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Rebooting the Matrix

(05/20/03 9:00am)

There is a climactic car chase/fight scene/shootout in The Matrix: Reloaded that was one of the most relevant parts of the Wachowski brothers' film. It wasn't because of the technical mastery of the wire work, special effects and martial arts. This explosive action sequence piqued my attention because all of the cars involved were GM products. An Escalade SUV and a CTS sports sedan, as part of their service to the Grande Dame of American Luxury, were the chosen mounts of leading actors in the film. Fittingly, their demises are glorious and almost emotional affairs of painfully screeching metal, angry stuttering machine guns and roaring engines. Yet the entire spectrum of GM cars are gleefully destroyed as well. Featuring prominently were a series of unfortunate Malibus, Suburbans, Caprices, Intrigues and GMC trucks.

All the Free Newspapers

(05/06/03 9:00am)

The admissions office is playing something new this year. Their fresh crop of high school seniors are walking around campus with big hopes, wide eyes and white envelopes with 2007 printed on them (the envelopes, that is). And even though our average SAT math score was only 715, the current seniors can subtract and know that they won't be around to lead this class away from the administration's glorious vision of a Dartmouth that resembles Princeton in every possible way.

Axim for Trouble

(04/22/03 9:00am)

Since I just got into grad school, I thought I'd reward myself by getting a Dell Axim handheld PC. I can't wait for it to arrive. It's basically a Palm Pilot on steroids, but no Palm Pilot can give me a 400 mHz processor, CompactFlash and Secure Digital expansion slots, a 3.5 inch screen, and a speaker system that fits in my shirt pocket. Plus you can add an 802.11b card so that your Axim can connect to any wireless network.

Secrets from DDS

(04/08/03 9:00am)

Now that I'm about to graduate, I quake at the thought of having to provide somehow 21 meals a week for myself. Instead of an award-winning dining service at my beck and call, I'll have to trust myself with sharp implements, flammable gas and the threat of bacteria. For four years I've had the luxury of custom sandwiches from lunch till 1 a.m., homemade bread at lunch and Belgian waffles on Sunday. How will I feed myself if I don't have the money to eat out or the personality to get someone to cook for me, and the fire department comes every time I turn on the stove?

What's in a Name?

(02/25/03 11:00am)

We all know the tumult over the administration's attempts to shape a unique Dartmouth identity. In my case, however, I think they've already won. When I first signed onto BlitzMail back in 1999, I was shocked and chagrined to find out that due to the way some unknown data entry specialist entered me into an admissions computer, I would forever be known as "C. Lopez Soriano." That's right. The three parts of my name (Carl Matthew Lopez Soriano) that are least often used were immortalized for the rest of my academic lifetime. This has caused me no end of consternation over the past three years.

A Worthy Trade

(01/28/03 11:00am)

Contrary to the national trend, diversity seems to be the exact opposite of the College's preferences over the last few months. According to them, the college budget can't support diversity in athletic activities. We can't afford diversity in social activities -- the cataclysmic battle between the Greek system and Wright's "solitary learners" occasionally makes national news, which is bad for our U.S. News ranking. Yet at Dartmouth and around the nation, diversity in race seems to be the proper type of diversity for which to strive. It's a hot button, a racially charged topic that the University of Michigan's admissions department has chosen to address by weighting minority status six times as much as a good essay, five times as much as outstanding community service, and 66 percent more than a perfect SAT score.

Dig Your Heels In

(01/14/03 11:00am)

When 74-year-old Korean War veteran J.C. Adams saw two armed robbers in his convenience store for the umpteenth time, he grabbed his 12-gauge with one hand and his walker with the other. He ponderously moved to an appropriate vantage point, took careful aim, and fired both barrels. With one fearsome blast, Mr. Adams saved the well-fed police of DeKalb County, Georgia the burden of pursuit and detention of two suspects for armed robbery. Indeed, for one suspect, the judicial process was further "fast-tracked" -- the shopkeeper's buckshot made a very convincing argument for the death penalty.

Marketing Saddam Hussein

(11/26/02 11:00am)

Mr. Hussein! I just found out that you had an email account. Like all other Americans who fulfill our patriotic duty to shape foreign policy in terms of John Wayne movies, I had just assumed that that leather holster you wear holds some sort of large-caliber handgun. You know, as sort of an insurance policy against the help selling out to the Mossad, CIA or MI-6. Instead, it holds a Blackberry Mobile Communicator, to judge from one of the press releases from Responding to a sympathetic email from Christopher Love, your American sleeper agent -- I mean, "brother in the family of mankind" -- you electronically clucked your tongue at President Bush's "logic of war" in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. Obviously, there's logic and legitimacy behind your war against Iran in 1980, your gassing of the Kurds and your war against Kuwait in 1990.

An Appropriate Sendoff

(11/12/02 11:00am)

I think that all good Republicans should take a moment from our busy schedules of oppressing minorities and women, fondling our concealed handguns and driving oversized sport utility vehicles over helpless woodland creatures to think of what was lost last Tuesday. Many on the left wing of the aisle have already had a lot of time to think about what was lost. They'll trot out the old tripe: we lost the last vestiges of presidential prestige once the president started raising money pretty much full time. We lost our civil rights as the nation legitimized the goose-stepping reign of Der Fuhrer Ashcroft. And of course they will trot out that we rubber-stamped corporate greed, economic malaise and creeping theocracy.

Dumb Yourself Down

(10/23/02 9:00am)

Thanks to the Sept. 11 recession, those of us with the intestinal fortitude to look for jobs are now being confronted with recruiters who got into the job market in the blissful late 1990's, when executives seemed to earn their spectacular pay packages, "The Simpsons" was witty and creative and federal agents didn't have the right to cavity-search you at the airport. Now we face a bleak world ahead of us. Guys in business suits are doing the "perp walk" while their wives hawk their $400 cedar coat hangers on eBay. "The Simpsons" has been milked of all good ideas and turned into a yellow-skinned, bug-eyed Fox profit machine. And smart travelers bring K-Y jelly with them to the security checkpoint.

Issues and Answers

(10/15/02 9:00am)

When Barbara Streisand starts raising money to oppose deposing a man whose name she can't spell right ("Sadam" Hussein) and the president gives a 30 minute speech about Iraq without once pronouncing "nuclear" correctly, you know that there are major transparency issues surrounding the current debate on Iraq. Yet to many it seems clear that Bush would take advantage of any international crisis to divert attention from his agenda of turning the FBI into a Gestapo, stealing from the old and sick and strangling cute little woodland creatures in his spare time. It almost makes me want to write a check to the Democratic National Committee. Somebody's got to make the world safe for teachers' unions, trial lawyers and oppressed minorities everywhere. Why not? It worked in Germany for the Social Democrats.

Focusing on the Fundamentals

(10/01/02 9:00am)

See, Dad? I've got my digital camera. What do you think about that, Mr. You'll-Lose-That-Thing-In-A-Week?" I gestured to my father as I stepped off the airport shuttle, brandishing my digital camera. What a kill-joy he'd been, bending my ear about camera thieves while I packed for Europe. He believed that you couldn't bring a digital camera through four countries, 12 train rides, four airplane flights and up an 8,700-foot mountain without it getting stolen. He didn't count on me keeping the damn thing attached to my body on more or less a permanent basis for 18 days. Having brought only a week's worth of clothes, most of what I wore became unpleasantly familiar but nothing quite as much as that nylon camera case.

The Cycle of Life

(04/23/02 9:00am)

An old Afghan saying says that "A man without a gun is like a woman without jewelry." As such, the Kalashnikov is de rigueur for the well-dressed Afghan (or militant Texan) male even in times of peace (or absent the black U.N. helicopters). Such institutions are part of daily ritual because they were necessary a long time ago and since a plausible argument can be made for their continuation and even enhancement. This is clear in the current trends in modern mobile phone design. I freely admit that it may once have been useful to make mobile phones smaller so that you didn't get a hernia when you needed to move them. Yet I hope I'm not the first to say that phones today are so blessedly mobile that they move faster than you can remember where you left the damn thing.

A Real Peace for Galilee

(04/09/02 9:00am)

We are witnessing in the current Israel-Palestinian conflict a perversion of the liberal international system which usually brings peace to democratic nations. Interdependence and exchange between Israelis and Palestinians only offers opportunities for Israeli forces to humiliate Palestinians and inflict collective punishment and for suicide bombers to kill dozens in return. Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority appears to have the ability to stop bloody attacks on the other side, which in any case appear to make political hay for both sides. Worst of all, competing religious doctrines appear to justify competing sides' claims for Jerusalem. Traditional measures of attaining peace -- destroying terrorists, ceasing violence and diplomatic intercourse -- can do little to resurrect the Oslo peace accord from its very deep grave due to fundamental incentives for violence. This column will explore an unconventional method for the United States to achieve peace that may work better than the diplomatic intercourse that seems a world apart from the carnage in the streets of Tel Aviv and Ramallah.

Oscar the Grouch

(03/27/02 11:00am)

Thanks to the new Personal Video Recorder that came with our family's satellite TV system, I was able to watch this year's four-hour Academy Awards ceremony with a minimum of inconvenience and a maximum of efficiency and entertainment. Thanks to its ability to pause, rewind and fast-forward live TV, I was able to eat dinner and pack for the drive up to Hanover at the same time. I could pause for bathroom breaks, kitchen runs and dispensing computer advice to my mother, who was doing her tax returns at the same time. I could also fast forward through commercials and Joan Rivers, freeze frame on Julia Roberts' smile and rewind and replay every time "Lord of the Rings" failed to win. Bwahahahahah!

Lenten Follies

(02/25/02 11:00am)

Now that Mardi Gras has come and gone, those poor fools among us, me included, who still remember Sunday School lessons in lieu of Powerpoint outlines will acknowledge that Lent -- the buildup to the Easter, holiest day in the Christian year -- is now upon us. With that I'd like to take a column to discuss religion.