As The World Burns: The History of Victory – 6/1/2010

History is the story of people. It’s how the present connects with the past. It allows us to understand who we are and how our values were established. Yet, the story has been tainted in the classroom with some of the greatest lies that have been passed as truths.

Traditionally that lie has been the story of how victors of a conflict bragged about how the “inferior and pathetic” opposition was defeated. In academics, that lie has shifted so the history we learn does not offend certain interest groups, while reversing the significance of events and demonizing the story of conquest.

Such is the case regarding the Texas Board of Education and its plan of rewriting history textbooks to have a more conservative slant. You already know this can’t be good.

Among the changes include removing the influence of Thomas Jefferson, downplaying the civil rights movement and ignoring the influence of different ethnic communities.

The most obvious revision regarding the Civil War is ignoring the cruelty of slavery while glorifying the Confederate struggle and portraying the leaders as heroic, who became the victims of “Northern aggression.”

This is the perfect example of why history should always be written by the victors. For the descendents of the subjected to twist the text and change the story is obscene. Sadly, this is just one of many examples of how history has been twisted to tell a fairytale.

Remember being taught in school that early civilization believed the world was flat until Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.

It’s because of these repetitive lies that I have refused to accept an instructor’s viewpoint on history since my freshman year of high school. Now I learn about history from books, The History Channel, The Military Channel, Wikipedia (I am also a contributor), movies and video games.

In fact, I consider playing “Call of Duty” a better source to learn about World War II than a history instructor, since it has no political bias or any fluff to be politically correct.

In this digital age where wisdom is at our disposal, it feels like the concept of a history instructor is obsolete with corruption. The history according to the Texas Board of Education is all the proof one needs to learn the truth on his or her own or sit back and watch the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
6/1/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: The History of Victory

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Police cite student for book theft – 5/31/2010

A De Anza College student was arrested on May 27, cited for stealing two textbooks from the De Anza College Bookstore.

Earnest Sims, the suspected perpetrator, walked in the bookstore at 2:10 p.m. and asked an employee for a calculus and American history textbook. Courseware Coordinator Reza Kazempour, suspicious that a student would ask for textbooks during the eighth week of the quarter, asked Noah Asch, from bookstore customer services, to watch Sims’ activity until he walked out.

Sims was first stopped in front of the Student and Community Services Building and questioned by Assistant Police Chief Jim McMahon regarding the stolen books, but denied the allegations.

Since Kazempour did not get a good look at the suspect, Sims was let go, but was stopped two minutes later by officer J.R. Dorcak so that two other employees who did see him could positively identify him.

After the two employees identified Sims, he confessed to stealing the books and selling them to Premier Textbooks, across the street from De Anza in the Oaks Shopping Center, said Kazempur.

McMahon and officer Frank Rocha questioned the manager of Premier Textbooks after the books were returned to the bookstore.

Sims was cited for violating penal code 488 PC, petty theft, at the scene and released. He also faces academic discipline with the possibility of suspension.

Written for La Voz Weekly
5/31/2010
Original Article: Police cite student for book theft

As The World Burns: The DASB Drama Pt. 2 – 5/14/2010

The De Anza Associated Student Body election may be over, but the clash of conflicts is about to begin. Two factions will be fighting for power and control of a million dollar budget in the weeks to come. Regardless of the result, it will be the students who will lose out.

With the voting being done online only, this election catered to the needs of a small minority. Unless you’re a student who has been active on campus, it’s difficult to know what is going on.

For the average student, this is an issue of great concern, since that million dollar budget is supported by the nickels and dimes in our pockets. It’s also more devious that we could have opted out during registration, had we been aware. Hence, we have been conned into funding this elite club in which we have little say.

Sure, members of the DASB are elected officials of a democratic process, but it’s only democratic in the loosest definition possible. Besides only a few people participating in voting, candidates face the penalty of losing votes based on the most trivial infractions at the grievance meetings.

This committee, which is responsible for deciding if coalitions violated election rules, composed of current DASB officials who have their own special interests to protect. There are no third-party officials who could have an open mind to the hearing – just friends trying to protect friends.

Let’s recap: an elite club enters power, based on the votes of a few, while the majority (who pay for the fun) are unaware of the issue, while any opposition is suppressed by a committee with members who have something to gain. Obviously, there needs to be an overhaul of the system.

First, the senate needs a stronger check and balance system that gives more power to the students. An upper house needs to be set up where its members consist of average students. This “house of students” will be responsible to vote on measures proposed by the elected Senate.

The “house of students” could be a political science class with members serving for one quarter as a requirement for passing. Like how intercultural studies introduces worldly culture to students, this “house of students” class will do the same for civic participation.

Second, the election system needs to be reformed where ethics violations are punishable by disqualification before voting. The committee responsible for it should consist of student and administration, with all decisions requiring a majority vote.

Let us stop lying to ourselves that our student government is a democracy. If needed reform is not enacted, then students are taught that unethical actions like gerrymandering are acceptable. In the end, we could just grow up to see our world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
5/14/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: The DASB Drama Pt. 2

As The World Burns: The DASB Drama Pt. 1 – 5/10/2010

It’s election season. Unfortunately, I will not be giving my expertise on the 2010 California election, but instead the upcoming De Anza Associated Student Body election.

It’s hard to be oblivious about the election, since candidates have littered the campus with posters hoping get to everyone’s attention, only to attract a smaller minority than registered republicans at UC Berkeley.

The real fun will come during the grievance meetings, where candidates will put on a comedy show of petty feuds. Good luck sitting through it without giggling.

Why is this the status quo? One would assume a collection of colleagues who gather to serve the needs of the students could solve their disputes in a civilized manner. But if conflict did arise, it would all have ended by hugging it out, Ari Gold style.

The root of the problem is the conflict of egos. Unlike other colleges, where the student government is dominated by the free thinking versus preps of the bourgeoise, in the student senate it’s a battle between the activists versus the opportunists.

The activists are those who have worked with student organizations like Students for Justice or W.I.S.E. 37 – don’t take their dedication for granted. The opportunists, however, are a coalition of overachievers who want to add some extracurricular activity to their college resumes.

Just how bad is this conflict? Last quarter, the opportunists colluded to solidify their power with an attempted political coup. These senators used every dirty trick available to oust their opposition (like DASB President Marlo Custodio and Keith Hubbard, vice president of Campus Environment and Sustainability), with the exception of hiring a mercenary army to take the student Senate and placing in power a student junta.

So why all this drama over power in a student government? The issue is that the DASB has a one million dollar budget to determine what services receive funding. Yeah, you read right: a long time ago some genius thought it was a good idea to give a bunch of kids with big egos a million dollar budget.

The ramifications were visible last quarter when the DASB cut the funding of programs that underprivileged students depend on (like Child Development Center or LEAD) while it increased the funds to purchase movie tickets.

The only solutions to these issues are requiring senators to take POLI 1 (U.S. government) and a class on moral ethics.

When the smoke of the election has cleared, it will be another year of drama over a million dollar budget. In the end, just laugh at the show as you watch the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
5/10/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: The DASB Drama Pt. 1

As The World Burns: Let’s Talk About Sex – 5/2/2010

Sex . . .

Now that I got your attention, let us turn this taboo discussion into a mentality that has rarely been ventured. Sex is nothing new in our culture, but the subject taken seriously is more absent than a condom dispenser in a red state.

The sensitive nature of this issue has been brought up at Cabrillo College, where the student paper, The Voice, published a column that gives advice on safe sex. The column has received backlash by the Cabrillo faculty and community, since the advice was not abstinence only.

When the discussion of sex is brought up, the two reactions are either outrage over such an offensive subject that is very inappropriate to talk about, or laughter because you said “boobies.” This social dilemma has become an obstacle when trying to teach sexual education.

The only reasonable solution in practice has been for public schools to teach sex ed courses but also to give students the choice of opting out if they find it offensive. However, those who do take it are required to respect the subject matter (like not referring to the act of reproduction in lewd terms).

Sadly, the most popular and ineffective approach to educating students about sex has been the abstinence only program enforced by the federal government. Thanks to the Bush Administration, public schools are forced to teach abstinence or be denied funding (42 U.S.C. § 710b).

Some states (like California) have refused to give in to this blackmail and, to no surprise, have the lowest teen pregnancy and HIV cases in the nation (based on a 2004 Congressional report by Henry Waxman).

So why is our society so sexually repressed? America is a Western nation which should be very open about sex. At the birth of our nation, the Founding Fathers ensured the eradication of John Calvin’s legacy and the Puritan influence on colonial society. Let us also not forget the works of Alfred Kinsey, Lenny Bruce and Hugh Hefner for setting in motion the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Yet, remember the public backlash from the infamous “Nipplegate,” when Janet Jackson exposed her nipple for less than a second during Super Bowl XXXVIII.

As a Western society, one should have the freedom to be well-educated about sex or to talk about that weekend trip to Santa Barbra on Halloween without feeling ashamed for not waiting until marriage. If our society fails to achieve sexual liberation, enjoy that “happy ending” as you watch the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
5/2/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: Let’s Talk About Sex

As The World Burns: Right To Bong – 4/23/2010

After being dazed and confused last week on “420” in the midst of the deep provoking thoughts inspired by “Apocalypse Now,” I began to wonder if this will be the last time engaging in this unofficial holiday is a misdemeanor.

The debate of marijuana legalization has been one of the hottest issues that is being marginalized by the media and politicians. While the Obama Administration is trying to ignore the issue, California is taking steps to legalize and regulate this billion-dollar industry.

To continue the enforcement of a law that William F. Buckley Jr. once said “has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could,” is not only ludicrous but also irresponsible on the part of government during this troubling economy.

Regardless of what opponents say, they have failed to make any validation of what could be regarded as a rational counter argument with any factual evidence. The opposition’s argument consists of racial fears, old wives’ tales and the reefer madness concocted by Henry Anslinger (political opportunist and the first drug czar) in the 1930s.

Even then, Ansliger’s crusade was seen as a scam, and his lies were exposed when Fiorello LaGuardia, mayor of New York from 1934-1945, commissioned the first scientific study regarding the effects of marijuana in 1939 (LaGuardia Commission).

The most recent study in support of legalization, “The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition,” by the Department of Economics at Harvard University, was published in 2005. The report focused on the economical ramifications of prohibition and how legalization could benefit the economy. The study received the endorsement of 500 economists, including Milton Friedman, one of the most influential economists of the modern age who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1976.

Legalization would economically benefit communities in Northern California, where medical marijuana farming is a major source of revenue. The legalization would boost revenue and bring in tax dollars to the state government. At the same time, agencies once responsible for enforcing marijuana prohibition will now have to supervise its regulation and taxation.

From the average American to politicians to Noble Prize winning figures, the ongoing prohibition has been a blunder. If California fails to get the ball rolling on the movement of legalization, then have fun enjoying that “Emerald Kush” in the closet while watching the world burn.

Published for La Voz Weekly
4/23/2010
Original Link: As The World Burns: Right To Bong 

Cyberbullying and its many unsavory aspects – 4/17/2010

Bullying is a problem that impacts every institution of learning. It’s common for one strong individual to torment a weaker person for entertainment. It is also a problem that has been long ignored by schools.

Sure, schools claim to have a zero-tolerance policy against bullying while embracing programs to reduce the problem. In reality, most of it has been talk only, while some anti-bullying campaigns have made it easier to identify the easy targets (like the “beat bullying” wristbands).

Bullying is a problem that can only be solved with action. All a victim has to do is confront his or her tormentor and engage the bully in a manner that will ensure the individual now has a reputation of being aggressive. However, this only works against bullies at school. There is still the problem of cyber bullying.

Traditional school bullying brings physical and emotional harm to an individual; cyber bulling causes harm to one’s reputation. As stated by Robert Greene in “The 48 Laws of Power,” a reputation defines an individual’s power, and so one must protect it at all costs.

On rare occasions have cyber bullies manipulated the emotions of an individual, which resulted in someone having an emotional breakdown. The most well known was Megan Meier, who committed suicide after being emotionally tormented online by Lori Drew, the mother of Meier’s friend.

Cyber bullying not only causes great harm but it’s also an issue that is difficult for an individual to deal with. The problem with cyber bullying is that one can’t show force or act aggressively because of the social stigma associated with fighting online. By doing so, one has dug himself or herself into a deeper hole of embarrassment. Also, most bullying is done anonymously so it is difficult to hunt down the bully in person.

Like the issue of traditional bullying, this is a problem that school districts have failed to properly handle. Too often the solutions are a pep talk to the entire school by a counselor or a teacher telling students to “be nice.”

This is a problem that only teachers can solve. It should be the responsibility of the instructor to identify students who could be the victims of cyber bullying and to work with counselors to help the student, while taking disciplinary action against students who participate in the harassment.

Or the victim could take action against those who are rumored to be tormenting him or her. The culprit may never be revealed after breaking the faces of a few individuals. This will send a message to other students that you are not a person to mess with.

Written for La Voz Weekly
4/17/2010
Original Article: Cyberbullying and its many unsavory aspects