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A Few Small Repairs

27 Jun

The format’s the same, but the name’s different. Since I’m no longer living in London, I figured the name of the blog should change. I wanted something that would reflect where I live, but I could not find any suitable ideas. Instead, I got the idea from reading the Financial Times. There’s an influential column on the main section called The Lex Column. Outside the Underground is now The Ed Column.

Some other things I’ve added/updated is my biography (still in third person), a portfolio section (coming soon) and my CV/resume. Hopefully this will blossom as my freelancing/photography career grows.

Oh yeah, and I failed my $15 challenge, in case you didn’t know.

Phoebe Prince Did Not Deserve To Die

30 Mar

Some of the South Hadley, MA students charged in the Phoebe Prince bullying case. Clockwise from top left, Sharon Chanon Velazquez, Sean Mulveyhill, Kayla Narey, Ashley Longe and Austin Renaud.

First of all, before I begin my post, I’d just like to say that the Children and Young Persons Act of 1939 ain’t got SHIT on me! Suck it. This is to clarify a law in England and Wales (where I am residing at the moment) that doesn’t allow the identification of juvenile defendants, including photographs. The incident that I’m about to go into some detail happened in Massachusetts, USA, so I can’t be done for, but British newspapers reporting are too pussy to identify these defendants.

Phoebe Prince did not deserve to die. In fact, like all young people, she deserved a chance to make herself achieve all that is possible for her. Instead, as an immigrant from Ireland to the United States, she got caught in the culture shock of cliques and the hierarchy that would not accept her as a human being.

Phoebe Prince, 15, killed herself in January after months of abuse from her peers which did not end until she died.

Instead of fulfilling a normal four years of high school, they gave her a reason not to live. The ongoing torment of ruthless name-calling and a never-ending slew of attacks in the school and on the Internet gave Phoebe a reason that this will never, ever end. She ended her life on January 14, hanging herself at home after a day of non-stop attacks where she was attacked in the library, the cafeteria and on the walk home.

The worst part: The school knew all along that the Irish girl endured this horrendous torment from her peers.

Now nine students are charged in this bullying case, ranging from statutory rape to violating her civil rights. While the motives for those who tormented Phoebe to her death are not clear, the accounts that she was called an “Irish slut” and the attacks in school under the watch of school administrators, who did nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Phoebe was denied that right to live from her peers and intervention from counselors would not stop those sick, demented human beings from making her life, or any other person’s life miserable. It’s one thing to call someone a disparaging name once, but to subject them through an ongoing gauntlet of attacks and harassment is not just school bullying as usual. It’s torture.

Granted, some will argue that the charges are too harsh and it’s just a really bad case of “boys will be boys.” Others may say that Phoebe has problems of her own and some information could surface as the investigation continues to state that case. How does that justify what she’s been through?

As a person who has been bullied intermittently up to high school, it’s hard to knew when the gauntlet will never end. I’m just lucky that I haven’t been driven to ultimate despair, but I really feel for the many kids who are unfortunate and I don’t blame them for thinking that way. However, it is important we make every effort to stamp out bullying to ensure that if cases like this happen, it should not fall on deaf ears.

We can all hope those who led Phoebe to her death will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Like Sheppard Smith said, “WE ARE AMERICA! WE DO NOT FUCKING TORTURE!” This should also apply not only in combat, but also in the classrooms.

Swine flu vaccine: Any takers?

3 Nov

I went to the GP’s office today to ask if I qualify for the swine flu vaccine. Obviously, since there’s a high priority for those with underlying conditions, pregnant women, and health care workers, I will have to wait later for my shot. Next week.

My reasoning for considering taking the shot stems from the fact that I lived with health care workers nearly all my life. My mum’s a nurse, so she works in one of the most virus and disease ridden places you can think of–the hospital. Of course, as diseases can travel–especially swine flu, it could come into my home. More reason to take preventative care.

However, some have noted that they won’t consider taking the swine flu vaccine, and that I should think about it before making a GP visit. Although I somewhat agree with their point that I should think about it further, Ben Sherwood thinks I should “Stop Worrying and Roll Up [My] Sleeve.” Sherwood argues that we have our worries about something new, such as this vaccine, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t protect ourselves from getting sick. Swine flu is no exception.

I’m not arguing that we should blindly listen to EVERYTHING the pharmaceutical industry tells us to take (at least in the U.S. where 3-minute commercials discuss the benefits and the side effects–a lot of it–of medications), but if a significant number of people are dying each day from this, then the benefits outweigh the risks in taking the vaccine.

Happy Days Are Here Again?

29 Oct

I’m not sure if I should start singing this, but I’ll post it anyway:

The reason I bring up this song is because of some positive news from my homeland, the US and A. However the British newspapers want to put it, the truth is economic growth was up at an annual 3.5% in the third quarter, which, according to the Los Angeles Times, “unofficially marks the end of the recession”–at least in the United States. Sorry, Britain, you’re going to have to wait longer. Yet, the British media wants to say that America has emerged from the recession, as pointed out in articles from the Guardian (click here) and The Daily Telegraph (click here). However skeptical I am, it’sgood news for me and many Americans at home and abroad worried about the economy. I hope it will translate to more jobs.

If you really need to ask about what direction the economy’s going to, ask the UCLA student if she’s got all her classes, ask the Cal State Fullerton professor if he’s going to work this Friday, go to the unemployment office in Chicago, or stop by the real estate agent in Fort Lauderdale. Though they could tell you it’s not looking all to well, I have hope it will pick up in full force by next year.

So, I will most definitely drink to this tonight. I might add this will be more reason for Labour to collapse in the next election.

The origin of @strictmachines

27 Oct

Some people on the twittersphere wonder where my name “strictmachines” came from. After all, it isn’t as straightforward as say “edfcarrasco,” but a name’s a name. I just wanted to stand out so here’s a little story:

Many, many, many moons ago, when I was still living in California, my roommate gave me a sampling of his music collection, which ranged from Benny Benassi to Deadmau5. One of the songs in his collection was Benny Benassi’s remix of Goldfrapp’s “Strict Machine.” After listening to it for a while, I was convinced this was a pretty cool song, so I changed my twitter name and added an s. Now you know.

Here’s the link to “Strict Machine,” and a link to my other favorite Goldfrapp song, “Ooh La La.” Enjoy!

Health care in the US is like going into an exclusive nightclub…

27 Oct

At least that’s what this video is trying to prove to you. I found it off LAist and if there’s a simple way to tell curious minds here in London or anywhere in Europe where getting health care is not so much a problem, this would be it. If you want to read LAist’s take on this video, here’s the link. Obviously, I think health care should be cost-effective and open to anybody. People shouldn’t be denied health care because they have a pre-existing condition or are bankrupt after years and years of costly treatments. Getting health care shouldn’t be like trying to get in a nightclub at all. Are you with me?

Grilled Cheese Truck: What Will Angelenos Think of Next?

26 Oct

If anyone here in London ever asks me where the best places to eat in Los Angeles, I would direct them to Kogi (a unique taco truck[s]) or In-N-Out (best burgers by none). I may have to recommend another one soon. Folks, tomorrow is the birth of the (drumroll please)…

Grilled Cheese Truck.

You heard me, a Grilled Cheese Truck. But, according to its website, it’s not just your average Kraft cheese slice with white bread. Picture this: Any choice of bread with cheeses like mozzarella and Monterey Jack stuffed with things like basil or fresh tomatoes. Pretty much, it’s like bringing the high-end cafe in Beverly Hills or Santa Monica to the many streets of Los Angeles.

Now, I wonder, if London ever had a high-profile food truck, what would it serve? I have a couple of ideas:

1) Tikka Masala with Chips.

2) A Doner Kebap burrito

3) A ton of savoury pies, any way you want it.

If you have any better ideas than the ones I’ve put, feel free to comment or send me an e-mail!

NFL at Wembley Stadium: Will It Go Any Further?

26 Oct


If I didn’t have to go to Amsterdam/Utrecht over the weekend, I would have enjoyed a nice, cold evening at Wembley Stadium (provided I have money for tickets). Why do you say that? Three letters. N-F-L. As an American living abroad, it’s interesting that they try to play a season game abroad. There’s even talk about having a franchise here in London. However, as much as I’d like to see another football game play at Wembley, my gut is telling me that this would fail, and for many reasons:

1) American football is not engrained in the culture: It’s safe to say that the British are no eager to flock to the pub to watch Tom Brady score a touchdown just year.

2) Time zone differences: London is five hours ahead of the East Coast, so if there’s a Sunday afternoon game in London, many people would have to wake up early to watch it. Don’t get me started about Sunday Night Football.

3) Previous failure: The NFL did have a European league for many years: NFL Europa. However, that folded in 2007 because of heavy losses.

Roger Goodell can always dream of seeing a world full of NFL franchises. Until he understands the culture, it’s not going to work out.

By the way,  the Patriots saved the day at Wembley with their win 35-7 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Sleep–“the best drug ever.”

26 Oct

A friend once told me sleep “is the best drug ever.” He’s right, and I feel quite refreshed. I try to sleep more, and the good thing is I don’t feel sleepy in class. We’ve all been through that. If only we had enough time to sleep.

Obamamania in Amsterdam

25 Oct

Yes, Obamamania is alive and well. In Amsterdam.

President Obama and family in a bag at Albert Cupymarkt.

President Obama and family in a bag at Albert Cupymarkt.

The Obama elephant in Museumplein.

The Obama elephant in Museumplein.