Apology to My Readers (Part II)

•November 6, 2010 • 3 Comments

I've been disappointed with Obama's first term in office, but I know that he won't let this happen

It’s no secret that people are talking about me.  I know that a lot of you are wondering why I haven’t posted in so long.  I never wanted it to come to this, but I can’t stay quiet any longer.  Yes, it’s true, I was accused of libel, and Wash U administrators are considering shutting down my blog.  Apparently, some of the things that I quoted Student Life as having written (in my article about the mugging in front of Wheeler), Student Life didn’t actually write, which apparently counts as libel under 1st Amendment.  You may not believe me, but I truly didn’t intentionally misquote Student Life.  I don’t know how it happened—probably a hacker got into my blog or someone gave me a fake issue of the newspaper.  What I can tell you, however, is that I will get to the bottom of this.  I will find out who did this, and I will publish their name on my blog for the world to see.

Before you side with Student Life and the university administration, I want you to hear what I have to say.  Apart from freedom of speech concerns, the issue comes down to this: some people are happy to just go through their lives not taking risks, and as a result, getting nowhere.  That’s not me.  Obviously I did not intend to misquote Student Life—after all, if I ran them out of business where would I go for CS40 election coverage?  But if Student Life was misquoted in my article, which apparently it may have been, it’s only because I want to report the news without any “spin” or “political agenda.”  I wanted to tell it like it is to my readers, report the news straight.

Lately, I’ve been getting disappointed with politics as usual in Washington, and I’m deeply sorry that school politics is now starting to determine our way of life and tell us how we are supposed to function in this existential world.  In this economy, it’s shocking that the university is chastising its students for thinking outside of the box and aiming to reach new heights in the sphere of new journalism.

In high school I had to read every word of the Constitution and I don’t remember it saying anything about misquoting a newspaper, even though I’m not convinced I did that, and if I did, I certainly didn’t do it intentionally.  I know for a fact that when Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams wrote the Constitution they intended for it to protect the rights of those who were trying to make a difference in this shallow and superficial society, those who were fighting against the established machine.  By writing that “the meek shall inherit the earth,”  they were trying to make the point that it doesn’t matter whose side you were on in the Revolutionary war or who your parents were: what was important was that you had a big heart and had something to contribute to society.

After two trying semesters at Wash U, I have found my calling.  You’re reading it.  I don’t care whose side your on in this continuing debate, but you should support me in my continued battle against the status quo.  I will not let you down, and I’m sorry that Student Life doesn’t understand that.

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Dyson DC33 Multi Floor (Sponsored Post)

•October 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

If you loved your children, you would want their living space to be as sanitary as possible

Apparently my blog has been getting media attention lately because a guy sent me an email saying he was from Dyson and he would pay me $25 to write an endorsement of the DC33 Multi Floor on my blog.

Luckily writing an endorsement is easy, since this is the best vacuum around.  You can go traveling around the world, but I guarantee that you won’t find anything that cleans carpet stains and dust so well.  Basically the secret is the vacuum’s Root Cyclone technology.  According to the online manual it “captures more dirt and microscopic dust than other cyclones.”

One of my favorite things about the DC33 is that it’s only 17.6lbs yet has a telescope reach wand that extends 15.7 ft.  I’ve never seen that good a weight/telescope-wand-length ratio in a vacuum.  Overall, I would say the DC33 Multi Floor is a very good purchase.  I’m confident that if I bought it I would like it, and probably wouldn’t even return it after using it a few times like I did with that huge amp from Guitar Center that I got for the Sig Chi gig.

Anyway, I was a little worried that there were a lot of typos in the email that the Dyson rep sent me—I don’t want to work for a company that can’t spell—but I’m sure the guy will figure it out eventually.  Sometimes it just takes time; that’s what my Writing 1 professor told me last year when we met because I was struggling with the spelling in my essays.

First, though, I Googled Dyson.  I was confused since I was pretty sure they were just a company that sold chicken at the grocery store, but I guess they diversified.  In a modern business environment, where entrepreneurialism is the key to success, it’s important that you diversify your company.

Getting the Most out of Your Engine

•October 22, 2010 • 2 Comments

My dad got angry at me for spending so much on gas last month, telling me that what gas I used made no difference, but I showed him that there's hard science behind "Ultimate"

My ’01 Infiniti M37 has always served me well.  I use it all the time—sometimes picking up my roommates at the airport or sometimes just heading to Sonic.  Sometimes I use the car for more romantic pursuits, like when some girls I know are on the loop and I want to pick them up and hang out.  I would never want it to break down with one of them in the car, so when I go to the fill up the tank I want to know that I’m getting the best product available.  Usually I fill up at the Shell Station at the corner of Skinker and Delmar, and buy “Ultimate”—their top of the line gas.  Sometimes I go to the BP on Forsyth.  That place is alright, but the best gas there, “Premium,” as they call it, is just basically standard premium grade gas that you could find anywhere.  I’ve never had any issues with my car after filling up on it, but I just feel like my car performs better when I put “Ulitimate” (from Shell) into the tank—I think its because the acid-purifying microbes that they put in it.

Also, there’s another reason that I’ve only gone to the BP a handful of times in the last six months.  I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.  It was really bad what happened to the environment, and it was pretty much all BP’s fault.  But they have done an amazing job with their cleanups efforts (my uncle works at their corporate office in Houston and he assured me that they did everything they could).  They are even paying the fisherman in that area for the fish they killed, which is the right thing to do.  I’m still afraid that if that girl that I’m trying to hook up who’s in my environmental studies class finds out that I sometimes get gas at BP, she won’t hook up with me.  She really likes otters and turtles and other mammals (Art History major).

Have you guys tried “Ultimate” at the Shell station?  If not, what brand of premium grade gas does your engine best perform on?  Is getting “Ultimate” worth it, when you have to spend $5 on the album of that emcee that hangs out at the Shell station?

Why I’m Glad I Bought a New Calculator

•October 20, 2010 • 1 Comment

A good conversation starter to talk to that kappa who sits in the front row in macro class

Just got a new calculator.  Its the TI-30x IIS.  I used to have a TI-29 IS, which was alright, but I could tell that I needed an upgrade.  It cost $35, worth it to make sure I’m on my top game for my macro test next week.  Its a good calculator in part because its versatile; you can use it for all kinds of things like statistics and trigonometry.  I have to admit that I was a little worried about the fact that its the #1 calculator teachers recommend most often (says so on the packaging), because I don’t want people to think I’m just buying it because Prof. Milton said at the end of class last week that it was the calculator he used, and that he would recommend it to anyone in the market for a new calculator (in macro we talk a lot about markets).

Thus far I’m pretty happy with it, but I’ve only used it for a couple homework problems and the tic tac toe program during calc.  It has a solar panel, so it’s a green device.  I know in the scheme of things it probably doesn’t make that much of a difference to the environment that my calculator is partially solar powered, but I want to know that I’m doing my part to stop global warming.   Also, Prof. Milton didn’t mention that it had a solar panel, and that’s one of the main reasons I got it, so it really was my choice to buy it—I can’t emphasize that enough.

Having a good calculator is kind of like having a cool car (think: my retro Thunderbird).  It is something that gives me confidence.  Or as we would say in macro, with my new calculator I have a high demand of confidence.

Making Sense of the News

•October 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It just goes to show that people of any age can do remarkable things

If you’ve been following the news I’m sure you’ve already heard the story about how thirty-three Chilean minors were trapped underground for three months.  It was a sad story, but with a happy ending.  Watching all of these tourists standing around where the people were trapped under them, I really could connect with the country, and it made me want to visit Chile.  Hopefully we’ll go there for our senior trip.

Since, as my readers know, I’m very interested in the intersection of art and the media, the way the press talks about stories is something that I like to study.  Keeping that in mind, I wanted to reflect on how the press covered the incident.  Here’s my critique:

  • The press did a good job making the story personal by doing interviews with mothers and fathers of trapped minors.  This type of reporting took the story in a very emotional direction that worked really well given the tragedy of the subject matter.
  • Because I started following this story a little late, I never got the background info on why the minors were trapped underground in the first place.  I realize that the praying families had really interesting stories that CNN and Yahoo! News wanted to follow, but I’m sure there was an interesting story about why these minors went underground and how they got trapped there.  I know if I were a minor in Chile, I would get a bunch of friends together and we’d get drunk in a cave or somewhere else underground where no adults would be watching.  Is this what happened?  This part of the story could definitely have been emphasized more.
  • The rescue effort made for a great story.  You could literally see all these different people coming together—Chile and NASA, whites and hispanics—to save these adolescents that were trapped underground where there was no way to play any sports and no connection to the internet.  I would have liked to see a follow up story, about what happened the first time each of the minors logged onto his Facebook and saw all the heartwarming comments that his friends had left on his wall.
  • When NASA and the Chilean officials working on the project made contact with the minors, they sent them food and water.  After a couple weeks the minors requested alcohol and cigarettes, which the people working to free them refused to give because the minors were underage.  The press made a big deal about this story, which I think was a mistake since it undercut the heroic tale of the minors surviving for three months underground and living to tell about.  Also, the people rescuing them really should have just let them indulge and given them what they wanted.

Five Cool Places to Be From

•October 12, 2010 • 8 Comments

I hear Fairfax is a cool area in D.C. I'm trying to hook up with this girl from there (Pi Phi)

Going to school at Washington University is like going to school in an incredibly diverse environment.  I remember hearing a statistic during my tour here that no two Wash U students are from exactly the same place.  Just living on the South Forty—just forty acres of land—we’ve got people from New York to Chicago, Boston to Korea.  Go to Bear’s Den and it’s like the United Nations taking a break from a convention to have a barbecue of hot dogs and hamburgers in your back yard.

Given my experiences thus far at Wash U, here is my list of the five coolest places to be from.

1. New York City: I have a lot of friends from New York City.  Most of them live in Long Island, but some of them live in Westchester County or Riverdale.  I’m not sure if it’s official that these places are in NYC, but my friends say that it’s just easier to say they’re from New York City than to have to explain to Midwesterners where the hell Long Island is.

That's Jeremy's house, which is nice, but I wouldn't live there. The pressure of the city can be relentless sometimes.

Growing up in an urban environment, these guys have street smarts, and sometimes the other kind of smarts, and they know the most legit places to buy polo shirts and ridiculously cheap designer watches.  In New York it’s all about connections; most New Yorkers know at least seven places to get a fake ID and can get you one really cheap through a cousin of one of their brother’s closest friends, but you will have to pay upfront because thats just how it works.  But they aren’t all elitist or anything.  In fact my friend Jeremy is from New York, and he’s great.  Sometimes we get drunk and go to Chabad together; fucking hilarious shit.

2. Chicago: My only friends from Chicago are from Evanston, Illinois and suburbs in Wisconsin.  They are all chill dudes, and all in frats.  Chicago seems like it would be a fun place to visit one weekend this semester, but I haven’t done it yet because I usually go to the good parties on the weekends.  But for formal I think we’re gonna go chill in a sweet hotel there for a couple days next semester.  We don’t usually leave the hotel, but if we do, I’ll be sure to check the city out.

3. A Small City that sounds Mexican, but is actually somewhere in between LA and San Francisco: I’m friends with a few of these guys, one from Santa Barbara.  He doesn’t know how to surf, but he knows a bunch of guys who do.  These guys know how to party, but also how to keep it real.  Also they smoke some phat nugs out there, and are always super mellow and down to share their private stash when your guy won’t pick up his phone.  The rest are from Orange County or LA (as in the Valley).  Its good to get to know this crew because they can help you with your philosophy homework, and most of them know at least one person who has seen an A-list celebrity at a restaurant, or at least a movie premier or something.

4. Boston: What I mean by that is Newton and Brookline.  My best friend, in fact, is from Coolidge Corner.  I went to his house over Thanksgiving break last year, and we had a great time hanging out at the Bruegger’s Bagels and skateboarding outside the Barnes and Noble (that was when I used to skateboard).

I’m getting a longboard at Wal-Mart tomorrow though, so I’m glad I got some practice skateboarding all Thanksgiving there.  Also, if you are feeling jittery and just feel like doing some LAXin is really necessary, most of these guys should have two or three sticks to toss around with.

5. Asia: I know a handful of kids from Korea or Taiwan.  They seem cool, but I don’t think they really like to drink, so we don’t hang out that much anymore.  Still, Asia seems like it would be a pretty sweet place to live—I Lo Mein all day (its so good at Manchu Wok) and I love Top Ramen.  It seems like they are just living in the future over there—why else would they be so good with computers?  I’ve heard people say that Asia is the future, but I’ve also heard that children are the future, so you can’t really say for sure what the future holds.  I don’t really hang with any Asians lately because my best friend from Taiwan is pretty involved with his girlfriend, which is why he always tells me that he doesn’t have time to hang out with me at the house.

Apology to My Readers

•October 8, 2010 • 1 Comment

I feel like the terrorist who exploded the Deep-water Horizon rig, trying to reconcile the importance of what I did with the collateral damage I caused

I know that my readers count on me every day to tackle sensitive and controversial topics.  I believe that there is a level of trust that I’ve created with my readers that I will approach these topics carefully and sensitively and that trust is very important to me.  Last Friday, I breached that trust—I want to formally apologize to all the readers who were offended by my post on the mugging in front of Wheeler Hall.  I know in my heart that the mugging was an issue I wanted to report on because I wanted everyone to understand how crazy and random and evil crime can be, but I should have waited for the dust to settle before I talked about something so personal to so many people.  If it means that I have lost some readers indefinitely, fine.  I can live with that.   But I can’t live with all these rumors going around that I was being selfish, that I wanted to “break the story” or drive traffic to my blog by reporting on the mugging so soon.  These rumors are unfounded.  I just wanted the people I most cared about to see what was going on in my life and the lives of those who live around me.

Know that I’m not proud of what I did.

In a tribute to those offended by the article, I will include below some of the numerous emails I received in response to the post on the mugging (for the privacy of the authors I will not include names because I am a blogger who blogs with integrity, and I want my readers to know that).

“Not cool.  Not cool man.  A Wash U student almost died yesterday and u r using it to drive traffic to ur shitty blog?  You think that’s cool you little f***?  I would have liked to see u there that night, in front of wheeler.  Lets see what u would have done?”

“As a resident of St. Charles, this post didn’t surprise me.  Most people from around here know that it can be very dangerous in front of Wheeler hall at any time of day.  I wouldn’t step foot in St. Louis City if you pointed a gun to my head.”

I also received an email from the Class of 2013 about the post.  Here’s an excerpt:

“…sustainability.  You ought to devote at least a section on your sidebar to help readers locate single stream recycling on campus.  Washington University will be starting an initiative to offset the carbon pollution caused by your blog with a small monthly donation to Stop Global Warming in America (an organization devoted to reducing carbon pollution in order to end global warming in the U.S.).  We recommend that you supplement this donation, in order to account for the costs that your blog imposes on society at large.  While we fully respect the importance of the First Amendment—both to the history of our fair land and to our contemporary culture—we believe it does not apply in your case.  Your blog seems to be mishmash of meaningless essays, stupid updates on cultural phenomenons, questionable advice on your ‘sense of style,’ and boring strings of non-sequiturs about your life.”

In closing I want to apologize again, but also ask my readers a question.  What if every blogger sat back and considered what people would think about their posts before they wrote them?  Would we still have people writing about how much Madden ’11 sucked?  Would people be willing to take a stand on abortion?  Would we be where we are today?  I realize that I have made mistakes in the past, but I want people to know that I have never tried to hide from controversy.  I have never hid behind anonymity or vague statements.  I want to be part of the social discourse going on at this university, and the only way that I know how to do that is to tell it like it is.  To that end I also want to announce that I will continue my blog.  I thought a lot about stopping.  Getting famous, even if I’m just locally famous at this university, isn’t as fun as you think it is.  Sometimes I just want to go back in time to when I could skip accounting and chill in the weight room or go to the Sig Ep bathroom when I felt sick, and not have to worry about journalists from Student Life or WUPR shoving microphones in my face and yelling out questions.

I have decided, however, to defer my personal desire for a return to anonymity and continue to write this blog because it’s too important to the cultural fabric of Wash U to give up.  Not everyone is going to like this decision, but it’s not something that I will change my mind about, no matter how many emails you guys send me.