Discussion Post: Week 4

Well, we’re through Presentation I! What did you learn from this experience? If you’ve watched your presentation video, did you notice anything about yourself that you didn’t expect? How did it compare to what you expected? What do you think are your strengths as a presenter, and in what areas are you going to strive to improve in the future?

Remember that Self-Evaluation I is due at the start of class on Thursday. Be sure to watch your video before then and write up your assessment of yourself, then bring a printed copy of that analysis to class.

While we’ve been enjoying an array of presentations, it’s been a tumultuous week in the rest of the world. Many of us probably expected the biggest news story on Tuesday to be little more than a reflection about the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks (along with, perhaps, a reminder that the new class of middle school children weren’t even born yet when the catastrophe rocked our nation). Or perhaps we would be talking about construction on the new 9/11 museum, which resumed after arguments over the budget were resolved on Monday.

But then September 11 came around, and the morning brought with it violence and death as protesters in Cairo, Egypt and Benghazi, Libya, stormed their respective U.S. embassies. In Egypt, the mob scaled the 15-foot embassy walls, tore down the embassy’s American flag — which was at half-mast in deference to the tragedy 11 years before — and replaced it with an Islamic banner.

Libya, on the other hand, was even worse, as enraged protesters burned down the consulate compound. The workers were initially evacuated into a second building, which was deemed to be safer, but it appears that members of the Libyan security team told the mob where the Americans were hiding, so that building came under attack next in a rain of flames and gunfire. By the end of the night, four American workers within the embassy were dead. Among the four was Chris Stevens, the official U.S. Ambassador to Libya who was widely recognized in the Middle East as a model diplomat for his exceptional empathy and compassion. As he wrote about the post-revolution environment in Libya just a few months ago, when he was transferred to Benghazi,

The whole atmosphere has changed for the better. People smile more and are much more open with foreigners. Americans, French and British are enjoying unusual popularity. Let’s hope it lasts!

So what sparked these attacks? According to most reports, “a stupid movie.” Apparently the movie “Innocence of Muslims,” which portrays the prophet Muhammad as “a homosexual who endorses extramarital sex and pedophilia, was enough to spark the violent murder of international diplomats. (You can see a brief trailer for the film, which is honestly of pretty low quality, here.) The film was made months ago, but it’s gotten a lot of play in some foreign media outlets over the past few days, with several Egyptian hosts calling it “a Coptic Christian and American plot to denigrate the prophet.”

If you’ve never heard of “Innocence of Muslims,” don’t worry. Until Tuesday, it was little more than a glorified Youtube clip put together by a real estate developer. Too bad you weren’t informed about the big “plot.”

Stunningly, though, in the wake of these attacks, the U.S. embassy in Cairo issued an apology for the video, saying that they condemned “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” With the media seizing on that baffling apology, President Obama released a statement the following morning to disavow the embassy’s comments, saying that their words had not been authorized. (That didn’t stop MSNBC commentators Mike Barnicle and Donny Deutsch from saying that pastor Terry Jones, who endorsed the film but had nothing to do with its creation, should be charged as an accessory to Chris Stevens’ murder.) Obama further ordered the tightening of security at U.S. embassies around the globe and vowed that the U.S. would track down the perpetrators of the “outrageous attack” in Libya.

The other side of this story, though, is that the attacks may have had nothing to do with “Innocence of Muslims.” The Benghazi assault in particular was a “complex attack” that likely would have required a great deal of planning, originating well before this alleged outrage over the amateur film. The use of a rocket-propelled grenade at the end of the strike also suggests that this was far more than just angry protesters going much too far. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers explicitly called it “a coordinated, military-style, commando-type raid” involving precisely executed “military movements.” Sources indicate that the low-profile film, in fact, was merely a diversion designed to cover up the real reason for the attacks: a revenge killing for the death of al Qaida’s second-in-command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, in June. The slaying of al-Libi has been called al Qaida’s greatest setback since the death of Osama bin Laden, so if this was a revenge killing, it should come as little surprise that it was orchestrated to happen on September 11th. It’s worth noting that Stevens himself was warned several years ago about a group of jihadist extremists near Benghazi.

In any case, the incident is a major quandary for the Obama administration just weeks before the presidential election. Beyond the political jousting over the tragedy, the U.S. is also likely to find its fragile relationship with Libya quite strained. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to mitigate this effect in her statement about the “savage” attack, noting that the actions of a small group do not necessarily make the entire country evil, just as one man’s movie does not represent the beliefs of an entire nation. But it’s still problematic for diplomacy when you can’t assure the safety of your ambassadors in a foreign country, particularly since laws have yet to be firmly established across Libya in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. It would be devastating for the country and for the region as a whole if Libya’s fledgling democracy crumbled so soon after the revolution against dictator Muammar Gadhafi reached its conclusion.

Florida A&M University brought back a very different sort of tragedy this week. Last November, drum major Robert Champion died in a hazing incident after the football team’s final game of the season. Sad, to be sure, but not something you’d expect to be in the news almost a year later.

However, in the midst of a lawsuit over the death, Florida A&M released a statement that not only did the university have no responsibility to protect its students from off-campus hazing, but that Champion caused his own death. According to the university, Champion chose to be hazed, so his institution should not be held to a higher standard than others who could have prevented his death, including the victim himself: “Respectfully, as a 26 year old adult and leader in FAMU’s band, Mr. Champion should have refused to participate in the planned hazing event and reported it to law enforcement or University administrators.”

Champion, after all, had signed a university pledge months before his death not to haze or to be hazed — although other band members called the pledge little more than a joke, since those who were not hazed were not accepted into the band. Either way, the other students involved are facing criminal charges of their own: 11 were charged with felony hazing, and two others are being tried for misdemeanor hazing.

While lawsuits over harm caused, in part, by oneself are generally invalid, states that have enacted hazing legislation (including Florida) tend to regard it as a special form of coercion which removes that defense for the institution. “In other words, you can argue that by joining the band, Champion understood that there might be some hazing, but that’s not a defense” for the university, according to Doug Fierberg, a hazing law attorney.

Needless to say, Champion’s parents are “appalled” by the university’s statements, as are many analysts, but Florida A&M seems more concerned about its fate in the lawsuit than anything else. Its lawyers have motioned for the lawsuit to be thrown out, or at least delayed until the criminal cases reach a verdict.

The university’s statements may or may not have any effect on the outcome of the pending court cases. Either way, whether you agree with their argument or not, it’s definitely drawn plenty of bad press on an issue that was already buried under the metaphorical rug. Let this be a lesson on stupidity to any public relations experts out there.

In election news, Obama is leading Mitt Romney in the polls following the Democratic National Convention. Neither party’s convention was especially spectacular, but Obama seems to have taken a small lead as a result, which is a good sign for him moving forward. On the other hand, the big question is whether voters will actually come to the polls for him in the same numbers as in 2008, as well as how long the post-convention bounce will last. It should be noted that Obama has a substantial lead among people who are simply registered to vote, but a virtually nonexistent one-point edge among likely voters.

Still, the Romney campaign has significant challenges to overcome in the next six weeks. Romney’s continued ambiguity lies at the heart of the problem, as he passed up a key opportunity to reveal his plans during the Republican National Convention just over two weeks ago. Thus far, much of his campaign has been focused on acting as an alternative to Obama, much like Obama contrasted himself with George W. Bush in 2008. While emphasizing the differences between oneself and the sitting president is a proven strategy, some of his supporters worry that voters will be reluctant to support a candidate whose agenda is too vague. Romney will soon have to decide whether he wants to remedy this problem, or whether he thinks that not giving Obama an obvious policy point to attack will work for him in the long run.

In any case, both sides have a lot of work to do in their fight over the remaining battleground states. I’ve often said that unless a landslide is in the works, you can only really begin to judge the course of an election in the six weeks leading up to the vote. So expect the next month and a half to be a wild ride.

Let’s close the book on the U.S. Open. In the weather-delayed Monday men’s final, Andy Murray finally earned his first Grand Slam title, overcoming defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2. The roller-coaster match featured some of the most brilliant tennis you’ll ever see despite swirling winds that disrupted serves and volleys throughout the match. (One volley alone lasted an amazing 55 strokes, pushing the players to their limits.) The five-set match also tied the record for the longest U.S. Open final of all time at a brutal four hours and 54 minutes.

After the first two sets, it looked like Murray might run away with the win over Djokovic, who was steaming over both the weather and a few borderline calls. But Djokovic hit his stride and positively dominated Murray in the third and fourth, leading the commentators to suggest that Murray was finished. Yet it was the Brit who broke serve in the very first game of the fifth set and held off Djokovic’s desperate challenges the rest of the way, winning for the first time after enduring four runner-up finishes since 2008. The win propels Murray past the injured Rafael Nadal to #3 in the men’s world rankings, behind only Djokovic and top-ranked Roger Federer.

In the women’s final, Serena Williams took out Victoria Azarenka to cap off her 15th Grand Slam title. She also became the first female tennis player to exceed $40 million in tournament winnings. The real story was that the match was as close as it was, at 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. While Azarenka was ranked #1 in the world, that was largely because Williams, currently fourth, missed a number of tournaments due to injury. Williams has been dominant since her return, and hadn’t lost a single set in the tournament prior to the final, while Azarenka needed a nail-biter third-set tiebreak just to beat Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5). But when Azarenka crushed Williams in the second set, Williams’ unstoppable march to the trophy suddenly looked uncertain, and the match looked all but over when Azarenka broke serve in the seventh game of the final set and then held her own serve to take a 5-3 lead. Williams, though, scored all the clutch points in the home stretch to take the last four games and the title.

In the men’s doubles final, twin brothers Mike and Bob Bryan trounced Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek, 6-3, 6-4. The 34-year-old Bryan brothers never faced a single break point in the final en route to their 12th Grand Slam, which ties the record for the most by a doubles pair since 1968, the start of the Open era. And on the women’s side, the top prize went to Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, who were similarly dominant in a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in their final. Errani and Vinci’s tournament run was also notable for their unlikely performances in the singles tournament. Neither Errani, ranked 10th, nor Vinci, #20, was expected to clear the fourth round, but they managed to reach the quarterfinals — where they were paired against one another. In one of the most stressful matches of the tournament, both players resisted showing any emotion at all, and Errani didn’t even smile when she earned a spot in the semifinals. (She subsequently lost to Williams in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2.) But the two were able to celebrate together when they took home the doubles crown.

Let’s close this week’s post with something inspirational. If you’re not familiar with the show MasterChef, it’s basically what it sounds like. Every season, the show crowns one “home cook” who is able to surpass all others through rigorous challenges far beyond the capabilities of most professional chefs. Whether they have to construct a dish on the fly from wild ingredients, cope with nearly impossible time pressure, or handle crazily difficult foods like sushi and soufflés, each week brings on a fresh set of tasks that only a master of the culinary arts can clear.

Judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich, all of whom are well-known elite chefs, crowned the season three winner of MasterChef on Monday: Houston native Christine Ha. Her previous experience primarily consisted of cooking for her husband, but you wouldn’t have known it from the meals she devised throughout the competition, including the three-course meal of a crab vegetable salad, braised pork belly, and a a coconut lime sorbet. (Believe it or not, the judges said her final offering was simpler than that of the other finalist, Josh Marks, but hers surpassed his in cohesiveness.) In the end, Ha’s superior sense of taste, smell, and touch carried her beyond all of her competitors, proving that she could rely on those to craft extraordinary cuisine.

It’s a good thing that she could rely on those senses, too. Especially since she’s blind.

Christine Ha, MasterChef winner

Yes, that’s right. Christine Ha, who proved herself to be the standout among about 100 premiere chefs, cannot see. (She was permitted to have an aide help her around the unfamiliar kitchen and read labels to her, but she otherwise did not help Ha with any of the food preparation, including dangerous tasks like sushi-cutting. Many other contestants inadvertently burned themselves and sliced their hands during challenges that left Ha unscathed.) Ha was one of the consistently strong competitors throughout the show, making dazzling dishes even when saddled with subpar ingredients (such as when other contestants controlled “pressure tests”), and finding ways to be innovative yet effective even when dealing with completely unfamiliar ingredients.

For her efforts, Ha received a $250,000 cash prize and a cookbook deal. But more importantly, she proved to the world what she could accomplish even in the face of major adversity, and she stands as an inspiration to millions.

Other articles of interest:
Ex-prof pleads guilty to killing Ala. colleagues
IRS pays whistleblower $104 million
Scandals Show California Is Broken, Not Broke
Should felons vote? In some states, it’s easy. In others, impossible.
Troubled Indianapolis Symphony cancels first two weeks of concerts
How will ex-cop Drew Peterson fare in prison?
Tulane’s Devon Walker breaks neck
Notre Dame to ACC in All Sports but FootballNFLPA head writes to Roger Goodell
Peyton Manning throws 400th career TD, wins in Broncos debut
NFL plans for referee lockout
Apple iPad Mini Photos Leaked
Why Apple’s Shares ‘Sell-Off’ Post iPhone Debut May Not Work This Time Around

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37 responses to “Discussion Post: Week 4”

  1. mmccune91 says :

    I think the Middle East needs to get over themselves. I think they are just too sensitive. Ok, some American made a movie that misrepresents an important religious figure. I don’t think that is grounds to attack U.S. Embassies and kill U.S. Ambassadors. Maybe if they directed their anger a those responsible for the video, and not the entire United States I would have less issues with this. I think what bothers me the most is that they can “dish it, but not take it.” When they step on, spit on, and light our flag on fire it is perfectly ok, but when someone who happens to be American makes a movie that offends them, its time to get violent and kill Americans. I don’t get it. I guess that’s why I’m not in foreign affairs.

    Now please don’t misunderstand me. I am not endorsing that video, nor am I trying to offend anyone. This video probably should not have been made, but as Americans we have the right to say what we want. I just think there are better ways to deal with this kind of stuff on both ends.

  2. nlosande says :

    A spectacular end to a spectacular U.S. Open. Perhaps one of the best Opens in recent history. Sure, it was met with the departure of an American tennis icon, but overall was very exciting to watch.

    I was glad to see Andy Murray win for two reasons, 1) it wasn’t Novak Djokovic, 2) it meant that this year, for the first time since 2003 when the Federer/Nadal domination took over, four different players won the four grand slam tournaments on the mens side.

    The Williams/Azarenka match was also interesting to watch as it was the first match that went to three sets for sometime. As annoying as their screeching was, the match was fun to watch… on mute.

  3. tbeach21 says :

    I’m going to have to agree with mmccune91 on this one. The anti-American sentiment that keeps originating in the middle east is getting old. I understand where it comes from though. It’s a two-way street. They keep attacking/harassing us, but it’s because we’re all up in their business. Maybe we need to just wipe our hands clean and get out of that mess. Not one part of the middle east actually poses a threat to us. Iran going nuclear? Draw a line in the sand (literally) and say “don’t cross this”. They won’t because nobody messes with the guy carrying the biggest stick (that would be us). We don’t need to jump right into another war right after finally drawing down our overseas forces. Iran can’t touch us and Israel has no real reason to be afraid of them either. We’ve got the military technology and ability to defend ourselves from the any foreign force in the world if we have to. As close as our alliance is with Israel, you can bet that they have better than stone-age defense systems as well. Iran wants Israel off the map, but Israel wouldn’t mind seeing Iran in a smoldering heap either. I think some of Benjamin Netanyahu’s proclaimed fear of Iran’s nuclear program is a little played up just because of the rivalry that exists there. Everyone knows that if Iran were to try and drop a nuke on Israel that: 1) the attempt would be engaged and averted by their missile defense network and 2) the combined force of Israel and our military would be brought to bear against them, leading to their complete destruction. You don’t just go to war with the U.S. and expect to win, especially with a conventional military force like Iran’s. The world would wake up one morning to find a 636,000 square mile wasteland where Iran used to be. I think that they know this, despite their level of extremism. They want to go nuclear because nobody likes being the only cowboy in town not carrying a gun. I don’t think they would actually try to shoot anybody, because it would be the last thing they ever did.

  4. MeganEvilsizor says :

    The riots are bad I know and people should learn to control their issues, but if there is a movie that makes fun of a beloved person of their country/religion then they almost have a right to be so angry. I mean if some company, American or not, made a film badmouthing America, we’d be pretty boisterous about it, and Americans have better access to guns and ammo than most Middle Easterns I would think, so things could get ugly quick.

    A big congrats to Christina Ha, blind and a chef now there are two categories that you wouldn’t see going together. I think it is neat that she was able to beat all the other competitors and she technically was “disabled”. I think if more people do things that others deem they can’t then we would start seeing a lot more talent in tons of areas come up across America.

  5. Tyler Durham says :

    This upcoming election season is actually going to be my first time to ever vote. I feel kind of irresponsible for not doing this before. But, I also feel that I need to vote this time around just because of how important this election season is. But, as a first time voter, neither one of these candidates seems to have anything over the other that I like. It seems like politics are more about bashing the other and seeing how much you can throw them under the bus. It seems as if they try to say what is worse about the other one, rather than what they think they could do to better our country and the future of this nation. We are at a critical time in the history of our nation and frankly as of now, I do not really trust either of these candidates to run our nation. I just want to see something over the next few weeks before the election. I think this is part of the reason why younger people do not are about politics as much, is because there is just so much negativity always brought along with it. So, hopefully one of these candidates proves to me they can run this nation, the future of the country depends on it.

  6. Ashlynn Johnson says :

    It’s interesting how most people haven’t seen the video making fun of their prophet Mohammad, but it’s made by a radical pastor whom most people dislike to begin with….so maybe that’s why. Although, from other information, it’s probably not because of the video. The radicals are still angry at the United States, so the attack is probably related to their hate for our country and the video could have just topped it off. As for the elections, I’m not sure who to vote for as well. Neither candidate seems acceptable, but I guess it’s always the lesser of two evils. I do think some voters are going to the extremes to root for their candidate, though. I’ve seen many strong-worded posts throughout the web badmouthing either candidate and it makes me not want to participate in voting this season all together. I guess we will have to see…

  7. Garey Bogo says :

    Towards the article about Florida A&M and the hazing incident, I believe that the university is trying to save it’s own skin and not have to pay for the lawsuit. By blaming it on the student, they don’t have to pay for the lawsuit, and at least try to hush this publicity as soon as possible. Although the student could have not participated or lead the incident to the proper authorities, he would have been seen as a pariah and would definitely not be accepted onto the team. The idea of a pledge whether to be hazed or to be hazed seems something of a joke, as it’s more of the club or group that they are joining. Also even though a pledge is signed, it doesn’t mean that it will be ruled upon.

  8. Garrett Rood says :

    I can honestly say that I have not seen the “anit-Muslim” movie but from the numerous accounts of it from the news and the few articles I have read about it I have formed my own opinion. Here in America we have freedom of speech. If this means that someone wants to put down another religion, whether that be Christianity, Islam, or the unfathomable Star Wars “religion,” they have that right. Now in no way am I condoning this behavior, because I do not believe in these kind of actions, but I do believe it is well within their rights to do whatever they want, I mean it is not like the movie threatened the lives of anyone or physically harmed them. Now days later as these riots, protests, and attacks have continued it seems more and more like people are just using this video as an excuse. I mean it is one thing to be upset but come one people, really. Since when is it okay to kill four people just because a video talked down to an “idol” basically. Look, I understand that its a religion, and people get very touchy on religion and politics, but this is just unreasonable and insane. For no reason should anyone, anywhere, for any reason, think it is okay to show this kind of violence because of an independent film that does not represent the thoughts and beliefs of the US government or the US population for that matter. I do not mean to offend anyone by this but personally I think the video is rude, unkind, and unjustified, but that does give anyone the right to wage these attacks and kill innocent people, plain and simple.

  9. jones326 says :

    Let me start off by saying that I am by no means a tennis fan. I’m normally disappointed when I see that it is on TV rather than the regularly scheduled shows, but this U.S. Open I actually found myself watching. I don’t know the cause of this but day after day it seemed that it was the thing on my television all afternoon while I did my homework.

    My favorite part of the storyline was that of Andy Roddick. As an American, if I actually am going to watch tennis I would of course want an American to win the U.S. Open. And with this being his last tournament before retirement all of his matches were exciting to watch. He was really playing like there was no tomorrow and that was neat to experience.

  10. lukeshall says :

    All this hatred in the middle is quite interesting. I think that the people there are obviously not used to the freedom that Americans have. Here you basically can make fun of and critize almost anyone, and while sometimes there is conroversy over this, we usually just deal with it. People in the U.S. disagree, but we know there are disagreements and there is kind of this understanding that people are allowed to critize or make fun of other people’s point of view. Hopefully the hatred level decreases soon and people will be safe especially Americans.

  11. shaliniKannan says :

    Its extremely sad of what is happening in Libya. I feel that burning down the US Embassy and killing innocent people and performing other acts of violence is too dramatic for the cause. It does not seem reasonable to kill and innocent man because of a “stupid movie”. I strongly feel that there must have been something that with the anger of the movie to drive the Libyans to kills innocent Americans. I completely agree with Hilary Clinton’s statement that one man’s movie does not represent the views of the nations, and a groups violent acts does not imply that all of Libya also holds the same view. I have personally not seen the video, but that definitely does give anyone the right to take someone else’s life for something they did not even make.
    Coming to the hazing incident, I am not exactly sure that the university is responsible for the death of Champion. The university can only control what happens on university ground. Its unreasonable to try and control all the students of what happens off university grounds. We are all young adults now so it is our own responsibility of the choices we make.

  12. Daniel Spivey says :

    We are through presentation 1 and I must say it was very surprising for me to watch the video. I really learned a lot about things that I had no idea that I did. When I finished the presentation I was feeling really confident and thought that it went great. After watching the video I realized that I looked at the paper way too much, fidgeted with my hands too much, and used way to many vocal fillers. I seriously had no idea that I did any of these things. So I think that watching the videos is an incredibly helpful tool.

  13. colinbyram says :

    I feel that presentation I went really well for it being the first one and now that we have a feel for it they will only get better from here. I have not viewed my presentation yet, partially because I am scared to do so, but I feel I will learn a lot from being able to critique myself.

    The Anti-Western protest taking place in the middle east are rather frustrating because to many of those countries we have done nothing but help them get to where they are. With that said, it is not worth taking the risk that come with us getting involved. If these countries want to blow up and torch their towns in protest to America? then do it! I do not look at any of them as a threat to the US until they do in fact start killing Americans. Also, a quick thought on the campaign trail is that it is hard to judge the real lead by the polls taken online. Many of these polls are formed to favor perhaps the person trailing in order to raise more attention. I feel that many of Obamas supporters will not be returning to the polls because many came out the first time just to help make history happen. Now that many policies have been seen that lead people to not back him as much anymore, I feel we will see a decrease in supporters with little knowledge on the topics at hand.

  14. Brock says :

    Having traveled abroad to many countries, I think the media tends to make matters and most situations worse. I have met many people on their own turf and have very meaningful conversations. There is an understanding that Christians and Muslims believe in the same God but to varying degrees and in differing ways. The Muslims just intermingle religion into everything they do and believe in. The western society has created a very distinct separation. Our current government does not have a very good foreign policy. It can be argued either way for varying reasons, but the fact is, the climate oversees is now more unfriendly toward Americans than it has been in a long time. And now a random thought to contemplate…. The middle east as a whole has major restriction on the consumption of pork (think ham and bacon). My question to you.. Do you think this is why the region is so volatile? I think the region would be a mood if ham and bacon was added to the diet…

  15. Junter says :

    I think while hazing is an obvious growing concern in the country i see nothing wrong with Texas AnM’s actions. It might come off as inappropriate and harsh in this delicate situation but they were at no way the direct cause of his death. I’m not up to date on their hazing policy but I’m sure it is as concrete and sound proof as most institution’s now are. If a person chooses to join a group, they are subjecting themselves to any and all actions that certain group participates in. As bad as it sounds, if you don’t like the current situation you are in then leave. Simple as that, if he didn’t want to be apart of hazing or didn’t think he could have handled it he should have quit the band or the certain group he was pledging with. If he really thought it was such a terrible situation he could have reported it to the proper school officials. Overall i feel like all of these incidents are freak occurrences that are tragic, but are definitely avoidable.

    • APhelps says :

      Texas A&M might not have been the cause of this young man’s death. But they were certainly carried a role in the matter. When you typically think of hazing, it’s somewhere along the lines of humiliation with slight physical pain. But let me remind everyone that this man died from internal bleeding that led to shock and death in the matter of an hour. This wasn’t a case of a few guys throwing half-hearted punches his way, it would better be classified as assault. For those who might not have heard the details (which are fairly well sealed for the most part) Mr. Champion boarded a coach bus after their last game and willingly took part in a beating as he walked the aisle from everyone on the bus. I can see how traditions are hard to shake, but really? How did no one from the university (which I am sure many were privy to this fact) flag this as slightly dangerous? The marching band is a direct reflection of the university and as such, they have an inherent responsibility for its members. Incidents that become this severe are freak, but because of that nature this is precisely why most of the blame must fall upon the university. To say they had no part in this students death is absolutely heinous and downright disgraceful. Hazing can be a gray area at times, but examples like this are better classified as criminal. And should be treated as such.

  16. kearstenolson says :

    I think it’s incredible that Christine Ha was able to win that competition. As someone who isn’t particularly good with cooking to begin with, cooking when blind seems be impossible.

    As far as the Middle East goes, I think it’s hard to speculate that it was because of an Anti-Muslim/Muhammed movie. There is a lot of unrest in the Middles East. If you look at America right now, there are so many people racially discriminating Muslims as terrorists. It’s ridiculous to lump all Middle Easterners into this category when it’s just the radicals. And as far as the attack on the embassy, I think it would have to be just the radicals, especially since on 9/11 numerous places in the Middle East actually held memorials for the 9/11 attacks.

  17. jteagard says :

    I absolutely loved the MasterChef story. I personally love to cook and do it quite often. I think it is completely amazing for someone that is blind to be able to win that competition. I think this mainly because in order to know when some things are finished cooking all the way through you need to look at it for color. I think it is particularly cool because it seems like she hasn’t had any prior training and that she only cooked around the house.I watch cooking shows all the time, it seems almost every time everyone in the competition has had extensive training or worked/owned a restaurant for many years.

  18. Garret Howard says :

    What I saw when I watched my presentation 1 video was kind of surprising. I didnt realize how monotone my voice is when I present and how distracting that my hands fidgeting can be. I guess realizing this gives me something to work on before my next presentation.

    The MasterChef article is pretty neat to me. It is cool to see someone who is blind be able to beat the odds and win a cooking contest, I mean I am not much of a cook but being able to see what I have made definitely helps me determine if the food is done and looks good. Another thing that is fascinating about this is that she never cut or burned herself. I guess it goes to show that having a disability does not have to prevent you from achieving your goals.

  19. Blake Neata says :

    I am not big on watching news stations so the September 11th article really came as a shock to me. I think that it is ridiculous that these “rebels”, as I like to think of them, can get away with such attacks on American diplomats and these countries. I completely agree that this attack was not due from that movie being made. It is clear that this was a planned out organized attack with the intent to kill as many government officials possible. Peace can never be had in the middle east with countries and rebels in those countries acting out with no repercussions. It’s reasons such as these that I feel it was a lapse of judgment to start pulling soldiers out of these countries. These middle eastern rebels think that the middle east is the wild west and they are the only ones with gun. The actions that took place ten days ago should not be taken lightly and should frankly be a wake up call to our government officials.

  20. Daniel Hudspeth says :

    While I agree that every religion has their faults, and every religion has been made fun of in one way or another, I don’t think that it gives people the right to murder people from a different culture, i.e. the U.S. ambassador. The whole middle east has been overtly extreme in dealing with their religious issues. They seem to think that because a single American did something insulting that the whole nation is at fault, and they take it out on people that have nothing to do with the matter. The whole thing is about intolerance towards other cultures.

  21. Edward Dang says :

    The outrage at the insulting video, and its portrayal of Muhammad, is another reminder to me that though we can travel the entire world in less than 3 days (essentially making our planet seem smaller than before), we’re still so very different from each other. It isn’t my opinion that enraged reactions to a single video can be seen as straight up fanatical, but then again, they’re a different culture with different values and upbringings. It only makes sense that as evolved, intelligent beings we can be biologically the same but still be completely different groups of people. Needless to say, people are going to keep hurting each other, and violence will always be a favorite answer to hatred. What makes nowadays better than before is that a minority of our population act this way, and the majority can no longer understand such deranged logic.

  22. Craig (@ctlocker) says :

    A wild ride indeed Brian, this election has already showed more finger pointing and trash talk then in many years and I feel we owe much of that to that to the increased attention from the media. I feel the same way about 24 hour sports coverage, when you have to cover so much TV time you nitpick and that is exactly what we are currently witnessing with the upcoming election, minute detail after minute detail gets blown out of context and next thing we know it’s a liberal or conservative attack. How many news channels do we have now? I can think of 7 that show more than 8 hours a day of politics. Is there really that much to cover, probably not, but people watch and take every word as if it were the truth. Politics are just that, politics, they are out to persuade you that they are there for you, they have your best interest, but it only appears as if they have their own best interest. Where am I going with this? If you plan on voting and only watch the news to pick who you want to be your next President, then please don’t vote.

  23. Zach Gerbner says :

    After watching significant amounts of both conventions, I can understand why Obama got a bit of a bounce in the polls and Romney did not. The RNC overall was dull, and with the exception of Clint Eastwood, nothing remotely interesting happened. At the DNC on the other land, Michelle Obama and Pres. Clinton gave fantastic speeches that I think helped reshape Pres. Obama’s imagine as a leader who needs more time. I think the next 45 days are going to be incredibly interesting, but for the majority of the race, Obama has held a slight lead, and my belief is that if nothing dramatic happens between now and the election, it will stay this way. When Gov. Romney was nominated, I had an open mind, and thought he would make a very good leader, especially if he brought his Massachusetts policies to the White House, and also blended a bit of his style with Chris Christie. What scares me though is if Romney wins, and the far right of the Republican party takes hold of his presidency. Romney is going to have to focus his message from now until the general election if he has any chance of defeating President Obama, and he will have the opportunity to do so at the first debate on October 3rd.

  24. tbanas says :

    The situation in the middle east has been the same story ever since the end of World War II. I wish the west would stop trying to intervene at every turn to help them out. The middle east has problems that are rooted from biblical times. Does anyone honestly think that a country that is 236 years old can just come in and solve a >2000 year old problem. The Muslims have a problem listening to Christians telling them what to do and frankly if I was Muslim, so would I. We need to stop trying to override the political systems over there because while it may not fit OUR idealistic society, many Muslims are most likely ok with their current system. If they’re not, then we get what happened in Egypt and Libya. Iran’s nuclear program is a worldwide concern, but the thought of mutually assured destruction, I think, is a strong detractor from actually pushing the big red button.

  25. Brandon Vath says :

    Eleven years later, I still remember the 9/11 attacks like it was only yesterday. I was in the fourth grade and my teacher told us that “something major happened today”, but our parents would have to inform us personally. I can remember watching the news that evening and witnessing the events unfold. It was a very sad and dark day that I will never forget.

    On the brighter side, I find Christine Ha’s success story very inspiring. The fact that she is able to win the competition with her vision impairment just goes to prove that if you set you mind to a goal, you can complete it. Also, I was amazed to read that she did not even cut or burn herself during the entire competition while her competitors could not do the same. Personally, I can hardly cook a meal without cutting or burning myself.

  26. Rachel Dockter says :

    I’m a little torn on the upcoming election. I’ve never voted before, and honestly never paid much attention to politics, but I kind of feel like I should vote. The problem is that I have no idea who to vote for…my family has always been pretty steadfastly Republican but I can’t really find anything to like about Romney’s campaign, and I’m having trouble getting enthused about Obama as well. I think I’m going to need to pay a little bit more attention to politics and debates in the upcoming months.

  27. Kayla C says :

    I loved Christine Ha’s story. I really enjoy cooking (or trying to at least) so watching shows like this are fun for me. At home I actually frequently watch The Food Network, but I unfortunately didn’t watch this (probably because I don’t have time to watch television in college). But reading Christine’s story makes me want to watch at least a few episodes! It would be interesting to see how the presentation of the dishes were compared to everyone else’s. It’s also amazing how she never burnt or cut herself. It’s hard enough for me not to do that and I can see what I’m doing! Hearing this story makes me wonder if she had any other motive to do the show other than to prove herself. None the less, I’m sure after this experience if her husband didn’t have really nice food, he sure will now!

  28. Jae Hyeon Joo says :

    Presentation 1 was done, but presentation 2 is coming up. At this time, I should prepare a lot. I saw Masterchef program. It is timed, and be evaluated by judges. That is quite tough program. I am proud of Christine Ha. She has big disadvantage on her blinded eyes, but she did really great on making good foods. Generally, people who has disability on one’s body, one tends to give up one’s life. She didn’t, she overcame her disability and made changing her life successfully. This is what I have to apply in my life. Few years back, if there was some kind of hard works, I gave up easily. However, I changed my mind. I keep saying that I can do this. This is what I have to do. I think this article is good to people who give up easily.

  29. cnunan says :

    You have a lot of stuff about politics this week, which I am not a fan of. Maybe one day I will care about them, but for now I really don’t feel like my opinion matters. So anyway, I thought the Texas A&M hazing death was interesting. I don’t know how this person died, but it really upsets me that hazing is so ridiculous. What is the point of it? Maybe the frat guys can defend it, but it just seems pathetic to me. I know the college itself can’t really control it, but they should do more to punish those involved.

  30. Paul Laurinaitis says :

    I would like to comment regarding the US open tennis final. Now i am not a tennis fan but watching the match unfold was truly exhilarating. It was a great sports moment and a fan of any sport would have enjoyed it. It was great to see the underdog win a major. I fell happy for Andy Murray for his win and great accomplishment. I may have to watch tennis more often, because the match was truly unbelievable and had me on the edge of my seat.

  31. Jake Hellman says :

    It’s 2012 and colleges still even think about allowing hazing? How stupid. I can’t even believe that the university has an attorney dedicated to defend against this. Hopefully, this case will pull them into the 21st century.

    I don’t own a TV, but I would’ve loved to watch the last bits of the US Open. Good for Serena and the Bryan Brothers though. Rock on.
    And what an awesome finale for Masterchef! A true inspiration for anyone, even if not interesting in the culinary arts.

  32. Zack Palazzo says :

    I havent seen the movie that supposedly sparked these attacks, but I doubt that a youtube video could spark an incident such as this. As the intelligence officials have stated, these attacks were most likely coordinated. I think that the video provided the people behind the attack the opportunity to rally people to help raid the embassies.

  33. bwulf24 says :

    I’ve never been into politics at all but in the last few months I’ve been doing a ton of research on both candidates because it finally hit me that who is elected is actually important. I’m going to try to remain politically neutral in this post because my intent is not to start an argument but to encourage people to research and to vote. I’ve been asking around a lot of people my age lately who they’re voting for and many people had very strong opinions but had absolutely no reason for having that opinion. I guess their candidates just “feel” right. One thing I’ve learned is that you need to research from the point of view of both parties, even if your a republican you should still read liberal articles from time to time because everything that happens, especially things involving numbers, get spun to sound as good as possible for each candidate. A lot of people just aren’t going to vote because they don’t like either candidate. I truly hope everyone does vote, I honestly don’t particularly care for either candidate either but there is one candidate who I truly think can help this country even if he doesn’t have all the views that I would like. This country is in bad shape right now and we desperately need someone to lead us out of this rut so I really hope everyone will research both candidates and decide who can help our country and go vote for him.

  34. liv4creativity says :

    I received an email from Wall Street Journal about our Embassies murdered in Libya right after it happened. I tried to find more information right away, but very few news sites had picked up on the story yet. One of my professors worked closely with Chris Stevens many years ago and was very affected by his death. While I agree that the “movie” was rude and hurtful, I do not agree that killing innocent people will take away the hurt caused by the “movie.” Just because we have more rights to do what we want, when we want, we should not use these rights to bring others down when we do not agree with their beliefs.

  35. David Meyer says :

    In regards to the FAMU drum major portion of the blog post, I think that the whole situation is sad. While I agree that many things need to be done about hazing at all levels, I find the fact that things even need to be done about hazing at a college level sad. It is hard to understand why adults cannot take care of themselves better than that. I believe that FAMU’s comments were a little insensitive for the situation, but they make a point. The 26 year old adult willingly chose to be hazed and knew what he was getting into. If he knew what would happen and chose to do it anyway, then how can anyone fully blame the university? Don’t get me wrong, it is important to have hazing policies in place, and FAMU didn’t do everything they should have done to prevent the occurrence. What happened at FAMU was a tragedy. It is obvious that a great deal must be done to avoid situations like this in the future.

  36. mbruhn says :

    I think that the situation with the FAMU drum major is very upsetting. I’m not sure why people find it amusing when other people are physically or mentally abused. There is a difference between a little friendly hazing and when it crosses the line. That line should never even be flirted with at all. I think it’s quite funny seeing a new rookie on a sports team or a freshman on a sports team having to wear a ping princess backpack. These sorts of things should not be done away with, but when things begin getting physically or mentally taxing, it is wrong and should be done away with. At the college level, I don’t understand how people don’t know where this line is.