It’s time to dwell into what I consider to be two of the most (de)pressing issues of the American system: Health care and food. Let’s start with the latter. Food plays a big role in the American way of life, that turns rapidly into the American waddle of life when staple foods shift from wheat and water to burger and soda. With the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and fat-free products the portion of the population in the US that is overweight or obese has spiked (here is a good talk about that). Since I’m not a nutrition expert, I don’t want to go too deep into that, but I may have some ideas that I would like to propose.
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I don’t know how he did it, but my advisor Daniel somehow tricked me into going to a real night club in the San Francisco Mission District. I haven’t been clubbing in ages which primarily has something to do with my age, but also with my somewhat twisted taste in music (see my playlists). Still, he got me to pay $20 for admission, which I found vastly overpriced until I realized that we had stumbled into the “Monster Drag Show” and a two meter tall queen was just about to sodomize a leather slave while singing “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. I cried tears of joy. Daniel cried too, but that was because he spent another $20 on two (!) cups of beer. But after the first sips of tear flavored beer we were both dancing to what I assume was a mash-up of Michael Jackson and Katy Perry, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. As the evening progressed I remembered why I didn’t go clubbing as often as I did when I was younger.
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I think the US exhibits capitalism in a very troubling form. For instance, competitive marketing has become the only kind of advertisement there is. It’s like watching children arguing about whose father is the strongest, while you already know both fathers haven’t seen the inside of a gym for a very long time. Maybe the comparison between children and advertisements is not ideal. Advertisements are more like politicians. They will go to great lengths to not tell you the true cost of what they are trying to sell you. The car is only $399 a month (if you pay $5999 in advance, by purchasing the in-house insurance and excluding tax). For example, T-Mobile made their pay-as-you-go model ridiculously hard to understand.
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There may be something wrong in a society where an SUV — a vehicle to conquer almost any kind of terrain for the cost of many gallons of gas — is the predominant car in the suburbs. Sure, there are some hills here. But none of them justify a four-wheel drive and man-sized tires. The names speak volumes themselves: If it’s not “suburban” it’s “patriot”. And if you are a patriot in the suburban, you’d better own both of them.
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That headline should have got me some attention. And some hatred. Not only do San Franciscians cringe when they hear the name “Frisco” but they also loathe the tech industry which they blame for rising rents and the loss of the original vibe of their beloved city. There is some controversy about how much can really be attributed to the rise of the tech industry in SF and how much is just inevitable in an attractive city that refuses to grow vertically and cannot grow horizontally. But I am neither a worker for the tech industry nor am I moving to SF. I am a visiting student researcher living in Berkeley and I apologize for the misleading headline.
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Almost my entire life it seems like I have been committing a crime against good taste without even knowing it. I was — and I still am — wearing a wallet chain. It first dawned on me when I was visiting the “Porn Film Festival” (because that passes as art in Berlin) and saw a short film about the importance of wallet chains in the lesbian culture. I never considered myself a lesbian, but then again, I didn’t consider myself a picture of masculinity either. Besides me and apparently lesbians, who else was still pulling off the good old wallet chain? Well, stoner. And skater but there is a considerable overlap between these groups anyway. And thirtysomethings that hang around in clubs being all cool and edgy because they listen to “Nu Metal”. Yeah, that nineties Nu Metal.
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Down on the West Coast, they got their icons
The silver starlets, their queens of Saigon’s

Ever since it was confirmed that I could write my master thesis at the UC Berkeley I have been living in a state of excitement and sheer terror. I dread Sunday because it means parting ways from my loved ones for six long months. Still I’m sitting on packed bags, waiting for Sunday to finally come. This playlist reflects this mood: I’m ready, but I’m scared.