Kickin’ It with Kaylaa


Kickin’ It With Kaylaa

Kaylaa Kawasaki ’17 is a tennis player and has a strong passion for all things sports. In her podcast, Kaylaa interviews Athletic Director Paul Elliott, student athletes, former athletes, and faculty. She focuses on their perspective of the Santa Catalina athletics program and gives updates on how the teams are doing.

The Greater Good by Loleï Brenot


Since the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks, the United States has declared a “War on Terror.” While this war on terror has led to positive outcomes, such as the death of Osama bin Laden and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, other actions have led to questioning of the government’s and the president’s true constitutional powers. The actions taken by the Bush Administration in response to these attacks, chiefly the creation of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorists (USA PATRIOT) Act led to a questioning of the legality of mass public surveillance. Although one’s individual and constitutional rights are infringed upon with these governmental security measures, one must consider the grand scheme of things and the future generations of our world. The Western way of life and continuation of the growing of terrorism at an unprecedented scale are not conducive for a successful future world. Thus, the United State’s government and the National Security Agency do have the authority to surveil the residents of the United States of America, as this is a protective and offensive action done to protect the United States and its citizens from the ever growing and prevalent threats of both domestic and international terrorism.

Since knowledge of the National Security Agency’s surveillance came to light, first in 2005 by the New York Times, and then again in 2013 through Edward Snowden, there has been a national outbreak of outrage directed towards the PATRIOT Act. Many Americans have spoken out about the unconstitutionality of it as well as the severity of the government’s infringement upon individual rights. The Bush administration was immediately attacked, as President Bush had seemingly gone over the checks-and-balances of the American system and executively ordered the unconstitutional surveillance of the American people. As reported by Risen and Lichtblau in the 2005 New York Times article, “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,” government officials said, “Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an nsa-spy-machineeffort to track possible ‘dirty numbers’ linked to Al Qaeda.” Despite the NSA releasing information following this regarding how communications are used. The NSA info graphic on the right shows how one’s communications that re run through the government’s surveillance program. This, along with outside information regarding how one’s data is processed, clearly shows that the NSA internet surveillance program, PRISM, processes the information and only sends it on to another round of deeper examination if something troubling is flagged. However, despite this, apprehension and distrust still remains, mostly due to the government’s lack of clarity on the issue at the beginning of its creation and use. Furthermore, this secretive spying on Americans has faced strong opposition by both major political parties. Even with past measures put into place to prevent such infringement upon one’s rights, chiefly The National Security Act of 1947, which specifically prohibits domestic intelligence operations, actions contrasting these laws were nonetheless taken. However, though this surveillance, dozens of terrorist attacks, both international and domestic, have been thwarted, as testified by NSA Director General Keith B. Alexander at the June 18, 2013 House Intelligence Committee hearing.

While many believe that the government has taken unconstitutional actions, many instead believe that the world has come to a place where some sacrifices must be made for the greater good. Citing the “Country Before Self” argument, the belief is that citizens must be willing to part with their own rights that their predecessors fought for long before them in order to ensure the safety and security of their country.

As President Kennedy stated in his inaugural address, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” This concept of country first is a value instilled in the spirit of Americans of all color and creed and thus, these government actions were taken in order to ensure the safety of the United States and its citizens.

Particularly because in the United States, with the mantra and mentality of “country before self” being so strong and prevalent throughout much of the population, surveillance is seen as a small sacrifice to ensure the safety of the American dream.

Individual rights are among the utmost important rights for American citizens, as the individual rights of man are what spurred the birth of the United States in the first place, over 200 years ago. Apart from infringement upon individual rights, other damages have caused by the surveillance, such economic loss due to tax dollars being funneled into the NSA and a lack of trust in the US government. While these are further costs of surveillance, they are minimal in the long run if they lead to a safer world. Furthermore, often cited in the argument against surveillance is Benjamin Franklin’s statement, “Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” While this quote can be effective in touting the belief that the Founding Fathers would have strenuously disagreed with this surveillance, Franklin does specify “temporary safety.” In the case of terrorism, however, the world is not fighting for temporary safety but rather to ensure the blessed continuation of life as it is currently known for generations in the future.

While mass surveillance raises the issue of the ever-growing power of the federal government, if people are truly concerned with keeping with the Founding Fathers’ ideals of a balanced, centralized government, the president and their power must be kept in check. In this day, civil rights must be more clearly defined, as the world has changed so rapidly and drastically in the past 200 years since our country’s birth. The Founding Fathers could never have thought to take something such as mass surveillance into account, and thus, suitable government actions must be more clearly outlined for the world to see. As Alexander Hamilton did specify in Article 23 of the Federalist Papers that “it is impossible to foresee or define the extent and variety of national exigencies, or the correspondent extent and variety of the means which may be necessary to satisfy them,” arguments can be made that in the case of the War on Terror, actions taken by the Bush administration were within reason of America’s founding ideals.
In the great words of President Reagan, “there should be no place on earth where terrorists can rest and train and perfect their deadly skills. I meant it. I said that we would act with others if possible to ensure that terrorists have no sanctuary anywhere.” The deadly poison that is terrorism has not yet been stamped out, but the government of America has a duty to continue on with all efforts to do so. Over the past eight years, with an overly politically correct and dodging approach to the prevalent issue, the American public has lacked a strong leader willing to stand up and condemn these horrifying actions. Thus, the lack of faith creeping in at the end of President George W. Bush’s term on the War on Terror has only continued to grow. Ultimately, until the threat of terrorism is under control, faith and trust must be placed into the hands of the government.

The threat of domestic and international terrorism has driven the United States’ government to take drastic actions in the war on terror, but to take drastic actions with cause.

The fighting for the survival of the American ideal and dream in the long term is one that must be upheld, even if it means compromising certain values in the short term.

New Frontiers in Tech by Katie Gorton

“Above all, we must embrace that quintes­sentially American compulsion to race for new frontiers and push the bound­aries of what’s possible. If we do, I’m hopeful that tomorrow’s Americans will be able to look back at what we did—the diseases we conquered, the social problems we solved, the planet we protected for them—and when they see all that, they’ll plainly see that theirs is the best time to be alive. And then they’ll take a page from our book and write the next great chapter in our American story, emboldened to keep going where no one has gone before.”

President Obama

Recently, President Barack Obama took the time to be the guest editor of the November “Frontier” issue of Wired magazine. President Obama is the first sitting president to ever guest edit a magazine. The main focus of the November issue is to discuss the future. Mr. Obama covers issues ranging from the landing of men and women on Mars to precision medicine and figuring out how the human genome can unlock some of the world’s deadliest diseases.

In the magazine, he discusses his optimism for the future due to the constant churning of scientific progress. He shares stories and ideas about what lies beyond the barriers we haven’t broken yet. All of these innovations, he claims, will make the world better for the planet by discovering solutions to climate change, individuals with new tech involved in medicine, and communities.

In a new video series on Wired’s Youtube channel, President Obama discusses the exciting future of Artificial Intelligence. To explain, artificial intelligence is intelligence exhibited by machines. AI would allow cognitive functions humans associate with other human minds such as reasoning, problem-solving, etc. to be evident in computers. This process is not going to happen overnight, but it is predicted to occur in twenty or thirty years to come.

He states that AI will make the world safer by eliminating human error (i.e., self-driving cars) and stimulating the economy, but recognizes that AI also could have downsides that lead to eliminating jobs, increasing inequality, and suppressing wages. There are even concerns that AI could surpass our ability to understand it and machines will end up doing everything without humans, therefore decreasing jobs, but it is important to remember that these scenarios are all hypothetical. Many are becoming confused with the science fiction that surrounds this idea. It seems, however, that there is more good than bad to come from it. Mr. Obama relates the purpose of AI to the way we view using calculators as an extension of our intelligence and as a way to create good rather than causing harm.

AI is currently being developed to diagnose diseases along with developing treatments for these diseases as well as self-driving cars that will be much safer than those with human drivers. There is myriad of other areas of tech the President touches on in the November issue. The new “Frontiers” Edition of Wired magazine was released on Oct. 25th, and I hope all of you will enjoy it!

On Why Hamilton is Everything by Taylor Moises

I am obsessed with Hamilton: The American Musical, and you should be, too. Why? Because Hamilton isn’t just an award-winning musical–it’s a cultural phenomenon that tells “the story of America then told by America now.”

It is topically relevant with American society and politics today while still providing top-notch entertainment for all types of people to enjoy.

Here at Catalina, people either love Hamilton or hate Hamilton. For those of you who have not been enlightened to the greatness that is Hamilton: The American Musical, it is a Broadway musical sharing the story of one of America’s own founding fathers: Alexander Hamilton. Why in the world would a musical about an old, dead guy be so widely raved about? Because the genius behind it (its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda) created the musical so that it is topically relevant with American society and politics today while still providing top-notch entertainment for all types of people to enjoy. Lin-Manuel was able to liken Alexander Hamilton’s story to that of a contemporary rap artist and then link rap and conventional showtunes as the basis of the musical.

Now for a quick history lesson: Who exactly was Alexander Hamilton? If you are a Hamilton fan, you already know who he was and then some; for others, you have heard of his name if you have taken U.S. History with Mr. Place, and you have seen his face if you have ever seen a ten-dollar bill. Nonetheless, most people do not know much about who Alexander Hamilton was except that he was a founding father and that he died in a duel with Aaron Burr. However, Alexander Hamilton was the first secretary of the treasury of the United States, and he created our financial system. From this information, he does not seem like the obvious basis for a hit musical; however, Hamilton’s formal accomplishments do not sum up all that happened during his short but eventful lifetime. After reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton, Lin-Manuel realized Hamilton’s life was full of scandals, duels, and drama perfect for some entertainment. The musical focuses on Alexander Hamilton’s rise from a poor orphan from the Caribbean to George Washington’s right hand man in the Revolutionary War to his trusted aide when Washington became the first president. The musical ends with (spoiler alert!) Hamilton’s death after his duel with Aaron Burr.

One reason to be obsessed with Hamilton, and why I am obsessed with Hamilton, is because of the ingenuity behind its concept and its effective execution, both of which are mostly due to Hamilton’s founding father, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda, along with close friends and colleagues, worked for seven years to create what is now the musical. When he would explain he was working on a rap-musical about Alexander Hamilton, people did not see the connection or how that would work but because they knew Lin, they trusted that whatever it would turn out to be, it would be amazing. They were not wrong to believe in him. In 2009, Lin-Manuel was invited to the White House and he performed what was to become the opening number of Hamilton. The audience, including the Obamas, laughed when he introduced the piece, but by the end of the song, everyone, again including the Obamas, was on their feet applauding. This is the typical response from the time when people first hear about Hamilton to when they finally listen to it and realize how moving it is. With Lin-Manuel’s love for theatre and for hip-hop, he was able to successfully combine both styles in the musical to create this masterpiece.

Beyond the initial brilliance of successfully intertwining contemporary music with show tunes, Hamilton is made even better by the characters and actors behind the characters. Another crucial aspect to Hamilton is its racially diverse cast. All of the principal cast members are people of color. The Puerto Rican creator, Lin-Manuel, plays Alexander Hamilton; the three actors who play the first three presidents of the United States are African-Americans, and the lead actress is Asian-American. This diversity is necessary because Lin-Manuel embedded in Hamilton’s identity the idea of telling the story of the founding of America by the diverse inhabitants of America today. Hamilton could not be as successful as it has been if the cast were all old, white men. By including a racially diverse cast that reflects America today and using music less traditional for musicals, it brings Broadway closer to a less elite crowd and more available to all. It shows that Broadway musicals are not just for white people.

From its conception, Hamilton has attracted many celebrity followings along with popularity among the general public. Celebrities from Beyoncé and Jay-Z to Will Ferrell to Shonda Rhimes and many more have watched the musical at least once. The Obamas have seen the show multiple times and even invited the cast to perform in the White House. The show is in such high demand that the next available tickets are for May of next year. Seniors will be done with classes by the time a show has tickets that are available. While the low quantity of tickets makes the show less accessible, Lin-Manuel and those working on Hamilton are creating new ways for more people to watch the show live. Every day there is a lottery people can enter, and twenty-one people win front-row tickets for ten dollars (versus thousands of dollars). In addition to the lottery, there is often a “#Ham4Ham show” (known as Ham4Ham because winners give a “Ham” (ten-dollar bill) to watch Hamilton) that the cast hosts outside the Richard Rodgers theatre, when they put on an extra show including cast members, crew, or special guests as another way to give more to the Hamilton fan base. There is also a free show on some Wednesdays that New York City students attend if they in turn take a specialized curriculum about Alexander Hamilton and then perform an original piece based on what they learned on the Richard Rodgers’ stage for other schools and the Hamilton cast. These incredible experiences are just some of the many ways the minds behind Hamilton are working to make it available to as many people as they can, especially those who normally would not be able to attend a Broadway performance. Soon there will be Hamilton openings in Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, a nationwide tour, and a production in London. While it is the single hottest ticket on and off Broadway right now, these expansions and its continual success ensure Hamilton will be available for a long time.

Now, on a more personal level, here is why Hamilton is so amazing to me. As I have mentioned before, it has made Broadway shows more available to people who were never interested in musicals before, but it has also opened the door of rap music to theatre kids. For me, I was a rap fan turned musical fan. I have joked before that I am the “Troy Bolton” of my class–basketball player turned theatre kid–and Hamilton definitely is mostly to blame. It was such a seamless transition because of its hip-hop style and contemporary diction that I became obsessed quickly. I have all the words from every song memorized. Those who have listened to the cast album can attest that it is beyond catchy for musical geeks and just plain catchy for everyone else.

I got to watch it this summer on July, and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had.

You might be skeptical as to how I can be so sure Hamilton is so amazing, but I can assure you as one of the lucky few who have had the privilege of actually watching the show that it is everything I have hyped it up to be. I got to watch it this summer on July 2nd, and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. The performance was one of the last shows with the original Broadway cast, which is a big deal, especially for this musical, because the roles were tailored for many of the actors. Leslie Odom, Jr., who was able to humanize Aaron Burr, the villain, made the audience empathize with him even when he kills Hamilton. Plus, Lin-Manuel handpicked Daveed Diggs to play Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson because of his superb rapping skills and chose Chris Jackson to play George Washington before Lin-Manuel knew Hamilton would be a musical. I was sitting in what was probably the worst spot in the entire theatre, but I can attest that there truly is not a bad seat in the house. Just being in the room where it happened was enough. I only cried seven times because I had to tell myself to keep it together since the tears blurred my vision and impaired my view of the show. Also, because Hillary Clinton was watching at this performance, I could have been in the same room with the next president of the United States.

Now why would something that I make sound so wonderful be hated, like I said it was, at Catalina? Many people hate it because of the obsessiveness from others and me that can be annoying. So yes, I apologize for singing it out loud or making many Hamilton references, but it is relevant in everyday life, making it hard not to quote.  During an election year with candidates knee-deep in mudslinging and scandals, Hamilton involves many current, political issues. Although you will probably get some eye rolls when Hamilton is mentioned at Catalina, when was the last time people, especially those who aren’t theatre enthusiasts, had a strong opinion on a musical? This show has surpassed the conventionality as a musical; it is a cultural phenomenon and an integral piece of pop culture. Hamilton incorporates social and political issues while reaching a broad audience and providing great entertainment and art.

This may still not be striking enough for you. If you cannot see the brilliance behind this Pulitzer-Prize-, Grammy-, and Tony-winning musical, or refuse to give it a shot even after reading this article, my humble efforts have been useless. I don’t see how you can say no to this, but I am satisfied you at least read up to this point. We know the theater kids already play Hamilton non-stop, but it didn’t feel right to throw away my shot at trying to explain Hamilton is genius. One last time, I’ll say that it is worth it to give Hamilton a shot.