Tidbits: State of the Union Address Comments, Small Classes, Italian Play, Sleep, Quiz

Friday, 2004-01-23; 03:11:00

Just some random things about which I've been wanting to write for a while.

I absolutely LOVED watching the State of the Union address. It was the best ever! I mean, "President" Bush addressed all the important things about our country, like how we are waging a really good war against the evil terrorists despite the fact that we really haven't been going after the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks (i.e.: Osama bin Laden). I absolutely loved how Bush told us all that his tax cuts were working and that he was going to somehow make them permanent even by balancing the budget defecit -- this guy must be an absolute GENIUS if he can do that, since no other President has been able to; I mean, conventional wisdom dictates that when you reduce revenues by cutting taxes, you'll actually increase the national defecit unless you cut spending somewhere. Since I don't remember him talking about spending cuts, I can only assume that he's made a breakthrough discovery and developed some RDF (see the 9th definition) for the laws of economics. I mean, he can't possibly be cutting funding for education since he signed that No Child Left Behind Act, right?

I also think he's a brilliant "president" since he's going to be able to reverse the economic slump that he put us in when he came into office (that caused the loss of many Americans' jobs) -- he's such a nice guy to do that for us Americans. Oh! And his speech was so brilliant that he even managed to screw up when talking about the age of the little girl who sent him a letter, not to mention the numerous times he said "noo-cyoo-lerr". Oh, oh! The single most brilliant part of his speech was just has to be when he slyly mentioned going to the constitution to protect the "sanctity of marriage", even while not explicitly saying to the American people that he supports a constitutional ban on gay marriage -- no way is that just trying to put the best possible spin on a horrible action.

Sarcasm (or sarchasm, depending on how you read that) aside, I did want to focus on one part of the "President"'s speech -- the part when he covertly said that certain judges were out of line when they protected gay marriage. He basically condemned these judges as not doing their duty owed to the United States, even though they were appointed to their positions! A judge, by definition of his job, is supposed to be impartial and uphold the law of the United States. It's not his job to inject his own opinion into the law and rule based on his opinion.

So given that judges are by definition supposed to be basically the embodiment of the law, is it right to criticize them for not agreeing with your own views? I know I myself am guilty of this at times, like when the Supreme Court decided to stop the recount of the ballots in Florida, handing the 2000 presidential election to Bush on a silver platter. But is it right to do so if the judges are just making decisions based solely on the law?

Of course, judges are only human, and so it's to be expected that they 1) make mistakes and 2) want to make decisions based on their own opinion (at least subconsciously). While there are some judges who are very impartial (I recall a recent story about a judge who handed down a 10-year jail sentence to a defendant, but in giving the sentence, he condemned his own ruling because he thought it was too harsh a sentence -- I can't find a link for it, though), it's a stretch to say that all judges are going to be like this. But still... is it really right to condemn a judge's decision because it disagrees with your views?

Many, including me, would be inclined to say yes, because democracy is built upon the fact that everyone has an opinion and should have a say in the laws of our society. Cynics would point out that judges are often appointed by elected politicians (like the Supreme Court justices being appointed by the President and approved by the Senate), and so inherently are biased towards the views of the person who appointed them. Because of this, one might be able to rationalize the criticism of judges.

If that's the case, then hasn't our society failed at its highest level? Judges are supposed to be impartial because they are the ones that interpret the law and give sentences to those who have broken the law -- so if judges truly deserve their criticism from the various sides of politics, then haven't judges failed in upholding the duty they have to the law and to American society? Wouldn't that mean that party politics has infiltrated what should be the most unbiased part of our society? Politicians are supposed to have political views and to push their agenda, but judges are simply supposed to hand down impartial rulings (despite the fact that they are said to "interpret" the law).

It would seem that if we truly respected our society and if we truly believe in the system that we have set up here in the United States, then we should accept the decisions of judges without question, and instead lobby politicians to change the law, rather than expect judges to rule in certain ways or to declare certain laws unconstitutional (just because WE believe that those laws are unconstitutional). Personally, I don't think that I could accept the decisions of judges without question, and maybe that's simply a reflection of the fact that our government has not convinced me that it truly works on all levels.

Just a thought.


Enough politics. I just had another observation this quarter: virtually all of my classes have a single-digit number of students (except one). In GES 90, there are about 7 students in the class. In GES 131, there are 4 of us (plus 1 graduate who doesn't show up all the time). In Italian, there's about 8. Chemistry, my only "big" class, has about 25 students in it. I suppose the Casa seminar counts as a class too, but this quarter not all residents are required to take the course, and it's already been split up into 3 different groups, so my portion of the class that I regularly meet with only consists of about 10 students.

What's really funny is that one time in my GES 131 class, I was the only student there! It was kind of weird being the only person to which the teacher was talking, and it would've been kind of uncomfortable if I had to go to the bathroom or something: "um, excuse me, could you stop lecturing for a minute or so?"

It is kind of cool that I don't have any big classes, though. I suppose it's just because I'm taking more high-level classes which most students don't take.


Speaking of the Casa seminar, we're actually putting on an Italian play this quarter. It's going to be put on sometime near the end of the quarter (obviously, since we need time to prepare), and I'm actually going to be playing one of the main roles in the play. It's called "La Locandiera", by Carlo Goldoni, and all the words are going to be in Italian.

What's kind of funny is that when Casa puts on a play, the main roles of the play are usually split up among various people since it's kind of hard to learn and memorize lines in a language other than your native one. So the main role of the woman innkeeper is actually going to be split up among three different actresses (since there are three acts to the play). But since there was no one else available to play my part, my role isn't going to be split up, so I'm going to have to learn the lines for all three acts. That's going to be quite a chore.

The basic storyline of the comedy is that Mirandolina, an innkeeper, runs the whole place with the help of her servant, Fabrizio. All the men who come to the inn always fall in love with the innkeeper (since she's in an unusual position of being unmarried even though she's basically running the place -- at least, it's unusual for the time in which the play was written). So they always give her presents and try to get on her good side even though she has no intention of even giving them the light of day. The other main character of the play, the Baron, is a misogynist who doesn't want anything to do with women at all, and so he talks down to Mirandolina when he's staying there. Mirandolina is offended by this, and so decides to seduce him by being nice to him, even though the Baron claims that he will never fall in love with a woman. Of course, she succeeds in doing so and has him totally falling for her. At the end, though, she ends up marrying her servant (who, incidentally, is in love with Mirandolina as well), and makes the Baron admit in public that he fell for her, despite his woman-hating image.

I play the Baron. Perfect fit for my character, eh? ;)


8:30 AM classes suck. The 8:30 class that I have has been totally ruining me by making me lose sleep (I can't seem to ever get in bed before 2 AM). I know it's not going well when I got a late 3-hour nap yesterday (from 10 PM to 1 AM), got 8 hours of sleep in addition to that (2 AM to 10 AM), woke up tired, had a 2-hour nap today (3 PM to 5 PM), yet still feel tired enough that I could go to bed at 10 tonight. *sigh*


Just one last quick question -- anybody got any more guesses for the quote quiz?

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