Letters to the Editor

Clicker Ripoff

I couldn’t agree more with Ethan Solomon’s article “Textbook Procurement Issues” in the Sept. 19 issue of The Tech — particularly the point about silly extra clicker devices that the students have to purchase.

Students don’t have any use for them beyond college (that’s part of theory for why we have to buy our own textbooks), but you don’t see a “technology surcharge” on our tuition bill for use of Scantron grading or the projectors in each classroom.

The main reasons students have to buy clickers is 1) to set up some accountability for their care, and 2) as an incentive from the clicker manufacturers for a university to adopt their system. “Hey, the receiver and software is free for you — if you make the students pay for clickers in the bookstore.”

This seemed so backwards to me that I took a leave from MIT after my first year at Sloan to create a clicker competitor — Poll Everywhere — that works over student cell phones via SMS, smartphone web browsers, or laptops. My goal is to make it ten times less expensive per student than clickers, at which point the universities will have no good excuse for making students pay for clickers. Who needs another device for such simple functionality?

On Election 2008: No Bitchassness

I just mailed my registration to vote today, and I have some issues that I wanted to get off my chest before getting back to problem sets.

Initially, I wasn’t going to vote. I was frustrated with the system. By default, our politics and government favor corporations and Israel because they have a big, manipulating hand in the economy. That leaves a widening gap between the rich and poor, a continuing energy crisis, a mass media broadcasting an unbalanced view of the world, and the Middle East always in conflict.

Who knows if democracy is the best form of government? For now, in about 40 days, someone will be elected president, and I want that person to be Barack Obama.

With that said, I have problems with both candidates. McCain wants to continue the war that has killed around 4,000 US troops and 1,000,000 Iraqis since March 2003.

In the words of McCain, “I do not want to keep our troops in Iraq a minute longer than necessary to secure our interests there. Our goal is an Iraq that can stand on its own as a democratic ally and a responsible force for peace in its neighborhood.” In other words, let’s keep killing innocent civilians until we have someone in power that will do whatever the US wants and give us whatever we want (oil) because the US has the right to control Iraq and whoever. If McCain and Bush really want to feel the pain that war causes, they should send their own children to fight the war.

And for all the I-don’t-want-my-taxes-raised republicans, what is the point of tax breaks if the economy is now in the worse deficit in history?

The first thing Obama did once he was nominated was to make a clear statement of his unwavering support for Israel in his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). This is the same Israel that has stripped Palestinians of their homes, violated human rights by creating a 26-foot high apartheid wall in the West Bank (a.k.a. the new Berlin Wall), and commanded a siege in Gaza leaving 1.5 million Palestinian inhabitants without imports, exports, or electricity.

As a leader of change, Obama should be boycotting or planning to employ sanctions on Israel for its terrorism of the Palestinian people. Another concern is the campaign money Obama is receiving from corporations. He will later have to blindly support corporations at the expense of making choices more favorable to working class people who need his support.

So, I realized, like every president, he has to play the game. Nonetheless, unlike McCain and Hillary, Barack voted against the war from the outset. Obama voted against the war at a time when you were unpatriotic to be against the war — right after 9/11. He is a man of some principle.

And for those who feel “who gives a fuck who is president anyway? Presidents come and go, and, to be honest, I always feel like nothing really affects me directly,” think about other people before yourself. If you were worse off, you wouldn’t like it. Is it about we or I?

My big question is this: Bush’s decision to invade Iraq has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths yet every reason for the invasion given publicly has turned out to not to be true. Why did Bush really invade Iraq?

Just to be clear, I love the U.S., and I’m very happy with the life I live here thanks to family and friends. I just want the U.S. to use its influence to better other countries so that more people can live happier. All I’m saying is give peace a chance.