NY’s Gubernatorial Debate Attended By a NJ Citizen

Cornell just hosted the New York Gubernatorial debate on Tuesday. The two politicians running are Republican John Faso and Democrat and Attorney General of New York Elliot Spitzer. Now if you have read any part of my blog you’d know who’d I’d vote for…if I were a citizen of New York. However, I must give my respect to Faso who did well in giving facts, answering the questions, and ignoring the hissing, booing, and Bronx cheers of the strongly democratic crowd. To go along with the last part of the parallelism I just used, is it really necessary for people to boo and hiss and moan? Listen, I don’t really need to hear your opinion, I already see your Spitzer-Paterson label that you’ve stuck to your chest. Let me just listen to the candidate. The Faso contingent also cheered and interrupted the debate, but to credit them it was only after half the room just bood Faso’s education policy or was it his tax cut policy… oh wait I couldn’t hear him because they already were sounding like they were dying even before he finished his sentence. We’re not the ancient Romans who give a thumbs up or down to dictate the fate of a person. Be civilized let the men (in the case of the Governor’s debate, i’m not sexist) talk and keep your opinions and grunts to yourself.

Keith Olbermann, What a Great Cornell Grad!

Many of you may have heard or seen Bill Clinton’s interview with Fox News reporter Chris Wallace. After Clinton spoke I felt like saying to Wallace and Fox News and Bush and anyone who could hear me, ” Yah that’s how I’ve felt for 4 years now!” And then Keith Olbermann (Cornell grad of Communications) comes along last night on his show “Countdown”, which was after Condoleeza Rice tried to defend Bush and his cabinet (which she is a part of) for their decisions or lack there of that they made prior to 9/11, and did a segment called Special Comment which afterwards I felt like standing up and applauding and yelling out, ”If John Kerry would’ve said that, he’d be president!” Tip of the Hat (as Stephen Colbert would say) to Keith Olbermann. Here is the link for anyone who would like to watch the clip: http://www.crooksandliars.com/2006/09/25/olbermanns-special-comment-are-yours-the-actions-of-a-true-american

As the great journalist Edward R. Murrow used to say, “Good night and good luck.”

The 3rd Tier of Sports at Cornell

If you ever have or will go on one of my tours you already know or will know that the 3rd tier of sports at Cornell is intramural sports. If you enjoy watching and/or playing a sport(s) you will thouroughly enjoy this activity. It’s friendly competition. You don’t even have to know how to play the sport to be on a team. If you love watching baseball but have never played it in you entire life go out and join an intramural baseball team, you won’t be the only one. It’s grrrreat! The games are taken seriously while you’re playing it, but in the end it’s all for fun. Don’t get me wrong you’re playing to win the championship or as Herman Edwards (coach of the Kansas City Chiefs) says, “You play to win the game.” But in the end you’re all smiles win or lose and this is coming from a very competitive person.

I play soccer and flag football in the fall, hopefully bowling in the winter, and softball in the spring. Us tour guides, captained by Nick Bannin, just completed our third soccer game today. We lost 3-2 and usually I’d be kicking myslef for the entire night after giving up the final goal but with intramural sports and a giddy team as the tour guides are (credit Nick) I only kicked myself in my mind for a couple of minutes. Just for relativity that’s a great accomplishment.

A Devout “Liberal” Catholic Speaks

Before I begin I must explain that I felt the need to put liberal in front of Catholic to dispel the quick assumptions that just because one is devout towards a Christian religion doesn’t mean he/she is from the bible belt or votes Republican or follows religious zealots such as Pat Robertson or believes Christian religions are superior or necessarily wants to ban gay marriage or stem cell research, or even abortion. You are more than welcome to ask what my views are on these topics and I will be more than happy to answer you and explain my logic behind my decision on each of them. I believe if it weren’t for the hard-core conservative Christian right (which the Republican party manipulates) I would not even need to make this statement. But that is not the case.

This past weekend, as many of you know, the Pope made a visit to his home country of Germany where he spoke to a crowd mostly consisting of people in the academia profession. In that speech there was one specific comment that rightfully incited many Muslims. When I read the news articles I sat in front of my laptop in disbelief. I couldn’t believe he said that. I know Benedict is no John Paul II, but I thought his goal was to continue to reach out to other religions, make lasting connections for peace. Even his apology did not directly state his sorrow for making the comment but rather the reaction that followed. The speech the Pope made was an opinionated, convince speech (the term I learned from my oral communications class) not an inform speech. He had no neutrality in his speech and therefore cannot take a neutral position on that quote. Although he cited the quote as taken from an emperor, since it is a convince speech, unless he disagrees with or refutes the quote in his speech, it is one that he supports.  On the other hand, it does not help the invalidity of his claim that Mohammed preached violence when, as a reaction to what the Pope said, cloth dummies of the Pope are being burned by Muslims, 4 churches were fire bombed by Muslims, and a nun was killed by Muslims. I AM NOT DEFENDING WHAT THE POPE SAID, BUT THE EVENTS MENTIONED ABOVE DO NOT HELP IN REBUFFING THE STATEMENT FROM THE POPE.

On an aside, I would like to say that the day after the speech was delivered (Sunday) I went to church and the first sentence that came out of the priest’s mouth during the sermon was about what happened. I was pleased to see this problem was not brushed under the rug, and the priest certainly did not support what was said; rather he hoped these wounds could be healed. There are two active Catholic priests at Cornell, both of whom I consider to be progressive and universally understanding about all the differences among people whether that be sexuality, race, or religious preferences. I am happy that these two priests have a more realistic world view and compliment them on what they preach. It would be a problem if they didn’t since they are sharing a building with religious leaders from the 21 other different religions represented at Cornell.

Slavery in Haiti

I live in Becker House and staying last night as a guest visitor was Jean-Robert Cadet, a professor from Northern Kentucky University. What lies underneath this man’s academic intellectual persona is a unique, unforgettable experience culminating in a “pull yourself up with your own bootstraps” ending that no one living here (America) would ever even think about. In fact no one living here even knows it exists.

Cadet was a child slave in Haiti known as a “restavec”. Restavecs number about 250,000 in Haiti and their formal “job description” is basically a child living with an adoptive family who “gives” them room and board and an education along with clothes. In return the child is expected to do the daily chores and other such routines. Problem is most families take advantage of these children (who were given away by their financially poor parents in an attempt to give them a better life) to the point of abuse. These children younger than anyone reading this blog, even if you’re a freshman in high school, are basically captives to serving their masters (legally called a family). What was most moving was that as a resident of Becker, Cadet offered to eat dinner with anyone who chose to sit by him. It’s a reality check when you’re sitting next to a person who has become a distinguished professor but started out as a child slave in Haiti and then was abandoned on the streets of New York City when his “family” moved to America and was told they would have to allow him to go to school.

Monday Morning Quarterback

So I was asked to talk about our intramural soccer game by fellow tour guide Nick; but since we forfeited (none of the girls showed up which is a problem in a co-ed league) that wouldn’t make for much of a post. So instead I am here sitting in front of my laptop upset because the Giants lost.

Looking back, a bright spot this week, besides the Skorton innauguration and seeing my friends Cesar and Josh (freshman year roommate), was the start of my intermediate bowling class, not only becasue the coach actually helps you to improve your average (mine increased over 50 points thanks to beginners bowling), but because I am taking it with two other friends, Dani and Ryan, both of whom I don’t live with anymore since the conclusion of freshman year put us on different paths. Nonetheless, it is fun to take a gym class with them. After the 1 and a half hour class we eat dinner up at Appel on North Campus, which is where freshmen live, and joke about the class of 2010 and analyze our freshman year which all three of us enjoyed. Although, I must say, every time I step foot on North Campus I feel like wearing a sign that says, “I’m not a freshman anymore.”

David Skorton is the Man

The 12th president that Cornell has ever seen was innaugurated into office yesterday and I was priveledged enough to see the second half of the ceremony (I had class for the first hour). The second part was the most important since that included the president’s speech. I have never met President Skorton personally (hopefully I get to) but from the actions he has taken (divesting funds from Sudan due to the current genocide) to interacting with students (living in a freshman residence hall, playing in the pep band) he has proven to me his devotion to lead Cornell to the top.

His speech, while long (over an hour), was a preview for what is to come. He included all groups on campus from engineers to actors, from Jews to Buddhists, from the reserved to the assertive. All these groups were part of a dance, which all had a key part in performing. Basically, everyone in their own way makes Cornell, and on the larger scale, the world turn. But what made this speech memorable to me was his statement and consciousness of the fact that the diversity that is embraced on this campus is what leads to the chaos in the world we see today. President Skorton, I’m looking forward to the next three years of my Cornell career.

PAM 200: Intermediate Microeconomics

I’m taking four courses this semester (the one mentioned in the title, Campaigns and Elections, Oral Communication, and Social Welfare as a Social Policy) all of which I find interesting. However, one class I find more intriguing than the rest is Intermediate Micro. For those of you interested in or wondering about what Policy Analysis and Management is, this course is a great example. It takes principles learned in Intro to Microecon and applies them to real world issues like the paradox of housing subisdies (aka governemnt grants), why the old welfare system didn’t work, the medicare/medicaid problem, and the unsuccessfulness/inequality of other social programs like social security, public schooling, etc. I’ve gone through high school wondering why I ever need to know what they’re teaching me and it’s classes like these that actually apply the principles to real life…and I go ahhh, that’s why. What’s equally great about this course is the professor, Bill Rosen. He brings his dog, a golden retriever named Buddy, to class every day, sucks on a lollipop, encourages students to ask questions and particpate. These characteristics, along with others brings him closer to the students. It’s like I’m in a class of 15 when there’s actually over 100 students in the lecture. Of course I guess it helps to be sitting in one of the front 4 rows and paying attention. But I personally think me praising the course is due just as much to the professor’s effort and ability to teach as it is to me being interested in the topics discussed.

A side note for prospective Policy Analysis and Management majors: a total of about 1-3 courses were added as required to be taken in order to graduate. That comes to about 3-8 credits that can’t be used for electives (courses out side of the HumEc College) unless you are willing to take more than the required 120 credits needed to graduate. Normally, you would take about 15 credits a semester to fulfill the 120. If you’d like to take extra electives your total would come to around 18 credits a semester (but not every semester, just 2 or 3) which is do-able but difficult.