everyone. A DD can prevent you from unwanted vomit stains, glasses of bongwater, and syphilitic pregnancy from unprotected sex with that beer-goggle-enhanced sweetie from Delta Sigma who promised he had his tubes tied last summer. Be not half assed. Don’t experiment with DDs who get to drink for an hour and then sober up. Do pay your DD’s way, including gas money, cover charge, food and dry cleaning. No matter how considerate you are, your DD will indubitably get the shaft, even if the car is an automatic. Don’t volunteer to be the DD unless you have the right temperament to do all the work and enjoy it. Don’t drink alone. This applies when you are “”partying”” alone in your room, and when you are going solo to a big bash, and especially when no one else in your group of friends is drinking, toking, snorting, what have you. I’m not going to go into the whole “”addiction warning signs”” spiel. Just don’t be that dork. Mix your own everything. That glass, reefer, capsule or brown bag of fumes everyone else is passing around might be a notch or two past safe volume for your brain. If everyone, or even just one really cute smiling person says, “”It’s OK, go for it. You can handle it,”” that’s a sure bet that you can’t. Learn your tolerance levels at home. Do not explore uncharted territories of substance abuse while on the unfamiliar ground of a party. It’ll only end in tears and stains. A helpful biopsychology tip: Some aspects of tolerance are environmentally related, so when you party at someone else’s pad, try a slightly smaller bucket of scotch. Leave with them that brung ya. This is generally a good idea when your group is sober, and a potential matter of death and life when some of you are not. It is a matter of death because you might stupidly get on top of something, fall off, and die. It is a matter of life, because you might stupidly get on top of something, not fall off, and make a baby. You do not have to use substances to enjoy the party. Actually, this is a lie. Some of you do have to use substances to enjoy the party, and that is sick. It is also boring. If you cannot party while sober, you need to stop drinking and get some counseling. No joke here. If you can party sober, make sure to try it while drunk, too. It is a dizzying experience not to be missed. You can party sober and enjoy yourself more. I am drunk at parties a lot, but I am sober much more often. It sucks when you are the only person who can talk to the strange drunk girl who got left behind by her friend and pissed in the host’s bed, but this has only happened to me once. There are three advantages to sober partying. First, someone you know will definitely do something embarrassing while drunk and spend the rest of the year trying to forget. When you are sober, you get to do the reminding! Second, your odds of dying from alcohol or drug overdose, or getting beat up by someone bigger and meaner go way down when you are sober. Third, speaking of going down, it is true that mind-altering substances provide a loosening effect that can grease the gears of the awkward social dance that is the random hookup. But while it might be harder to make your move, making out with that other sober partygoer is bound to be much more rewarding, on account of the fact that you both will know what you are doing. This beats the hell out of awkwardly hitting on your ex-girlfriend, which I have never done enough times in one night for anyone to prove it. This concludes the unsober partying tutorial. Go forth, get trashed, but try not to multiply — unless your checkbook really needs balancing. ...

True Love Defeats All Obstacles

Can love truly conquer all? In light of the shocking split of Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, I would say it is not very probable that love can endure for a lifetime. With the news of their impending divorce, my hopes for enduring love were dashed and my faith was shattered. They were married for 11 years and still appeared so much in love. They were the marriage “”dream team”” that, in my mind, was going to prove that love could endure any obstacle and conquer all. But news of their breakup brought a host of doubts. The high-profile split was the reason I began my quest to discover why. Why are more than fifty percent of marriages ending in divorce? Why isn’t love enduring? Why, why, why? The biggest problem I see is that marriage does not come equipped with a handbook on how to make it work. Instead, our perspective of marriage is deeply entrenched in society’s views on what marriage should and should not be. It is clear to me that modern society views divorce as an everyday function, yet in my grandparents’ generation, divorce was not accepted. It was deemed wrong and only viewed as the last resort. That there were fewer divorces in my grandparents’ era doesn’t mean that people loved each other more, but that they were constrained by society’s expectations to make the effort to work through marital problems. Now it is accepted as normal for people to fall in and out of love and that divorce is just an expected outcome. The attempt to try to fix the marriage isn’t considered as normal as racing to a divorce attorney to be the one who files first. It has become accepted that since people are bound to change, things are not expected to last and that marriage does not necessarily need to last either. So I pose this question: Why has our society’s view of marriage changed so drastically within only a few decades? The possible answer is that our society has become consumed with the idea of being happy, that there is an ultimate state of happiness just within our reach once we have that perfect relationship, car or job. Thus when the going gets tough, it’s no big deal. The mentality is to bail out of marriage because problems and suffering are not something we should have to put up with. After all, we are meant to be happy and to seek what makes us happy, no matter the cost. I’m sorry to say it, but life is not one big, happy ride at a theme park. There are mountains to climb and hardships to conquer. It is not too much to ask that this mentality of working through real-life hardships be applied to love and marriage. What ever happened to “”for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health””? Wedding vows do not say “”in good times, but when the bad times come, it’s time to hit the road.”” They say “”in good times and in bad.”” I think this is the part everyone forgets. Love and marriage are not easy and it is not a fairy tale with a fairy-tale ending. In order to make love last, it requires work and compromise. The outlook for everlasting love is certainly grim. People all around us are divorcing. From celebrities to people we know, we are being shown that love does not last, that it falters and breaks down when faced of obstacles and hardships. Investing in a relationship and in the promise of everlasting love sounds scary. It is downright risky. But then again, life is unpredictable and inherently risky, so why not take the risk? Are love and marriage worth the risk of hardship and pain? I say yes, take the risk. What is life without making that all-important connection with another person? All the odds are stacked against enduring love, but I am still betting on love to conquer all. ...

Ban to Prohibit Smoking Near Playgrounds

The San Diego City Council, after being lobbied by a local anti-smoking group, recently passed a law banning smoking near playgrounds. This move is commended by the Guardian. The advertising and availability of tobacco products are already heavily restricted by federal and state authorities. For example, tobacco companies may not purchase television commercials or roadside billboards to advertise their products, and unusually high sales taxes are tacked onto every California tobacco purchase. However, these seemingly harsh restrictions were not imposed without good cause. Studies have shown that young children were once statistically more likely to be able to identify now-retired cartoon character Joe Camel — the ad icon of Camel tobacco products — than Mickey Mouse. Because children are so impressionable, they are often made the prime targets of advertising campaigns that seek lifetime loyal consumers. Now that federal and state authorities have acknowledged the importance of protecting children from advertisers’ images of smokers and smoking, the playground ban will ensure that children do not ironically gain exposure to smoking in person (and on their own turf), while federal and state authorities work so hard to end children’s exposure to it in the advertising world. Although the Guardian believes that personal choice and individual freedom generally should be free from government intrusion, the playground ban ultimately earns our support for two reasons. First, it aims to protect impressionable and often defenseless children from being exposed to smoking, when they may not be emotionally mature enough to rationally reject or accept. Second, the playground ban is not overly far-reaching in its restrictions on smokers’ rights. It is not an attempt to ban smoking in all public areas, nor does it restrict the rights of smokers to the point of persecution. Overall, the playground ban is a very fair accommodation of anti-smoking lobbyists’ concerns, while it refrains from dangerously stretching too far into the sovereign realm of personal freedom. ...

Popular Stereotypes in Society Make Searching for a Niche Difficult

Have you ever felt like wringing someone’s neck for trying to pigeonhole you into a category or group or for trying to label you with something that has derogatory implications? Have you ever felt compelled to apologize for being the way you are or because you think a certain way? I have had it up to here with trying to defend certain aspects of my identity. If someone were to ask me how I identified myself ethnically, I would answer “”I’m Asian”” or “”I’m Chinese.”” I have ethnic and cultural pride and pride in being an American as well. But it seems to me that by that simple response, I have already put myself in a place where my identity is socially constructed. Some people would say that I’m a typical Asian. I drive a Honda Accord. I eat pho a lot. I like pearl iced tea. I listen to rave music. I like Sailor Moon. Most of my friends are Asian, although I have friends of many ethnic backgrounds. On the other hand, I also like musicals and alternative music. I hate math and science and I belong to a Greek sorority at UCSD. It seems I can’t win. Just based upon my looks, everyone already seems to have an idea of what I am or should be. My Asian friends often call me “”whitewashed.”” They can’t understand, for instance, why I might want to go to a certain fraternity party. One of my best friends asked me once, “”What the heck are you doing in that white sorority?”” Another time, I was in the car with a friend listening to Green Day’s “”Time of Your Life”” and he told me, “”I don’t understand this kind of music. It’s for white people.”” I like my life, and I like my friends, but sometimes people just make me want to scream. I don’t know who coined the term “”whitewashed,”” but I know it’s something Asian people generally don’t like to be called. By calling someone whitewashed it implies inferiority, as if that person cannot embrace, or refuses to embrace, certain characteristics of being Asian. The whitewashed are criticized for not making the effort to better align themselves with their own kind. Other people have called me “”f.o.b.,”” a derogatory term used to refer to someone who seems like they are “”fresh off the boat.”” I’ve been accused of being racist because I once attended a Chinese Church. Just because I wish to go somewhere where I can identify with Chinese people doesn’t mean I’m racist. I remember getting upset at a friend who remarked, “”You’re supposed to be good in math!”” when I barely passed a calculus class. I responded, “”So, am I not supposed to be good in English?”” I try hard to balance myself between the two extremes, Asian-identified Asians and so-called whitewashed Asians. But everything I do seems to make people align me with one group or the other and the stereotypes that come with each. I run into a wall no matter where I turn. I have even received bad reactions from people who don’t think I should associate with anyone who isn’t Asian. I once walked into a pho restaurant in Clairemont Mesa with a white friend and was stared down by a group of Asian guys who obviously disapproved of my association. So, although he was just a friend, I held hands with him just to piss them off. I recently had an argument with two friends who had the gall to say they thought all black people are lazy. I cited the history of discrimination and prejudice experienced by African Americans in the past and up to the present day before exploding with, “”You freakin’ pricks! Have you ever actually taken the time to get to know or have a conversation with a black person? How many friends do you have who are black?”” It seems to me that the minute I do something that isn’t within the socially constructed realm of “”being Asian,”” I get slapped in the face with stereotypes and stigmas designed to put me in my place. The real truth is that I haven’t just experienced this in college. Since the day I was born I’ve been confronted with this programming that tells me to hate, judge and stuff myself into the nearest and most convenient pigeonhole possible. This programming also tries to socially construct who I am and what I can achieve. I think it’s important to point out that we can’t assume that just because people are one ethnicity, they are automatically going to be prejudiced against another race. As a white friend recently said to me, “”Since I came to UCSD I’ve felt like I should walk around with a sticker on my forehead saying, ‘I do not discriminate against people of color.’ I have friends of all ethnicities. Don’t hate me because I’m white!”” I’m not trying to save the world. I’m just trying to be myself and live my life without worrying that people will constantly bag on me for who I am. I think other people should have that right as well. Our nation is supposed to be founded on the principles of equality and freedom. Yet we’re not really equal and we’re not really free to be who we are. I get beat on both sides. I get criticized for embracing certain so-called Asian characteristics, and I get criticized for being too white. It works both ways, and as a whole I think our society has a really jaded view of the social construction of race how people of certain ethnicities are “”supposed”” to be. I mean, not every Asian is going to like pearl iced tea, and not every black person is going to love rap. We should stop trying to shove people into molds that they did not create. But when is it going to end? When am I going to be able to walk down the street with my black friend without getting stared at? When can I stop trying to walk between the lines of being called f.o.b. and being called whitewashed? When can I be myself without being judged? If people can learn to think beyond what they have been taught to think, then maybe they can learn to extend beyond the limits of their own ignorance. You can think what you want of me and how I live my life, but don’t hate me because I refuse to conform myself to the mold of programming that society has tried to indoctrinate me with. And in the meantime, the next person who calls me whitewashed is going to get a chopstick shoved up his ass. ...