Category Archives: Back at Cornell for Fall Semester ’06

The State of the Union

I offered this post to a Republican friend of mine; he politely declined the offer of writing his response to the State of the Union Address. I am saying this just to make sure that you know I do try to provide the opinions of both sides of the aisle.

Of all the Bush State of the Union addresses I have heard, this one has been most tolerable. Maybe that’s because he had a new speech writer, maybe because there’s a Democratic majority, maybe (but not likely) Bush has become humbled by his defeat during the mid-terms. The first female Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi might have had an effect. Maybe, just maybe, Bush is trying to become more bipartisan…not likely though. Improved healthcare (he stopped short of universal healthcare) by way of tax cuts…hmmm don’t know about that. Researching and funding alternative sources of energy to improve the American economy…nice way of putting the environment in Republican terms. Adding 20,000+ troops so troop levels would rise to original Iraq invasion and post-”Mission Accomplished” sign levels and then expecting things to magically change…obviously this President went to Yale and got a 2.0 gpa (and that’s Yale, which means grade inflation). Maybe we will actually elect a President who earned his bachelors in 2008.

What was much more impressive was Jim Webb’s Democratic Party response to the President’s speech. I was amazed after he finished talking. There was much passion, yet much diplomacy. He presented his way firmly yet respectably. Webb mentioned what the Democrats have done during their first 42 days as the majority party and what they plan to do. Anyone who says the Democrats have no plan probably gets their information from the Fox News Channel. What made his response even more fascinating and professional was that he wrote it himself. Hopefully, Webb represents the new wave of Democrats coming to Washington. The ones who won’t back down to the President when he says ridiculous stuff like performing air strikes against Iran.

The Word by Miss Kristi LaBeau

So, when I was talking to Alex about his blog, I mentioned that it
would be fun to write an entry.  Of course, in saying this I didn’t
think he would take me seriously! Then I find a lovely introduction
on his blog! (Thanks Alex!)  So now I have no choice!  I’ve been
thinking about what to write about for the past week while I drift
off into space because I can’t look at one more present value of an
annuity or another balanced chem equation.

Over the past week the libraries have been full to capacity because
of finals.  I finished my exams on Monday night. (Thank goodness
that’s over!)  And although I’m done and fully welcome the coming
winter break, I will be so ready to come back in January.

Our break here at Cornell is longer than most other colleges.  A
whole six weeks!  Winter break is the best break in my opinion.
It’s long enough to do anything you want, or absolutely nothing:
take a long trip, catch up with friends, or watch every episode of
Grey’s Anatomy that you’ve missed over the last semester.  But,
it’s also the best because there isn’t all the pressure to get an
internship or an official job, unlike summer break.  Why might you
ask? Because there are only 6 weeks!

After these six weeks are up, I know I will be ready to get back to
Cornell.  While it will be nice to get in bed at a normal time and
watch my episodes of Grey’s, I am sure going to miss Cornell!

A Change in Voice

The post after this current one you are reading will be written by a close friend (and tour guide), Kristi LaBeau. Her last name means “the beautiful” in French and she is. No children, I wasn’t hitting on her, just merely stating the obivous. Just thought I’d throw that out there. Geesh.

Why have someone else write one of your blogs you ask? Well because I feel like it. And like all great anchors and commentators, I give myself a vacation. In this case of one post. Kristi will be a breadth of fresh air. She in fact is very opposite to me. Besides the fact we’re both Catholic there’s actually not much similar to us. She’s shorter than me, has blonde hair, is the oldest sibling, is an AEM (Applied Economics and Management fancy for business) major in the Agg school (which also means she gets to learn how to hoe), and she likes Bill O’Reilly which means she’s a Republican…uggh.

The opinions she expresses do not necessarily express the views of this blogger. However, if she pulls an Ann Coulter, blame me.

Good luck Kristi, have fun, enjoy!

On a complete side note, can Fox News Channel get any more homophobic by saying that the movie Happy Feet promotes the gay lifestyle. First of all, if the penguin is gay who cares. Second of all, its a movie about a penguin that can dance! ARE YOU SERIOUS!

The Counter

Every night on Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann, Olbermann finishes his episodes with a sign off similar to the one Edward R. Murrow made during the McCarthy scare and the Cold War. Olbermann says, “It’s been [number of days here] since the President’s declaration of Mission Accomplished. Good night and good luck.”

I was fortunate enough to go to the hockey game on Saturday since a friend of mine gave me his ticket. After witnessing two people in front of me (mind you I’m in row 6 so there aren’t that many people in front of me) get kicked out and therefore have their season tickets revoked for saying the a-word, the Detroit Lions of curse words, I decided I would make a little sign off slogan of my own. It would resemble something like “After 8 Cornell hockey games, two people from my section have been kicked out and season tickets taken away. Good night and good luck.” Then I realized that I was one of them (I got kicked out in the first game) so the number would be at least 3. Then I would also have to count those who were kicked out at the games that I couldn’t go to, which has been about 5 or six because they took away my season tickets and apparently according to three different friends six people were kicked out from our section alone in the game on Friday (so I’ve missed alot of people getting the boot). Then I would have to consider those that will get kicked out in the next 12 or so games since everyone knows neither the university nor the students are going to concede even though we both know which one is taking the tyrannical position.  Then finally I would have to take into account those that aren’t in my section who have received the ax and the confiscation of their season tickets. All in total that would be a lot of people that I would have to add up and I wouldn’t even be there to witness it. Therefore, to make it easier:

After the 10th Cornell hockey home game ALOT of Cornell students have been kicked out. I wouldn’t know how many since I was one of them. By the end of the season the entire student section will be missing and only the townies will be left. Oh wait some of the townies do the chants also. Well in that case half of the townies will be left by the end of the season.

Good night and good luck.

A Shimon Peres Experience

Cornell University was fortunate enough to have Shimon Peres, former prime minister of Israel, Nobel Peace prize winner, and a current senior statesman of Israel, talk on campus. The experience of sitting in front of such a prominent politician was amazing in and of itself. Add to that, the well-organized, methodical speech he gave and the well thought out responses to questions asked by the student body and this was a public presentation from which our President could take a lesson. It was nice to hear about viable solutions to the problem in the Middle East like using technology, wanting a peaceful Lebanon, and the difference between Israel and Iran (when/if they make one) having nuclear weapons. His reason was Israel has never and will never threaten anyone with them. They are there as a deterrence. There were two responses by Peres I was disappointed with. One was to a question by an Israeli native who has a Lebanese friend and asked Peres what he can say to his friend when Lebanese kids can’t go out and play in their backyard at the risk of being accidentally killed by Israeli soldiers and simply because they can’t due to the “occupation” (for the lack of a better word) in their area. Peres’ answer to that was basically it’s part of the conflict and Hezbollah should carry just as much of the blame, though he did say it in a more scholarly fashion. The other disappointment was to a response of his to a question that asked what Israel is doing to fix the damages done by the unintended consequences and damages of its bombing and its excursion into Lebanon. Peres simply said that unintended consequences are an unfortunate part of war. In my opinion, if you’re the civilized government you fix or at least put a band-aid on the problems that are affecting innocent people.

Embarrassed to call myself a Giants fan (hopefully just for this week)

I sat in my Giants foldable chair stunned in disbelief. I had rushed my parents in getting me back to Cornell before 4:15pm on Sunday after my Thanksgiving break so I could watch the Giants play the Titans only to wind up extremely depressed for the entire night after the Giants blew a 21 point lead, giving up 24 points in the last 10 minutes of the 4th quarter. How did they lose? How could it happen? Eli Manning seems to get worse after the 8th game of every season. Plaxico Burress needs to take a page out of Reggie Wayne and Donald Driver’s book and actually make an effort at tackling someone after the ball is intercepted. This loss reminded me of the torture of uncertainty that came to define the Jim Fassel era. Coughlin, since 2004 when he took control of the Giants, to me has always been a coach whose teams never broke down or fell apart. They played well through the entire game. You expected Fassel teams to lose in the 4th quarter after holding a lead because that’s how it was for the seven years of his coaching tenure. Coughlin’s Giants always played their best in the fourth quarter…until this season. The Eagles game way back in the second week of the season is forgotten. During these last three games it’s like Jim Fassel is coach again. And that is torture.

Downfall of Cornell Hockey (Not the team…the atmosphere)

Cornell hockey is the equivalent of Michigan football, Indiana basketball, Cal St. Fullerton baseball. It is the premiere sport on campus, all the students know about it and how the team is doing even if they hate the sport of hockey. The Cornell-Harvard game brings out the same intensity as that of a Oklahoma-Texas football game (otherwise known as the Red River Shootout). If you read the Sunday NY Times sports section a couple weeks ago you would have seen a half page article  on the rivalry and the 25-year plus tradition of throwing fish (specifically haddock) on the ice when Harvard comes to Ithaca. The Lynah Faithful, the nickname for those who attend Cornell hockey games, have been so spirited for their team that last year’s Sports Illustrated issue that previewed college hockey ranked Lynah Rink (Cornell’s home arena) as the toughest place to play for visiting teams. There are many reasons for this: the small 3000+ seat arena, the dedicated “townies”, and of course the student body who fills half of the stands. The student section is known for their unified chants that never end for the entire game, two of which involve curse words. Despite an increase of 100% for the cost of hockey season tickets the rink is still sold out for the season and students still camp out for a weekend to get tickets.

Unfortunately our dedication is being punished not rewarded. Fans are now in fear of being kicked out of games and having their tickets revoked for the entire season simply for cursing. What’s worse, when good (if students who curse are considered bad) students abide by demands and don’t curse for those two chants but rather use alternative phrases like “rough em up” they are still kicked out because the ushers thought they heard a word that sounds similar to rough. Then when you try to deny it they bring in a police officer which makes the scene all the more intimidating and if you continue to deny the false charge they will write you up for lying/resisting arrest. Now students attend games in fear of saying anything when anything happens. I guess on the bright side at least we’re not getting tasered. To add to that, at this year’s Cornell-Harvard game ushers and officers did a pat down of everyone who attended the game to make sure they didn’t have fish to throw on the ice. Nice way of trying to kill a more than two decade old tradition, Gene Nighman. That’s like Florida State University banning the Seminole mascot and the horse from running across the field and sticking a spear in the ground at the 50-yard line. A tip of the hat goes to the handful of students that somehow snuck the fish into the rink and threw them on the ice. Never let The Man repress you. I guess what bothers me the most is that this is hockey. First off, whatever sport athletes curse and trash talk on the playing field all the time. In hockey, part of the game is violence. Let’s not joke ourselves, the physicality on the ice and especially the fights are not conflicts that would go unpunished on the streets. I could understand if this was golf or figure skating. It’s not part of the game to trash talk or try to intimidate. But this is hockey. Hockey is physical, just as much as football. The sport itself promotes excitement and rambunctiousness. If you’re going to pad us down like we’re on line waiting to be incarcerated or take away our tickets for the entire season Mr. Nighman, you might as well take checking out of hockey. Or better yet suspend the players for the entire season every time they curse on the ice or get two minutes for roughing.

A Little Bit About Food

I’ve realized I’ve neglected mentioning about Cornell food, maybe because I have it everyday and it’s easy to lose your appreciation for it, sort of like when you live at home and have home cooking then leave for college and love the food your parents make when you come back (not that you didn’t love it before, you just didn’t appreciate it as much). Anyway, last night a couple of friends and I ate at a dining hall on West Campus. That night’s theme was Hawaiian Luau. All the food cooked was prepared as best as the chefs possibly could to Hawaiian cuisine. And it was great. Now I’m a big seafood guy and they had fresh, raw salmon mixed with tomatoes in a salad, seafood chowder, shrimp (they actually still had their heads on them when they were served! Awesome!), lemon crusted chicken, pork, mahi mahi, duck with salad, and a whole pig like you see in the cartoons. They had these great desserts too including pineapple cake and real whole coconuts. There was also Hawaiian pizza even though that’s not Hawaiian at all. But all in all the food was great and is always great. Once a semester they also bring in chefs who have popular restaurants across the country. It’s awesome! The program is called Cross-country Gourmet. Last thing, just to throw out a fact: based on the 2006 Princeton Review Cornell food is ranked 4th in the nation, something to gnaw on while you wait for that turkey this Thursday or tofurkey if you’re vegetarian.

Football’s Back in NJ

Being from New Jersey I’m having a hard time not talking about Rutgers football, especially on this blog. Now I know I go to Cornell  (and I must say, the wins that Cornell has have been very impressive, but they’re not ranked in DI-AA football) but no one can escape their hometown pride, especially when The State University of New Jersey is only 40 minutes away from my house and my sister went to grad school there. Rutgers has been a joke to everyone who loves college football, and no one in NJ ever wanted to be spotted wearing a scarlet hat that had an R on it. Many people I know here didn’t even know where Rutgers was before I shoved their face in front of a computer and showed them on google maps where the 3 Rutgers’ campuses are. (One is in Camden, most dangerous city in the nation according to one of those scholarly reports.) Disrespect to NJ is not allowed, anywhere. Especially in front of me.

Big Blue

In this context at this point of the week big blue has two meanings. 1. The anticipation of what could be the biggest football game yet when the Giants host the Bears in the swamps of the Meadowlands. Hopefully a win will come out of it. I’ve been wearing my Giants hat everyday this week. So far this season they’re 6-1 when I’ve worn the hat at least once during the week.

The second meaning is a direct result of election day. I clapped when they called Missouri and Montana and then danced the next day when they called Virginia and said they didn’t even need a recount. Tester in for Burns…$500, Webb in for Allen…$1100, Casey in for Santorum, $2200, seeing Rumsfeld resigning and Cheney wiping that annoying smirk off his face…priceless. Gone is the agony from 2004…at least for now.