Discussion Post: Week 2

It’s about time to start Presentation I. How has your preparation been going? If you’re presenting this week, hopefully your outline is close to complete so that you can start your rehearsal. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the array of presentations that are in the works, so I can’t wait to see what you’ve developed. Just as a reminder, don’t forget to submit your presentation outline via SafeAssign at least 24 hours before the class period in which you signed up to present.

So, it’s official. At last week’s Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney accepted the Republican nomination for the presidency, confirming what we’ve known for months: that this November would feature a head-to-head showdown between Romney and Barack Obama to see who will lead our country for the next four years. The Republicans spent their time pushing Romney as a devoutly religious, successful businessman who will generate more jobs for the starved economy. Much like Obama was framed as the anti-Bush candidate during the 2008 election, Romney has portrayed himself as the antidote to Obama for voters disillusioned with his leadership over the last four years.

However, Romney’s focus on attacking Obama led some analysts to question whether he was able to build his trust with voters who still don’t know him very well. As the Obama team argued, even as Romney went on the offensive, he offered very little information about what he would do if he won the election. Furthermore, Romney’s recent moves have taken him further and further away from the moderate voters to whom he’ll have to cater if he hopes to triumph this November. Worse yet was the inconsistent focus among many of the convention speakers, who spoke about themselves and their own families as much as they did about Romney, and contradicted one another in turn about whether Romney was loving, respectful, or like “a nasty doctor.” (Gregory “Romney” House, anyone?) Let alone Clint Eastwood’s chat with a chair, for which “bizarre” is one of the kindest descriptions I’ve seen.

But as other analysts have pointed out, playing it safe might be Romney’s best strategy given the floundering U.S. economy and Americans’ growing discontent with their president. Let’s be fair — when an anti-Obama documentary tops all new film releases for the weekend upon its expansion to a nationwide release, it doesn’t bode well for the incumbent. In any case, as Romney began his push for the final nine weeks of the campaign by visiting the Hurricane Isaac-ravaged Louisiana, Obama has been spending his time answering questions on Reddit prior to the Democratic National Convention, which he hopes will serve as an opportunity to refute Romney and regain some momentum in the polls.

Speaking of the economy, the employment rate remained stagnant last week with initial jobless claims unchanged at 374,000, which remains the high mark for the month. These join the ranks of the many people collecting unemployment benefits through their state or the federal government; that figure currently sits at 5.44 million people. Even small-business owners are feeling the crushing weight of the economy, with entrepreneurs in their 60’s and 70’s unable to sell their companies and, therefore, unable to retire. Those running their own businesses, it seems, are little better off than those struggling to keep their jobs, as those owners’ nest eggs remain tied up within their companies and unavailable for their personal use. With any recovery still just a distant flicker on the horizon, many baby boomers will likely have to continue working for many years to come.

Let’s switch gears for a bit. Last year, Texas lawmakers and those of seven other states passed laws requiring voters to present photo identification before submitting a ballot in order to prevent voter fraud. Some Democrats, however, contended that the law would disenfranchise Hispanic and black voters, making it more difficult for them to legally vote. On Thursday, a panel of three federal judges agreed, blocking the Texas law. It’s the first time that a state voter identification law has been blocked on the federal level; five other states are still waiting for rulings. It should be noted that Texas is one of 16 states that have a history of voting rights violations and therefore have to seek approval for any voting protocol revisions to the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has vowed to appeal the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that the judges’ decision “is wrong on the law and improperly prevents Texas from implementing the same type of ballot integrity safeguards that are employed by Georgia and Indiana — and were upheld by the Supreme Court.” Abbott contends that voter fraud is substantially easier to perpetrate without such safeguards to verify individuals’ identities. White House Press Secretary Jim Carney rebutted that “This administration believes it should be easier for eligible citizens to vote and to register to vote. We should not be imposing unnecessary obstacles or barriers to voter participation.”

A different three-judge panel rejected Texas’ district redistribution plan, also on the grounds that the adjusted allocation of delegates were skewed against minorities in the state. Texas may have to use their interim delegate maps instead, which they originally drew up for the primary elections in response to voter rights groups’ complaints about the original state-drawn districts. Just as importantly, the judges’ decisions on these key issues could have a profound effect on other states’ ability to enforce their own regulations in the coming election. Should these appeals continue, the Supreme Court may play a role in how the election ultimately proceeds.

In world news, a Thursday report from the U.N.’S International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicates that Iran has doubled the number of its uranium enrichment machines in one of its underground bunkers, openly defying pressure to stop its atomic development. These new machines are not believed to be operational, but they nonetheless bring the bunker to an estimated three-quarters of the centrifuges necessary to produce uranium enriched to 20%, which could then be quickly converted into bomb-grade fuel or nuclear warhead cores.

Iran has consistently denied any interest in developing nuclear weapons, and the country’s secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, has implored the U.N. to “defend Tehran’s right for peaceful use of nuclear energy based on the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty).” At the same time, Iran asked the IAEA’s board to dilute its own power by redistributing its representation — a proposal that is unlikely to pass, but which may give Iran a platform on which to speak at the U.N.’s general conference in September. It should come as little surprise that the White House issued a statement of its own on Thursday, but the government’s words were less than decisive, only indicating that the window of opportunity for the situation to be resolved through diplomacy would not remain open “indefinitely.”

In Colorado, the case against James Holmes is getting weaker by the day, especially now that records have been released indicating that Holmes called the hospital where his psychiatrist worked a mere nine minutes before the fateful shootings on July 20. According to representatives from the University of Colorado Hospital, switchboard operators, who can forward callers to doctors after business hours, received a seven-second call just minutes before Holmes opened fire on the Aurora, Colorado theater, but the caller hung up before ever saying a word. This nonetheless lends a great deal of support to the argument that Holmes knew he had mental problems and was genuinely trying to seek help, right up to the moment of the attack, but that help simply wasn’t sufficient.

It also seems increasingly apparent that Holmes had long-term interpersonal problems well before his July 20 rampage. While the University of Colorado accepted him into their neuroscience program, the University of Iowa rejected him with the neuroscience program director warning colleagues, “Do NOT offer admission under any circumstances.” Professors at Iowa have declined to elaborate beyond saying that while Holmes was certainly academically qualified for admission — he had earned a stellar 3.9 grade point average at the University of California-Riverside, and scored in the 98th and 94th percentiles on the two primary components of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for admission to graduate school — the young man was not “a good personal fit for our program.” (Let that be a lesson of its own — GPAs and test scores aren’t everything!)

It’s unclear why the issues which blocked Holmes’ entrance to the University of Iowa failed to block his entrance to the highly selective neuroscience program at the University of Colorado, which admits an average of six out of 100 applicants each year. Perhaps they were enamored by his service at a camp for underprivileged children in 2008, where many of the children had neurological disorders like schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder.

In the tech world, Amazon has evidently sold out of its Kindle Fire tablet. The announcement, made on Thursday, pushed shares of its stock to a record high of $250. It also fueled speculation that Amazon will announce the next iteration of the Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch, the latter of which is also unavailable for purchase, at an event next Thursday in Santa Monica, California. It doesn’t hurt that a supposed photo of the Kindle Fire 2 was leaked on Thursday. There are apparently two different models in the works: a seven-inch model, which seems to be the image that we’ve seen, as well as a larger ten-inch version.

The Apple vs. Samsung ruling that we discussed last week has drawn a variety of reactions, but Samsung’s own activity since its loss to Apple is perhaps the most interesting to behold. On Thursday, Samsung stunned consumers and analysts alike by unveiling the Samsung ATIV S at Berlin’s IFA conference. The new device is the first Windows 8 smartphone to be revealed, and the announcement leapfrogged Nokia’s own highly anticipated launch. Some commentators are speculating that Samsung will partner more closely with Microsoft in the future, reducing its reliance on Google’s Android operating system.

Apple isn’t done lambasting Samsung, though. Fresh off losing an additional lawsuit against Samsung in Japan on Friday, Apple filed a legal complaint in San Jose, California, saying that Samsung continues to “flood the market with copycat products.” Samsung returned fire, accusing Apple of trying to limit consumer choice by blocking its competition’s efforts. In any case, we shouldn’t expect this battle to end any time soon.

If you’re a fan of webcomics, you’ll appreciate this next story. Matthew Inman, a 27-year-old web designer, developer, and online marketer, also publishes a comic called The Oatmeal, which deals with everything from “The 6 Phases of a Tapeworm’s Life” to “How a Web Design Goes Straight To Hell.” Over the past three years, The Oatmeal has received almost one billion page views from over 100 million visitors. But Inman made a very different sort of impact over the past week and a half.

Let’s back up for a moment. 17 years ago, a few interested individuals formed the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe and focused their efforts on restoring the laboratory used by visionary scientist Nikola Tesla over a century ago and turning it into America’s first Tesla museum. (If you’ve forgotten your elementary school science classes, Tesla was a notable rival to Thomas Edison who dreamed of a world with free electricity.) They managed to secure a state matching grant of $850,000, which theoretically got them halfway to the $1.6 million necessary to purchase the land. Despite their best efforts, however, they were only able to secure about $50,000 in outside donations, making their goal seem all but insurmountable. The project, it seemed, was doomed from the start.

This summer, however, the Tesla Science Center’s president, Jane Alcorn, learned that Inman had published a comic entitled “Why Nicola Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived.” (Read it. Seriously.) The two began talking about Alcorn’s project, and at 6:00 p.m. on August 15, Inman posted a request for donations on Indiegogo.com. By the time Inman went to bed that night, the project had already received almost a quarter of a million dollars, and within a week it blew past the $1.1 million mark, well over the stated goal of $850,000. Since the first $850,000 will be matched by the aforementioned $850,000 grant from over a decade ago, Matthew Inman’s publicity efforts have pushed the Tesla Science Center’s fundraiser past $2 million — with a month left on the Indiegogo fundraiser, no less. The extra cash beyond the $1.6 million land purchase price will be put toward the museum renovation efforts.

We often see internet stars start fundraisers for their own personal projects, but Inman’s charitable efforts may have a lasting impact on budding scientists for generations to come. Kudos to you, Inman.

It’s always good to look beyond our planet from time to time, and that’s exactly what NASA’s new infrared telescope, WISE, has been doing. While scientists expected to discover some new objects in the vast expanse of space, however, they didn’t expect WISE to uncover an entirely new type of galaxy. Dubbed “hot DOGs” (yes, I’m serious), or hot Dust-Obscured Galaxies, these systems are about twice as hot as comparable galaxies, which may be because much of their radiation is obscured (and perhaps contained) by clouds of dust. WISE located about 1,000 such hot DOGs, a number which represents about one in 100,000 known light sources in the universe.

In other space news, the Mars rover Curiosity is trying to discern whether the red planet ever had an environment that could support microbial life. But it may have been beaten to the punch: sugar molecules have been discovered in the space surrounding a young star in the constellation Ophiuchus. This sugar molecule, named glycolaldehyde, has previously been seen in interstellar space, but it has never been observed so close to a star that could support life. To put it in familiar terms, the sugar molecules are about the same distance away from the star called IRAS 16293-2422 as Uranus is from our own sun. This indicates that the potential for extraterrestrial life may be present in that region, and alien planets may in fact be forming there as we speak. Glycolaldehyde, after all, can react with propenal to form ribose, which is a key component of RNA, one of the fundamental building blocks of life. We shouldn’t expect to be chatting with E.T. any time soon, but this finding makes the hope of finding life beyond our world all the more real.

Andy Roddick, one of the greatest American tennis players, stunned the sports world on Thursday by announcing his retirement from the sport. The announcement came in the early stages of the U.S. Open, where Roddick won the men’s singles title in 2003; it was the last singles Grand Slam win by a U.S. man. The announcement came on Roddick’s 30th birthday, which is indeed on the tail end of most tennis professionals’ careers. Roddick, a former top-ranked player who is seeded 20th in the 2012 U.S. Open, intends to play through the remainder of the tournament before putting away his racket for good. For now, at least, Roddick lives to take the court for another day, as he crushed Australian dynamo Bernard Tomic in straight sets to reach the third round.

As Roddick put it, however, he is not interested in merely “existing” on the tour. He might exist just a little longer, though, as he’ll be the favorite in his third-round match today against 59th-ranked Fabio Fognini of Italy. Should he push past Fognini, Roddick will likely face 7th-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro for a shot at the quarterfinals. The towering Argentinian hasn’t been quite as dominant as Roddick was in the second round, but he did take down American Ryan Harrison in four relatively easy sets. If Roddick continues further, his most likely quarterfinal opponent would be Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, the tournament’s second seed who is always a threat to take home the title. Spain’s David Ferrer, seeded fourth, also sits on Roddick’s half of the draw, while Switzerland’s Roger Federer awaits on the other side as the most fearsome player in the tournament. (A Roddick-Federal final would be the stuff of legends, especially since Federer won five straight U.S. Opens from 2004-2008 after Roddick’s 2003 success. But there’s a long way to go before that match could reach its fruition.)

Oh, and the NFL regular season is about to start. The officiating, on the other hand, remains far from prepared, with most commentators calling the baffling rulings throughout the preseason a mockery of professional football. I suppose that’s what you get when you have to bring in replacement officials after failing to clear a labor impasse with the NFL Referees’ Association. These officials have bungled virtually every call possible, with a miniseries worth of penalties ranging from clock management to which signal indicates which penalty. Heck, one referee actually forgot which city he was in, announcing that “Arizona will be not charged a timeout” during a Baltimore-Atlanta showdown.

How about we divert our attention from the strange football situation with some downright disgusting health news. That sounds like a good idea, right? First, we have the kidney that was meant for use in an Ohio transplant but which was mistakenly chucked in the trash. Yes, that’s right. A nurse at the University of Toledo Medical Center apparently thought that the organ was junk and tossed it into a medical waste bin. Doctors desperately tried to resuscitate the kidney, which had just been extracted from a live donor for his sister’s operation, but they were unsuccessful. Three staff members have been suspended following the incident, and the hospital voluntarily suspended its entire live kidney donor program as it investigates how such a grievous mistake was possible.

If your friends ever try extreme dieting to improve their health, please tell them to stop. That’s the lesson of a 25-year study which heavily restricted the caloric intake of rhesus monkeys in order to see if being kept lean and hungry would improve one’s longevity. Many scientists taking part in the study, which began in 1987, started restricting their own diets in anticipation that lower calorie intakes would directly result in a longer lifespan. It didn’t work. The long-awaited results revealed, instead, that the skinny monkeys lived no longer than their counterparts who were kept at normal weights throughout their lives. Only a few lab test results improved because of a leaner diet, and only for monkeys switched to a leaner diet at a very old age. There was no benefit whatsoever to the monkeys who were kept on lean diets throughout their lifespans, defying the notion that a low-calorie diet results in a longer life. Granted, the study was only conducted on monkeys, not humans, but it should still serve as food for thought the next time you argue with your growling stomach over whether you’ve reached your calorie quota for the day.

Actually, before you share this news with your friends, maybe you should share it with Disney. The media giant has partnered with Barneys New York for a Christmas extravaganza this year. Delving into the realm of fashion is nothing new for Disney, as even the biggest celebrities flaunt their love for the most famous rodents in the world by donning a Mickey or Minnie Mouse shirt from time to time.

This campaign, however, is a little different. First, it centers around Minnie’s supposed fantasy to attend Paris fashion week. Sure, I’ll buy that. It’s not totally inconceivable. But it culminates with Minnie and her friends strutting down the runway in the latest fashions. Barneys representatives decided that the classic Minnie just wouldn’t be able to wear a real-world Lanvin dress, and Disney executives agreed that she, along with all her friends, would have to be remodeled. And the result was… well… this.

Classic Minnie Mouse

Avert thine eyes!

The anorexic makeovers for the other Disney legends, who will be wearing everything from Dolce & Gabbana to Balenciaga, aren’t much better. I’ll spare your eyes and let you track down the rest yourself, if you’re interested. You can start with the link above, as that article also shows off the new Daisy and Goofy. Just consider yourself warned. And if you really want to make a difference, convince your friends not to shop at Barneys this year if they go through with this campaign. I’m normally not one to push for things like that, but frankly, the new Disney icons even sicken me.

Finally, we’ll finish with a Toddlers & Tiaras scandal. (Yes, I know — if you’ve seen any episodes, you might think the infamous show itself is one giant scandal, but bear with me.) For those of you unfamiliar with Toddlers & Tiaras, the TLC program basically follows around a bunch of toddlers and their more-than-mad parents who take them around to compete in child beauty pageants. I tried watching it once, just to give it a chance, and I couldn’t even make it through five minutes of pre-kindergarten girls being ordered to wear more makeup and told how to shake their hips in order to be sexier. But if you thought that they couldn’t do any more to try to turn toddlers into fully-grown women, Thursday night’s episode took things to an entirely new level.

As part of her act, four-year-old Destiny was dressed to look like Sandy from the classic film Grease, complete with teased hair and a leather jacket. So far, hardly the most shocking get-up on the show.

Then, as she strutted on stage, viewers noticed the cigarette dangling from her lips.

In case you forgot, she's four years old.

“Don’t forget to smoke,” her mother had reminded her before her performance. And so she did.

It wasn’t that long ago that cigarette companies like Camel were under fire for allegedly marketing their products to children. After all, people said, a cartoon camel will get children’s attention, and the smoking could be easily imitated. So agreements were reached and regulations were tightened to protect kids from advertising influences. Which makes it all the more absurd that any parent would skip that entire step and put the cigarette directly into a preschooler’s mouth.

To be fair, the cigarette was apparently a fake. Not that that necessarily makes this incident a lot better. In the future, it will be a lot easier for little Destiny to find real cigarettes than the fakes her mother purchased, after all.

This is hardly the only piece of absurdity surrounding TLC’s hit program. Last year, five-year-old Madisyn “Maddy” Verst appeared on Toddlers & Tiaras dressed as Dolly Parton, complete with “fake C-cup boobs, butt pads and a hot pink Lycra pant suit. To top it all off, she sported a platinum blonde wig.” Needless to say, that incident sparked its share of outrage, too. Perhaps the angriest person was Maddy’s father, Bill Verst, who decided that things had finally gone too far. Verst is petitioning a court to take full custody of Maddy from his ex-wife Lindsay Jackson, saying that incidents like the Dolly Parton show and a set of “sexy police officer” photos show that the child’s mother is exploiting her through the child beauty pageants. Early reports indicate that the court is likely to agree with him — a court-appointed psychological expert wrote several pages condemning the girl’s pageant participation and recommending Verst be named primary residential custodian. Judges in such cases almost always follow the recommendation of a neutral psychological expert.

Jackson, on the other hand, has vehemently protested the notion that entering her daughter in pageants makes her a bad mother, noting that her ex-husband has a lengthy arrest record including alcohol and drug-related charges. She further argued that such a ruling would open the door for any activity to be challenged as a reason for custody to be revoked. “What if years ago Gabby Douglas’ father said, ‘She’s not going to be a gymnast. She’s not going to move away from home and practice gymnastics because I won’t allow it,’ and he and Gabby’s mother got into a fight? We wouldn’t have gold medal winners, we wouldn’t have Miss America, we wouldn’t have Miss USA.” In any case, the court proceedings resumed on Friday, so we’ll see where the case goes.

For all its controversy, though, Toddlers & Tiaras continues to rake in the viewers. It has been so successful, in fact, that TLC recently launched a spinoff, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, built around one of its most outrageous contestants, six-year-old Alana Johnson. To put it in perspective, last week “Honey Boo Boo” and her self-proclaimed redneck family earned higher ratings than the Republican National Convention broadcasts on ABC and CBS… combined. Sure, if you add together all of the major networks showing the RNC, they cumulatively outdid TLC’s new program, but should we really have to put all of the biggest channels together just to beat Here Comes Honey Boo Boo? No wonder so many <a href="http://www.2012hoax.org/">fanatics are predicting the end of the world this year.

Other articles of interest
Harvard considers honor code as it investigates whether 125 undergraduates cheated on exam
Surprising end for an epic fighter
U.S. Open Referee Charged With Killing Husband in L.A. to Face Murder Charge
Javelin strike to throat kills man, 74
Russian volleyball coach commits suicide, with colleagues blaming poor Olympic showing for his death
Lydia Ko, 15, wins in Canada
Rogers Clemens shines in return
Terrell Owens says he’s been cut
Atlanta school forfeits season opener for basic reason: It doesn’t have equipment
Dodgers, Red Sox complete blockbuster nine-player trade
Genome Brings Ancient Girl to Life
Ancient Human Kin’s DNA Code Illuminates Rise of Brains
New ‘Heartland’ Virus Discovered in Sick Missouri Farmers
Campers Question Yosemite Response to Hantavirus
Why Your Cellphone Has More Bacteria Than a Toilet Seat
Chocolate reduces stroke risk in men
The squid and the iPod nano
New iPad Mini to debut in October, sources say
Boy, 10, reports stabbing on Oklahoma City Public Schools bus
Pirate Bay Founder Arrested in Cambodia
Poof! $1 Billion Slashed From 2012 Facebook Revenue Forecast
We will win in Afghanistan
American Taliban Seeks Group Prayer in Ind. Prison

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33 responses to “Discussion Post: Week 2”

  1. tbeach21 says :

    It’s ridiculous to claim that requiring a photo I.D. in order to cast a vote is discriminatory against black or Hispanic voters. If a person is a legal resident of their state, they will have no problem getting a photo I.D.. Requiring the I.D. in order to vote would definitely help prevent voter fraud, and I see that as a very positive step forward.

  2. annadell57 says :

    The remodeling Minnie thing is disgusting! I think it is so unfortunate that this is what society has come to. Last week’s blog said that almost a third of American adults are obese. I’d like to know how many Americans have eating disorders or have dieted their entire lives! Marilyn Monroe was most definitely not a size zero. Today, the fashion industry would tell her to lose weight. Now they are asking that of our childhood cartoon characters? Ridiculous! Women cannot possibly get any smaller; we are already trying to compare ourselves to edited magazine photos. Now we get compare to a drawing of a fictional character.

  3. Garrett Rood says :

    Ok, so I read through most of this article and really one thing outraged me the most, that would be Ms. Jackson’s response to her husband wanting custody. She makes the argument, “What if years ago Gabby Douglas’ father said, ‘She’s not going to be a gymnast. She’s not going to move away from home and practice gymnastics because I won’t allow it,’ and he and Gabby’s mother got into a fight? We wouldn’t have gold medal winners, we wouldn’t have Miss America, we wouldn’t have Miss USA.” I’m sorry but that is just plain ridiculous. The reason he is trying to take custody is because he feels his child is being exploited and it could very easy cause lasting effects on her. It is not because he does not like pageants, he might but that is not the point here, it is because he is worried for his child. On top of that she says that he has a criminal record so he should not be allowed to have custody and while most of the time I would agree with her, I have to adamantly disagree with her here because he obviously has more sense for his daughter, while having a criminal record, than she does. I just cannot express how disgusting I think these pageants have become. A child pageant should not be exploiting these little girls to be more sexy and more provocative. They should be making them adorable, cute, innocent, and more importantly these kids should be having fun.

  4. Daniel Spivey says :

    There was a lot going on in this blog. I would like to talk about the elections. I personally am Democrat or at least my parents are. Growing up in California you do not really have a choose. I believe that the country is in trouble, and the economy definately needs help. Romney interest me because he has been such a successful business man on his own. I would like to see how he would put his own business strategy towards improving the country. I also think that Obama has done good things as well, and still needs more time to complete everything that he wants to do. This election will be interesting. As for me still not sure who I am going to vote for.

  5. Junter says :

    The fact that this guy is probably gonna get off on an insanity plea is absolutely ridiculous. Arming yourself up and creating an intricate booby trap at your house before you go out and shoot innocent people shows that you were well aware of your actions and had shown premeditation thoughts. Sure the guy might have had some mental problems but not everyone with Schizophrenia or Depression goes on shooting rampages. His defense is gonna claim he was legally insane at the time of the shooting and was not aware of his actions or some bull like that and hes gonna go sit in a nice mental hospital for the rest of his life instead of a federal prison like he really should be.

  6. Zack Palazzo says :

    The people that appear on the show Toddlers and Tiaras represent everything that is wrong in this country. It’s pathetic that a parent could encourage their child to participate in these shows. Instead of pushing their kids into beauty pageants, they should be explaining the importance of education, and how a good education can not only better their own life, but will help continue the advancement of this nation. We also need to hold ourselves accountable. We watch the shows, we make them famous, and we give them the idea that what they are doing is acceptable.

  7. nlosande says :

    Andy Roddick has been the face of American tennis for at least the past decade. Other “up and comers” have tried to break onto the professional scene but have not had as much success. In a sport where American dominance retired along with the previous generation of players (at least on the men’s circuit), Andy Roddick has always tried to be the player to bring home a championship.

    By the numbers, Andy Roddick has been relatively unsuccessful having won only one grand slam (2003 U.S. Open) and runner up in another (2009 Wimbledon), but as discussed in the James Holmes section, numbers rarely provide a full picture. He plays hard, serves even harder, and, I mean jeez does he serve hard. I mena here is a video to demonstrate just how hard he serves: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXL-gtksKY8.

    After the win at the US Open in 2003, he struggled to continue to be a top player. During this period, he suffered several setbacks, but after a coaching change, was able to become a solid top 10 player. Despite this, he experienced a heart-breaking defeat against Federer in the 2009 Wimbledon final, in which many judged his performance to be even better than the performance that won him the US Open.

    I always think about how my parents talk about watching John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, and then Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, and how I will eventually talk about watching Andy Roddick. It’s weird to see him go, but all in all, job well done. Enjoy retiring at 30!

  8. liv4creativity says :

    I agree with annadell57. We should not be forced to compete with pencil-thin models, real or fictional. It is important to have a healthy body and healthy bodies are going to be different for every person. We can only change how society views beauty from the inside-out, starting with ourselves.

  9. jones326 says :

    Toddlers and Tiaras is one of the worst shows that I have ever seen…for the ten minutes that I could stand to watch it. The parents on that show should be ashamed of themselves for what they are doing with their children. They aren’t providing any life lessons or teaching their kids how to be responsible. I cannot believe that one mom encouraged her FOUR year old daughter to smoke a cigarette. That being said, I think this statement can be applied to television in general anymore. Everything is reality TV garbage, with only a handful of shows that I will tune in to. Jersey Shore was the final straw for me with television. As soon as that show came out, I gave up all hope.

  10. Cameron says :

    Good old Matthew Inman of theoatmeal.com. I have been following that website for quite a while now, and so have a lot of other people on the internet. For those of you don’t know, theoatmeal.com is a website of hilarious comics about miscellaneous and pop culture topics. Inman wrote the Tesla article a pretty long time ago and has since gathered a pretty big following of Tesla lovers (Here is a link to the comic http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla). The fact that he then raised all of this money for the museum is amazing, especially because it’s due to a comic. Inman has also raised a large amount of money to donate to cancer research when he was sued a while back. He was sued by the lawyer of funnyjunk.com for some bull crap reasons, so instead of paying what the lawyer demanded, he raised that money and donated it away (http://theoatmeal.com/blog/charity_money). He is a pretty awesome guy. You should definitely check out theoatmeal.com and show some support.

  11. colinbyram says :

    Politics, the first discussion topic for this weeks blog, is something I’m sure many of us could go on for hours about and never find a definite solution. As a college student I am surprised to notice that I was more interested in politics and the elections more in high school than I am now and I believe I know why. Nowadays it is almost impossible to determine what is real and what is fake in the political world. I feel each party has a hidden agenda that we may never know about until they win the office. It is frustrating that I do in fact care about the future of our country and the policies that get put in place, but often cannot learn about these things because of the constant bashing of the other candidate instead of discussing their own plans.
    As for the voter identification issue at hand, I find it absolutely ridiculous to think someone would not be required to show proof of identification to vote. This is simply voting fraud made easy for the current administration. It is not difficult to obtain some form of government issued ID. In previous elections people have been unable to vote because someone had already voted under their name! It’s not hard to go to the phonebook and gather some names to vote under, thus allowing ONE person to vote MULTIPLE times.

  12. Tyler Durham says :

    The most interesting thing I found in this blog was actually the link to The Oatmeal comic about Tesla and how he was the greatest geek ever to live. He seemed like a great man who could have changed the course of history dramatically if we were able to have free electricity nowadays. Edison from that story seemed like a very sneaky man and only was famous because of stealing other people’s work. It was very strange the Tesla was celibate his entire life though and eventually, strangely fell in love with a pigeon. He could have changed our world dramatically if he grew some courage and could actually communicate with people instead of coping himself in his laboratory all day and letting people literally steal all of his work. But nonetheless, an amazing a brilliant mind. I think that all this space exploration that these scientist are doing is amazing. I love hearing news about new discovers in space and the pursuit to find other “life-forms.” I do believe there is other life forms out there in the universe, there has to be with how massive it is. So, time will only tell if we will ever find these other living beings, but space explorers are making great strides to find them.

  13. MeganEvilsizor says :

    When I see stories about the “Batman” shooter and all the reasons why he got depressed and reasons why he shot those innocent people makes me upset. I don’t think that its right at all to try and say that he couldn’t find a job or that the economy is tough or that he just had all around life troubles. I have friends who can’t find jobs?, the economy is hell on wheels for all of us, and we all have troubled lives at some point and yet we all seem to not go shooting into a theater! It’s ridiculous how the media tries to make amends for what he did by saying that he was under a lot of stress and couldn’t deal with life. Well if you haven’t heard life is pretty dang rough these days and he gets what he deserves which in my opinion is the death sentence or maximum life. It might seem harsh, but tell that to the families who lost a loved one.

    Also on the presidential debate, why does it seem like every time we have to elect a new president its a crap shoot over who sucks less as a candidate? Obama hasn’t done squat except inspire political cartoons and Romney hasn’t really given the public much to think about. I got an email that stated some pretty good facts about why Obama won’t get re elected but this could really be a toss up this year. I think that what is said here is true, I just don’t know where this voting season will turn up all I want to ask now is where is my guy Ron Paul????

    Email I got:

    A Las Vegas “odds maker” opines on why Obama will get “killed” by Romney in November.
    Wayne Allyn Root
    May 30, 2012
    Town hall Alerts

    Most political predictions are made by biased pollsters, pundits, or prognosticators who are either rooting for Republicans or Democrats. I am neither. I am a former Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee, and a well-known Vegas oddsmaker with one of the most accurate records of predicting political races.
    >>>>>>But as an oddsmaker with a pretty remarkable track record of picking political races, I play no favorites. I simply use common sense to call them as I see them. Back in late December I released my New Years Predictions. I predicted back then- before a single GOP primary had been held, with Romney trailing for months to almost every GOP competitor from Rick Perry to Herman Cain to Newt- that Romney would easily rout his competition to win the GOP nomination by a landslide. I also predicted that the Presidential race between Obama and Romney would be very close until election day. But that on election day Romney would win by a landslide similar to Reagan-Carter in 1980.
    >>>>>>Understanding history, today I am even more convinced of a resounding Romney victory. 32 years ago at this moment in time, Reagan was losing by 9 points to Carter. Romney is right now running even in polls. So why do most pollsters give Obama the edge?
    >>>>>>First, most pollsters are missing one ingredient- common sense. Here is my gut instinct. Not one American who voted for McCain 4 years ago will switch to Obama. Not one in all the land. But many millions of people who voted for an unknown Obama 4 years ago are angry, disillusioned, turned off, or scared about the future. Voters know Obama now- and that is a bad harbinger.
    >>>>>>Now to an analysis of the voting blocks that matter in U.S. politics:
    >>>>>>*Black voters. Obama has nowhere to go but down among this group. His endorsement of gay marriage has alienated many black church-going Christians. He may get 88% of their vote instead of the 96% he got in 2008. This is not good news for Obama.
    >>>>>>*Hispanic voters. Obama has nowhere to go but down among this group. If Romney picks Rubio as his VP running-mate the GOP may pick up an extra 10% to 15% of Hispanic voters (plus lock down Florida). This is not good news for Obama.
    >>>>>>*Jewish voters. Obama has been weak in his support of Israel. Many Jewish voters and big donors are angry and disappointed. I predict Obama’s Jewish support drops from 78% in 2008 to the low 60’s. This is not good news for Obama.
    >>>>>>*Youth voters. Obama’s biggest and most enthusiastic believers from 4 years ago have graduated into a job market from hell. Young people are disillusioned, frightened, and broke- a bad combination. The enthusiasm is long gone. Turnout will be much lower among young voters, as will actual voting percentages. This not good news for Obama.
    >>>>>>*Catholic voters. Obama won a majority of Catholics in 2008. That won’t happen again. Out of desperation to please women, Obama went to war with the Catholic Church over contraception. Now he is being sued by the Catholic Church. Majority lost. This is not good news for Obama.
    >>>>>>*Small Business owners.Because I ran for Vice President last time around, and I’m a small businessman myself, I know literally thousands of small business owners. At least 40% of them in my circle of friends, fans and supporters voted for Obama 4 years ago to “give someone different a chance.” I warned them that he would pursue a war on capitalism and demonize anyone who owned a business…that he’d support unions over the private sector in a big way…that he’d overwhelm the economy with spending and debt. My friends didn’t listen. Four years later, I can’t find one person in my circle of small business owner friends voting for Obama. Not one. This is not good news for Obama.
    >>>>>>*Blue collar working class whites. Do I need to say a thing? White working class voters are about as happy with Obama as Boston Red Sox fans feel about the New York Yankees. This is not good news for Obama.
    >>>>>>*Suburban moms. The issue isn’t contraception…it’s having a job to pay for contraception. Obama’s economy frightens these moms. They are worried about putting food on the table. They fear for their children’s future. This is not good news for Obama.
    >>>>>>*Military Veterans.McCain won this group by 10 points. Romney is winning by 24 points. The more our military vets got to see of Obama, the more they disliked him. This is not good news for Obama.
    >>>>>>Add it up. Is there one major group where Obama has gained since 2008? Will anyone in America wake up on election day saying “I didn’t vote for Obama 4 years ago. But he’s done such a fantastic job, I can’t wait to vote for him today.” Does anyone feel that a vote for Obama makes their job more secure?
    >>>>>>Forget the polls. My gut instincts as a Vegas oddsmaker and common sense small businessman tell me this will be a historic landslide and a world-class repudiation of Obama’s radical and risky socialist agenda. It’s Reagan-Carter all over again.
    >>>>>>But I’ll give Obama credit for one thing – he is living proof that familiarity breeds contempt.

  14. lukeshall says :

    I find it interesting that we always try to find an explanation for things that happen. “We” meaning humans or Americans in general. For example, when looking at the massacre at the movie theatre in Colorado, its completely obvious that James Holmes did something that was wrong. He killed a bunch of people. Maybe “we” should just punish him for what he did. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t, because what if he had something so wrong with his mind that made him do such a thing. I do however think that he should be punished. Because even if he did have a mental condition, wrongdoings should be punished. We often discipline and punish children even when they do something that did not know was wrong. It does not matter if they knew or not, they need to be punished for it. Whatever happens to Holmes, I’m glad I am not the one to decide!

  15. kcorcimi says :

    If Barney’s goes threw with their new Minnie Mouse campaign, I will MAKE SURE to tell all of my friends not to shop at Barney’s. The fact that they even try to change such an icon is ridiculous. The change doesn’t even look similar to the classic version. Women already try to do so much to “be pretty” according to society standards. We are real strong women who don’t need to be anorexic to wear these fancy clothes. I mean sure, if you want a random mouse to model your clothes, go ahead, but don’t try to change an icon.

  16. Blake Neata says :

    As far as the presidential election article goes, I felt that it was written to favor the Democratic party. Although some of what they were saying about Romney was probably accurate, the used a lot of opinions to back up their article instead of using facts. I believe that the movie against Obama will hit the voters pretty hard but in the end I feel Obama will win the election. Although I am not a Democrat nor an Obama fan, I just don’t think that there is a good enough Republican opponent to knock Obama out of office.

    But politics are a changing game and I agree with the fact that Romney’s best strategy will be to sit back and let the public soak in the negative aspects connected to Obama. During election time especially, Americans tend to focus more on the negatives than the positives.

  17. jteagard says :

    Very little disgusts me more than beauty pageants like Toddlers & Tiaras. I would completely agree with the father that he is more fit to have sole custody of their child. I believe pageants like these do not convey the beauty that is shown within each person. Instead they are shown that beauty is solely on the outside and that you have to put on all that makeup or “try to act sexy” to be beautiful. It is sickening. Even though the father has had a criminal record, he can still see what is better for their daughter better than the mother in my opinion.

  18. Jordan Berk says :

    Though Roddick lost against del Potro he went out in stride. Roddick doesn’t play for the money or fame but the game. After the match Roddick was quoted “This week I felt like I was 12 years old, playing in a park. It was extremely innocent”. He has always enjoyed playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the US Open is hosted, where he won the Men’s Singles title in 2003. Every match he plays in the US the crowd always cheers “Go Andy” and his pride, skill and confidence shines through. This is the end of an era but his legacy will live on forever in the tennis community. Though this chapter in his life is over, tennis will be forever a part of him and him a part of tennis.

  19. Ashlynn Johnson says :

    I can’t believe they did that to the Disney characters! There’s already controversy around Disney’s stereotyping of characters (one example being “The Princess and the Frog”), but now they have to deal with this. Disney has always been about “the family”, but this new marketing campaign is clearly not thinking of the effects it has on kids. I’m not the type of person to freak out over things that “could” influence kids, but this just irritates me. It’s bad for both Disney’s image and own marketing campaign. There’s already a huge issue with girls expectations of a “beautiful women” and this new Barney’s campaign isn’t going to help. It just seems wrong to turn children’s role models into something like that.

  20. tbanas says :

    The redesign of Minnie is disgusting/disturbing/wrong/etc. I think its sad that the cartoon characters that we have come to know have to go through a redesign just to keep their popularity up with the younger crowd. What’s worse is that the redesigns always seem to make the characters more floozy. If children are looking at minnie all done up and skinnier than a pin, what message is that sending. I could be reading too much into and censoring isn’t an option. The redo just reflects how society has advanced and it isn’t pretty.

    On another topic, the Dust-Obscured Objects scared me a little because they revealed a boat load of black holes that are out there. I just worry that some of those might be the wandering black holes that were discovered a few years back. http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Science/story?id=2365372&page=1#.UElGjY7R3zI

  21. David Meyer says :

    First of all, I want to say that I believe that requiring that voters present ID is a good thing. I do not see at all how it can be discriminatory if literally everyone has to present ID. Honestly, it makes me a little upset that people are so overly concerned with not being racist and being fair to everyone that they open the door wide open for voter fraud. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no racist. I just believe that there is nothing discriminatory in presenting an ID to vote.

    Another thing that makes me angry is the Toddlers in Tiaras show. It nearly makes me sick to my stomach to see these terrible parents ruining their children. To think that they are making preschoolers smoke fake cigarettes and make them wear fake breasts leads me to believe that their parents are severely mistaken on how to raise a child. In fact, I believe that those parents are unfit to take care of their kids. It is literally child abuse.

  22. Garret Howard says :

    I think that it is ridiculous that Democrats are arguing against a law making it mandatory that everyone show a photo ID in order to vote. I do not really consider myself a Democrat or Republican at this point in my life so I am not saying this because I am a Republican or anything. But I do agree with a law to make it mandatory to show a photo ID to vote, I believe that it would prevent a lot of voter fraud. As for the Minnie Mouse makeover I dont see why it is necessary to change her image. Minnie mouse is a classic and should stay that way forever, making a cartoon character thinner in order to style todays latest brand is portraying the wrong image to children in my opinion.

  23. Edward Dang says :

    The world is really full of stupid, unreasonable stuff. A lot of it is disgusting one way or another, and all the same we’ve got people discovering evidence of possible life in the stars. This week’s blog posts alone show that we as a species are not ready for alien contact. Are we even ready for every sort of human contact? How could we possible communicate with aliens when we’re still finding ways to communicate with ourselves? Rhetorical question? It is absolutely terrifying that there is another entire species out there on another planet. Could we even look at an alien and not vomit?
    There are parents dressing their children up and making them look like adults who made some pretty bad life decisions, political types being all unhappy with each other for (lets face it) threatening something that has to do with how much power they get, super skinny being the new busty, and guess what? There could be ALIEN life. We’re not ready. Let’s figure each other out before we take that next set of stairs, yeah?

  24. Tim Gleeson says :

    There was a lot of info on this blog. While I should be more concerned about things like international affairs and business, I cannot resist to say how awful Toddlers and Tiaras is. That show, and Honey Boo Boo are even worse than the Kardashians. Even the Kardashians have commented that they think its pointless to follow such talentless people (irony!). Also, my parents were at the US Open in New York and saw Andy Roddick’s last match, which they said was really exciting and sad at the same time. I grew up associating American tennis with him, so its sad to see him go. Lastly, I agree with many of my classmates that the voter ID law is not a huge deal, it should not be that big of a road bump. My home state does not have the same kind of policy, but is also talking about it.

  25. Brandon Vath says :

    I see nothing wrong with requiring someone to provide photo identification prior to voting. Personally, I thought it was a nationwide requirement to present photo identification before voting. My home state of Ohio requires me to present photo identification every time I go to vote. This is a very easy and simple step that prevents unregistered voters from voting. It also prevents people from voting for someone else or voting multiple times. If you meet the requirements to vote in this country, and you are a registered voter, providing photo identification should not be an issue at all.

  26. Zach Gerbner says :

    Seeing Andy Roddick retire from tennis is pretty sad in my opinion. I have always been a fan of tennis, and while I do not play myself, both my brother and father actively play. I have been very fortunate to see Roddick play at the US Open, and he did not disappointing. He won in straight sets, and even though it was only in the early rounds, I remember it being an exciting match. While I would agree with others that Roddick has been the face of American tennis for at least the past 8 years, in my opinion, he never lived up to his expectations. After winning the US Junior open, and then the US Open in 2003, he never won another major. Many expected great things from him, and while he did have multiple ATP wins, and a rash of injuries, I feel that he could have been more successful on tour. In the past year or so, I believe Roddick saw the writing on the wall. Up and coming American tennis player John Isner became the more dominant American player on tour, and Roddick realized it was time to pass the torch. Overall, it has been a pleasure watching Andy Roddick’s tennis career over the past decade, and I wish him luck in retirement!

  27. Craig (@ctlocker) says :

    The disgusting show that is Toddlers and Tiaras has displayed the lows at which reality TV will stoop to for a quite some time. I, similar to you Mr. Britt, attempted to watch an episode and failed to even make it to the first commercial break. Now to hear that legal troubles have begun to follow the cast of Toddlers and Tiaras really brings no surprise. The specific case of the Verst girl is highly disturbing. To dress up your 4 year old daughter to be sexy and going even as far as making her wear “fake c cup boobs.” Then for the mother to compare her daughters “modeling” career to that of gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas. This mother needs a reality check. It will be interesting to see what way the ruling goes. Lastly to hear that Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, a spin-off nonetheless, received more views then the RNC on two of the major channels is just downright depressing; it really shows what our society views as important. Reality TV just seems to keep growing and I for one can’t stand it; wouldn’t a onetime documentary curb your desire to know about hillbilly hand fishing? I guess not.

  28. kearstenolson says :

    I think it’s ridiculous that Disney would agree to have their main characters made over for the fashion industry, an industry notorious for sickeningly thin models. As a company that generally promotes life lessons for children through their movies and TV shows, you would think they would have more foresight to realize the impact this could have on the younger generations.

    As for Toddlers & Tiaras, I think it’s interesting that a father who allowed his daughter to compete in these pageants before is finally saying his ex-wife has crossed the line. If you’ve watched the show before you realize that a lot of parents are actually exploiting their children. I think it’s ridiculous that Jackson’s reaction was to compare Gabby Douglas’s gold medals to Miss America, especially considering one takes hard work, dedication and practice while the other is clearly based on looks and charisma.

  29. Brock Wolfe says :

    Toddlers and Tiaras is just example of how far America has managed to push itself further down the sewer with reality shows not to mention child exploitation. It is kind of like the mom that had her kid taken away for putting them in the tanning bed to get her child’s skin as dark as her shoe leather looking skin see link(http://www.tmz.com/2012/08/30/tanning-mom-patricia-krentcil-wasted-drunk-panty-flashing-red-carpet/).

    As for the laws requiring a photo ID in order to vote…. the only reason to question a law like that in this day and age (when it is a law requiring you to carry ID) is just someone complaining that the voter fraud they intended on committing will be harder to pull off. Leaving the parties out of it because at some point, they are more than likely both guilty of fraud.

    The idea that Disney would make changes to their cartoons did not surprise me as much. They has seeming lost their way again since their acquisition of Pixar from Steve Jobs. They went down this road once before with Eisner at the helm. Granted, they didn’t depict a classic cartoon in this way, but times and management have changed.

  30. Garey Bogo says :

    As for the requirement for ids to vote, I believe that it should be necessary for a number of reason. First, how can anyone know whether you are who you say you are without some form of id. The law doesn’t ask for a required id like a driver’s license, but briefly asks for any id. Although if someone really wanted to take the time to vote under someone’s name, it least it will cause some of a deterrent trying to track or make an id. As long as you are not restricting someone whether its through having to show a driver’s license or something like that, it shouldn’t be too hard to have a photo id. Altogether I believe this is great to stop voting fraud.

  31. Rachel Dockter says :

    The whole Disney fashion makeover thing disturbs me. Why anyone would think that particular kind of redesign was necessary is beyond me. I wouldn’t really have a problem with it if Minnie Mouse was her traditional, cute self wearing frilly dresses; granted, I still wouldn’t see the point, but honestly exploiting childhood nostalgia to sell products isn’t at all uncommon these days; but instead Disney characters that I grew up with and loved are being twisted into something sickening and more importantly something that is very much a bad image for kids. I mean, the fashion industry is bad enough as it is…but this is going a little too far. What were those Disney executives thinking? Probably money.

    Speaking of bad images for kids, I think “Toddlers and Tiaras” can be summed up in two words: train wreck. I feel like most of the show’s draw is the “people actually do that?” aspect, and stories like the whole four-year-old with a cigarette thing really aren’t helping matters. Child pageants, while being pretty frivolous in my opinion, should be places for kids to have fun and be cute. The terms “four-year-old” and “sexy” should just not be in the same sentence, I’m sorry, and some parents really need to get that through their heads.

  32. Eric P says :

    Romney continues to repress his personality in this campaign, opening the door for even more potshots and negative discourse about being an unscrupulous and unfeeling business man. His wife negated some of that at the RNC, and not only by virtue of being his wife. She gave an excellent speech that humanized Romney as a husband and father. It’s a big help, but now Mitt has to finish what she started. As I said in last week’s post, Romney will have to deliver a KO in the debates, debunking Obama’s arguments while also charming the viewers with at least some hint of personality.

  33. bwulf24 says :

    I dont understand how Apple can have any form of a case against samsung, or why theyre only suing samsung, Just about EVERY electronics company makes something similar to the iPod/iPad/iPhone. Thats what keeps it competitive, if people cant use their technology then they’ll just jack up there already crazy prices even higher. I mean they made a really good product, i dont think thats too debatable, but so was the auto mobile and i think all of can agree that having multiple manufacturers is good for everyone. In short, quit being babies Apple, everyone is copying you, you should feel good about that and embrace the competition and use that drive to keep improving your products.