Discussion Post: Week 3

At last, our first round of presentations is underway! What did you think about the presentations you have seen so far? Was it what you expected? Did you pick up any techniques that you can use in your future presentations (or, for that matter, anything that you want to be sure not to do)? And for those of you who already delivered Presentation I, how was the experience? What would you like your peers to know about your preparation and the presentation itself?

Andy Roddick’s run at the U.S. Open finally ended on Wednesday, as a rain-delayed four-set loss to Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro — 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-4 — finished his career. As we discussed last week, Roddick announced that this tournament would be his last, so this loss effectively closed the book on his time as a professional tennis player. Roddick was one of the most consistent players in the game, holding a top-ten ranking nine years in a row, and was indubitably the top American man for most of the past decade.

Over the course of his career, Roddick made it to a total of five Grand Slam finals but had the misfortune of losing four of them to Roger Federer, his nemesis and the man currently ranked #1 in the world. In fact, while the shining moment of Roddick’s career was probably the only Grand Slam tournament he won (the 2003 U.S. Open), many say that his best match was the tremendous 2009 Wimbledon final against Federer, where Roddick fell short in a marathon 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 16-14 defeat.

Roddick’s runner-up finish in 2009 was especially painful since it was his third time losing to Federer in a Wimbledon final. To add insult to injury, Federer needed two tiebreaks in the second and third sets to claim victory. (In fact, Roddick held a 6-2 lead for quadruple set point in the second set tiebreak, but proceeded to drop six points in a row.) The historic match was, based on the number of games (77), “the longest Wimbledon final of all time, plus the longest final played at any of the four majors, and the 30-game fifth set was the longest played in a title-match at the majors.” Federer’s narrow victory made him a legend, giving him a record 15th Grand Slam title (Pete Sampras had 14), but it certainly makes one wonder what Roddick could have accomplished had he not competed in the same era as the most successful tennis player of all time.

In any case, meeting del Potro at the U.S. Open was probably a fitting way for Roddick to end his career. Roddick’s only major win, remember, was at that very site nine years ago. That was the last Grand Slam win by an American man. Roddick was also the last American on the men’s side of the tournament this year. Then we look to the other side of the court. Since the 2005 French Open, only one man not named Federer, Rafael Nadal, or Novak Djokovic has won a single major. That man was Juan Martin del Potro, who took home the 2009 U.S. Open title. The last American to win a men’s singles major title, playing the last match of his career against the last guy outside the top three to bring home a major of his own.

Roddick’s powerful first serve left him as Tuesday’s match dragged on, as it had many times in the toughest matches of his career, but he nonetheless made del Potro fight for every last point even as the outcome grew certain. Many players would have leapt in jubilation at reaching the U.S. Open quarterfinals, but del Potro had been quiet and classy throughout the match; he maintained that spirit afterward, pointing to Roddick and ushering the retiree back onto the court for the last standing ovation of his tennis career. Instead of basking in the glory from his win, the reserved del Potro merely stood behind the sidelines and joined in the applause. All in all, it was a touching farewell for Roddick at the end of a marvelous career.

Moving forward, the men’s semifinal match between Djokovic and David Ferrer was suspended late in the first set due to the impending threat of severe weather. With Djokovic uncharacteristically out of sorts and Ferrer up 5-2 in the set, the stadium was hurriedly evacuated in advance of a line of storms. The winner of the Djokovic-Ferrer showdown will face Andy Murray, who overcame swirling, disruptive winds as well as his opponent, Tomas Berdych, to win in four grueling sets. The winds were so bad that play was interrupted repeatedly due to garbage and other objects flying onto the court. At one point, a chair full of clothing and equipment toppled onto the court just as Berdych was launching his serve, which forced the point to be replayed. One has to feel for Berdych, who pulled off a shocking upset over top-ranked Federer in the quarterfinals just to reach yesterday’s semifinal. The wind seemed to affect him much more than Murray, especially since his playing style relies so much more on powerful serves. (One of his first serves was a laughable 77 mph, which was just more than half of his first serve speed through most of the tournament.)

The women’s draw will feature a high-profile final later today between American Serena Williams, who has taken the tennis world by storm once again after recovering from a life-threatening blood blot and a series of injuries, and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who is currently ranked #1 in the world. Their final, like the Djokovic-Ferrer semifinal match, was postponed from its scheduled start yesterday by the inclement weather. Although Azarenka is technically the favorite by ranking, most expect Williams to make quick work of her, noting that her #4 ranking is still climbing after taking a massive hit from her year out of professional tennis. Perhaps the headline by Lindsay Sakraida of New York Magazine says it best: “Serena Williams Vs. Somebody Else in US Open Final.”

Oh, that’s right — football season is starting, isn’t it? The Dallas Cowboys traveled to New York and took down the Giants 24-17 in the league’s season opener on Wednesday; everyone else is starting today or tomorrow night. As nice as it is to start the season without the labor disputes that threatened 2011-12, this season is starting under its own cloud of controversy. Avid football fans already know about the “bounty” scandal, in which New Orleans Saints players were offered performance-based bonuses over the course of the past three seasons. This violated NFL rules on salary caps, but more disturbingly, the program allegedly included bonuses for intentionally injuring opposing players. It’s especially troubling given the flood of evidence over the past few years that football players’ bodies and minds are irreparably damaged by the constant barrage of crushing hits and concussions.

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams — who apparently also operated a similar program with the Washington Redskins from 2004-07 — was suspended indefinitely (he can apply for reinstatement at the end of the 2012-13 season, at the earliest), while head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012-13 season. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was hit with an eight-game ban, while assistant head coach Joe Vitt earned a suspension without pay for the first six games of the year. The organization was also hit with a number of fines and lost several future NFL draft picks.

But the story doesn’t stop there. Most at the managerial level lodged minimal protest against the sanctions, but some of the players involved in the bounty scandal fought back against their own suspensions. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who was supposedly one of the bounty program’s ringleaders, was banned for the entire 2012-13 season, while three other defensive players were suspended for between three and eight games based on their respective roles. The four promptly appealed their punishments, and in a stunning development, a three-member arbitration panel overturned commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision, forestalling the implementation of any sanctions against the players. The panel did not dispute any of the claims made by investigators, but effectively told Goodell to “reconsider the punishment” as being unnecessarily harsh given the players’ respective roles in the program. Trimmed-down sanctions are surely in the works, but the appeal does guarantee that the players will at least be eligible to play in the first week of the season. However, some are concerned that this could re-open last year’s conflict as a new rift between players and league management, particularly given that this was such a rare victory for the NFL Players Association against a league that has otherwise doled out suspensions where they want, how they want, and when they want, with questionable degrees of consistency. Much will become clear about that relationship over the next few weeks.

In the political realm, things haven’t gotten any kinder between rivals Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who traded barbs in the lead-up to the Democratic National Convention. The event began with testimonials by Michelle Obama and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the latter of whom was the first Latino to deliver the keynote address. (We could see more of Castro in the future, as the DNC keynote is often a launching pad of sorts for Democrats. Consider the 2004 keynote, for instance, which was delivered by a little-known Illinois senator named Obama.) Former president Bill Clinton was also among those speaking for Obama, an endorsement that Romney promptly tried to use against him. (On the other hand, the Romney endorsement that grabbed the most headlines last week came from a new Nicki Minaj song.) Still, Romney has spent much of his time over the past few weeks preparing for the nationally televised debates against Obama.

Of course, Obama’s chief audience wasn’t in the crowd, as he had to rely on technology to reach the critical undecided voters who will likely decide this election. It’s reminiscent of the social media campaign strategy he used in 2008 to tap into the younger voting demographic. But some were disappointed with Obama’s nomination acceptance speech (which had its location moved at the last minute — like the Republican National Convention, weather played a role). After all, Obama had promised key policy details in his speech, noting (as I did last week) that Romney offered very little information about what he would actually do if elected president. Obama’s policy details, however, also never emerged, much to the chagrin of many who were hoping that he would close the deal and halt Romney’s momentum in the polls. It’s little wonder that some analysts are tired of hearing Obama blame the economy on his predecessor and still want to know what he is going to do about it beyond the “hope and change” tagline.

However, many Democrats blamed those Republicans currently sitting in Congress for the still-stagnant U.S. economy, arguing that those on the right side of the aisle are in fact inhibiting Obama’s power to push a recovery forward. It was a subject on which Obama preferred to allow others to take the lead during the convention, which is understandable given the declining growth and soaring national debt over the past several years. Economists, however, are divided on how bad the situation really is. Some have likened our economic state to a “death spiral” from which the country may not be able to recover. Others claim that there are still positive economic indicators, so we’re unlikely to see a landslide like that of the 1980 election, when Ronald Reagan took advantage of the devastating economic decline at the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Obama’s team also argued that the country is, in fact, better off than it was four years ago in the wake of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac subprime loan crisis. They also noted other key accomplishments that came during Obama’s presidency, like the killing of infamous al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

During the DNC, former Ohio governor Ted Strickland argued that Romney lacks “economic patriotism” based on his overseas investments and the labor outsourcing while he headed Bain Capital. Democrats have also challenged Romney on his apparently flexible abortion stance. In the meantime, though, Obama has had surprising difficulty keeping pace with Romney’s fundraising, and while the incumbent’s job approval rating is at a 15-month high in the wake of the DNC, he otherwise hasn’t seen the typical bounce in the polls from his party’s convention. It’s possible that he may receive a late bump after the convention, but at present the two candidates are effectively neck-and-neck.

There’s been some further international turmoil in the past week, as well. The Taliban launched a deadly attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan on September 1, killing 12 people and injuring 60 with a truck bomb detonated near the base. Two Afghan policemen and ten civilians were slain, while two U.S. soldiers and 58 others were wounded by the blast. Local authorities indicated that the attacks were clearly targeted at the base, even if most of the harm was done to Afghanis. Furthermore, there have been 34 “insider attacks” by Afghan soldiers and police officers on their domestic and international comrades during this year, with 12 of those coming in August alone. Given that 45 international soldiers have been killed by the very militia members they were trying to train, the U.S. military decided to suspend training for Afghanistan’s local police and special operations forces for at least a month while they review the attacks and the vetting process for recruiting new members. While those divisions only account for about 7% of the country’s security forces, and while the hold on training is only temporary, it still demonstrates the deeper effect of these attacks.

The Israel-Iran conflict also remains tense, with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu calling for the international community to give Iran a “clear red line” after last week’s news that the country has taken further substantial steps toward nuclear arms development. While Iran’s leaders say that its nuclear program is purely peaceful, most of the western world has dismissed it as a bogus claim given the international aggression the country has long shown, including numerous calls for Israel’s annihilation.

Still, while Israeli leaders say that continued apathy by the international community may force them to attack Iran in self-defense, the Obama administration has voiced opposition to such unilateral action, with General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying that he would not want to be “complicit” in such a strike by their longtime allied nation. After all, he said, such a move would likely cause a spike in gasoline prices and inevitably draw U.S. troops into the conflict during this election year. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, on the other hand, said that he felt the comments were largely political rhetoric and that he believed the U.S. would join its ally if an attack on Iran became necessary. The diplomatic confusion has left some calling this a victory for Iran against the western world, which has long tried to restrict its access to nuclear arms. Iran’s top military advisor, Major-General Yahya Rahim Safavi, also said that any attack on Iran would provoke immediate retaliation.

Let’s lighten things up a bit. Are you an avid consumer of organic meat and produce? Maybe you don’t need to be. Scientists at Stanford University examined four decades of research on organic fruits, vegetables, and meat products, and found no nutritional advantage from going organic instead of eating conventional food products, a finding which surprised the researchers. That has spurred renewed debate over whether organic food is really a healthier option for those who want to avoid synthetic pesticides, hormones and additives, or whether it is little more than a marketing tool that artificially inflates prices. The study did note that conventional food products tended to have traces of pesticide residue, although its authors downplayed that finding, noting that such traces “were almost always under the allowed safety limits.” Advocates for organic food immediately called out the research team for not focusing more on that issue, saying that pesticides are the very reason why many people go organic, regardless of whether conventional pesticide use falls within somewhat arbitrarily devised limits. After all, they say, “it doesn’t make a lot of sense to assume the application of pesticides would have much impact on a fruit’s vitamin content. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t safer to eat.”

On the other side of the health spectrum, a pair of baffling studies in the European Heart Journal indicated that not only is it possible to be obese and heart-healthy, but in fact, patients with heart disease may find that obesity actually reduces their risk of death, a phenomenon termed the “obesity paradox.” Still, while it’s possible to be obese and yet have good cardiovascular health, “relatively few people are,” and the behaviors which help fend off heart disease almost inevitable result in shedding pounds, as well, so the “obesity paradox” isn’t the boon that some might wish. According to the Center for Disease Control, 36 million Americans have out-of-control blood pressure. 67 million have what would be called high blood pressure, and over 20% of them (14 million) aren’t even aware of their condition.

On a completely unrelated note, the State Fair of Texas crowned the winners of its annual Big Tex Choice Awards, a culinary contest in which the only requirement is that everything must be fried. Butch Benavides’ fried bacon-wrapped cinnamon roll won the award for most creative dish, while the best-tasting dish was prepared by Abel Gonzales, Jr. for his deep-fried jambalaya. Gonzales, the “Friar of Fried,” has taken home multiple prizes at Big Tex in the past for such masterpieces as his fried cookie dough, fried Coke, and fried butter. Yum!

Butter. Fried. If you thought it wasn't possible to taste a heart attack....

If you thought we already knew everything about the human genome, think again. Geneticists are finding that our genetic structure is far more complex than we believed just a decade ago, particularly since bit of DNA that were previously considered disposable “junk” increasingly appear to play essential roles. Apparently these DNA fragments are loaded with over four million “switches” that essentially dictate how tissues and organs behave, which may explain such puzzling cases as why one individual may suffer from severe cancer or depression while an identical twin remains completely healthy. This realization is quickly leading researchers to identify key links between genes and diseases that were once shrouded in mystery, as evidenced in a set of publications within the scientific journal Nature that culminate in the most detailed map of our genome ever constructed.

In contrast with the excitement among geneticists, the tech world has been rather subdued over the past week in the wake of a strange hacking scandal surrounding Apple and, oddly enough, the FBI. The Operation AntiSec hacking movement, a joint effort by the notorious Anonymous and the hackers of LulzSec, released a set of 1,000,001 Apple Unique Device Identifiers (UDIDs) that they claimed to have obtained by hacking an FBI agent’s laptop. The hackers also said that their release was only a small portion of the 12 million they actually snagged. These UDIDs are unique serial numbers for every Apple device that can be used to track user activity, a practice which evidently spurred Operation AntiSec to take action. Numerous media outlets acted to warn consumers about the breach, particularly given what Operation AntiSec’s hackers or other unscrupulous individuals could do with the data; there are now step-by-step guides on how to check if the UDID for one of your devices was among those released. (There’s no way to know if any UDID was one of the 11 million withheld, of course.)

But not so fast. Apple and the FBI denied any such breach of data, saying that there was no evidence to support AntiSec’s claims. The FBI said that none of their computers showed any evidence of being compromised, while Apple added that they never gave any UDIDs to the FBI (or any other organization, for that matter). Still, if Apple had disclosed UDIDs to an outside party, this wouldn’t be the first time that a company tried to downplay a security breach. (See my commentary on the PlayStation Network breach earlier this year.) And sure, the FBI says that it hasn’t seen any evidence of a breach, but that could just mean that the hackers did a good job covering their tracks. Many media commentators and security professionals alike still believe that the FBI did indeed fall prey to a phishing attack. If it’s true, AntiSec certainly uncovered some strange activity between the federal agency and Apple.

A major cheating scandal has rocked the foundations of Harvard University in the past two weeks. On August 30, The Harvard Crimson reported a shocking cheating scandal that ensnared almost half of the 279 students enrolled in last spring’s freshman-level “Introduction to Congress” course. All of the incriminated students submitted very similar answers on the final take-home exam, clearly indicating either inappropriate collaboration or outright plagiarism of others’ responses. In short, they copied each other’s answers. University officials quickly condemned the 125 students’ actions, saying that they “represent totally unacceptable behavior that betrays the trust upon which intellectual inquiry at Harvard depends.” They also announced that the university is looking into instituting an honor code to supplement their official policies, which state that students must “assume that collaboration in the completion of assignments is prohibited unless explicitly permitted by the instructor.” Harvard hasn’t had an honor code at any point in its 400-year existence (at least, as far as anyone knows), but this incident is making administrators consider whether the university needs one now.

Some have lauded Harvard’s idea to create an honor code to which incoming students must agree, saying that while it requires consistent effort to make it successful, such systems have great benefits for any university. Advocates for an honor code note that while they are rare — only about 100 college campuses in the U.S. have one — and while they only have an impact where students can feel the palpable history and tradition behind the academic environment into which they are entering, Harvard and other Ivy League schools have the sort of culture where an honor code can be effective. Others, however, say that the problem is much deeper than what an honor code can resolve, particularly given the widespread belief among many students today that “the main objective should be to pass, not to learn.” If all that matters is passing, they say, then it doesn’t matter if you forego learning by cheating your way through. As long as you pay tuition for four years, you’ve “purchased” your degree and are entitled to it. Honor code critics argue that we must “[a]ddress the pressure-cooker culture at Harvard and Yale; address the perception that grades are somehow correlated with moral worth; address the prevalent I’ll-just-do-it-at-the-last-minute attitude.” It’s not about having an honor code in print, but about ingraining it in the students and the university themselves, distinct from any written mandate. College, after all, is meant to be about building skills, knowledge, and maturity, not about building a transcript.

Let’s go back overseas for a bit. McDonald’s is planning to open two new franchises in India next year. The catch: these franchises won’t serve meat. At all. McDonald’s already has a few other locations in India, where most of the population is either Hindu or Muslim, and those restaurants don’t serve beef or pork because of the dietary restrictions of those religions, but these will be the burger chain’s first fully vegetarian restaurants. That means no chicken nuggets or fish sandwiches, either. In lieu of meat products, the vegetarian locations will likely serve some combination of the vegetarian products already in its other stores as well as new items made especially for these venues. Expect the McAloo Tikki burger, the top-selling item at the existing Indian McDonald’s locations, to be a big hit at the new locations as well. (The McAloo Tikki features a fried potato patty at its core, and it alone is responsible for a quarter of McDonald’s sales in India.)

Will it remain McDonald's biggest hit in India?

Last Sunday, Joan and Robert Vanderhorst of California were preparing to depart on their flight home from Newark with their 16-year-old son, Bede. When they prepared to enter the American Airlines gate to take their first-class seats, however, airline staff stopped the family forbid them to board, since they deemed Bede a flight risk.

You see, Bede suffers from Down Syndrome, and American Airlines representative said that he was running around agitatedly and without regard to others prior to the flight. As the Vanderhorsts have described his condition, he may be 16 years old, but he behaves like a “4 or 5 year old.” According to the representative, staff members tried to calm him down and make him comfortable beforehand, but that they were unable to do so. In order to protect the safety of their other passengers, they had to make the difficult decision to prevent the family from boarding. So the three were transferred to a later flight on United Airlines, which the family took home.

The Vanderhorsts, however, paint a very different picture. They said that Bede was calmly playing with a baseball cap in his chair before the flight, and showed a smartphone video that his mother took as proof. According to them, the airline simply didn’t like the fact that their tickets were for first-class, which was why they moved the family to the later flight — their first-class upgrade was not applied to the later flight. They believe that had they held economy tickets, the staff would have had no problem with them boarding. Consequently, they’re planning to sue the airline over discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was expanded in 2009 to include airline regulations.

The face of flight risk?

On a very different subject, we have the 36-year-old man who got into an argument at a party on September 1. In the least intelligent moment of his life, Adris McCullough of Detroit retrieved a gun and returned to open fire on the partygoers. Two men were seriously wounded, and two others died.

About two hours after the incident, McCullough went to the local fire station “and indicated that he was connected to the shooting.” In other words, he turned himself in, expecting that the police would come and haul him away.

But no one showed up. McCullough waited patiently — well, as patiently as someone can wait to be arrested for a double homicide — and no police officers came. Eventually, McCullough decided that he was tired of waiting to be thrown in jail, so he left the fire station and drove to a police station, where he surrendered himself as a murdered for the second time that day.

As the police explained in a statement, “Due to area patrol units being busy handling high priority runs, no units were dispatched to the location.” One wonders what the entire police force was doing that was more important than arresting a double murderer, but hey.

Given that Detroit’s police force has undergone major cutbacks due to budget issues, reporters naturally asked representatives about the adequacy of their staffing. They gave no comment.

Other articles of interest:
Bomber Kills at Least 20 at Afghan Funeral
Judge to Fort Hood suspect: Shave or be shaved
Magnitude 7.6 Quake Knocks Out Power in Costa Rica’s Capital
Why does Social Security need 174,000 bullets?
‘It was a Katrina for some,’ says Louisiana senator, as displaced residents question preparedness
U.S. officials sound worldwide alert for Yosemite hantavirus risk
Thalidomide victims: German drugmaker’s apology not enough
Indiana Teacher Evaluations Law Will Add To School Principals’ Workloads
FAMU suspends dance team after hazing reports
Joe Paterno’s FBI file reveals threatening letters
Tulane’s Devon Walker breaks neck
Nats shut down Stephen Strasburg
Michael Strahan makes debut as ‘Live! With Kelly’ co-host; After months of searching, Kelly Ripa taps ex-Giants star for seat
More to Love in Southwest Airlines
Ahead of the Bell: Facebook up on Zuck pledge
Amazon refreshes Kindle lineup, including 3 new Fire models
Upset! iPhone 4S surrenders U.S. crown to Galaxy S3
Cambodia will deport Pirate Bay co-founder to Sweden
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII announced by Square Enix
Voyager 1 Reaches Pocket of Calm at Solar System’s Edge

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35 responses to “Discussion Post: Week 3”

  1. jones326 says :

    I have a few things to say about the “bounty gate” scandal going on in New Orleans. Let me start off by saying that I in no way support such a system. I feel that it is disgusting and a shame for that to be in the NFL. But I do think that the original suspensions for the players were absurd. To suspend Jonathan Vilma for an entire season for doing something that he was told to do by his coaches is unreasonable. That is an entire years salary that he would have missed out on and it is only fair that the panel overturned his suspension. As much as I am against the bounty system, this is obviously not the first time a system like this has been implemented in the NFL. The way that Roger Goodell made an example of the Saints with the length of suspensions was unfair. He deserved to have his power put in check by the three person panel.

  2. tbeach21 says :

    I agree with the previous reply about the NFL bounty scandal. I can see why Goodell would want to make an example out of the Saints here, but the punishment was excessive. Yes, it was a very bad system that was going on; and yes, we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But, does that make it okay to take somebody away from their job for a whole year?

  3. nlosande says :

    The American Airlines flight was a very sticky situation. On one hand, you have a family with a disabled child with no ill intentions, simply trying to get out of New Jersey. I mean, who wouldn’t…Haha, sorry… just kidding.

    But on the other hand, if the gate agents were telling the truth and they were having a hard time calming him down, then yes, he could potentially pose a hazard to the other passengers on the flight.

    Only the people at the gate that saw the entire ordeal can really judge whether the decision made was just or not; otherwise, I don’t think anyone else can really say.

  4. lukeshall says :

    I enjoyed the first class of presentations. I was glad to go first (well I went second to last but I go it over with on the first day). I’m usually one to sign up for the first day of speeches because it forces you to get it over with, and I know that no matter what day I sign up for, I will not start practicing the speech until a day or two before hand. So might as well sign up for the first day. I enjoyed the speeches people gave Thursday. I like hearing about different things people do around campus. I am kind of stuck in my own niche, so its good to see how others view Purdue, and how they are involved. Giving speeches is fun, so to those who haven’t gone yet, have fun with yours!

  5. Garret Howard says :

    The punishments that have been given out for the “bounty” program seem a little extreme in my opinion. I also do not support this by any means, I mean thats not right to purposely hurt someone on the opposing team in order to get paid extra. With that said though it is football and the goal of some of the players is to put on a great show for the fans which includes hitting the opposing teams players as hard as possible. I do not agree with Jonathan Vilmas full season suspension, he is going to put the hurt on the other team whether there is an extra reward or not. I do agree with Goodells punishment for Sean Peyton and the other non-players punishments though considering it was them giving the rewards and encouraging the bounty program.

  6. MeganEvilsizor says :

    I can agree on the point in the Harvard cheating scandal that college kids today are more about the grade than what they actually learn. And it it TOTALLY NOT OUR FAULT! As a student now all of my classes feel like the grade is more important than actually learning every single bit of information that is out there. Most of the classes we take are really difficult and that may be just one class. Combine it with the other 4 or 5 hard classes and yeah we may not have 10 hours a night to devote to studying. Times have changed, we are no longer a generation of college goers whose primary motivation is to learn the subjects we are taught. Along with academics most of us have to worry about real life issues even though we are in school. Take people going to college in the 60’s or 70’s. They most likely had it paid for by their parents or grandparents, they didn’t have to focus on anything else but their school work. Nowadays college kids have to have pay for college themselves and its so much more expensive than it was back then. We also have to get jobs, do extra curricular activities, we have home lives, personal lives and so on and so forth. Not only does my generation of college goers have to worry about all the extra stuff that we have to go through in this day and age, but then our teachers make it almost dang near impossible to make the grades. Take physics 120 for example, my academic adviser said that if I got a C or D that I would be doing better than most. That is ridiculous that the grading would be that way and yet I know some students who couldn’t keep up and had to “work” with other students to get their homework done because they needed all the points they could get and they couldn’t afford to lose points because they didn’t have enough time to get their homework done themselves. Personally I believe that the American School systems are going downhill and they have been ever since I started in them at grade school. So thanks a lot G.W. Bush for the “No Child Left Behind Act”, you sure didn’t start all this mess but you are not helping things either. So to all you Harvard kids who got botched, I’m sorry I think many of us here at Purdue feel your anger.

    • brianbritt says :

      Just a quick note — I personally know quite a few people who would disagree on the point that college students in the 60’s or 70’s “most likely had it paid for by their parents or grandparents, they didn’t have to focus on anything else but their school work.” I personally know a number of people who could have only dreamed of that experience. In fact, when my own father was going to college in the 70’s, both he and my mother had to work steady jobs for him to get through. I would actually speculate that more people had to pay their own way during that era, if only because there weren’t as many scholarships and loan programs as there are today.

      It’s true that the cost of college has certainly increased, though, like you said, and I believe that remains true even if you take inflation into account. This may come back to the funding issue, where it’s almost expected that most students come from wealthy families (not likely) or are getting financial assistance from scholarships, government loans, etc.

  7. kcorcimi says :

    I think the McDonald’s thing is pretty cool. I wish that they would make some vegetarian only McDonald’s here in the United States. I mean, I’m not a veggie but I think that those that are would really appreciate it! They wouldn’t even have to be the flavors or same recipes that the other countries had. Or maybe if they even made some McDonald’s here that only served what they do in other counties. It would be interesting to see how much business they would get in the U.S. If they did that, it would be interesting to see how bad it was for you still. But then again, nothing can be worse than the fried butter at the fair that you mentioned previously! Instant heart attack.

  8. Tim Gleeson says :

    The first round of presentations have gone well, I have not presented yet but think it will be fine. Megan made a good point on the Harvard topic about college students and cheating in that it it isn’t totally our fault. I agree that the structure of classes and education in general is too grade centered, and more focus is placed on getting the grade than actually learning. This is sad, but a reality that I quite frankly do not know how we could change easily. There has to be some sort of baseline to judge performance, and grading is a logical means, but unfortunately it achieves largely inappropriate effects. An honor code would work, and I have heard of good results from them, but I think one university implementing it does not solve the problem; the problem is rooted throughout the US education system. Also, the American Airlines incident is indeed a tough subject. I sympathize with both parties, the airline and the family. While I have no way of knowing exact details, the airline does have the right to deny transporting anyone who could cause a problem (by purchasing a ticket you are agreeing to a very detailed and binding passenger contract, they really cover everything). I realize the child would not try and hijack the plane etc., but he could disturb and interfere with the other 130 or so other passengers. Airlines get a lot of bad press, which is not totally undeserved, but I think the media can be quick to point fingers at the big, bad airlines. I mean no disrespect or insensitivity to the family if indeed American acted unfairly, I just wonder how much the media plays into the message of the reports.

  9. Garey Bogo says :

    As for the topic on Harvard, I also agree on the idea that some classes have too high of criteria and standards that need to be met. Depending on the professor, they may expect you to do outside work on a topic even though you have a number of other activities to complete along with not knowing exactly what career you might go into yet. I don’t think that an Honor System would work, as it’s too easy for people to work together on homework and such. I believe that altogether it will catch up to you in the future if you cheat. You can’t always get the option to cheat out of something and whether it catches up to you in college or your future career is just luck. People who work hard will most likely have the higher gpa or more material to talk in an interview, which will give them a head start over people who may cheat.

  10. annadell57 says :

    I think that McDonald’s opening 2 vegetarian restaurants in India is awesome! I would curious to try to McAloo Tikki burger if I could. Since a lot of the population is either Hindu or Muslim it makes perfect sense to get rid of meat all together and focus on the items that are selling.

  11. Daniel Spivey says :

    I have thought that some of the presentations have been very interesting so far. Its good to see people so passionate about certain things in their life. I did see a lot of vocal fillers and a lot of people we just reading off of their papers. I feel like those are things I am going to try to avoid in my presentation.
    As far as the NFL goes I am soooo happy that football is back on TV. I am not a baseball fan at all so the summer months are pretty miserable as far as sports go. I am looking forward to seeing Peyton Manning come back, and seeing who can remain elite or take their team to the next level. I would love to see the eagles do well I am a pretty big Mike Vick fan. Cant wait to see what week 2 has in store.

  12. jteagard says :

    I think it is really interesting that McDonald’s is making two vegetarian restaurants in India. I think it is a fantastic think and it really shows why McDonald’s is one of the biggest names in fast food. It is their ability to adapt that will put the ahead of the competition. Their research showed them something in that region that set it aside from others and decided to create something new, something almost unheard of and I think it is awesome. McDonald’s has already customized their menus across the world and I am happy to see them continue to do so. One of my biggest regrets of my trip to Japan is that I never tried the McDonald’s there. I wanted to try the Wasabi Burger that they have. Oh well, I’ll just have to return there one day and give that burger a try! And while I’m at it, I might as well go to India and try out that McAloo Tikki Burger.

  13. colinbyram says :

    The recent scandal at Harvard is shocking to me, not that students may have collaborated on the take home exam, but that they were not smart enough to change up the answers so that they were not identical. Many classes here at Purdue have online take home exams that allow students to form groups to take the exam, but these are often multiple choice exams and individual answers are not required. I think that a cheating scandal coming from a school such as Harvard is always more shocking to the public because of the standards we hold for these top universities. Although i’m sure this is not the first time academic honesty has been violated at Harvard, it shows their serious no tolerance policy for the issue. As far as the story of the family unable to remain on their flight home due to their disabled son, I think this is just another story of the airlines perhaps taking their policies too far. Although much of the issue is probably untold in their article, it is nothing but negative publicity for the airlines when consumers see these stories.

  14. tbanas says :

    The Harvard scandal to me seems like a boiling point. Most schools put a lot of pressure on students to get a good grade and that is partially due to hiring companies wanting a good gpa on a transcript. So it is only natural for students to figure out how to get the grade and not focus on the material being presented. I think there is also pressure from the financial aspect of it where students and their parents pay all this money so they better do everything they can to get a good grade. In more modern times, I feel that the integrity of society is severely depleted and there is probably more cheating going on than most colleges realize. That said I think people still realize that cheating is wrong and when they are caught they are punished appropriately.

  15. Jordan Berk says :

    Its always hard to come to a concrete decision when there is a battle of he said she said like the one regarding American Airlines. I find it odd that the mother took a video of her child in an airport. A flight risk is a flight risk however and if the American Airlines representative said there was a danger to the flight I would have to agree. I’m not quite sure how the first class upgrade came into play but I feel that is just an excuse if nothing else.

    As far as the NFL starting up again I am very excited. I have been an Eagles fan ever since I knew what football was.They didn’t play as well as I expected against Cleveland but I know they will step up their game this week. Although Mike Vick has been covered in a shroud of controversy since his release from prison I believe that he is a good man to rally behind and lead us to the Eagle’s first Superbowl win.

  16. Jake Hellman says :

    Man that sucks about Roddick, I’m not much of a sports guy(i.e. cant relate to the football talk at all) but I did play tennis for a year in high school. At one meet in Indy, the upperclassmen got a chance to see him play, as all the underclassmen were still competing, I can’t remember other reasons why we couldn’t attend. But it’s a little depressing thinking I won’t even be able to get the chance to him.

    McDonald’s changing up there menu in India is great. I’m not even a vegetarian but it sounds delicious. I keep hearing things about these sorts of things and it just keeps getting me more interested. Like they had a fried McRib in Austria and Wendy’s started selling lobster and caviar burgers in Japan. Road trip?

  17. Daniel Hudspeth says :

    It is quite funny to believe that Detroit Police had other serious engagements instead of a double murderer. It makes you wonder what was so important that the other police units couldn’t respond to arrest the man. How many cops are needed to arrest an already surrendered man. I can think that you only need one maybe two just for kicks.

    Also, the idea of just passing and not learning seems to have been increasing throughout the years in all college systems. This can also tie into the cheating at Harvard. The students are no longer concerned about learning what they need to know. All they care about is earning a passing grade. College and University is supposed to be about learning the information one will need to know for the career they’re going into. Lately it seems that students aren’t “learning” what they need to know, which is causing issues in their jobs afterwards.

  18. Blake Neata says :

    I found the article about organic food very interesting. I am not one to go organic over any other types of fruits or vegetables due to the higher price, and the lack of quality or the food. This study is pretty shocking that there is almost no difference in the vitamin content between the two. But the organic spokes people have a point, although the vitamin content may be the same, non-organic fruits and vegetable still contain varying amounts of pesticides. This is one of the leading reason that people buy organic over non-organic.

  19. liv4creativity says :

    I know several families with special needs children. Their children can be hand-fulls, but only the parents know how to deal with the children. I’m sure there is more to the Vanderhorst vs. American Airlines story than the public knows. If the American Airlines did move the Vanderhorst’s flight due to Bede sitting in first class, that could very well be a violation of the ADA. If Bede was a flight risk and that is why the family was moved to a different flight, Bede’s family could have stepped up to calm him or assured the Airlines that their son would not be a flight risk. Down Syndrome children have a lower chance of becoming flight risks compared to other disabilities, in my opinion. Hopefully the family was compensated for their down graded tickets in addition to the embarrassment they must have felt.

  20. cnunan says :

    In response to the Harvard cheating dilemma:

    Copying answers on a take home test? I don’t know why, but the thought of a take home test just says to me that the teacher doesn’t really care how you get the answers. And why would they? It’s a take home test. I’ll bet the teacher just didn’t expect that 125 students would so obviously copy off of each other, so he brought it up with the school before the school could bring it up with him. I really don’t get this, teachers know that students cheat on take home tests! There was a guy in one of my classes that turned a 50 question online test in in two minutes, earning an A! It doesn’t get more obvious than that, yet, nothing happened to him, like I said, it’s a take home test.
    And the whole thing about, “students are just trying to pass and not learn and that’s wrong…” is dumb. Maybe if we weren’t charged a boat load of money to be here, a failing grade wouldn’t be so detrimental. So yea, with tons of money on the line, and a limited amount of time to succeed, damn straight we are just trying to pass. And how is college even a higher place of learning with all of these English sucking foreigner TAs without teaching degrees? Learning was taken off of my priority list after day 1. So yes college, there is something wrong, but its up to you to fix it.

  21. Craig (@ctlocker) says :

    Indiana Teacher Evaluations Law Will Add To School Principals’ Workloads
    As an Education major portions of merit pay make me happy and other aspects have me quite worried. On the positive side I believe teachers should be paid on how well they teach and not through seniority. It also encourages teachers to continue to keep pace with technology and what is relevant to students, which ultimately helps students in their learning process. Parts that worry me actually downright scare me. Indiana has broken down teaching into 4 categories, I repeat 4 categories. At the surface this may seem like an alright plan, but when you look at all that is going on in a classroom and then multiple that by 4 to 7 classes it’s hard to imagine trying to divide a teachers diverse day into 4 categories. The other area of concern is the evaluation by Principals. Like the article said this is an additional task to an already extremely busy work load. I am worried that Principals won’t be able to give quality reviews due to their prior commitments. In this specific article we saw that LSC has had to hire four new assistant Principals. This is a huge cost just too complete the reviews of teachers. I do not have an answer for a better system, but I think this is a rushed answer to merit pay. I do not want an overworked Principal to come in and in one hour decide if I am going to receive a raise or not, I just do not believe that is fair.

  22. Brandon Vath says :

    I find it interesting how McDonald’s is so successful at creating and marketing items to their consumers, regardless of their location. They are able to adapt to the culture and create food options specifically tailored to the consumers’ needs and wants. I also find it interesting how the food items vary from country to county. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of McDonald’s is a burger and fries. I would have never thought a “fried potato patty” could be a top selling item.

    Switching gears to the healthy side of the food pyramid, I am relieved that scientists at Stanford found no real nutritional benefits from consuming organic food. I do not always eat the healthiest and now I will not feel as bad the next time I am eating fast food or any other non-organic food.

  23. Zach Gerbner says :

    When American Airlines denied boarding for the family with the autistic child, I have a feeling that there is more to the story than the parents are leading us to believe. An airline is a business, and no matter how poor their customer service can be, I have never heard a story of an airline denying a family boarding for really no reason. I do not buy the story that the airline did not want the family in first class, because the autistic child may disrupt high paying passengers and frequent flyers. A child who is running around and unable to calm down could pose a safety risk to a flight, because if he is disruptive during takeoff or landing, the flight attendants may not be able to divert their full attention to the rest of the passengers, but instead to the young boy. While it is an unfortunate situation, as no family wants to be denied boarding, it sounds like the airline was trying to accommodate them on a later flight. In terms of the video, we do not know how much later from the incident it was taken, and if the child had calmed down or not. To me, while unfortunate, it sounds like it was a very difficult decision for American Airlines representatives to make, and the family denied boarding obviously didn’t agree, and they have every right to fight American, though in my opinion I think their lawsuit is somewhat useless.

  24. Edward Dang says :

    I’d say that going organic over conventional food is always a better choice because despite the “big” pesticide issue, there’s definitely the psychological part of it. If I’m going to eat something and it’s natural, organic, ordained by mother nature to actually be consumed by carbon-based lifeforms, then I will think that in some way, shape, or form, it’s better form than that processed stuff. I mean, it’s placebo, it will only seem better because you think it will seems better. In fact, my family grows almost all the vegetables we eat in our backyard, and constantly my parents like to remark that our cabbage or our bok choi tastes far better, fresher, and “healthier” than the store-bought ones. It’s probably in their heads, but if thinking that makes it better tasting, then sure, think that, it still makes organic better. But I don’t think the raised prices are justified.

    • APhelps says :

      This is a point I was thinking about as well. The mind tends to be very closely tied with physical functions of the body. Just as a placebo is used in medicinal studies to fool participants into thinking they really are getting the drug, we can make the assumption that organic food is a ‘drug’ people take to enrichen their food source. Now I have always had the assumption that the pesticides, steroids, etc used in food production were naturally unhealthy to a small degree, but I would not have even guessed that inorganic foods would be found just as worthy as organic foods (especially when you consider all the extra hurdles in the production process.) I would be curious however, to see if there still are minor differences that the study did not cover (i.e. issues associated with consuming a large amount of pesticides, hormones, etc.) that are not directly tied to health. Issues such as personality disorders, or behavioral changes.

      Another interesting point is to question how this finding will affect those companies involved in the organic food production and distribution. As being healthier for you has always been the motive to sell them over inorganic in the first place. Will they attempt to refute this study? or find a new catch to convince the consumers that organic is still the way to go? (Maybe that it’s healthier for those individuals and animals involved in the process, or things along that nature)

    • brianbritt says :

      Hmm, that’s a good point, Edward. I hadn’t considered the issue from that particular angle. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the dubious effects found from certain health supplements. Of course, some might argue that if there are positive effects from these supplements, they’re right to charge money, whether or not it’s a placebo effect — the price, in fact, might be what facilitates such a placebo effect. But your point that it may be all about our personal perception is well-taken.

  25. Alex Johnson says :

    I think the McDonalds post is interesting. I had no idea they would even dabble in “meatless” restaurants. From the sound of it, the potato-patty burger is a healthy hit and maybe it will migrate as an option to US locations. I’m sure the majority of Americans would not be very receptive to the idea, but diversity can be a good thing, especially in such an established American tradition: fried food.

  26. Jae Hyeon Joo says :

    Well, to be honest, the presentation was not good. I made a plan for my presentation originally. I thought about gestures, some kind humor things, attention gathering, etc. However, I couldn’t do all these during the presentation. The reason I don’t satisfy with my presentation is I was worried about the presentation too much. At right before my presentation, I was nervous I couldn’t even remember my plan. I think the way that I can overcome this situation is I should memorize all the contents that I want to present.

    Indian McDonald’s is very interesting. That is one of the best examples of cultural thing.

  27. Rachel Dockter says :

    I can’t decide whether or not the story about the Detroit Police is humorous or just…sad. Probably both. Honestly you would think that arresting a double-murderer would be a first priority.

    I’m a little torn on the story about the airline mishap since it very much is a story of “he said she said” and ultimately comes down to what really happened, if that can even be determined. I don’t really find the mother taking a video of her son all that suspicious…I can think of plenty of instances where members of my family have taken pretty much inconsequential videos with there smart phones just for the sake of taking videos. If the Vanderhorsts’ side of the story ends up being the truth, then United Airlines most definitely should be accused of discrimination. If not, then, well, the whole situation is unfortunate, but a flight risk is a flight risk. I hope at the very least the Vanderhorsts were reimbursed for the change in tickets.

  28. jetblueberry says :

    To be quite honest, with regards to the subject of McDonalds overseas, I would love to see some of those menu items over here. Granted, I know they wouldn’t be a hit with the majority of American consumers, but for those of us with foreign interests, it’d be something to be excited about. I rarely go to McDonalds already and am never actually excited to eat there though my boyfriend would never complain.

    I guess growing up in a another country has changed me. Spices, hot sauce, and different foodstuffs don’t scare me like they do my friends who can’t stand to eat something that isn’t mac n’ cheese or chicken nuggets.

  29. Zack Palazzo says :

    The McDonalds opening in India is a pretty cool topic. I think that its impressive that a large corporation like that is able to change a large part of their menu for the customer. Say what you want about how McDonalds is responsible for the rise in obesity, but one thing is certain, they know how to make money.

  30. bwulf24 says :

    I find the “obesity paradox” pretty interesting, and a little hard to believe. I heard on the radio a few days ago that Indiana just became the 8th fattest state in the US. Being on campus that doesn’t seem possible, i mean sure there are some big people but there’s a ton of people who are in shape as well. However at home, which for me is a big-ish city, by Indiana standards that is, its almost rare to see someone thats not at least a little bit over-weight. I can see this becoming an excuse, “Hey there Bob, looks like you’ve put on a few pounds” “oh yea… yea doc says I have to, you know, for my heart and all”. So maybe we should keep that research a secret from Americans. On another note, that gene research sounds amazing, i would definitely like to hear more about that, i cant even imagine what people way smarter than me will be able to do with a better knowledge of human DNA.

  31. Paul Laurinaitis says :

    I would like to way in on the topic of organic vs non organic food. I would agree with the study from Stanford that just because the food is organic does not make it healthier or more advantageous to you. By adding some the non organic material to our food we are actually benefiting from it due to their nutritional value. Just because its non organic does not mean it is bad. I would say i always watch what i eat and i am into working out, and organic or non organic never crosses my mind. If you eat healthy it will not make a difference weather it is organic food or not.

  32. mbruhn says :

    The NFL bounty scandals punishments for the staff is well deserved. I also agree that the players punishments were a little absurd. I’m not saying that they didn’t deserve to be suspended or fined, but a whole year seems ridiculous. That being said, they are still grown men that know what is right and wrong. It is obvious that intentionally trying to hurt a player to get them out of the game is wrong. Whether or not the punishments were too harsh or not harsh enough is not what’s important here. What is important is the fact that programs like the Saints bounty program are still in existence and are not going to go away. Now that one team has been caught, other teams are just going to be more careful about how they conduct their business.