Many students and other members of the MIT community have spent time working in Silicon Valley. While doing so, it is hard not to notice a “startup craze,” a natural product of a city with such a large proportion of entrepreneurs. One often hears (or overhears) questions like, “Do you think my idea is good?” or, “Do you want to be my CTO?” Socializing sometimes feels less like personal interaction than a networking opportunity.
On April 23, France legalized gay marriage. The measure passed 331-224 in the Socialist Party majority Assembly. However, the bill came at the price of the signers’ safety. The day before the vote, Claude Bartolone, the head of France’s National Assembly, received an envelope sealed with gunpowder and a death-threat letter, signed by the right-wing group of France, Interaction des forces de l’ordre.
On Saturday morning, the entire MIT community was warned: “There was a person with a long rifle and body armor in the Main Group Building of MIT.” Minutes later, emails sent by RLADs, friends, and family members were less measured: “GUNMAN, STAY INSIDE!”, “Are you okay? Are you okay? Answer me!” Students stayed in, parents called in, and SWAT teams and news crews assembled.
In 1996, Bill Clinton enacted the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DoMA), which federally denies the recognition of legal marriages between same-sex partners. But currently, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, District of Columbia, Maryland, Washington, and Maine, recognize gay marriage, directly contradicting DoMA, and challenging its constitutionality. Since 1996, state-by-state, a social injustice is being corrected; gay people and their allies everywhere are fighting for the legalization of gay marriage, and the 1,138 rights that come with them. With the coming event of the Supreme Court’s hearing of DoMA, gay people may finally marry their partners, and claim first-class status in a country that prides itself in allowing life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
In 2010, back in my home, New York, I worked with a local grassroots organization to advocate for legalizing same-sex marriage. My organization and I went up to Albany to speak with legislators personally, worked to rally protestors in the suburban and conservative towns of New York, and took every opportunity we had to educate strangers about what the legalization of marriage of a man with a man, and a woman with a woman, meant.
On March 25, Leung Chun-Yin (梁振英) was elected as the fourth-term Chief Executive of Hong Kong by a 1,200 member committee of academics and businesspersons. Leung, former convenor of the Non-Official Members of the Executive Council, won 689 votes. The competitors, Henry Tang (唐英年), former chief secretary of the city government, and Albert Ho (何俊仁), a lawmaker, garnered 285 votes and 76 votes respectively. But the public approval for Leung is an all-time low (popularity ratings are below 35 percent), and allegations made against Leung’s background are surfacing more and more (he was part of the Communist Party, etc.). His victory raises the question for the seven million concerned citizens of Hong Kong, what is on Leung’s agenda?
On March 11, Robert Bales, a 38 year old US soldier, was charged with 17 counts of murder for the deaths of 17 Afghans: nine children, three women, and four men, in the village of Balandi and Alkozai near Camp Belamby. Bales is currently being held in a maximum-security military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he will be tried for his counts of murders and other violations in an Article 32 Hearing. He will likely receive a lifetime prison sentence.
I’m glad to see that none of the critics took the recently released movie, Machine-Gun Preacher, seriously. The premise of the movie is, “You may not fear God, but you best fear Sam Childers.” Sam Childers, played by Gerard Butler, is the ex-con turned missionary turned warrior-of-God, finding himself in war-torn Sudan, saving orphans from warlords by gunning them down with AK-47s, Rambo-style. Had the director been Sylvester Stallone, or even Quentin Tarantino, I’d know what to expect: an action-packed movie of odd with crazy wrapped in great. But Machine-Gun Preacher takes itself seriously in its mission to save African children, unfortunately, through the eyes of a Spartan muscleman. The movie’s contexts of somber Sudan, and style of Yosemite Sam-showdown, disagree, making the film a recipe for a wreck.
Who’s Kim Kardashian? I’ve been seeing her name everywhere. Over internet posts and magazine spreads, headlines read, “Kim Kardashian’s Divorce — TMZ.” I did not know that this person was getting divorced. In fact, I hadn’t known that this person was married, either. Another celebrity married-in-a-heartbeat-then-divorced-just-as-fast. In other words, publicity-publicity-publicity-publicity.
On Sunday, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia announced the enfranchisement of women to vote, run for local office, and serve on the Shura Council — the king’s advisory board. Such sweeping reforms for women are groundbreaking for the ultraconservative country.
Having grown up in New York City, I follow the New York Times religiously. Nowadays, I don’t follow the local news (though interestingly chaotic), but rather opinion articles from columnists and bloggers. Recently, a piece caught my eye: “If I Were President” by Jesse Kornbluth. His work drew professors, C.E.Os, astrophysicists, and experts from all over, to answer: “What would you do if you were president?”
China has been compared to many things stereotypical: “a fiery dragon waking from its long sleep,” “a skyward-reaching bamboo growing towards prosperity,” and “a fortune cookie telling an everlasting fortune.” Okay — maybe I made up the last one. But many economists speculate too often that China’s market is on a meteoric rise. Although this prediction may be true, the recent debt debates blowing across Capitol Hill have presented themselves as a Great Wall for China.
Former President Jimmy Carter recently made a three-day visit to assess North Korea’s continuing food shortage. He returned charging the U.S. with worsening the shortage by withholding food aid to millions in North Korea. Carter sees this situation as a human rights violation. Understandably, the former president would not want any person to starve. Unfortunately, many critics want to keep economic sanctions in place and food shipments minimal. They believe that repressive governments such as North Korea’s should not be given aid. But peanutman Jimmy Carter sees it in a different light; millions should not have to suffer for the North Korean government’s actions.
CPW is a time for celebration, confetti, and cake. As a prefrosh, you will be welcomed with hundreds of MIT events that will entertain, pamper and feed you. I guarantee that you will overbook yourself. You will scratch your head deciding which event to attend. You will wish you could be at two places at once, maybe three, or even four. At night, you will party (dry) on Baker’s rooftop with newly-made friends drinking (unmixed) Monsters. Then you will sleep with your body fatigued but your mind restless. Your day will have gone by in a split second.
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) does not simply disallow gay soldiers from serving — it marginalizes gays. Keeping this antiquated law is to continue institutionalizing discrimination within the military. Since 1941, the U.S. has discharged more than 110,000 soldiers for being gay. Since Obama took office, the U.S. has discharged more than 13,000 troops under DADT. We are firing good soldiers who have put their lives on the line to protect our country. We have lost our men and women not to war, but to our own bigotry. Thankfully, times are changing, because recent studies have shown that service members think positively of the repeal of DADT. At long last, openly gay service members are able to pridefully serve their country in a military capacity.
Last week on Grey’s Anatomy, the doctors danced once again with the dangers of love and death. Dr. McSteamy took his wife, Dr. Grey, out of Alzheimer’s clinical trials because he wanted his love-life and work separate. Meanwhile, in a quadruple bypass surgery, Dr. Bailey was live-tweeting. Dr. Webber, Chief of Surgery, scolded Bailey for being unprofessional. Bailey defended herself by pointing out how the tweeting would allow outside medical students to follow a surgery uncommonly witnessed, and she exited with lips pouting. Later, in another complicated surgery, witty banter and schoolyard-winks over the operating table turned quickly — as they often do — to flatline-beeps and spontaneous hemorrhaging. The patient needed a transfusion within three hours. The team had looks of despair until tweets from a nearby hospital announced they had the transfusion. The operation was eventually successful, and Dr. Webber overcame his distaste for Twitter, embracing it as a hand-in-hand tool for surgery.
Last week, I woke up with the right side of my face paralyzed. When I used some mouthwash, the right corner of my lip quivered, dripping liquid. Then I wiggled my ears (because I can): only the left ear wiggled. I looked into the mirror, and laughed at seeing my face with unmatched expressions. Then it wasn’t so funny anymore.
SATURDAY, NOV. 6: President Obama arrives in Mumbai, India. Down the Air Force One jet ladders, he and his wife wave and smile. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greets the president and first lady. Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan gives Obama a memento, Michelle a bouquet. Hands shake hands. Obama and his wife are led to the Taj Hotel where they will stay the first day of the ten-day visit in Asia.
The political stage has been tarnished, and the politicians greased up by the yearlong mudslinging. Mean words have been exchanged. Feelings were hurt. Losers will go home crying. This is better than ESPN — this is politics at its dirtiest. Incumbent Democratic Senator Harry Reid will face off against the menacing newcomer Republican and Tea Partier Sharron Angle in the upcoming Nevada Senate race.