Category Archives: Cultural Exchange

To Say You Were Born Gay

Weird. I was trying to research something I thought about earlier while participating in a communications study, and somehow ended up reading this article about being gay. I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the whole thing. If you had been in class all day, doing research, AND participating in a study, you probably wouldn’t be up for much reading either. The article did spark something in mind that I hadn’t thought about for a while.

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Has Technology Changed Our Culture?

Today in one of my seminars, this question came up. To my surprise (and my professor’s, I’m sure), there were people who sincerely (and stubbornly) believed that there’s no way technology could ever change a culture. One of them said that culture changes technology (Guy). Another said that it was a “dynamic relationship” (Girl). And the others didn’t even have arguments worth remembering.

The class turned into a mini-debate on the subject. Guy made the argument that we are the same people, we just use different tools. Girl somewhat supported his argument, but added a little example. “Think about back in the day when people ate berries. One of them finally figured out that they could use a stone as a weapon and kill that animal. And now they ate animals!” This was her way of showing that culture and technology interacted with each other, but had no effect on each other. About three classmates and myself sided with the idea that technology can DEFINITELY change a culture. So after Girl’s argument, I said: “you just proved our point.”

I then offered my counterargument. After listening to their flawed arguments, it was clear to me that they were throwing around the term “technology” without having a concise idea of what it meant. I explained to them that technology isn’t just something digital- but that the term included other things. A bottle, for example, is a technology- because it helps us carry and conserve water. Then, I tackled why Girl’s argument was actually evidence supporting my own argument. The people (from back in the day) were now meat eaters. This involved so many different changes including how they gathered, cooked, and ate their meals. AND how eating meat would affect their bodies. This technology, in this case the stone used as a weapon, definitely changed a culture (think of hunter-gatherers becoming farmers!).

The most interesting thing of all is that Guy and Girl still would not agree with what I explained above. They were short of saying that it made no sense. But I think their ulterior motive was that admitting you were wrong about something is not easy for some to do. I do admit though, that we are all ENTITLED to have a different opinion. So if they really want to stand and say that technology does not inflict change, then be ready to look extremely uneducated. I mean, you’re UCLA students, be proud to show off your education.

Now I turn this back to you. What do you think? Can technology change a culture?


Bus Rides to Different Worlds

I don’t know how much you know about UCLA… other than the fact that our football team still sucks. Despite the fact that this isn’t our brightest hour (see: Education cuts in California), there are some things that still amaze me about this school.

UCLA is indeed a multicultural school. If you walk on campus on any given day, you will probably hear at least three different languages spoken- and after 10 steps in any direction, you may have probably crossed the paths of at least two students that come from a very different place than yours.

Sometimes, when my wife’s break from class and my lunch break from work coincide, and when I’m more than happy to give up my lunch readings to see her, I take the University Shuttle to campus and meet her at the cafeteria behind the law school. Since she only gets thirty minutes, we eat quickly, but I treasure every minute as if it were an hour. Once our meal is over I hurry back to the bus stop. And then I wait impatiently for the shuttle, as I alternate looking at my watch and the corner where the shuttle turns my way.

Once in the bus, a ride to different worlds begin. Last week’s in particular, there were three groups around me. I sat right next to the back exit, because unlike most of the people around me, my trip wasn’t as long. There were two girls sitting across from me. They were speaking Russian. I had heard my wife enough to know which language, but not enough to know what they were saying. They caught me staring, and I smiled shyly, wishing I could have asked where they came from and what classes they were taking.

The guys in front of me, three of them, were speaking French. They were talking about the beach, I knew that much- “Plage.” But their words were too quick for my slow brain, and I couldn’t ever catch more than a word or two- but never full sentences.

A couple behind me, speaking Japanese, seemed to be arguing about something. I didn’t catch anything they said because I have never had any contact with the language… Perhaps something I could correct in the future. Whatever it was, he talked more than she did. Before I knew it, my stop was sneaking upon me.

I stepped outside the bus and I thought of all these people I’ll never meet. I’ll never know their stories, or their classes- yet we were still sharing a ride, a space together, for about 15 minutes…


It’s All About the World

I used to hear stories about how you should be nice to others because everything affects everyone. None of that made more sense until today.

Truth is that there’s a lot of stuff going on in the world that isn’t right, and we do little about it. Why? Usually because we’re not aware of it. But what happens when we do become aware? I’ve been feeling so guilty about food and resource waste that though I’m very thirsty right now, I can’t bring myself to buy a bottle of water. “That won’t last long” you may say, and you may be right, but I truly hope you’re not.

Growing up, when my grandma wanted to coerce me to eat ALL my food, she’d say something like “there are children who don’t even eat in one day half of what you’re eating right now. They were pretty good in guilting me to eat. But how about teaching me or giving me resources to help those who don’t eat in a day half of what I’m eating right now?

I still remember when my mother, in her ignorance, asked me why I do community service (her question was: why are you working for free?). Sure I’m broke, and sure she’s worse, but it’ll never kill anyone to provide some help to others, instead of say… watching TV. Those habits have changed, I will admit, but it is because I am currently more overworked than I was before and all the little free time I have goes to some rest (which is truly less than 4 hours of sleep each night).

But back to the original problem- what to do now? People are hungry, women get raped (children do too), people live without civil liberties, people can’t afford a car, or a laptop- heck, that was me not too long ago! So how CAN we fix the world? I don’t know- or at least not yet. Yes, we all ponder on this question. But this is particularly important today because I can’t bring myself to buy a bottle of water.



Why Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 is My Favorite One of All

Note: Since this movie came out so recently, I will not have spoilers here. This might be at times a difficult task, specially since most people who have not seen the movie, but are planning to, probably have read the book already.

It was 11:35pm. We had come to the theater after dinner with some of my wife’s colleagues. We had been waiting to see the Harry Potter movie since we were teased with Part 1 last year. The theater was crowded. There were even people fighting for a front row seat. I wondered how the premiere night must have been. I almost felt wise for waiting another night to see it.


I don’t know about you, but I grew up reading Harry Potter. I couldn’t buy the first four books, but one of my friends, Charlie, let me borrow his. I usually read them overnight, holding a flashlight, under the blankets.

I was in love with the magical world. Perhaps it is impossible for a kid not to want to be able to do magic. Just think of all the things I could have done! I could have make dinner appear one night so grandma would have had a break from cooking. I could have given my brother that one soccer ball he really wanted. I could have made the perfect man appear for my mom (who probably would have been the exact opposite of my dad). And I could have made my grandpa go away, so he would stop beating grandma for no reason; no questions asked. I could have made more books appear for myself. Perhaps this way I could have owned the Harry Potter books myself, instead of waiting for Charlie to bring me the next one.

I was never a fan of the movies though. Not because they weren’t great, but because they never did the books justice. I always felt betrayed when my favorite part in a book wasn’t shown in the movie. But Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 was different. This wasn’t another of the movies. This was THE movie. The last one. The ending one.

As I warned earlier, I will not talk about the plot. But if I’m allowed to share why I loved this one so much, let me tell you that it had a lot to do with me wanting them to succeed. I cried when they suffer; I smiled when they did something right. I knew this time I couldn’t wonder if the next movie was going to be better. This was as good as it was ever going to get. Though I hate that this is the end, it is difficult not to love it the most. This is the last memory of it that I will ever have. At least until the remakes come in twenty years or so.



Meant to be: US Advances to the Semifinals

There’s a lot of things that my wife and I don’t have in common- my love for sports being one of them. But when I announced to her last night that we were gonna sacrifice one of the few chances we get to sleep in to watch the US vs. Brazil game, she was encouraging. In fact, she was the one who made sure that we woke up after I tried to snooze the alarm when it went off this morning.

To my surprise, I miscalculated, and the game had already been on for about 30 minutes. We were winning 1-0, so it wasn’t that terrible. I watched the end of the first half with a lot of excitement, and when the game went to break, I made breakfast and coffee- since the Mrs. is working from home again this morning.

Then the penalty kick happened.

I’ve played/watched soccer my whole life- and that was a terrible call. Even then, the red card was beyond stupid. And on top of that, the repeat of the penalty kick after Solo saved it?!?!? My stomach was in pain and I was shaking. So much at stake, and here Brazil was given a free pass.

The game progressed and neither side could get it in. The extra time snuck on us and we had been playing most of the game with 10 players. We had been holding on just fine until an offside wasn’t called and Marta scored to put Brazil ahead. I couldn’t believe this game, and I’ve never hated FIFA officials this much.

But we never lost hope. I knew that if we could tie and go to penalty kicks, we could win. My wife stopped working because this game was so intense. I kept pacing around, hoping for another chance. And this is when Rapinoe advanced with the ball on the left side. It looked like the perfect opportunity. There was one minute left in the game. My heart was all I could hear. And then the ball left Brazil’s goalkeeper behind and fell on Wambach’s head so graciously. I blinked, then open my eyes to see it resting in Brazil’s net. I felt the tears coming down my cheeks and I yelled until I lost my voice. It wasn’t over yet though.

As expected at that time, they went to penalty kicks. Brazil kept shooting to the left, and I think it had something to do with Solo’s shoulder (She’s been playing injured for a few games now). So she went to the left on the third shot, and saved it. I began my jumping and screaming ritual once again. They scored the remaining two, and so did we. We are now in the semifinals.


Soccer and Books

The Women’s World Cup is on and Germany and Japan are playing a scoreless game so far. Because Germany is the host nation, they have a lot of pressure to make it as far as possible in the cup. Japan on the other hand, is working with a shorter team, but their defense has been pretty impressive so far.

I made cheese blintzes for breakfast, and coffee, of course. The Mrs. is working from home and I am working on my research project. I barely started an hour ago, but it feels like an eternity already. Not because I’m bored, but because it’s such a pretty day outside and I won’t get to enjoy it. So I figured I could come and blog and spread my word to the world, and maybe that would feel a little bit like I’m out and about somewhere.

I stumbled upon a Wikipedia page of The 100 Best Books of All Time. I have barely read 3 on the list and I’ve been on the middle of another one for the longest time. Though I find myself with little or no time for pleasure reading, I think this might be a good list to start with. If you have a moment to check it out, do you think is a good list? How many have you read? Which one you recommend I read first?


Life is too Fragile

Today I had a person mock me because of my job. I kept my cool, I know better than letting them get the best of me. They screamed “hard worker” several times. I can still see their faces. I know this is nothing compared to other things, but it is still something.

We, human beings, are the most ridiculous beings I know. We hurt each other left and right, and we don’t care. Yet life is so fragile, and being alive is something we take for granted everyday. Breathing, a heart beat, another step- these things are so precious, that we should be so kind to each other and make the best out of it. Unfortunately, some choose not to.

This is not the first time I get laughed at simply because someone doesn’t agree with my employer’s policies. I got news for you, I don’t make the policies, you are damn right when you call me a lowly employee. This doesn’t offend me, it just makes me sad that you would choose to insult someone so freely.

And here I read “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Though it is fiction, war is just another reflections of how pathetic some of us are. How we can kill each other and be okay with that?

I sometimes wish I didn’t have to leave my apartment and see other people. That my wife and I could just stay at home and enjoy each other’s company, in complete isolation from the world. But then again I know that there are a lot of amazing people out there that are worth the trouble. A lot of them. And I think about them and I suffer for them. Because I do love people- even those who I don’t personally know.

I read today about the Rangers fan who died trying to catch a ball (see the video below). The commentators made fun of him for trying so hard to catch a ball. But that meant a lot to him, and I really hope that at least he died happy, because he knew he had the ball. My best wishes to his family- wherever they are.

Research, Law, and the Whole Casey Anthony Thing

I’ve always wanted to do research, but I’ve never found myself able to. I want to learn new things, understand why some things happen, and make some sense out of ’em. You’d think that sounds easy enough, right? That’s why I jumped to the opportunity to join a professor on her research.¬†Though I understand that this is her research and I’m just an assistant, I’m just still waiting to see more than the small tasks I’ve been working on so far.

I want a little bit more action, but I don’t think I’ll see it until the day I do my own research. So why haven’t I? The first factor has been lack of time. The second factor, lack of chance, or opportunity. And the third, and probably the most important one, has a lot to do with the fact that I’m still not doing my thing. I love political science and all, but law and justice are my thing.

Take the Casey Anthony trial as an example. I know that this has caused a lot of anger/controversy/shock/happiness to different people (who are not even directly affected by it), but there is more to a case than a verdict that people agree or don’t agree with. In fact, cases like this one are the reason why lawyers have such a bad reputation. But this is why I think law is such an unexplored and overstated field.

The problem is not how a guilty person can walk away unpunished, but why these types of things happen. Let’s review: There are two sides to every case (most of the time). We can agree that each side’s advocate(s) will try to win. But the logic is that if someone is guilty of something, there has to be a way to prove it. This is where we can all agree that evidence is key. After all, it was lack of evidence that made it impossible to tie Anthony to any charge of murder. But can we go beyond hard facts to prove something? Can we look into behavior? These are the types of questions that one day I would love to work on- even if there are people who have been working on them already.

And about the verdict, you may criticize Jose Baez all you want, but if you really think she was guilty, I say criticize the prosecutors for failing.

What’s With the Spam?

I wonder if there are some people who get paid to this. To go blog by blog and leave comments that don’t even make sense. “Thanks bro”- I’m a gal, bro. “Cool”- I just wrote about suicide and you think that’s cool?!. “I will pay to blog,” have you read my stuff? You really don’t want to pay me to do it professionally. I seriously think they could at least try a little harder than that.

What’s the point anyway? So I can go to some financial news website? If you were a good site, you wouldn’t have to spam us poor bloggers ALL THE TIME to go read you.

Am I the only one having this problem?

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