Like thousands of others across this nation, I sit here tonight to deliver a ceremonial rant on the state of the nation on the eve of the first great battle between the two contenders for the title of President of the United States. Without paying attention to the substance of their meaning, Kerry comes across as more well-spoken and forceful, while the incoherent mumblings and repeated enunciations of buzzwords from President Bush evoked a sense of confusion in the Republican camp. As a Kerry supporter, I do admit I have a definite bias in preference. I prefer Kerry’s message. I prefer to commit to bilateral talks with North Korea to limit their nuclear proliferation, and not with Bush’s multi-nation effort. I agree with the need for new blood to replenish our foreign ties, and not with Bush’s “usage” of diplomacy. I agree that entering the war in Iraq under the outlined pretenses was wrong, but now that we are there, that we should continue to support the soldiers who were there – if for nothing else, but to leave the country a little better than it was. However, the Republicans did score points somewhat passively in the debate by letting Kerry trip himself up. To the average viewer, Kerry’s pronouncements on Iraq during the debate are confusing and seem to echo Bush’s constant cries of “changing position.” But it is indelibly printed on all viewers that only one of the candidates emerged with his dignity more or less intact. I leave the rest to our future history.
I guess some updates are in order. I am taking a class with Kathleen Hall Jamieson now, on an introduction to Political Communication. By studying political ads, media biases and persuasion techniques and analysis during an election year, I hope to make myself a more knowledgeable, articulate and aware viewer. Perhpas the goal of Communications is to make the individual more aware of how there are constant attempts to manipulate him (or her). Like most people, I am content to be manipulated – but it is sure nice to know exactly how I am.
I don’t need to buy the books; Caroline has graciously provided me with all of them, and refused offers of investing (“think of it as both our books,” she says), and I feel incredibly guilty. Hopefully she reads this and becomes AWARE of this. Megumi, her roommate, is a Japanese exchange student who I’ve found to be a little clueless but ultimately really nice. Austin is a good guy – his dad or uncle or some relative was ambassador to Singapore and he apparently saw us when we performed at the Esplanades. His roommate (I forget his name) makes a ridiculous effort to be friendly, even to the point of re-introducing himself several times. Felicity is a great RA – really a Faculty Fellow who has a hilarious dog and has hilarious parties with her crepe-maker and cameo on the Michael Moore show and British oddities. Val, the VPUL, lives on our floor and is so generous with her laughter and her promises of secret hall hush money. I really felt like introducing some of these people. Seventh floor is actually pretty hot stuff.
I met a Bulgarian yesterday, by the name of Valentina. Apparently, she’s this crazy music lover that loves to listen to the piano and can sing pretty well. So instead of heading to coffee – I end up getting sidetracked and spending two hours playing ditties and trying to remember the second halves of all these random songs that we both knew only like two lines of lyrics for. It was great. There was also this other freshman – Carol – that works at Pod already. She gave me some chicken from Pod. I seemed to think it was all Japanese, but apparently it’s a little more pan-Asian than I thought. Oops.
I’m taking History 001 with Safley. He’s a funny guy, soaring into class with his ponytail and Oakleys and giving a tightly focused lecture on the Oikos, Roman slaves, Germanic invaders, the feodum relationship, during the two one-hour lectures we have every week. There’s this girl in the class that I facebooked her a while back thinking she was this other girl with the same last name. They looked a little similar, but not really. I messaged her later, apologizing for the mistake though God knows I should have kept my mouth shut, and there she is in class. No problem.
I’m jealous. Brenna’s heading on a trip to Ireland in November – and I really, really want to go. I had a little issue with her going alone and driving around County Cork with her past history. Thank goodness it’ll be too expensive as she’s still under 25, and it’s a pain in the ass to rent a car out before that age. So instead, she’ll do a lot of biking in the prisinte, rainy wilderness of Ireland. A little better, but I’m still worried. There, I said it.
Ooh, and we’re going on retreat this weekend. All the Old Men and the New Men get to powwow in the woods while it rains and we can do Never Have I Ever and sing crazy songs to the whirling wind out there in the boonies. We’re not eating at the Cock and Bull – which happens to be a block from where one of my friends live (yeah, Julie). Bastards are booked up and so we’re going somewhere else. And prices got raised to $75. Ugh. Neha’s going, which will be cool, and I get to chill with some of the other guys there. And if I’m correct, that certain somebody is NOT going. Yes! Too bad Assad ain’t around, it would have been a good time. Now there’s no one to double team with to ridicule Steve for his extreme age.
Restaurant Week has been so amazing. Last week I went to AOI and got so stuffed I could barely walk home. It was the all-you-can-eat and I had at least 50 points, though I think I ate much too quick. I should have done the frat-boy thing and ride it out slowly, trying to get past that golden apex of 70 points. I probably would have been carted home in a wheelbarrow. But that was only the appetizer to Restaurant Week. Entree came with dinner at Angelina’s on that freaking Tuesday when it rained so hard that everything drowned (almost) and my umbrella got broke and the wind then fixed it back. The place was decorated real nice – with red patterning all over the walls, Mona Lisa on the lamps, great big Renaissance painting hanging the wall, a good glass of wine and chicken and tiramisu that almost killed me, they were so good. And for $30, on the prix fixe menu. The tiramisu…. oh god. We were the last people (Sourabh, Julie, Paul, Jame and I) there at 11:30 and the rain was still pouring and we still got back in time for brownie bar at Becky’s place. Becky is this funny vegan who likes her tea and is not so good at baking. But I admire her efforts. She is good at making people interested in weird art, country music and getting their hair dyed. Dessert was early dinner at Patou tonight. This is a French place that looks small from the front, but the inside is really wonderfully decorated. Cafe style in the front with cushions and low tables, and in the back, more romantic table settings in an airy room with ceiling extremely high, and cloth set like sails around the walls. Almost like we were by the sea. I ordered the mussels with tomato and some sort of white wine (it was a good wine too, I could taste it); a lamb shank that fell off the bone, it was so tender; and a wonderful custard to finish it off. A good bottle of wine, while I listened to Melody discoursing on food and Steve shouting about politics and walking back to campus in the mid-dark and looking at old houses on Spruce St. and passing by the Kramer apartments and St. James Place, that little alley with beautiful houses in the English style that neither of them had seen before.
I like to think that what I write makes a difference… and I think it has. My stories are distributed across U-Wire, education networks, link sites (like Fark), technology websites, mentioned in a few blogs, criticized and complimented by students and praised by Penn administration. I don’t like writing a completely event-based story – I like filling in the big picture for everyone. That’s how a tip on electronic voting machines turns into an analysis of election reform across the country, a nanotech grant becomes an exposure on all of Penn nanotech, online auctions become national trend descriptors, a Cereal restaurant becomes a novel business plan to be studied, a quiet technology development becomes the university’s most important contribution, a Google IPO becomes a critique of the institution (subtly). Well-researched, that’s me. Hopefully well-written. Look for it at www.dailypennsylvanian.com, and let me know how it goes.