Sunday, July 31, 2005

Friday Night/ The Journey Home/ Initial Photos

The last night IPJ students spent together (not to mention the morning after) was an emotional one, especially for me. I can still see them in my heads, not to mention Georgetown, as I sit at my computer and enjoy the wonderful California weather (Ari keeps going, "Oh, it's so hot," and I'm just enjoying it, after eight weeks of humidity).

I danced the night away, drinking a beer and hanging out with my friends. I miss them so much already that it's slightly scary. I enjoyed my last night, just having a good time and sitting out on the steps. Unfortunately for me, I didn't get to say goodbye to everyone I wanted to, but I said goodbye to a lot of people.

The next morning was super-crazy. Robert missed his flight, and didn't call me so I could say goodbye to him. Not happy about that, but I'm more likely to see him soon. I put Oren on a bus on Friday, and I couldn't have been sadder to see him go, but he, too, I will see very soon. Saying goodbye to Felicia, AJ, Mary Ellen, Radim, and everyone was hard for me. I've lived with them for eight weeks, and for the first time in two months, I wasn't waking up and knowing that I would see them sometime during the day.

But cleaning was tough. There was just so much shit to do. It was so difficult to deal with, but somehow, we got through it. Then came time for my shuttle. I ordered a Super Shuttle ahead of time, and it came a half an hour late. I was so upset, because I wanted to be at the airport early enough so I could relax and take some time off. Eventually, I decided to go in a cab with a fellow IPJer, and take that to the airport. It was the same exact price that it would have been if I went with the Super Shuttle.

I went into the airport on my own, but I wasn't there for long. A fellow TFAS person (he was in ICEPS) and Nikki Smith, future executive editor of the Daily Titan, were also there. Nikki came on as a standby, and it was a long five hours of watching cartoons and looking out the window. I was missing DC, but I honestly couldn't wait. Those five hours on the airplane felt like waking up from a two-month-long dream. And it really did feel like a dream. I can't believe I was there.

When Nikki and I got out of the terminal, I looked for Ari for... oh, about five seconds. And when I saw him, I was greeted by the most handsome man I had seen, complete in a suit (just the way I wanted him). I couldn't believe how happy I was to see him, to be near him. He just was amazing, and I couldn't believe how badly I missed this person, and how much I had been waiting for that moment for two months. And two months later, it was there. Pickles (the teddy bear) met his dad for the first time, after everyone at the airport pet him and thought he was just SO adorable (which he is), but I couldn't believe how lucky I was at that moment.

We went home and... um, my mom's going to read this, and she even commented that kissing is unsanitary, but oh well, you get the idea... but afterwards, we went to El Torito to have dinner. But the most important thing I learned on this trip? I think I'm allergic to alcohol. And the effect it has is that a very small amount can have the same effect on me as a very large amount. But we went home, and Ari did something very sweet: he requested a song on the radio for me. It was "Every time I close my eyes," by Babyface. It was so romantic, and it pretty much summed up everything I was feeling. I was so happy to be in his arms, and I was so sure that I wouldn't last the trip. Yet I did, and held my sweetheart so close to me.

The next morning, we woke up, got dressed, and headed up to Thousand Oaks. I had a chai tea from Coffee Bean for the first time in eight weeks, which was like pure heaven. There was no humidity, which felt incredible (no matter how many times Ari said it was so hot, I LOVED IT). And I came home, in a Georgetown t-shirt, to greet my mom, dad, sister, grandmother and dog, almost like a triumphant hero, yet with one of the most important people in my life next to me.

I realized why I said so many times that this was it for me. I remembered just looking at him, by the way he treated me and the way he just was. I got to say hello to everyone who I missed, but it was different having Ari by my side. It just felt right. And even though I would have loved for him to come out to DC, the fact is that this moment was just so sweet when it came it was unbelievable.

And yet... I miss Georgetown. It feels like a dream, a long and crazy dream that I woke up from. And yet it wasn't. It was real, and it was unbelievable. I love DC, and realize that it's just as much my city as it was my grandfather's. And I realized something... each of my family members had to experience a long separation from a person they were married to and/or in love with. My grandfather spent WWII in DC. My father spent three months in Houston. I spent two in DC myself. It almost seems like it comes full circle, life comes full circle. And I miss what I had, although I am happy to be back. Some of the people who entered my life will never be replaced, and I will love them always.

And on that note... here are some initial photos I got. Special thanks go to Lauren Smith, who gave me a link to the photos. I love them all, but I'm posting just a few for starters, with captions. Here goes!

Katie, AJ and Aubrey playing in the rain. I would join them a little bit after this picture was taken, and so would Lauren.

The Washington Nationals game... uh, I was pretty drunk that night, so thank goodness someone else was taking pictures.

A whole bunch of us in Aubrey's dorm, getting ready to go to Tequila Beach.

Katie, Danielle (Princess) and Josh in front of the White House.

Fourth of July fireworks!

Me, Tarryn, Katie and Aubrey on the Mall during fourth of July.

Resident smooth talker ER, with Aubrey and Katie.

More to come (eventually!)


Friday, July 29, 2005

Graduation Day/ Comment award winner/ Quote of the day

This will be my last blog from Washington DC. It makes me kind of sad, but I'm going to wrap it up as best as I can, and not get too sentimental.

First off, let me just say I am very excited to come home. I miss my parents, my grandmother, my dog, Boaz (Matt's been so rude to me these past few weeks, not with returning my calls and such, that if he fell off the side of the Earth I probably wouldn't miss him), Lauren, Adam, Patrice, all the Orange County gang, Maira, Allison, Lindsay, and Rabbi Yonah and his family. Oh, and I guess I miss that guy... you know, the one who keeps calling me every night, claiming to be my boyfriend... j/k, Ari, I love you.

Graduation, as far as I'm concerned, only made it worse to leave. They did a slide show of all the memories we had together, and my friend E.R. spoke in his smooth, cool-if-you-please fashion. Juan Williams of NPR gave a really great speech. But the most fun came from two places:

One is the quote of the day, from the speaker from IGBA (the business program) who was particularly liberal, but believed in republicans and democrats coming together, and had the perfect idea of unity from our experiences over the summer: "In order to gain bipartisan unity, I think we should get a bunch of congressmen together, and have them all play beer pong together, because it's not the color of the cups, but what's inside the cups that counts." For all of you who don't know what beer pong is, don't be afraid to contact me, and I will explain it all to you.

The second came from our own awards through IPJ. I saw all my professors-- Rustici, Reynolds and Mary Lynn Jones-- and I gave them all huge hugs. Although I didn't receive an academic award, I did receive an award.

We had awards called the "paperplate awards," which were weird awards given to us by our peers. They had weird subjects, like "Most likely to replace Tucker Carlson on 'Crossfire: The Next Generation'" (that was Ben) or "Most likely to beat Star Jones in 'Celebrity Death Match' and take her place on 'The View'" (Felicia). My award? It was "Most likely to set the new record for longest filibuster on the house or senate floor." Yay for the chatterbox. But a lot of cheers came from that one. The only person to get two awards was Robert: Most likely to replace James Carville on Crossfire, and most likely to become the youngest editor of USA Today. Now, if they knew that Robert hated USA Today, or would turn it into a left-wing paper, they would probably think differently.

But it's kind of sad. There are people leaving today, and I'm going to be finishing up in packing my bags. I only have a few sets of clothes left, and I have to take some stuff to the post office to send back home (to which I will probably need lots of bubble wrap). There is a party tonight, and I will certainly be partying it up. I'm going to dinner with Rudy tonight, and I told Robert that if he doesn't call me in the morning to let me come out and say goodbye to him, I'm going to kill him when I get back to Fullerton. I'm kind of sad to leave, and it breaks my heart to watch some of these people walk away. Some people I know I'm going to see again, like Eric, E.R. and Robert, but it breaks my heart even more that I won't be able to hang out on the stairs and enjoy their company as much as I have. I love these guys so much.

So that's it for now. I probably will be making my next blog either from LA or from Dulles. What else? Oh, I almost forgot.

Comment award winner for my blogs is... Lau, my favorite adopted sister! She's made more comments than anyone this summer, and she's definitely going to get something. Don't worry Adam and Patrice, you're getting things too... plus Lau is getting a cookie, and she knows it.

I will see you all soon!

Love, Reina

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Wrapping up

Okay, today is the last day of my internship (that's my ID above it there, I'm keeping that pic), which means I'm not doing much but wrapping up stuff here. I have decided to just talk a little bit about the coming end of my adventure.

We have funny little awards called the "Paperplate" awards, and I have been nominated for a few. Here are three of them:

-Most likely to set new record for longest filibuster in the house/senate (well, yeah... do I ever really shut up? Honestly)

-Most likely to be escorted off the White House by secret service for not following Press Corps protocol (well, yeah... I'm a rebel, after all. Listen to the Green Day song, that's my song)

-Most likely to beat Star Jones in "Celebrity Death Match" and take her place on "The View" (just to beat Star Jones would be a pleasure all its own)

But I have decided to end my internship today with something I found last night to be quite interesting:

Last night, at CVS, while waiting for my blood thinners, I was delayed, and I got to talk to the pharmacist. He wasn't from America; his home is Alexandria, Egypt. He was one of the Egyptian Christians who face persecution from the Muslims there. We started talking about the cultures, and he was talking about double standards between men and women in Egypt (like, men are promised 72 virgins, but women aren't promised anything of value). But we talked about Israel, which he was very pro-Israel and very pro-Jewish, having grown up with Jewish people all his life.

"I don't see a difference, honestly," he said. "They speak my language and they are just like me. Yet they are hated. And it's amazing, because they blame them for Israel, and Israel's been around for 50 years. They hated Jews for longer." From one persecuted group to another.

But the most interesting subject is the concept of who owns the land.

"If you go back past 50 years, the British had it. But you have to go back further, to when the Romans were there and Jesus lived there. Who owned the land? The Jews did. But then you can go even further back, and further." The point? No one really owns land. Who says who owns land and who doesn't? He pointed out the material is always there, but not the spiritual. There is no meaning.

And the truth is, he's right. And DC is an example. How many people in DC truly connect with the city? How many people here are just here to get ahead, and how many truly enjoy the city and what it has to offer? Despite the shops and everything, DC for some people just seems like an annoyance. But for me, it almost seems like DC is a second home to me. This is my city, the only home I've known outside of California. I really connect with this city. And I know that, although I will enjoy being back in California, I will miss DC terribly. It means that much to me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Danger of Flip-Flops (no, not THOSE flip-flops!)

Four girls on a lacrosse team created a huge scandal in Washington DC last week. The college national champions in lacrosse went to the White House last week to meet the president, and these four girls did something unthinkable.

No, they didn't flash the president, nor did they say anything that could get them arrested. They wore flip-flops to meet the president. Not policy flip-flops. Shoe flip-flops.

Flip-flops caused both the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post to go into a frenzy. People went nuts, shoe designers went crazy that flip-flops, shoes you can get at Wal-Mart for $5, were worn in the presence of the president. It was a scandal of crazy proportions.

We were told before we left by the Fund for American Studies that closed-toed shoes are a requirement, despite the fact we have found that many of our bosses don't really care what we wear on our feet, as long as we wear shoes to and from work (Red and I have gotten into the habit as of late of wearing no shoes while we're working).

But it still makes you wonder: what is wrong with flip flops? During the summer time, our feet are sweating and stinking up our shoes, don't you think we'd want to let our feet take a little bit of a break? Sure, they're not the best shoes for feet (as goes with my icky, nasty feet), but the fact is that I don't know why, since there are so many other things going on at the White House, why the number one concern of the day is flip flops.

Sometimes, this is what I hate about the media... they make the biggest deal out of the stupidest things. Oh no, the president saw practically bare feet! I'm sure if President Bush had his way, he would wear cowboy boots to work every day. But he can't because, hey, this is Washington.

I'm not even sure that the president sets the dress code, but the general population of DC. When I saw some of Jackie Kennedy's dresses at the Smithsonian, it's a shock to see her elegant dresses with no sleeves versus the dowdy dresses of some of the other first ladies. I bet you anything that people in Washington DC probably fainted when they saw her in a sheath dress. GASP!!! Jackie Kennedy has arms, let's report it. True, many of the other first ladies were in their 60s, but the fact is that now, you will see women in their 60s flaunting their arms. It's not so much of a stigma as it used to be.

A bunch of designers yesterday protested to the Washington Post, saying that flip-flops were ugly, and suggested their shoes almost as an alternative. It was kind of sad, actually, due partially to the fact that these designers don't understand why we wear flip-flops in the first place. They're comfortable, easy, don't make your feet sweat, and usually don't have an uncomfortable heel. You can find them pretty easily. And they're cheap... we're not buying a pair of Manolos for hundreds of dollars when we can buy a nice pair of flip-flops at Old Navy for $10.

In the summertime, we want to relax, despite being forced to wear hot suits and jackets a lot of the time. Flip flops are a gift to college students on a tight budget who want a pair of comfy shoes that don't make their feet sweat. Besides, we're doing a public service: who wants to smell our stinky feet?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

DC Rules- the list

Okay, I have come up with a system of rules that I have come to learn as a resident of this city. They are as follows:

1) There is no such thing as a DC native. If there are, they're a rare breed. Pretty much everyone here is from somewhere else.

2) Be nice to your waiter... they could be working for someone important.

3) Get some sweet tea. Find it, drink it, and enjoy it thoroughly. In fact, drink a lot of liquids. It's going to get hot.

4) The metro is your best friend. That and your iPod (which I should have gotten before I left... grr).

5) As for other friends, follow this Harding quote: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." Everyone here is out to get ahead.

6) You're never going to see everything in all the Smithsonians. If you had a year to do it, you still wouldn't be able to. It just has to be accepted.

7) Be nice to taxi drivers. They can be your angels in disguise.

8) DC is seeping in alcohol. If you're going out, be prepared to order a drink. If you're an alcoholic, it's going to be hard.

9) Thomas Sweet's Homemade Ice Cream in Georgetown has the best ice cream in the world. End of subject.

10) Be prepared to walk. DC was made for walking, busing, and taking the metro. It's impossible to drive.

11) Dress conservatively. The politics may be liberal, but the dress is pretty strict.

12) Women do not have boobs in DC. I can't explain it. They just don't. My current theory as to this phenomenon is so that these women can ride crowded subways more efficiently.

13) Bring a good umbrella. You are going to need it.

14) However, do not underestimate the joys of playing in the rain.

15) Metro etiquette: when going down the escalators, if you want to just stand, stay towards the right. If you want to walk down them, go towards the left and continue. If you're staying longer than a week, buy a SmartTrip card; flimsy paper ones tend to demagnetize. Bring something to read or a CD player, you'll blend in. Also, try to be nice to other passengers. It'll make your life a lot easier.

16) There are certain things that every person in DC should see: some of the Smithsonians, the Capital, the White House (but you don't have to go in), the National Archives and the memorials and monuments. Some of my own additions: the Spy Museum (expensive, but worth it), the Holocaust Museum, Georgetown (even if just to go to Thomas Sweet), the Kennedy Center, and Union Station.

17) Be adventurous. Walk, explore, and don't hesitate to get lost... unless you're in Southeast DC. Then be hesitant.

18)As for getting lost... remember that the Capitol building is where all the streets begin, and branch out from. They will increase the further away you get, and you have numbers, letters and states (and some which I can't even begin to explain, like Dumbarton Street). You usually can find your way there. And if all else fails, get thee to a metro station.

19) If you are single, go to at least one bar or club. If you're married, you can go to a club too if you're newlyweds, except for Tequila Beach. That's strictly for Bachelorettes only.

20) There will always be some form of protest somewhere in Washington DC. It's just a natural thing. People like to protest, and they like to protest here. Some are valid, some are just... well, weird.

21) The best 4th of July: kicking back on the Mall, having a picnic and enjoying the festivities, followed by trying to find your way out of the area and going to the Tombs with your best buddies for a pitcher of beer. G-d bless the USA for that!

I will add more if anything else comes to me. Don't hesitate to add some of your own (if you've been to the area). Byes!

Quote of the day

"What time does your flight come in?" -Mom
"Around 4:30ish." -Me
"To which you are going to call us as soon as the plane lands." -Mom
"Uh, mom, do you mind if I kiss my boyfriend first?" -Me

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Tourist Season/ Invasion of the Boy Scouts

Rabbit season. Duck season. Rabbit season. Duck season. Meh, who cares?

Tourist season? Let me go get my gun.

Yes, it is that time of year, tourist season in good ol' Washington DC. Today has been my first chance in about a month to go back to the Smithsonians. I went there to find the usual tourists, but there is a new twist to tourist season.

You've heard of invasion of the body snatchers? Try invasion of the boy scouts. They're here for their Jamboree, and have invaded the DC area with a force that is impossible to reckon with. Annoying little boy scouts everywhere, buying all the tickets out for everything you want to see. They're bouncing around, practicing someone of the good boyscoutting techniques that they learn... like practicing pickup lines (Mary Ellen got one of those). They didn't know where they were going. Overall, it just annoyed the heck out of me.

But seven weeks ago, I was in the same boat. Seven weeks ago, I was just as wet behind the ears as they were. They had no idea how to ride a metro, how to get to where they needed to go, or anything like that. Within seven weeks, I became a DC native, and became able to navigate myself around the city. Papu would have liked that.

What Papu didn't know is the fact that tourists can be some of the rudest, crudest people on the face of the earth. They appeal to the mindset of all the vendors on the corners, selling hot dogs and ice cream. They push you around and take up everything, not to mention crowd hallways and block things that you are trying to see. Even boyscouts are learning this at an early age. Mind you, some boyscouts are rather cute and live up to their boy-scout creeds (which is sweet and cute), but for the most part, they're just invading and taking up every tourist resource this city has to offer. If they are sounding like parasites, you're right. They are.

But the fact is that I just don't have much patience for tourists in general. When I go to a place, I want to see everything, but I don't want to invade it. I want to see it the way people there do. That's very important to me. I want to see history the way history saw it, not where kids are running around like maniacs. That's really important to me, respecting history, and seeing interesting things, and most importantly, learning. Not saying, "I don't know, I don't speak Jewish." (I heard a girl say that. I actually didn't know that there was a language called Jewish, did you?)

Open your minds. And open your minds to the way the world really is, not just as a tourist spot.

In Search of Joe Lieberman

He's a celebrity of the Jewish world, the first Jewish vice presidential candidate. Even if his politics are disagreed on, he is considered to be great.

Joe Lieberman is pretty cool, although I don't agree sometimes. So when it came time, I thought to myself, why not crash his party? His synagogue, Kesher Israel, is actually not that far from Georgetown University (I'm on 37th and N, the synagouge's on 28th and N), and halfway to Dupont Circle. I left immediately after I arrived at the Dupont Circle Metro. I would be joined by my friend Oren (who's from Norwalk), and together we would go to shul.

I went in just as they were preparing to unlock the doors to let people in for early minyans. I wandered in and started studying the synagogue; it was small, but it was beautiful. I was amazed by the lush green carpets and the stained glass, which had Jewish stars on it. The burgundy velvet of the arc was truly amazing, and I saw the balcony where the women sat. Traditionally, this was only in Sephardic synagogues. But it was here, and it set a totally different tone for the shul. Amazed, I headed back down.

There were three total minyans: one for upstairs at 7, one at 7:30 downstairs, and another at 8 upstairs. The difference? The fact that 7:30 was a Carlebach minyan. And that it probably got in every semi-religious Jewish intern in the greater DC area.

The room that we were sitting in was pretty small. A whole group of people didn't come in all at once, but the fact was that by the time we got past Kabbalat Shabbat and into the Maariv service, it was standing-room only. There were some older people, but everyone there was, for the most part, under 30. There were visitors from out of town, newlyweds, and of course, the interns. There were just so many of them, that it was even hard to count. If there was any doubt that the Jewish people were dying out, someone obviously didn't look into that room that night.

The fact that it was Carlebach minyan made it a slight comfort. I heard the familiar melody, and if I closed my eyes, I could see Rabbi Yonah jumping up and down and banging on his table, with Shlomo and Moshe running around, and Rachel talking intellectual while preparing salads. I didn't realize until that night just how terribly I missed them. Not even the Rabbi, who was quite intelligent and quite interesting, not to mention thoroughly wanting to get youth involved in their religion, could substitute for Yonah's on a Friday night.

But what amazed me was that it was this big, loud song session. There were people there who all knew the melodies, who were just as comforted by the melodies as I was. And I was amazed; everyone here was my age. They were young, and could probably be partying it up at a club. But they were here, and they were praying. Not just feeble half-attempts at prayer, but real, honest-to-G-d prayer, even from the women's side. And when it was time to sing, they sang just as loud. Women usually on that side of the mehitzah feel like they have to be quiet, they have to silence up and let all the men sing, and it makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. But here, everyone was singing, and surprisingly enough, women found power on their side of the mehitzah. This was amazing to me more than anything. I felt rejuvenated.

Following services, there was a hospitality committee person, and he arranged for a house for me and Oren to eat at. A part of me just wanted to stay, wanted to watch all the people from upstairs come down, hoping desperately I could see this myth of legends, Joe Lieberman. But that night, as I was invited into a house for dinner, I witnessed an even greater miracle. I realized that the true heart of the faith continued on, and it didn't only continue on in the older generations. I sat at a table, and probably no one there was over 30. We were young, and we were ready to continue our faith. And I felt so proud to be Jewish, more so than ever.

Before I go, funny Jewish thing: my friend Danielle (or as we call her, "Princess"), said something funny where we all ate at Tombs the other night and I gave a pretty good tip.

"Oh, it must be a Jewish thing to be so generous," she said.

"No, actually the stereotype's the opposite," I laughed. Who knew that while on the East Coast, I've been reversing stereotypes?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Comment Calculations!

Okay, so remember that offer that I made a few days ago, about whoever left the most comments on my blog gets something special from me when I get home (Ari and Amira excluded)? Well, I decided to calculate the totals, and it's a three-way close race, with anyone able to come through:

Lau, with 11 comments total
Adam, with 10 comments total
Patrice, with 7 comments total

It's neck and neck to six days from now, when I will announce who gets the prize, and also talk about my graduation.

I will be posting a more extensive piece tomorrow, concerning my search tonight for Joe Lieberman. I'm going to his synagouge tonight! Shabbat Shalom, all!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Econ done, gone the sun

Today, I finished what my dad has been trying to get me to do for the past five years: I finished an econ class. My roommate said that this was the amount of material that you learn in a masters program in econ. Considering the fact that this is my first economics class, I consider the fact that I've done as well as I have quite an accomplishment.

But I must say, for a fact, that it doesn't necessarily take an A grade to learn stuff. I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to come through with an A. I'm doing econ work that is possibly equivalent to work in a master's degree. This is not easy in the slightest. But, like my dad said to me, I'm very thankful I took this class.

I learned about basic economic laws, which I learned don't only apply to economics. They apply to human nature. Economics is a science, and above that, it is a social science. It deals with what humans value, and although it jumps into numbers and graphs (ew ew EW), it really talks about us, and what we want. It deals with logic, which has never been my strong point, but it also deals with the mind, which I argued tonight on my final is the ultimate resource. It has needs and also creates needs. It is a powerful tool that we use to our advantage. We need our minds, and there is no shortage and surplus, but there is a certain scarcity to it.

And it turn, I learned about how much we really need each other. Humans need each other, we really do. We learned our first night how many people it takes to create a simple 10 cent pencil. A pencil can take you all the way across the world, to different minds and means, and it leads you to the same exact conclusion: a powerful tool.

I always professed how important the pen was. Now I truly realize how important the pencil is, and how very powerful it is. It is a symbol of the world population, and how much we need each other in order to function. I realize now how much we need the people around us in order to work. Economics taught me that. I also learned about what it was to be decent in economics, because as every person counts, we need to stand up for those people when they need us. Yes, economics hit that home more than any ethics class could. And we see how much people can discredit their brothers, and how cruel we think the kindest things are. Economics also taught me that.

This is for Professor Rustici. I may not always agree with him, but he taught me basic human lessons, ones that are going to shape my life. He taught me how to grow and how to be strong in myself, how to understand the world around me. I truly respect him and respect what he has taught us. The last lecture, I loudly applauded him, and today I shook his hand as I left his classroom. It is stronger to say you don't agree, yet you respect someone. This is a tribute to Rustici.

Here's to you, Rustici.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Quote of the day

This is off of an AIM convo that I had today:

Tigggg4u: how is new york?
PoetQueen23: I'm in New York?
PoetQueen23: wow, I've been living a lie!

hee hee... and I thought everyone knew I was in DC...

Bush's waning pride: why Rove, Roberts are issues

Being in Washington DC, you get a new view of politics. I will probably not be coming back to California and viewing politics the exact same way as I did. And it's because of all the insider information, from both Republicans and Democrats. You see politics in the view of not just a voter, but also as an insider. released a poll from the Pew Research Center. Polls in Washington are the lifeblood of any candidate, because polls determine money, and money determines votes (although not all the time). According to the poll, 44 percent of Americans approve of the job that Bush is doing, while 48 percent do not. 49 percent believe that the president is trustworthy, an all-time low for him, while 46 do not.

**Just before I go on... I just want to let everyone know that I am connected with a ton of political insiders. This is not about party politics and what people believe in, but about IMAGE. Everyone knows that I'm pretty liberal (although not as much as some), but when it comes down to it, IMAGE is all that matters in politics. Morgan Knull, my mentor, said it best that in Washington DC, one of the most important things to have in an election is a great story about your life. Why? Because it's about the image you're presenting, and this is what I'm going on.

Despite the fact that Bush does not have another election that he has to win, he still has to trump it up for the Republican Party. Washington insiders can tell you that, while Hillary Clinton is practically a certainty in the 2008 election, the Republican Party doesn't even have a candidate (although many people right now are rooting for McCain, who happens to be the only Republican that most Democrats in Washington respect). This makes it even more important for Bush, as he is the only current face of the Republicans.

And what is behind that face? Karl Rove, and many people can tell you that in Washington, the CIA leak of Valarie Plame has been detrimental for the party. It also was a turning point for the media, because reporters united together to really start asking questions in the White House press core. And as most people in the core can tell you, the Bush administration is not so willing to give you information unless you are supposedly on "their" side. When Rove was in hot water, the White House was in trouble. Somehow, the Supreme Court opening was a chance for Bush to save himself with certain groups of voters.

There were polls that the ideal Justice candidate would be a Hispanic woman. This would have accomplished two things for the administration: it would help win Hispanics over, and would have helped in getting women over to the Bush side (as he does not have as much favor with women voters as he does with male voters). But instead, he picks Roberts: a WASC-y (Catholic) guy who went to Harvard and worked mainly for both conservative candidates and issues.

Most Republican groups are dancing in the rain on this one. Perfect candidate. Liberals hate the guy because the most decisive issue-- Roe v. Wade-- is hanging on this guy's vote. I'm just going to safely say I don't trust him, but say why it was a stupid idea, and why a Latino or a woman would have helped the Republican party immensely.

When Reagan was president, and he was arguably more conservative than Bush, he did the gutsy thing and appointed the first woman to the court. This caused a lot of women to be more positive towards Reagan, and helped him draw more of the female vote. Why? Because he appointed a woman, one of their own. She was a lone ranger on the court, and this made a lot of women feel positively towards Reagan, because he believed that women could be in a position of power. Bush faces just as much, if not more, challenge from women today. If he had appointed a woman, it would have been an incredibly strong statement saying, "Hey, you can trust me, I believe women can do this too." Although she might have been anti-choice, a lot of women would be comforted by the fact that he feels the women have a position there. Not trusting women causes a serious gap in women voters, who would be more likely to turn somewhere else, possibly to Mrs. Clinton.

As for Latinos, about one in seven people in this country are of Latino heritage, and throughout his campaign, Bush has openly courted-- and gotten-- the Latino vote for the Republican party. He appointed a Latino attorney general, Alberto Gonzales. Yet the Supreme Court has never had a Latino on its court. If a Latino were appointed, there would be a much stronger rally behind Bush, and in turn behind the Republican party. It would have shown that Republicans were truly behind Latinos in America, and would have secured a lot of the vote for the Republican party in future elections.

Mind you, this probably won't be the only chance that Bush has got to nominate someone to the Supreme Court. Rehnquist is probably going to croak while he's in office, because let's face it, he's borderline. But the fact is that the Supreme Court is in a state of crisis. Up until this point, it was the only factor that could complete checks and balances. If you have a conservative legislation, a conservative executive branch, and a conservative judiciary system, there will be no challenges. Checks and balances was designed so each branch of government could check on the other. This is particularly dangerous, and undermining what our founding fathers mapped out for our country.

And it's all about freedom, after all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Why my internship was awful... but glad I did it anyway

My internship for this summer stunk like rotten meat.

Okay, maybe that's not such a nice thing to say. But never in my life had I just been so... BORED. It's the best word for it, really. I have sat in a cubicle for most of my days, just being bored and doing nonsense projects that I know will probably never get done due to idealism. My office is stuck in a demented time warp, where we counted for something, and yet we didn't at the same time.

It was mainly editorial work... I picked out stories for online article editions, this week I'm writing "Headlines in Review," and selected photographs. This was very editorial driven, not reporting. But it made me realize something about myself.

No matter what I did before as an editor, I know for certain I'm not one now. Although I do like mentoring people, I like doing it as a writer, not as an editor. Being an editor, I can safely say, is rather boring. You don't have a lot of contact with the outside world, with people. You're not writing as much, hence you're not producing clips. You're sitting there, just typing and going at things straight-forward, almost as if you can't be creative.

I couldn't lend anything to the internship I had. There was no room for creativity, and although I excelled at some of the things I did, I was just bored. There was no room for growth, at least not in the way that I saw that this organization needed to grow in. And I was frustrated by the busy work they gave me. I was given two main tasks: one was a letter (which was easily finished) and another was scanning photographs (which, since they were on the letter F when I got there and there are hundreds of countries, I highly doubt they'll ever get done).

But most of all, I saw a company that was stuck in past glory. The heyday of this magazine was in the late 1980s, early 1990s. It's when most of their stuff was done, and the people who work here (except maybe a little bit for Bob) are caught in that past time period. I was scanning photographs from 15 years ago, back when there was an East Germany and a West Germany, not to mention Hong Kong was still a part of Britain. In order to sell, you have to be current. There's not much more to it.

This internship made me realize that I want to be a journalist BECAUSE this internship was so bad. I want to be out there talking to people, helping people. I want to write-- oh Lord, I want to write-- and write serious subjects not about cultures I'm not touching, but about people that you see every day. It was the reason I got into this in the first place, and it's the reason why I keep on going.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Song of the Summer/ growing up

Last night, after the symphony at the Kennedy Center, we were sitting at Fridays' in Foggy Bottom. At that time, I finally figured out the song of this summer. This song has not only been played the most out of any song I've heard, but it is the one most celebrated by all the counterparts in TFAS.

That song is... {{drumroll please}} "Since You've Been Gone," by Kelly Clarkson.

Now, what is it about this song that makes it the theme of the summer? Well, let me sum it up in a couple of words, from three different people: Cecily, Robert, and me.

Cecily's take is that she's had a lot of heartbreak in these past months. This is the first track of her "break-up" mix CD, which is quite good. For her, it's about strength, and about being herself. For her, this is her favorite song on the album, even more than, "Behind these hazel eyes," which is enough to get me to buy the album. But there is something very strong in the guitar riff and the way that she sings her strength out on the track.

For Robert, however, this was a very funny thing that happened at dinner. Robert's music tastes are questionable (he likes Lil' John? Ewww), but he happens to openly admit to dancing around his room and singing to this song (hope everyone at the Titan loves hearing that one!). He explains that it is all about a woman's independence, and how she is strong and determined to get on with her life even after tremendous heartbreak. This is, of course, done to a lot of big words, to which I forced some of my margarita in front of him, telling him to be quiet and drink, dammit.

This is their interpretations. This is how the song speaks to me:

This song is about a woman figuring out who she is outside of someone else. Even though it is openly a breakup song, it is about identity (as Robert put it) and also about strength (like Cecily said). For me, I needed to find my identity. I needed to come here and find a little bit more of myself, who I am both in my faith and out, both without Ari and with, and both within my work ethic and outside of it all. I had to come to terms with myself.

Yesterday at the symphony, I realized the last time I was in that building was over six years ago. As the first Ravel piece played and I heard the strings crying out to the Center, I began to feel something inside, something that was new yet old. My scar-torn heart felt it, and understood that any innocence I wanted to retain about my life was gone, and it wasn't coming back. I wasn't a little girl anymore, where there were things that were certain. Nothing is certain, and you just have to learn how to deal with it.

One thing's for sure: that on this trip, I learned a lot about myself, something I wasn't so sure about going out into the world. Six years after I found myself alone on the other side of the world, learning that I could only depend on myself, I learned to let people in. This summer, I had to learn a new lesson: learning that there were other people who loved and needed me, and yet having to depend on myself in order to get what I really want out of life. You have to strike a balance with everything. But in turn, you must know who you are.

So, thanks Kelly Clarkson. I'll probably be buying your new album sometime soon, if only to commemorate this whole trip.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Vegetarianism= the perfect solution to keeping kosher

Veggies are yummy. Any true Californian can attest to this fact. I know this because there are people here who look at me like I'm crazy when I talk about avocados and baby corn (see "mis-adventures" for more details on that one).

But in these past six weeks, I have been practically vegetarian (except going up to Maryland with my friend, Oren, where we stopped by a Kosher Cafe), only eating fish, dairy and soy as protein. I look confusingly at my friends as they eat their ham and cheese sandwiches, and I'm happily enjoying a salad from the Washington Times cafeteria. I made a dedicated commitment that, since I couldn't get any kosher meat, I would go veggie.

However... now I do know of kosher places nearby that sell kosher meat. If I really wanted to, I could go up to Clevland Park to a market there and pick up some. It's right off of the red line metro, north of Dupont Circle. But the fact is that a part of me just doesn't really want to. I just want to be happy with my soy. A part of me feels out of place, because I don't have any birkenstocks, let alone granola to munch on. If I'm going to be a "hippie," I might as well act the part.

Eight months ago, I made a conscious decision to stop eating milk and meat together, after being an avid cheeseburger eater for years. I decided, hey, if I'm Jewish, I should stop just saying it and practice what I preach. The reason why I keep kosher is to treat an animal like a living thing, not just a consumer good. It sacrificed its life to be my food, so why shouldn't I be good to them? And trust me, I am the constant answer person of questions about keeping kosher.

But vegetarianism is, for me, not a bad idea. I like eating a lot of vegetables, and for the most part, I am reduced to vegetarianism while I'm eating out. I dson't see what would be the bad of going veggie for the most part, and eating more soy and enjoying keeping kosher. My mom was vegan for three years, and it was healthy. I don't think that vegetarianism would necessarily define me as a "true" Californian, but I want to be healthy, and I think being kosher and sticking to being a vegetarian here has definitely helped me on that quest.

After all, if you're Jewish, you should be Jewish. That's just the way I feel.

Throwing the flame: the newest aspect of the Holocaust

Rustici, my economics professor, and I don't always agree on certain things. For example, he views economics, in certain cases, in a way I would not view them. Although he is a libertarian, his economics are very far right. But tonight was the most emotional lecture for me.

Tonight, Rustici talked about how governments needed to be eyed carefully. In a book nominated for a Nobel Peace Price, a University of Hawaii professor studied deaths caused by governments around the world, which totalled about 207 million. 37 million were from wars, such as WWI and II. But 170 million of those deaths were done by actual governments, and not only our own, but others; by totalitarian leaders who had no one to check on them, who had no one to report to.

"You need an example? Go to the Holocaust museum," he said. "Six million Jews died, because who was checking on Hitler?"

My vision was clouded with the flame of anger, and my claws were bared. They usually are when it comes to the Holocaust. Even though I lost no family in it, my mother suffered while working for the Survivors of the Shoah foundation. She catalogued testimonies and had a nervous breakdown because of all the horrors she heard. But it's not only that.

At one point, people started giggling at some of the things that our professor said about governments. At one point, he was saying, "You should go to the museum, and see the shoes, and smell them, realize people were in them." Giggles. The flame grew stronger in my eyes.

Has this what the Holocaust has been reduced to? It's been 60 years since the liberation of the concentration camps, and it's gone unnoticed for the most part. When Schindler's List came out in 1994, Holocaust studies became popular. It was, and I hate to say it, cool to learn about the Holocaust, to go to the different Holocaust museums, to release books and to learn it. Now, it's been reduced to indifference.

Does this tragedy in history mean anything to anyone outside the Jewish people anymore? Sure, six million Jews perished, but so did homosexuals, gypsies, mentally ill, and communists. I don't see their deaths being mourned. 11 million people died at the hand of the Nazis. And in truth, I don't think that if, G-d forbid, that happened in the United States, many people would hide Jews and protect us from the firestorm. I would risk my life for the freedom of others to live, because I know that is the right thing to do. Most people wouldn't let their necks out. You can't really understand unless you have been discriminated against.

We talked to Rustici after class, and I saw all different people staying to talk to him. Most of the black kids stayed. I stayed. A girl from Spain stayed. But most of the people who stayed with him understood what it was like to be discriminated against. When I talked to AJ and Felicia about how I felt every time the Holocaust is mentioned, they said, "Yeah, that's how I feel when people talk about slavery." It's not just our burden. There is a girl in our class from Burundi, and her country is in a state of civil war. Sudan and Darfur is going on out there, and there are people dying at the hands of their governments because there is no one to check them. As Rustici said, we should be thankful to have our bill of rights. It does protect us.

Rustici and I might not always agree. He may be stubborn in his economics. But I forgot the fact that he is a human being. It hurt him just as much, if not more, than me, and he's not Jewish. He's Italian, but I can see it in his eyes. He said to us he became a professor to help students grow, to help them understand, and economics, as he puts it, is all about helping your brothers and sisters in the world, because you need each other in order to make things happen.

I may not be very good at economics, but through it, I have learned a little bit of what it is to be human.

Just a quick proposal...

Just so you all know, I decided to conduct a little competition. Feel free to participate if you'd like:

I have found the only way I can know if people have been checking my blog is if they comment. This bites for me, but I know who's reading when I see a name on there. But just to motivate you, I have decided to have a slight competition (short notice, I know, but bear with):

On July 28, I will count to see how many comments each person who has commented has left me (and thank you those who have, you are awesome). Whoever has left the most comments will get a special surprise from me when I see you.

Amira and Ari are not eligible in this. Sorry guys, you have an unfair advantage here, and you're already getting surprises when I get home. But everyone else is fair game.

K, gotta go study for my econ test... wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The mis-adventures of "Ms. Reina goes to Washington"

This is a special request blog, specifically for V... these are a few of the stories that I might not have written but should be funny enough. Here they are:

1) One night, Robert and I decided to hang around my apartment and just talk, have a good time. We were relaxing and kicking back a few beers (me one and him three). This is when my roommate Cecily walks in.

Now, Cecily came to DC find her ex-boyfriend with a new girlfriend. This turns the normally party-happy Cecily into a nervous wreck. Of course, that day, she comes home with Robert and I kicking back, and she walks in, saying, "Dude, a Marine followed me home!" He was sitting out on the steps of our building.

For the next twenty minutes, she goes on about her relationship problems, with Robert and I staring at each other, going, "Um, okay." Cecily decided to have the Marine buy her a drink, because, as she put it, she wasn't very interested in him anyway, but she might as well get something out of it. She goes down the stairs, and the Marine says, "There's just one problem: I don't drink." He heard everything she said. She says, "Um, okay... uh, bye," and came back to join us to talk of more relationship problems.

Of course, this is one of many Cecily stories... there was the time she came home at 6 am, drunk from a wine bar where she drank $200 worth of fine wine for free. Or this morning, when she woke up from going out last night, and she was STILL drunk... but to this day, Robert still remembers her as "the roommate with the relationship problems."

2) The Pack always has lunch in the same place: the Washington Times cafeteria. It's usually the four of us, but yesterday Tina (Red) was gone. So it was just Randy (Artic Boy), Dani (Shades) and me (Stickies... because I go through post-it notes like no one's business) to fend for ourselves.

Usually, we all get the same things every day: Artic Boy gets a cheesburger, Dani will have a sandwich of some sort, and I usually get a salad. Of course, today was very different, but I still had my salad. Since I am usually the last to finish when it comes to salad, Artic Boy and Shades took it upon themselves to analyze my lunch.

"What does baby corn taste like?" Shades asked me.

"Uh..." I wasn't sure what to reply with. How do you describe the taste of baby corn? It's so good it's hard to put into words.

"Well," Artic Boy said, "haven't you ever had baby? It's kind of like that."

"It does not taste like baby!" I said.

"Well, have YOU ever had baby?"


"Well, how would you know?"

The analyzation of baby corn went on for about 10 minutes, and I could barely finish my salad without laughing, including whether it was white or red meat, and then moving onto olives. But it's hard to get past baby corn, including when Shades keeps going, "Mmmm, baby... corn."

3) We have to do a paper in economics, and everyone's thinking real seriously. I hear the International Bank and the UN being thrown around. I was originally going to cover the California Budget Crisis.

"That's a little broad," Professor Rustici said. "Do some research and try to refine it, and then come back and talk to me."

My research was just as broad as my topic. It was everywhere across the board, and in all honesty, the numbers weren't interesting me at all, and I wasn't very familiar with it. I wanted to do something interesting and fun. The recent obsession through TFAS with Harry Potter (see my earlier entry, "The boy able to defeat economics") gave me an idea.

I went to my professor yesterday and proposed to him a new topic: how Harry Potter has affected book sales in the past few years. He said it was okay, but he asked me if I was familiar with the books.

"Of course," I said. "I know those books almost by heart."

"Well, I'll tell you what," he said in his Virginia drawl, "why don't you go into the books and apply economic theory?"


"Yeah, you can use literature, and it can be your source."

I practically keeled over. This was going to be right up there in infamy with my famous Jabberwocky linguistics paper. Applying economic theory to something I just love and wouldn't mind reading again was more than I could ever ask for. And, of course, enough to make the whole class jealous.

Okay, so there are some misadventures. Unfortunately, I also found out yesterday that someone got kicked out of our program for making things up at their internship (we still don't know who), so expect an blog about that later.

I want to take you to a gay bar...

If there's one thing to be said about me, on most issues, I'm pretty flexible. I'm more moderate than most people I know (although I'm still pretty liberal), so I can bend around on financial issues and foreign policy with the conservatives, yet hang around the liberals when talking about it. But there are a few issues that make my blood boil, and I go nuts on. And one of those issues is homosexuality in our society.

Mind you, I'm straight. I love my boyfriend, he makes me happy and is the sweetest guy I know. But I have many a friend, both here and back home, who are gay. Are they any different from me? No, not really. We still laugh and are able to have a good time together. But I realized, from a young age, that gays are looked down upon in our society.

It started when I was young, and I heard kids in school saying, "Oh, that's SO gay," as if it were a bad thing. I knew that my uncle was gay, and how much he suffered for it. When they said that, it confused me. Then there were kids who told other kids, "What are you, queer?" or "Stop being such a fag." Despite my sister telling me that in Britain, a "fag" was a cigarette, I knew what it meant over here. And I didn't like it one bit. After my friend came out to me as gay, and a lot of our group of friends abandoned him, I realized that this was just another form of discrimination. It's like throwing around the n-word (no, I still can't write it or say it), or ditching someone because they're a different skin color than you. It's just not cool.

When I got to community college, my horizons expanded. I was in a new place with a very diverse enviornment. No one used that language anymore, but the discrimination was still there. I reviewed a PBS documentary called The Smith Family, about a mormon family where the father was homosexual and contracted AIDS, which he passed on as HIV to his wife. It was haunting to see what the church did to people just because of something like that.

As I went on to university, it became stronger. Lawrence v. Texas was overturned that summer, and gay marriage had become a huge issue. It didn't hold for me... until a longtime friend came out to me, and I was the second person she came out to. One of my favorite professors was a lesbian. This is when I knew that this was wrong, and who cared what people thought? I immediately researched gay marriage.

And I came to realize that the other side of the debate had no leg to stand on. The argument against it was based solely on religious purposes. There were privacy laws, statistics, and even the bill of rights could argue for it. The argument against it is, "It's just wrong." Every argument against it I could combat. When people said that gays couldn't raise a family, well, I knew gay parents, and their children came out fine. When they say that homosexuals couldn't get into loving relationships, well, I've seen them, and they're beautiful. And what is the crime against love? I'd really like to know.

I kind of noticed a difference between politicians and me, and why I would never become one. Politicians see issues, and they don't see the people. When they talk about African-Americans or homosexuals, I see my friends. In a way, I see homosexuals to be a lot like the Jewish population: we can hide our identities if we really want to, and if we want to say what we are, we can.

I hope that tolerance prevails over everything. I hope we can learn to respect and love each other, and not be PC about things, pretending underneath it and not accepting. My hope is that we won't have to hide from each other who we really are, and we can all be people. We all should be able to live, love, and carry on our respective lives, without interference from others telling us what we are doing is wrong, or a sin. We shouldn't let others judge the way we choose to live our lives, but let them understand who we are.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Job Hunt

I may be doing an internship here, but it doesn't stop the fact that I need a job. And that fact leads to... what do you do with your BA? It's so difficult, because we're graduated from college, and it took all this effort and strength, and now... we're in a rush. We need to find jobs, and we need to find them as soon as possible.

I only have one month left in my apartment in Fullerton, which means that if I want to stay in Orange County (or the general area), I have to find a job within the week that I first come home. No room for jet lag, just got to get straight on it. Luckily, I have remedied the first part... I was asked to schedule an interview with the OC Register on the Monday I come home. But I am pretty sure that the first interview is not the first one I'm going to get. I have to be prepared.

Ari told me that I should be more confident... well, going into the workplace as a journalist, I find that easier said than done. Debra Rosenberg of Newsweek, who came to speak to our class on Monday night, said that the journalism world is in a hiring freeze. Less people are placing ads, therefore revenue in newspapers and magazines is smaller, therefore you can't hire as many people. We have heard constantly in college that only 30 percent of people work within their major, and that you are probably not going to get a job right away. Add to the fact that you have to pay back student loans and all that stuff, and guess what? You've got a problem.

For students coming out of college, the job hunt is grueling and tough. You're not sure what's going to happen next. You're not sure if you're going to find a job. How are you going to pay your rent, your food costs, cost for gas and transportation? Most jobs right out of college cannot cover these costs. You're usually stuck asking for help from parents or getting scholarships. No more loans, you've already got college loans to pay.

Everyone keeps telling us, graduating from college, that we're not as lucky as our parents when it comes to job hunting. There aren't many jobs out there, there isn't a strong market, you have to move here or there to get the job you really want. Most places want experience, and the fact is that you don't have much, you're out of college. At least for journalism, you can get some experience, due to the fact you can work on your college paper. I've been working for an interview at a newspaper for the past four years, dabbling in magazine and newspaper work, doing design, copy editing (no matter how bad I am at it), writing, and even taking my own photos. Yet this still might not be enough to get me a good job at a newspaper and pay my own rent, still stay independent and on my own.

Hopefully, everything will work out for the best. Only time will tell.

Oops... didn't post yesterday

Hi all,

Since I slacked off and didn't post yesterday, I'm posting two things today. The first is this great column I found from Newsweek by Rabbi Marc Gellman. Who knows? Maybe I'll be able to find him while I'm here. But it's rather interesting, thought you all might like to read it.

Love, Reina

Hello Dalai
A tribute to the world’s greatest religious leader—and his lessons to and from the Jews.

By Marc Gellman
Updated: 3:44 p.m. ET July 8, 2005

July 6 - In the world of emptiness and illusion called sunyata, today is the birthday of the Dalai Lama. That is, of course, if you believe in days or birth or death or anything independent and unconditional called by Buddhists pratitya samudpaya. He was born on July 6, 1935, in northeast Tibet and although he is 70 today, he does not look a day over 2,568 years old. That year, 563 B.C., was the day the first Buddha, the Sakyamuni, whose earth name was Siddhartha Gautama, was born in Nepal. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama is believed by Buddhists in the Lamaist tradition to be the 14th incarnation of Gautama (in another version he is the 14th incarnation of Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion, but honestly once you've seen one Buddha you've seen 'em all). He was first named Llama Dhondrub, but when he was identified as the real deal his name was changed to Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso. To make things easier for the post office, I think his mailing name is “Occupant.” His close friends call him Yeshe Norbu, or Kundun for short, which means “The wish-fulfilling gem.”

I had the pleasure of meeting His Holiness in 1989, soon after he won the Nobel Peace Prize. I ate chocolate-chip cookies with him and joked around with him. (Question: “Your Holiness, what do you miss most about Tibet?” Answer: “Yaks.” It's Buddhist humor—I don't expect the unenlightened amongst you to understand). We met in New Jersey. Diana Marks, a spirited, passionate and joyous woman I knew in college, runs a Buddhist monastery near Hackettstown, N.J., with her husband, Jonathan, because, quite frankly, the Buddhist element in New Jersey was … fuggedaboudit! When the Dalai Lama stayed with Diana and Jonathan, he asked Diana, who is Jewish (well, she is Buddhist now, so I guess she is Jewbuish), to invite some Jews over for cookies and chat. So she did—and there we were with the Dalai Lama in New Jersey. The possibility exists that this was the first such meeting between Jews and Buddhists that had ever occurred.

After cookies and tea, His Holiness asked us directly and with great interest, “What is your secret? You and your people have survived an exile of almost 2,000 years away from your land, and yet you still hold strong to your culture, and you still exist as a people. I have been in exile for less than 40 years from Tibet and already the Tibetan culture is disappearing, and my people are not strong. I have asked you here so that I might learn from you, what is your secret?'"

For a long while, a very impressive collection of Jewish intellectuals sat there with their mouths open. Then one of us took out a shivisi (a plaque hung on the eastern wall of traditional Jewish homes) and said that our secret is remembering Jerusalem every day in our prayers. The Dalai Lama listened and smiled. Then another person held up a Torah scroll and said that reading and studying the word of God was our secret. The Dalai Lama held the silver Torah pointer, smiled and said nothing. A teacher of Talmud showed the Dalai Lama our postbiblical work of law and legend and explained that we never stopped making our laws relevant for the times in which we live. He looked at the Talmud, rubbed his hand over the dense Aramaic and Hebrew script, smiled and said nothing. One fellow showed the Dalai Lama a tzedaka box, which is a charity box kept on most Jewish tables on the Sabbath, and explained that our secret was that we always took care of our people and other people in need. The Dalai Lama held the tzedaka box, shook it like a rattle, smiled and said nothing. Finally Blu Greenberg, a writer and mother and wife of Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, stood up with her husband. Holding nothing but her husband’s hand she said, "We are a Jewish family. Every Jewish ritual is celebrated in the home. Every Jewish value is acted out in the home. In the home we pray, in the home we give tzedaka, in the home we bear and raise children who will carry on Jewish customs in their homes. The family is the place where the physical survival of the Jewish people and the faith of the Jewish people intersect." Then they sat down. The Dalai Lama smiled and said, "That is your secret."

His Holiness also wrote the foreword to one of the children's books I wrote with Tommy (Msgr. Thomas J. Hartman to you). The book was called “How Do You Spell God?” and was an introduction to the world's religions for junior-high kids who generally don't care about the world or religion. Sheila Nevins at HBO did a great job of making our book into a Peabody Award-winning special for kids. The core of the film was a fable I wrote that featured His Holiness, Tommy and me as cartoon characters. The Dalai Lama was drawn as smiling saintly and wise. Tommy was drawn as smiling saintly and wise. I was drawn as a guy who slept in his suit. Anyway, in the foreword to the book, he answered the question for children of why there are so many different religions in the world. This is a part of what he wrote:

Human beings naturally possess different interests. So, it is not surprising that we have many different religious traditions with different ways of thinking and behaving. But this variety is a way for everyone to be happy. If we have a great variety of food, we will be able to satisfy different tastes and needs. When we only have bread, the people who eat rice are left out. And the reason those people eat rice is that rice is what grows best where they live.
I don't know if it takes 2,568 years to learn such simple and profound wisdom, but I am very glad that he has decided to return from the state of bodhi (enlightenment) and live amongst us now. There is an old Jewish toast, “That you should live for 120 years.” In his case that seems 2,448 years too short. My birthday gift: I will try to continue to eat what grows best where I live.

So I ask you to join me in offering up prayers and good wishes for His Holiness the Dalai Lama who, after the death of Pope John Paul II, is now unquestionably the greatest religious leader on earth. Please join me as we all sing together: “Hello, Dalai! You're looking swell, Dalai! It'll be great to see you back (in Tibet) where you belong! I can tell, Dalai, you're looking swell, Dalai. You're still going, you're still glowing, you're still going strong!”

Happy 70th/2,568th Birthday, Your Holiness!

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this column incorrectly cited the year of birth for the first Buddha as 563, or 1,442 years ago. The correct year is 563 B.C., or 2,568 years ago, as changed above.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

The boy able to defeat economics

There is one book that most of the Fund for American Studies' students are looking forward to reading. And thank G-d it has nothing to do with economics.

Harry Potter mania has hit quite hard here. In Richmond, Virginia, there is a mall which is being turned into Diagon Alley. There will be midnight parties for Harry Potter all over DC on Friday night, and I know people who are opting for those as opposed to going to bars or clubs. And everyone is rushing for this book.

Yet it makes you wonder... here you have some of the most brightest and stellar minds of their respective schools. You have some of the top schools across the nation gathered here, and we have tough classes and lots of assignments. Yet what they really want to do is read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. What is it about Harry Potter that makes him so... well, incredible?

There was a cantor who argued that Harry Potter and his characteristics are essentially Jewish, especially considering his loyalty and courage. The stories are engaging, especially thanks to JK Rowling's beautifully written prose and complete knowledge for telling a strong, complete story. Some people have actually considered the Potter series, "Like a long mystery novel," where with each book, we discover something extraordinary and new about the characters. Some people saw the Arthurian legends, not to mention all the legends held dear. Some see fantasy novels. Some even see a basic coming-of-age story. But somehow, everyone falls in love with Harry, even when he gets impossible in the fifth book.

Not only is there the fact that everyone seems to love Harry (except for those people who try unsuccessfully to ban books due to "anti-Christian" views), but there is also the fact that he connects to everyone. These are not books just for children; everyone can read these books and enjoy them. The writing grows as Rowling's characters grow, which they do with not only every year that passes them by, but also with all the things that they confront, including death. It is said that another major character will die in this book, although we are not sure who it will be, except that it's not Voldemort nor Harry. As we found in the last book, almost everyone is fair game.

Harry not only is a wonder as a character, but he almost singlehandedly made reading cool for all ages. More people were buying books, and along with bookstores expanding into huge, elaborate palaces of reading, he created a huge surge in wanting to pick up a book and read it. It is an inspiration and a testimony that Harry has pulled not only children, but also adults into reading. To study the economics would be interesting, to see what the book market was like before Harry and after Harry. It also makes one wonder, would recent narratives, both for children and adults, been as successful if it weren't for Harry's very existence.

But the fact is that we follow Harry. We love him, and in turn, embrace his adventures as our own. He takes us, and we follow him. He was a boy who grew up with a sad life, and although his current life is very sad, he continues to go on.

We know that Harry might not survive the last book, but the fact is that we will always have him with us. He will be "the boy who lived" for the world, but for the Fund for American Studies, he is the boy able to defeat economics.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

"Estudiar Mucho Tambien"?

As we all know, the headline above doesn't make any sense to anyone who knows Spanish (it means "to study a lot as well"), but the question does remain, why study for these classes that I'm taking? There's only one that has the potential to count for anything (that's my leadership scholars class, that is if Pam Caldwell can get the fencepole out of her butt and let it pass in as the internship credit). So why study for economics and ethics?

These classes have been a really good experience for me to take. I am learning things that I have never learned before. Economics was a dirty word (and still kind of is) until Professor Rustici took it and slightly translated it into English. As for ethics, this is the second or third time I have been taking the class, and I'm doing pretty well. But the fact still remains, why work so hard?

Some people in the program have given up. Jelena, my roommate, isn't bothering, because these classes don't transfer anyway. Some are in the same boat as her, because grades don't transfer to their home universities, just credits, or the classes don't even translate at all.

I honestly couldn't tell you if these classes transfer or not. Robert says that they do, and not only that they do, but they count as grades. But I don't need these classes to graduate.

Maybe it's my competitive edge. I need to prove myself to be just as smart, if not smarter, than the other students. I know people who go to Cornell and Ithica College in this program, and Cal State Fullerton might not measure up. Maybe it's the fact that despite everything, I really want to do well. If I am given a task, I should take it on. I should do it and milk it for all its worth.

I hate tests. I hate papers. I hate having to prove that I learned something, because it doesn't let you learn. I've learned a lot in classes where I have gotten "C" grades, and absolutely nothing in classes where I have earned "A" grades. What does a grade prove anyway? That you're capable. But it seems like my grades prove what I can regurgitate on a test paper. For me, this is frustrating. I want to learn without the pressures of learning, if that makes any sense at all.

Either way, I know I'm procrastinating, so I am off to studying. I will talk to you all later...

Friday, July 08, 2005

The "r" word

"If we all could just admit/that we are racist a little bit/and everyone stop being so PC/maybe we could live in harmony." -"Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," Avenue Q

Today in ethics class, I pulled a stunt worthy of Gary Gorlick.

Gary Gorlick is a cousin of mine (by marriage). According to my dad, whose had eyewitness accounts of this, my cousin Gary would usually bring up a very touchy subject, pretty much dropping a bomb on the family. Chaos would ensue. Arguments, frustration and heated discussion would go on until the family realized that Gary was in a corner, sitting back and reading a book.

Today, I dropped the ultimate bomb on our class. We were talking about the Natalee Holloway case, and I said pretty much that if Natalee Holloway were black, we wouldn't be talking about her so much.

An explosion came out, with many of the white kids saying, "That's not true! I'm sure it would happen!" But the seven or so kids in the class who were African-American were in complete agreement with me. One girl argued it wasn't about race, it was about attractiveness.

People don't want to come to terms that there is still racism, whether we want to admit it or not. Hundreds of years of discrimination don't fade away so quickly. It's the same with Jews, and it's probably worse for blacks. But now it's very different, because it's the little things that are the difference, like blacks not being covered in the media the same as whites, and not even being able to get jobs in broadcasting due to the fact of how they look. One of the guys, ER, who is not only responsible and intelligent, but not that bad looking, said that he might not be able to get a job because of his race. That's crazy.

But people are still racist. It's even evident in our culture. For example, in the recent movie Hitch, Eva Mendes was cast as the romantic interest for Will Smith because producers thought that people wouldn't be ready to see a black man with a white woman in a romantic comedy. This dates back to thinking from earlier times, where in the 1800s, white men felt that black men would steal white women due to "sexual prowess."

The worst part is that people don't see this. People try to be PC about it, like, "Oh, we get along fine," when no one is willing to stand up and admit the truth. We're too uncomfortable, or we're just too scared of the truth, of the fact that we don't really see our prejudices and the discriminations we make. We sometimes don't even see that people discriminate against us, too, until someone opens our eyes to the truth. Morgan and I, when we went out last night and I told him of my Turkish, Jewish heritage, told me of all the problems with the Sephardic communities of New York and even Israel, where I never knew that these problems existed. I didn't know I was even more discriminated against than I already am for being just Jewish.

But admitting the truth, seeing the world for what it really is and not putting up idealized fronts, is worth its weight in gold, especially in journalism. At our national press club luncheon today, one girl who I know pretty well sat next to me, and we just started talking. I know her story because I've been there too.

I feel it, and I remembered the rare bond that Jews and the African American community have, and one that I think the Jewish community forgets now more than ever: that we've both been discriminated against, and that together we stood with Martin Luther King Jr. for equality. Today, I stand with them against political correctness, and standing up for the truth.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London calling, and I'm answering

This morning, when I got to work, I was shocked when I looked down into the newsroom. A guy had his television on in the Washington Times newsroom, and it said, "Breaking News: London Terror."

It is estimated that at least 40 people are dead because of four bombs that went off in both the Underground and one on a bus. I went looking at pictures, and I just stared. Suddenly I felt a stronger sense of fear. That could have been me, and that could be here.

I take the metro practically every day here in DC. It's not as secure as I thought it was. All you have to do is buy a Metrocard and swipe it through the machine. There are no security checks like there were at the Mall during the fourth of July. It's just a bunch of ordinary people--tourists and travelers, interns and the like--all just going about their days.

And strangely enough, I looked at it and saw Israel. When I looked at the pictures of the bombed bus, I saw what it must like to live there. And you realize the true effects of terror--the intent is not to kill per se, it's just an affect of the terror. The purpose is to scare, to make people paranoid, to make people fear you and cave into you.

I remember going to London when I was 17, traveling around on the tube happily going wherever I pleased. It gave you freedom to do what you wanted to do. It wasn't a car, but it took you where you needed to go. There was a sense of self-reliance and independence about the tube. And it seems like that's what terror wants to take away from us, is that independence and freedom.

The "secret organization of al-Qaeda in Europe" said that they had warned Britain's government about getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and said the following in their letter, which was posted several hours after the attacks in London (this is from

“Rejoice, Islamic nation. Rejoice, Arab world. The time has come for vengeance against the Zionist crusader government of Britain in response to the massacres Britain committed in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said the statement, translated by The Associated Press in Cairo. The AP was unable to access the Web site where it was posted, which was closed quickly after the reports.

It's almost like they want us to be in fear, but in turn, they fear us. It's almost the exact same relationship. Terror is a symbiotic cycle, and it keeps going. It doesn't ever stop unless both parties are willing to do so. It will never end until people realize that there are other ways of dealing with our problems other than violence and death, not to mention killing innocent people.

Because Tony Blair wasn't attacked, and neither was President Bush. The people who were attacked were people on the way to their jobs. They were average citizens who were just following a daily routine of going into the office. They had regular jobs, regular families and lives, with no power over changing the way government is ran. Average citizens, just like you and me. Which is why I wish London nothing but the best of my heart, in the hopes that they will recover, although they probably never will.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

What is 'responsible' journalism?, part two

Today is a development in the journalism world. Judith Miller, a New York Times reporter, was sent to jail for being in contempt of court. She decided to not reveal her source, and since there is no federal shield law to protect her, she will be in jail indefinitely, until she gives up her source.

Maybe some background information is needed here, because until yesterday I didn't know this case either:

The case that we are referring to is a leak of a CIA officer's name. Valerie Plame was identified as an undercover CIA operative, which is illegal due to the fact it can become dangerous to know who a CIA operative is. Her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, was once a very strong Republican, went against the party when it came to the reasons for invading Iraq, and it is believed that someone in the Bush administration outed Plame because of this. Her name was first published two years ago by conservative columnist Robert Novak, who says he will reveal all once the matter is done with. A Time Magazine reporter, Matthew Cooper, had his source turned over by his magazine, and was later allowed by the source to reveal their identity to the court. Miller never wrote a story, but she did do reporting for it.

Shield laws are active in 31 different states to protect reporters, but not on a federal level (which is why Miller is going to jail). Shield laws are made to protect journalists from having to reveal their confidential sources, going along the lines of attorney-client privilege. It is a right to privacy, which has been clearly defined by many court cases (including, yes, by Roe v. Wade... I took law, I know it's not just about abortion!). Only in cases where possibly a life is being threatened is the only condition of the case. But in this instance, Plame has lost her job at the CIA, because no operative can be identified in the press. No one's life is at stake. Just reputation.

And politicians aren't the only ones with reputations at stake. Journalists lay it on the line for their sources, and they will protect it with their own freedom. Trust and communication are our tools when we are looking for stories, not just a notebook, pen and taperecorder. Journalists aren't just annoying flies in the faces of politicans. We are the ones out there working, out there finding the stories and bringing them to you, so you won't have to go get them yourselves. We bring you the news and the world. We are still the storytellers.

I originally said that last sentence in an opinion piece I did on Daniel Pearl at the Pierce College Roundup, a man who risked his life as not only a journalist, but as a Jew. In a sense, if you're not shooting your messenger, hey, somebody else will do it for you, sometimes literally. But in this case, it's figurative. Sending Judith Miller to jail is infringing on her right to report stories fairly and accurately, and letting an innocent person into the prison system.

Support shield laws. Save Judith Miller!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What is 'responsible' journalism?

There is a common phrase in our lexicon, a cliche that goes, "Don't shoot the messenger." This idea came from as far back as Sophocles in 442 A.D., and was revisited by Shakespeare and the Wild West. In the West, it was, "Don't shoot the piano-player, he's doing the best her can."

It can just as easily be applied to journalists writing for the masses. Journalists don't necessarily write what people like to hear. You don't blame the person who brings bad news. And when it comes to bad news, people view this as "irresponsible" journalism. If that is the case, what is "responsible" journalism?

There are many different views of what "responsible" journalism is, and it all depends on who you talk to. For everyone, "responsible" journalism is different. For many, it means pushing certain issues forward. Journalism, for them, is not about telling a balanced story or to report the facts. It's to make them look good.

Many issues come to mind when reporting this issue, but two in particular come to mind. At Cal State Fullerton's Daily Titan, there were fraternity members who protested and said that the paper was being childish for reporting the name of a person who shot off a gun at a frat party, injuring someone. On the Washington Times' orientation video, most of the people praising the paper are right-wing, endorsed by former presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. It's important to point out that Washington Times is a conservative paper, with the same agenda as many right-wing politicians (emphasis on family values and faith). Of course, the Washington Times was founded by Sun Myung Moon and his "Moonies," or a very conservative cult based out of Korea.

Both are cases of portraying people in different lights, either ones that they want to be seen in or ones that they don't. They may be at different levels of publication (Daily Titan is a college newspaper, while the Washington Times goes on a national level), but people are people no matter what happens, and people react in almost the exact same way. People want to look good, it's just a simple fact of life. Most people would not want to have their name on the fact that they shot off a gun and injured someone because of it, even though it is for public record.

There is a huge sense of ignorance for how a newspaper is run. Many people who have been involved in serious issues regarding a newspaper story don't really care to understand how the system works. Instead, they feel it is a better idea to go against the paper because they said something they might not have liked.

However, then there are those who are more out to please certain people than to write creditably. This is dangerous, as it had been proven by the Washington Times. More concerned about pleasing their more conservative counterparts than to actually getting certain stories in, the Times rejected a story by United Press International about US Veterans of Iraq not getting adequate medical treatment, fearing a retaliation from conservative politicians. However, the story was picked up by other publications and went on to win numerous journalism prizes. Keeping their place in Washington has become more important than printing the news itself. Many Washington Times stories have a conservative slant, which make it a popular pick for Republican politicians.

Both are extreme cases, but they are happening everywhere. They may not be as much at a national level, but both situations do exist in the real world. And unless the news is really what it's supposed to be, which is real, hard, unbiased news, and features are just features, there will never be such a thing as "responsible" journalism. Journalism, especially when it comes to being responsible, is about serving the public, be it for good or for bad.

Until then, the public will just keep reloading its guns, aiming squarely at the wrong targets, which are the hard-working journalists of this nation.

Fourth of July recap

Sometimes, I am amazed at the city I'm in. I forget, with the rushing of going here, working there, and trying desperately to get everything done, I forget how beautiful this city is. It really is romantic, elegant, and simply breathtaking at times. Even in the sticky heat, I'm so lucky to be living in Washington DC.

And this fourth of July weekend was no exception to the rule. People came from everywhere to celebrate and to crowd our beloved Metro to see what might possibly be the best fireworks I have ever seen. You see, compared to the east coast, I have come to realize that California fireworks, except possibly at Disneyland, are wimpy.

I did everything I planned this weekend... except see the cute cheetah cubs (there was a slight mix-up concerning that). Saturday night, about 15 of us from The Fund went to Tequila Beach for a night of dancing and drinking (some did more drinking than others). Robert went down to Savannah for the weekend to see a girl from Model UN. When I saw Rudy yesterday, she laughed at this, because so many people from Model UN launch themselves into relationships with other Model UN people. I'm kind of glad that I didn't end up joining the Model UN at CSUF.

But Tequila Beach was an interesting place. Instead of women being objectified mainly, it was the guys. The bartenders were half-naked, and at certain points, banana-leafed (just don't ask). But it was awesome. It was 18 and over, so anyone who wanted to come came along for the adventure, which was quite an interesting one. I think every girl that night who went was hit on, even poor Mary Ellen (who, when the crowd screamed at the guys, "Get naked," was in a state of shock). It's definitely a contrast to California clubs.

Sunday Oren and I went up to Silver Spring, and I finally got some nice kosher meat. They had schwarma, which unfortunately was nothing like Nagilah's, but it was still pretty good. I picked up a whole bunch of goodies that I love from the kosher market. Unfortunately, we couldn't pick up any real kosher stuff, because we had to take the Metro back. But in Silver Spring there is a mall, and I'm probably going to try to go back up next weekend.

But the fourth... that was the day we were waiting for. I left around 10:30 to go to Maryland to hang out with Rudy for the day. It was me, Rudy, Nikki Smith (the Daily Titan's new executive editor), Rudy's roommate Myra, and a whole bunch of their friends. We did the traditional fourth-of-July barbeque, but I had the best veggie hamburgers I've ever had, from Morningstar Farms. Wow. If I had my way, I would eat those all the time. They're healthy and tasty.

Around 7, Rudy, Nikki and I headed back. While Rudy and Nikki went back to Georgetown, I went to the Mall to meet up with Katie, Lauren, and some other TFAS people. Robert was about to join us, but he didn't make it to the Mall. He decided to watch from Key Bridge. But the ultimate Washington DC experience was sitting out on the Mall, having blueberries, and kicking back to watch fireworks being launched from the World War II memorial. It felt... well, very American.

I remembered something my dad said to me: "Even though we have that idiot in office, I still love this country." Say what you will about my dad's politics, but coming to Washington DC, despite being in a very conservative newspaper (which will be pointed out in my next blog entry), in a very conservative program, not to mention have seemed to come across practically every Republican I possibly could (I met a guy from the Department of Homeland Security... very creepy), there is something to truly be said about freedom, real, pure freedom. I do not necessarily agree with this administration, but I don't think I have to necessarily agree with them in order to love the freedoms that I have here.

After the fireworks, a whole bunch of us went to Tombs, which is the local bar for Georgetown University. And I must tell you: even with all that's going on in the world, I feel almost proud to be an American.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Reflections of Freedom

Freedom isn't free.

That's how the argument goes for the war in Iraq. Freedom has to have a price paid, has to be worked for, and has to be earned.

They're right. Although not in the way they think they are. The way that they seem to state it, "Freedom isn't free" means that there are lives at the expense of freedom, not of our own, but of others. But if this were the argument, Sudan and Darfur would not be an issue. But that is besides the point. I'm not here to talk politics; I'm here to talk freedom.

In law class, you are taught that freedom of speech is not just for the cases of the speech that you like, but in the speech that you might not. It's out there not only to protect your speech, but the speech of those you might not agree with. It may boil your blood, it may make you scream in horror, but guess what? You also have the freedom to fight back.

In the movie The American President, Michael Douglas' character President Andrew Shepard talks about freedom, saying you have to work for it. Aaron Sorkin wrote for this character to say that when it comes down to freedom of speech, it's not enough for your symbol to be the American flag, but someone burning that flag in protest. It is the speech you might not like, but it is speech. It is saying something, albeit symbolically. Speech is okay as long as it is not causing physical harm to others. But there is the power to fight back.

The bill of rights gives us: freedom of speech, religion, assembly, press and the right to petition our government; the right to arm bears (bear arms); the right to not invade your house; the right to privacy via a search warrant for your house; the right to not incriminate yourself; the right to a speedy, public and fair trial; the right to a trial by jury; no cruel and unusual punishment; not infringing on the rights of people; and to give power to the states. These amendments, including those following it, including the 13, 14, 15, 19. and 26th amendments, gave us more freedom. They gave us the rights to our country. This is our land, and we should act like it.

Infringing on other people's rights is not the business of the government or of others. I know many people, both liberal and conservative, who believe that if you don't believe their way, it's wrong. This is not freedom; this is conformity. Freedom is allowing thoughts and speech that you might not like.

It's important to remember that everyone is entitled to their opinions about certain matters, and you must not isolate or infringe on their rights. The sacrifices you make for freedom are not in blood, but in yourself. You must be able to hold back and to understand. The sacrifice you make is that there is no conformity in this. It is up to every person to decide what's right. If you invade this right, it is tyranny, real tyranny. And this fourth of July, we have to learn to stand up when we feel our rights are being infringed upon. We need to learn how to stand up and say, "No more."

Happy Independence Day, everyone. May it be filled with freedom and joy.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Live 8- Did it actually do anything?

Yesterday, about 150 miles away from Washington DC, hundreds of thousands of people gathered for Live 8's Philadelphia concert. There were ten concerts around the world to help gain awareness about poverty in Africa, about forgiving the debt and giving money to help get Africa into the global market.

Sure, great cause. Poverty is something important to address, and Africa should get involved in trade. But what made Bob Geldoff think that this generation was actually interested in helping others?

Twenty years ago, when Live Aid was broadcasted to the world, we were in a generation not unlike the one we're in now-- one of selfishness, where people aren't so willing to part with their money to help others. Despite tsunami efforts and efforts after 9/11, the fact is that people like their money. It's almost a different state, "Sure, we care, but only for a moment." It's almost like Christmas charity: sure, you give meals and money for the poor because it's "the giving season," but they don't need just money, and they aren't just poor one day a year.

Why not be active more? Be active more than one day a year. If you want to give money to Africa (not sure it's the best idea, because the governments are quite corrupt), then do it more than one day a year. If you want to be good to the poor, don't just do it once, do it often. And if you do care, actually care. Don't pretend that you really do, like MTV does. They care about ratings, not about helping others.

Where do your loyalties lie?