College students of America who have been over-burdened with rising debt
January 18, 2007
College students of America who have been over-burdened with rising debt
November 1, 2006
Cal Dems and Berkeley College Republicans on CNBC:
I can’t help but think that these organizations, while crucial to the political lifeline of our student body, are simply propagating the petty differences between party platforms that has been the bane of bipartisan cooperation in our own government. Both are so insistent on their own parties’ righteousness (it didn’t help that Larry Kudlow was spurring them on) that they simply will not even consider the flaws of their own agenda. There is a difference between being political and ideological; unfortunately, these two are busy bantering about their own party’s virtues to realize the difference.
In The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama challenges America to stop political polarization and instead focus on the similarities between both parties. It’s hard to admit, even for a current Berkeley student like me, that we as Americans all share more values than we’d like to think. We all want a secure nation. We all want the best education, either for ourselves or our children. And we all want to be healthy and have access to the best health care.
All I ask is that we take a moment in our political scrutiny to consider the opposite side of every debate, not to brush it aside as the majority of ” U Cal Berkeley” tends to do. We must stop the inevitable gag reflex at the sound of key terms like conservatism, progressivism, or capitalism and consider why these ideological constructs exist within our national debate in the first place. When we can do this and begin to focus on pragmatic issues instead of the political foibles that we currently choose to define ourselves with, then change is truly possible.
October 22, 2006
News from State College, Pennsylvania, where apparently Penn State students picked the right wrong candidate for Student Body President:
The statement released by Bundy after his election:
If the students are stupid enough to vote for someone so inappropriate and retarded as I am, then they deserve a president who is going to give the worst performance to the best of his ability.
Bundy then promised that his future presidency would be a “fucking shitstorm”. To clarify his use of the term “shitstorm, Bundy commented:
Using my appropriate French, I finalized that with the word shitshow. If people were offended by that, I apologize. We’re gonna say sweet nothings on the record all day long. Cut. Quote. Print. That’s sounds a lot better than no comment. It’s all a game.
More on the man himself here.
Yes, I laughed when I initially heard about all of this. I can’t help but appreciate the candor, especially in today’s political world. Maybe it was intended to be a cruel joke, but Bundy’s victory is indicative of our greater political vulnerabilities–namely, the ignorance of the electorate and the appeal of shallow campaigning that banks on popularity or charisma rather than issues. Whether it was meant in jest, this is a candid look into the jaded mentality of my generation, a lost faith in leadership and a reaffirmation in the frivolous nature of politics. And that’s not funny.
August 7, 2006
It’s August, meaning the US News report on America’s best colleges is soon to be released. Anyone who has read it before knows that SAT scores and alumni donations heavily skew the rankings, giving a clearly unfair advantage to the Ivy League and their elitist snobbery. It was therefore a refreshing alternative to read The Washington Monthly’s rankings, using a more complex and, in my mind, appropriate set of conditions.
As they described:
Isn’t it just as important for taxpayers to know whether their money — in the form of billions of dollars in research grants and student aid — is being put to good use?
….And so, to put The Washington Monthly College Rankings together, we started with a different assumption about what constitutes the “best” schools. We asked ourselves: What are reasonable indicators of how much a school is benefiting the country? We came up with three: how well it performs as an engine of social mobility (ideally helping the poor to get rich rather than the very rich to get very, very rich), how well it does in fostering scientific and humanistic research, and how well it promotes an ethic of service to country.
Read the results here.
(Note that UC Berkeley, which is ranked 20th in the US News report, is 2nd here behind MIT. Seems about right to me, but that might stem from my allegiance to the blue and gold)
I appreciate the healthy alternative to the US News Report, which always unfairly docked public universities and smaller schools in favor of wealthier institutions. It seems that they forgot to consider that universities are incubators for innovation and inspiration, where students become sculpted from rough marble into beautiful statues. It cannot be reduced to donations or endowment because success cannot possibly be measured in tangible terms. It’s the more abstract change seen in the perceptions of students, the intellectual enlightenment they experience, and the motivation to enact on their newly found spirit that truly measures a school’s worth.
December 6, 2005
People often ask me why I like history so much, so here's my answer:
What is history? Originally, history was simply oral tradition that described past action, usually in glorious splendor. In this case, history has, and always will have, a human aspect to it. History combines fact with emotion. The appeal of history is its extraordinary circumstances that are, in fact, real. History can be exaggerated and interpreted differently, but there are certain aspects of it that cannot be discounted. Nobody can deny that Aristotle and Socrates were teaching philosophy years ahead of their time that would shape the Ancient world. Nobody can deny that millions would die during the black plague in Europe, exacerbated unfortunately by the Church's paranoia and xenophobia. And nobody will deny that thousands of Allied soldiers rushed out of Higgins boats onto Normandy Beach during D-Day, meeting a wall of steel that cut the first wave in half. These are extraordinary stories, and they're all true.
History is romantic. It takes you back to times you can only imagine. Knights in shining armor. Mongol horsemen riding along the steppes of Central Asia. Pharaoh Ramses II overseeing the construction of the Pyramids. Sir Isaac Newton explaining his theories of gravity and multivariable calculus to royal courts in England. We can only wonder what was going through their heads as they experienced such splendor.
Maybe they were thinking about the future they were creating. This is the final aspect of history that I love: these events we learn about and remember were crucial to shaping our modern world. What if the Normandy Invasion failed? Would Europe (and the world for that matter) have fallen into the darkness of a fascist state? What if Shakespeare was not able to write his epic plays and sonnets? Would our notion of romance be different, if not lackluster? What if Gutenberg was not able to perfect his printing press? Would we still live in a world of ignorance where we would blindly follow men of the cloth, who preached "God's word" in a foreign tongue that could have been Martian for all we knew?
History is also defined by individuals, who took arms against overwhelming odds and won. Some of my favorite include Winston Churchill, who led the free world against the most tyrannical empire. Or Mohandas Gandhi, who had the patience and discipline to lead a non-violent protest against a Colonial power who would grant no such mercy in return. Or John F. Kennedy, who led America during its darkest hour of the Cold War by asking "not what our country could do for us, but what we could do for our country".
History is also defined by darkness and despair. The Holocaust showed the world what human beings are truly capable of and the full horrible effect of racial paranoia. The Spanish inquisition showed the determination of the Christian Church to "purify" the populous. Millions have died in war, slavery, and disease. But perhaps these moments define the strength of the human spirit; in the end, we survive.
History is never as simple as right or wrong. Human beings and cultures always act on their own interests and righteousness. History's flaw is perhaps that there is not enough of it to go around. Everybody should have a say in history, because it involves everyone. Unfortunately, history is usually written by the winners, usually at the expense of the losers, the downtrodden, and the enslaved. Perhaps this is something that needs to be changed.
History is defined by moments and individuals. They will be remembered forever for their accomplishments and achievements. Kids read about them in awe (or in immense boredom). Adults read about them to learn more about the world they live in. What a great accomplishment, to be able to live forever in the annals of history as someone of great importance.
How will history remember you?