Discussion Post: Week 5

It’s about time for us to start working on our web portfolios! How do you feel about the process going into it? Do you have any prior experience working on a website? Or do you already have a portfolio of your own? What are you considering for your approach to this project?

While we’ll be working on the web portfolios throughout the week, don’t forget to submit your Presentation II topics by the start of class on Thursday. Also, remember that we won’t be in our regular classroom this week; check the schedule on Blackboard for our lab locations on Tuesday and Thursday.

The violent protests from last week that killed several U.S. officials, including our ambassador to Libya, only spread and intensified this week, expanding to U.S. embassies and military bases in Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Pakistan, among other countries. Hundreds of angry men clashed with police, setting fire to cars, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, and chanting “Death to America.”

Dozens of police officers have been injured thus far. Afghani suicide bombers also killed 12 people with an attack on a minivan carrying foreign workers, and shortly announced that it was revenge for the controversial “Innocence of Muslims” trailer on YouTube which mocked the Islamic Prophet Mohammad. At least 20 countries are now mired in furious anti-American protests of their own, including Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka. And Benghazi, Libya, where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed last week, has blossomed into a key al Qaida recruiting ground to build their terrorist ranks.

Australian officials saw little choice but to close their own Pakistan high commission for fear of violence against their own diplomats. In a span of three days, eight NATO coalition soldiers were killed by the very Afghani officers they were helping to train. Another radical leader was arrested in Tunisia, while the U.S. ordered all non-essential personnel removed from both Tunisia and Sudan. Hundreds of student protesters also called for the removal of the U.S. ambassador to Yemen, while the al Qaida branch in North Africa threatened further attacks on U.S. diplomats.

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Hezbollah terrorist organization, stoked the anti-American flames by calling for sustained protests in a rare public appearance in Beirut, Lebanon on Monday. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in the audience chanted, “America, America, you are the greatest Satan! Israel, Israel, you’re the enemy of Muslims!” U.S. officials consequently warned American travelers not to visit Lebanon in the foreseeable future. Good advice, given that protesters even saw fit to torch a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant after Nasrallah’s speech, despite Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf’s calls for peaceful protests. At least 20 people were killed and over 200 more injured in Pakistani protests after Friday prayers, and we can likely expect that number to climb in the immediate future.

Of course, there has naturally been considerable scrutiny of U.S. foreign policy in the wake of this debacle. The key question here seems to be whether the U.S. government was wise in backing the protests which formed the heart of the so-called “Arab Spring” and ousted such dictators as Hosni Mubarak and Moammar Gadhafi, or whether the existing regime, while oppressive and less-than-ideal, served some purpose in restraining the blind anger we now see across the region. As one analyst outlined:

U.S. relations with Egypt have dived dramatically since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, so much so that [President Barack] Obama said this week he doesn’t necessarily consider the two countries allies. In Yemen, al-Qaida took advantage of a year of internal fighting to make inroads across the country. After defeating Gadhafi, Libyans sent pro-American moderates to power but are still struggling amid a wash of weaponry and militias that remain unchecked.

The ensuing instability since the ouster of Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the death of Gadhafi and the power transfer deal ending the reign of Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh has led some foreign policy experts — particularly conservatives and former Bush administration officials — to question whether Washington acted unwisely by siding with the protesters. Such language has even crept into the presidential campaign, with Republican Mitt Romney vowing to “strive to ensure that the Arab Spring is not followed by an Arab Winter.”

After 20 months, the Arab Spring continues to polarize even conservatives, dividing those who see in it the triumph of freedom from those who criticize Obama for abandoning traditional friendships with leaders like Mubarak and say he helped usher in instability and the rise of political Islam.

Of course, the original source of the rage is still widely being debated. Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., said that there is no connection whatsoever between Obama’s foreign policy and these deadly attacks, arguing that all the rage instead stemmed from “Innocence of Muslims.” Rice cited other examples of radical Islamic groups violently reacting to portrayals of religion, such as responses to the 2006 film The Da Vinci Code. This seems to be supported by Middle Eastern groups calling for international legislation banning criticism of Muslims and classifying it as a terrorist act (which would seem, naturally, to contradict any notion of free speech in the U.S.).

Others, however, blasted Rice as being “asinine, naive, inept, incompetent and borderline ignorant” for saying that the attacks were poorly-coordinated mobs who were just angry over a film. In their retorts, Rice’s critics noted the tactical military maneuvers that they say would have demanded extensive advance planning, as well as several reports that the initial attacks were actually revenge for the slaying of al Qaida’s second-in-command, using “Innocence of Muslims” as little more than a cover.

It’s worth noting that the vast majority of protesters have not seen any part of the trailer themselves, and many Muslims oppose violent responses to what they still see as blasphemy. There are, after all, over two billion Muslims around the globe, most of whom have not appeared on any news feeds in the past two weeks. This is perhaps clearest in Libya, where government-allied citizens fought back against militia members and seized several bases that had been taken by the radicals. An estimated 30,000 people subsequently launched an exceedingly rare pro-American protest, holding up slogans and banners and demanding justice for Ambassador Stevens, saying that “Libya lost a friend” when he was slain.

There’s also the question of whether all the violence stemmed from the same source. Some analysts say that the Cairo mob we discussed last week was indeed fueled by citizens’ rage over “Innocence of Muslims,” while the Benghazi strike was a coordinated effort by al Qaida operatives that specifically targeted Ambassador Stevens. Such reports are scarce in the media, which has otherwise lumped the Libyan attack in with other protests to frame the story as a sea of Islamic overreactions, but there are a few commentators arguing that the story is much more complicated than that.

Regardless, in order to curtail the further spread of this violent wave, Google has shut down access to the “Innocence of Muslims” trailer in protesting countries. Pakistan’s prime minister blocked YouTube as a whole, with users informed that the video-hosting site had been classified as containing “indecent material.” Russia, likewise, moved to ban the film, while Germany is pondering a similar ruling.

Of course, the Middle Eastern turmoil has changed the nature of the U.S. presidential election, too. Some are saying that the crisis abroad could spell doom for Obama, as there are many similarities between his arguably timid response to these protests and the 1979 Tehran revolution that derailed Jimmy Carter’s reelection campaign. But while Ronald Reagan landed a key blow against Carter in 1980, Mitt Romney is struggling to do the same against Obama — the incumbent has actually extended his lead in most polls over the past week — due in large part to a scattered Republican National Convention and campaign management concerns, as well as media upheaval over his own response to the protests abroad.

Romney dismissed reports that his staff is in disarray, but he has been retooling his message over the past week to focus more on the economy. One key argument he hopes to make is that several key taxes in the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” will shatter the already precarious financial standing of the middle class. On a broader level, he is hoping to challenge the status quo that Obama established, hoping that voters will accept his claim that the current presidency has been a failure across the board.

However, a few poorly chosen (or at least poorly worded) off-the-cuff comments have alienated Romney from key demographics. Several key missteps have made it appear that Romney doesn’t care about a substantial portion of the electorate, and further distracted voters from the uphill battle he seeks to wage against Obama.

Over the final 50 days of the campaign, both campaigns have a lot of work to do. Most analysts agree that Romney has to solidify his campaign team and adopt a single, clear message if he wants to make ground on Obama, an effort he beganwith mixed reviewslast week. By the same token, Obama is hardly secure in his lead, as he cannot simply rely on what some commentators call the liberal media bias to protect him forever. Furthermore, he won’t make any real headway in the polls as long as he continues to watch the Middle Eastern violence escalate — even as Romney tripped over his words last week, Obama gained less than a percentage point across most major polls.

With both candidates struggling to show that they are up to the task, no wonder several African-American Christian pastors told their congregations to just stay home on election day.

Now that we’re close enough to election day that trends in the polls are actually meaningful, it’s worth noting that there are some substantial concerns with those very polls. Perhaps the biggest problem is with a technique called stratified sampling. To state it simply, not everyone in the U.S. actually votes on election day, and some groups are more likely to vote than others. So when pollsters try to predict the outcome of an election, they seek a particular balance of “likely voters.” Thus, various demographic groups are independently sampled. For instance, minority groups are historically less likely to vote than their Caucasian counterparts. So if a particular region has, say, 60% Caucasians and 40% African-Americans, the pollsters might call 75 Caucasians and 25 African-Americans, in order to predict the attitudes of those people who will actually show up to vote.

To be clear, stratified sampling itself is a time-tested, methodologically sound statistical technique. It reduces the “error” that occurs when, in pure random samples, different demographic groups are randomly sampled in wildly disproportionate ways.

The problem is that predicting what groups will actually make the effort to vote, and in what numbers, is an exceedingly difficult task. If you don’t know what proportion of the populace will vote on election day, you can’t accurately stratify your sample. If you guess the wrong proportions for groups voting on election day, the findings in your poll will be wrong as well.

In short, bad stratifications lead to bad results. Or “GIGO,” if you prefer: “Garbage In, Garbage Out.”

So how do the pollsters get their strata? Well, some polls just use the U.S. census data and assume that different demographic groups are likely to vote at equal rates. So in our example above, they would call 60 Caucasians and 40 African-Americans, even if a given Caucasian is actually more likely to cast a ballot than a given African-American. One can imagine the pitfalls of that approach.

Others try to dodge this problem and use exit polls from the previous election to predict voter turnout. Unfortunately, voter turnout hardly remains the same from one election cycle to the next. In 2008, for example, Obama was able to energize young voters and minority groups, driving a nearly unprecedented push to the polls that helped him secure a landslide win. It is hard to say whether he will be able to do the same in 2012. The demographic groups that arrive at the polls on election day this time might be far different than those four years ago, in which case any pre-election poll based on the 2008 results could be very wrong.

There are a number of other problems with modern polls. For instance, some emphasize land lines instead of cell phones, which overlooks the fact that a relatively high proportion of young and Latino voters only use cell phones (and are therefore missed in these polls). There’s also the Bradley effect, named for Tom Bradley’s stunning loss in the 1982 California governor’s race after he led the pre-election polls by a substantial margin. Typically, in a race between Caucasian and African-American candidates, many voters will lie to pollsters and say that they intend to vote for the African-American, even if they swing the other way on their actual, confidential ballot. Presumably, they deceive the pollsters in order to avoid any appearance of being racist, as they feel pressured to state the response they think is more “politically correct.” The difference between these lie-filled responses and actual election day voting has historically changed the results with a median of 3.1%, a tremendous shift in most elections. Of course, there’s considerable debate about whether the Bradley effect still exists, particularly after Obama outperformed predictions in 2008, but whether or not that came from a unique campaign climate or a long-term national transition remains to be seen.

In any event, the point is that there’s a reason you see such a wide scope of results across different polls. Different agencies use slightly different polling techniques (and many employ a mix of approaches to reduce their error and bias) that have substantial effects on the outcome. They’re all grounded in legitimate logic, but they’re all a little different, so most will be just a bit wrong, one way or the other. So pay attention to the polls, and watch how they move — but take them with a grain of salt.

In tech news, preorders for the iPhone 5 cleared two million units within the first 24 hours, completely destroying the previous record of one million for the iPhone 4S despite underwhelming reviews for the new device. The tremendous demand boosted investor confidence, but it does mean that some pre-ordered units will not be shipped until October. Most were sent on September 21, the same day that the iPhone 5 appeared in stores; it’s only a minority that will face delays. And at least being delayed by a few weeks is better than spending billions on repairs.

At first, football commentators praised the replacement NFL referees for at least doing a respectable job as the league continues to negotiate with the NFL Referees Association (NFLRA). That time is over. Yes, a few referees were caught being fans of the teams whose games they were officiating or even getting paid for their efforts. And sure, there’s the report of one ref telling running back LeSean McCoy, “Come on, I need you for my fantasy [team]” during his week one game. But those seem like minor issues compared to the complete debacle in week two, where almost every matchup featured a major refereeing mistake that shifted the tide of the game.

The officials obviously weren’t fully aware of the rules, and the players effectively pushed them around at will, wresting control of the game away from the inexperienced refs. Myriad personal fouls went uncalled, posing a danger to players across the league, and the officials oscillated between calling phantom fouls and missing obvious infractions. They incorrectly assessed the yardage on several penalties, and both sidelines cleared after an especially controversial turnover call in the Broncos-Falcons clash. The outcomes of several games were likely altered by the unpredictable refereeing.

It’s little wonder that we’re seeing such problems, given that the most experienced of these replacements came from Division II and III college football. Many were instead drawn from the high school level and amateur leagues. And given that negotiations between the NFL and the NFLRA have made little headway, we’re likely to endure at least another week or two of these baffling calls. I’ll let a viewer’s comment sum it up: “If I wanted to watch a car wreck, I’d be a NASCAR fan, not a football fan.

The NFL isn’t the only site of odd decisions, though. HALO Corp., which offers training programs for various agencies throughout California, will conduct a counterterrorism training program for 1,000 military personnel, law enforcement officials, medical experts and government workers in San Diego next month. Participants will train on realistic sets, dealing with Middle Eastern terrorists, maritime pirates… and the undead. (“Pirates vs. Zombies,” anyone?) After all, “a future crisis could arise from an outbreak of viruses that destroy brain cells and render people violently catatonic, like zombies.” So a thousand of our nations finest will learn how to protect the American public from a Night of the Living Dead. One has to wonder how much the five-day program actually costs.

Finally, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is at the center of one of the most heated arguments that the Viola School District in Arkansas has ever seen. Jenkins Clifton-Jones didn’t think he was doing anything wrong when he brought the delicious homemade treat to school for lunch, but a teacher hastily confiscated his meal. The reason? Viola School District has maintained a ban on peanut products for the past six years, citing some students’ allergies. (One student apparently has such severe allergies that he could suffer a potentially fatal anaphylactic shock simply from breathing in the vicinity of peanut products.) The teacher replaced Clifton-Jones sandwich with an alternative meal and gave him a note to explain the school’s policy to his parents.

And that’s where the story really picked up, as Denise Clifton-Jones, the boy’s mother, was livid. She started a Facebook page, dubbed “School Nut Ban Discussion,” to express her aggravation, and the conversation has since exploded into an international movement over peanut rights that has already received warnings for name-calling and profanity by both sides of the argument.

District superintendent John R. May says that the district’s Wellness Committee is looking into the policy to see if there is a better approach, but noted that “Until we figure out something else, it would be foolish to drop the policy.” In the meantime, some parents continue to champion food rights on Facebook. Clifton-Jones herself, who is a nurse practitioner, argued that

Placing kids in a “bubble” is not managing anything…There are many severe allergies to many kinds of healthy foods. Just because a few children are allergic to something is no good reason to ban ALL kids from eating their favorite foods. Public schools should try to accommodate all kids to the best of their ability, not accommodate a few at the expense of the masses.

Others, however, are concerned that the will of the majority might trample legitimate protection for those who really need it. As one mother said,

When so many children suffer from peanut allergies (some reports say it may be as high as 1 in 25) and children can DIE if exposed to them, then I don’t think asking people not to bring peanut products to school is such a big deal. It’s one meal a day, and no one is going to die if they don’t get their favorite sandwich.

I’ll leave this one to the peanut police to decide.

Other articles of interest:
Biology professor in Alabama university shooting rampage pleads guilty
UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor to resign amid scandals
Record-setting female astronaut takes command of space station
Baby Needs Surgery After Swallowing Expanding Ball
Flame malware continues to burn
Reversible gene marks linked to reversible careers in bees
NHL Lockout 2012: Overseas Option for Players Gives Owners Less Leverage
‘Resident Evil’ Tops Slumping Box Office
‘The Master’ smashes box-office records

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38 responses to “Discussion Post: Week 5”

  1. tbeach21 says :

    I think that the replacement NFL officials are doing the best that they can with an impossible situation… and doing a terrible job. They just aren’t the caliber of referee that is required to officiate an NFL game. If you were on a jet airliner over the Atlantic Ocean you wouldn’t want an 18 year-old kid with a private pilot’s license up in the cockpit would you? Okay, so I used an aviation reference; but I’m a Flight major, what can you expect? Anyway, the NFL players aren’t exactly stupid either. They know what they can get away with now, and some of them really push it to see just how much they can get. All in all, this is a bad situation. We need the real referees back soon.

  2. jetblueberry says :

    I think that inconveniencing others in order to accomodate a singular person isn’t exactly the best thing to do, with regards to the PB&J debacle. Is it really right for a parent/school to expect that a singular child’s needs are any more important than that of the other children attending the school? Granted, it is a medical-related situation, but I think that the parent should first ask to make this a voluntary ban throughout the school. If the ban is agreed to by the parents/guardians of all children attending, then it would be fine. If even one objects, their rights also need to be respected and the parent of the allergen-affected child would simply need to find another alternative. Really, it’s just deciding who gets the brunt of the inconvenience.

  3. Brock Wolfe says :

    The child that swallowed the ball is a sad story. A sad story of how society will now blame the ball manufacturer. Warning labels are being printed now to say don’t swallow the ball.. Don’t let your child eat the ball. Where are the labels that should be placed on the items? “If you have no intention of watching your child, Please don’t purchase this Ball, Or stupidity kills”. Anyway, it will be blamed on the ball manufacturer kind of like the person that started it all. The person who dumped hot coffee in her lap and sued McDonalds because she got burned. What ever happened to Darwins survive of the fittest?

  4. kcorcimi says :

    I think the Peanut Butter and Jelly dispute is a little outrageous. I know at my school, we served peanut butter or nuts all the time, and anyone that was allergic would just not get that meal or ask for a different option. I don’t think there needs to be a policy that says you can or cannot have nut products at school. If you child is allergic, let the teacher know. When it’s lunch time, simply have the teacher watch over the kids and look for any reaction. In elementary, I remember our teachers walking around, watching over us kids at least half if not more of the lunch period. I’m sure if a child was THAT allergic to something, special action could be taken for that child, but nothing as serious as not allowing others to eat peanut butter. My brother and I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all the time. It was our favorite sandwich for mom to pack and probably the easiest. I’m sure that is why many moms make PB&J for their kids. Maybe the school should look at the surrounding schools’ policies and see what they’re doing. I’m sure it’s not banning it completely.

  5. nlosande says :

    I think you hit the nail on the head talking about the billions of Muslims that are not a part of the protests. We all need to remember that, as disheartening and disappointing and frustrating as the situation in the Middle East is, it is a vast minority of Muslims that are protesting and a minority of those protesting who are violent. We cannot generalize Muslims in the same way that you cannot generalize all Christians, Americans, or any other group of people.

  6. Garrett Rood says :

    So I have two issue that I would like to comment on today. First of all I plan to speak about Governor Romney. I figure I should probably mention that I am a Democrat, not a serious radical Democrat or anything, but democrat nonetheless. That being said I think what Romney said it that secretly recorded video should be making a profound impact on this election. Yes, he said that it was not said they way he meant it, like we haven’t heard that before, but that should not matter. There are two ways to look at this in my opinion. Either his comments there were completely accurate to his beliefs and he was not expecting them to come out to the public, or he was just telling those wealthy people/benefactors what they wanted to hear. In either instance I believe Americans should be concerned. Is he the kind of person that will just tell us what we want to hear through the election then do whatever he wants if he gets office, or is he the type of person that really doesn’t care about the 47% of Americans that really could use the most help. The other issue I want to talk about is the NFL referee situation. I believe that the refs are doing the best they can and no one should be condemning them for that. But, let me say again, BUT, I watched the Ravens Pats game last night and the refs were awful. They were calling fouls on players for touching each other and then not calling blatant personal fouls. Most of the time it seemed like the calls were all going in favor of the Pats which just makes the game hard to enjoy. Overall, I can’t wait until the refs get their contract issues resolved and I think that fans and the NFL organization as a whole will start to realize how much of an asset these guys are and maybe we should stop taking them for granted.

  7. Garret Howard says :

    I do not have any past experience making a web portfolio which makes slightly nervous about this project. Also I am not the greatest with computers so hopefully I can get a good feel for how to go about this in the two lab sessions this week. I plan on taking good notes on what to do while in lab and to get as much done as possible in class so that I dont have to go to office hours.

    The replacement NFL referees are indeed doing a terrible job but I did not know that these referees were pulled up from being high school referees. I mean that is like going from driving a car on the road to driving a race car in a race. With that being said though these referees need to man up and not be intimidated by coaches and players to alter the calls that they make, that is very unprofessional in my opinion. My advice to the NFL is to work something out with the NFLRA asap before more terrible calls are made that end up costing teams the game.

  8. jones326 says :

    The NFL referee situation is just a mess. A game that is this big of a deal to millions of people should not be ruined by a dispute over money. For a league that made $9.5 billion in revenue last year, you would think that giving the refs more money and better benefits wouldn’t be that big a deal. But in the end everything always comes back to money. As long as people still tune in to the games there is no reason for the owners to cave in. But as bad as the officials were this last Sunday I’m not sure how much longer I can take it. There were points during some of the games that I could not even figure out what some of the referees were trying to do or so. Hopefully something will happen soon…until then we will get refs from the lingerie league and high school.

  9. colinbyram says :

    The outbreaks in the Middle East are starting to grow very serious and I feel that they do stem from built up anger from the Muslim’s against American policies. However, I feel that getting involved in these protest will only cause the situation to grow larger, and dealing with this with a different alternative would be more beneficial. It scares me to think that some of the people we provided military training to the same people who could potentially use it against us now.

    Next, as I sit here and watch Monday Night Football and respond to this blog I have received a lot of information on the refereeing issue at hand. I feel that the lock out of the referees is absolutely ridiculous and the issue of injuries is starting to become great concern. Since these replacement officials have not received the proper training needed, players are taking advantage and making illegal hits that these refs are unable to pick up on. It is not the replacements fault that they have no received the proper training to make the right calls. If the big hits and injuries continue the NFL needs to make a executive decision on a solution or come to a quick agreement in the talks with the refs.

  10. Daniel Spivey says :

    I would like to take a moment to comment on the replacement refs for the NFL. Last night was the game between the Packers and Seahawks which ended in a very controversial call at the end with simulatenous possession being called a touchdown. This has led to much outcry because it has literally taken a game away from a team. I agree that the refs are terrible, but they really cannot be blamed too much. Most of these refs are coming from high school which is almost a completely different game than the professional game. The speed and rules are very different. Nonetheless, I believe that this game will be the tipping point and we will be seeing the regular refs back very soon.

  11. Cameron says :

    I have been a pretty big zombie fan ever since seeing “Shaun of the Dead.” I know a lot of people today are as well. There is something about the zombie apocalypse that everyone finds appealing. Everyone thinks that they have what it takes to survive. With fun games like “Left 4 Dead,” and hit movies like “Zombieland,” the apocalypse just looks like a grand old adventure.

    The fact that law enforcement is going to be trained in the fighting of zombies is a little scary to me. But why would it? Zombies aren’t real! To me it sounds like the government is finally thinking like I am. I believe that somewhere out there, there are a few crazy people who actually want to see something like the zombie apocalypse happen. Who’s to say that someone isn’t out there trying to create a legitimate zombie virus? I mean Umbrella Corporation did it right? (haha)

    So you may think that training cops to fight zombies is a weird waste of time, but who knows? Maybe they are right to do so.

  12. lukeshall says :

    In terms of this peanut butter sandwhich situation, I would say that it is far from being described as “outrageous”. It’s such a first world problem that I think we should’nt be using words like outrageous and rediculous to describe what happened. I do however find it appropriate to label some of the parents reactions to what happened as outrageous. I mean, what a first world problem! As Americans I think we could spend a lot less time being so opionated on such worthless issues. We should strive to care about important issues.

  13. Alex Johnson says :

    I would absolutely follow a court case centered around a child’s lunch rights. I think everyone is arriving at the same conclusion that it’s a ridiculous policy and would open the door for even more insane arguments. Take for instance if one student stabbed another with a pencil, in that school district the kids would do all of their work in soft plushy marker. I doubt this peanut butter/jelly incident will ever see a courtroom, but it would set an interesting precedent for future lunch policies.

  14. MeganEvilsizor says :

    I don’t know about you but I feel like America is falling apart. We have an upcoming election and I for one would rather see Larry the Cable Guy take presidency over the two actual runners. If Obama gets elected I would say be frickin prepared, this country is gonna get jacked bad. He’s got nothing to lose so he can do whatever he wants in office and that is bad bad bad news. Obamacare? sure lets keep messing up the fairness of that, and pardoning student debt? Where are we going to get the money for that? Oh it doesn’t matter whats a few more million dollars added to the 17 trillion dollar debt? I would wager that firearm laws could see a budding new insight. Overall Obama is not the “hope” for America any more. I would say however that Romney isn’t much more of a better choice, but the one thing he has got going for him….He is not Obama! Romney may not be as strong a politician but he may be able to lead the country out of the liberal side of things. Romney is more for the individual whereas Obama is more about everyone together. I think if I work hard like I should, I make my hard earned dollar, and I pay my due comeuppance then the government should leave me the h’ alone. Who knows though anything is possible in the land of the so-called “free”. If you can complain about the state of the U.S. government then you can get off the couch and vote! So get up and go vote!

  15. Tim Gleeson says :

    I feel obliged to talk about the current issues in the Middle East, yet I hesitate to because it seems to be such a mess. Additionally, the political discussion that occupied much of this week’s post was indeed appropriate, but I struggle to keep up with all the silly games. Issues like Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East versus Romney’s is really important, however it seems that most of the time these campaigns are just immature games. People in this country need to realize that the president is much more powerful internationally than he is domestically and Congress is largely to blame for many of our issues. In some of the pointless political news, Romney was quoted saying he didn’t understand why airplanes can’t just have windows that open (in reference to his wife’s plane having an in flight smoke emergency). This is pure stupidity to me, it does not take an aviation enthusiast to know that there is a huge pressure differential and lack of oxygen at 30,000 or so feet and that humans could easily die if airplanes had windows that opened. I found it amusing, but this is the type of news that I am drawn to and what is covered most instead of important topics like foreign policy.

  16. Ashlynn Johnson says :

    I feel the same as Tim, I want to comment what’s going on, but I have nothing to say about it. It is what it is, we can try to do something about it, but with countries limiting access to YouTube and protestors not getting online, I’m not sure how much it would help. I understand the rights to free speech (who doesn’t), but sometimes I feel like people don’t think before they speak. For example, the school lunch incident. I’m leaning towards upholding the policy even if it is a little extreme. It all started because a mother was angry she couldn’t pack her son whatever lunch she (or the son) wanted. To me, that sounds selfish. She’s ignoring the needs of those who have peanut allergies all because she wants to do what she wants and is angry anyone is telling her what she can and cannot do. Sounds like a lot of small minded Americans that taint the world’s view of the United States. I understand that she has a point that the school could just help those who have severe allergies instead of making a ban, but what else could they do if someone could die just from smelling it? There are so many risks involved that if they didn’t ban peanut butter that student could have already died if such a policy wasn’t in place. I’m sure there are other solutions to their dilemma, but I don’t have the will to come up with one.

    Sometimes these posts are depressing, I can agree with Megan, sometimes. It’s depressing to see public opinion turn against America because of some idiot who’s too stuck up his/her own *censor* to learn a thing or two about tolerance. There is nothing that peeves me more than someone opening up their mouth and vomiting crap into my ears (or eyes). I would be more accepting if the person actually thought logically instead of basing all of his/her opinions on their own feelings. For this world to get better, people should really start thinking logically and about both sides before making an opinion and stop thinking purely with emotions and feelings. (This coming from a girl. Haha.) Sigh….but that’s just wishful thinking that ALL people could be like that. We’ll always have ignorance in the world. I’m sure I’m still ignorant. Growing up like we all do. Now I’m being depressing. I’ll leave my post at a high note. There’s a video on YouTube where Chuck Norris reads his top 10 favorite facts or maybe you’ll enjoy this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwAw9ThDQmk&feature=related 🙂

  17. annadell57 says :

    The poor child that just brought a pb&j sandwich to class. This issue is ridiculous, the messages these parents/teachers are sending these kids is wrong. Sheltering them from something as simple as a nut could lead them to believe nuts are bad/wrong. In reality, they are just nuts. Children that have allergies to anything should be informed the proper procedure when dealing with that allergy. Requiring every student to conform to one child’s limitations is limiting every child for no reason. Personally, I have never heard of a child dyeing from another eating a sandwich across the room.

  18. kearstenolson says :

    I think it’s interesting to note now a days how companies like Google try to take a diplomatic approach by blocking certain things, like the video in question, in certain countries. The reverse of that is that countries are restricting the freedom of their citizens by preventing them from accessing certain websites or the internet in general to try to better control their country.

    As far as polling and statistics go, it’s all up in the air. Statisticians can get polls to say whatever they want. It also depends on the type of people they’re polling. In 1948 when Truman ran against Dewey, statisticians took a poll by looking through the phone book and calling people up. At the time most people who owned telephones were wealthy, white and Republican. The polls showed that Dewey was ahead by a huge margin. Of course, that was 1948. We’ve come a ways. However, I never take polls like that seriously because it is hard to know who they polled and how accurate it is. I do agree though that what Romney said about such a large percentage of Americans should be swaying this election a bit more.

    Don’t even get me started on the NFL replacement referees. The Packers got robbed on Monday and I am bitter about that.

  19. Edward Dang says :

    Gosh, I find myself very complacent with this coming election. I don’t like Romney and I don’t think Obama did a very good job. I know my government teacher in high school taught us to care about politics and who is leading the free world, but this time around, I’d rather vote for neither. Call me ignorant but presidential candidates (the Democrats and Republicans specifically) seem too similar, they appeal to the same population and they think the same great accomplishments and struggles will win them the same accolade. This is my year voting, I hope it isn’t completely wasted on a 3rd party candidate.

  20. jteagard says :

    I find it funny how great the IPhone 5 is selling. It seems like the people that have reviewed the phone finally caught up with the whole, nothing has really changed with the phone idea. However, Apple has such a devoted fan-base that it would take them releasing three phones in a row that don’t work for some users to stop using it.

    I watched a couple of the NFL games this last week and the calls were very bad, but from what I’ve been told once you have refereed for higher divisions you can not go back. I have heard they had trouble getting people to replace them and even had to resort to some High School refs. I think they need to come to a consensus soon before players get hurt. Most of the missed calls I would see were late hits or straight up fighting.

  21. Jordan Berk says :

    As both a Jew and American I think it is disgusting what Hezbollah is doing. Yes, America is pro-Israel but that does not mean that the US is not willing to aide other MIddle-Easter countries like Lebanon in a fight against ternary. Israel has been in a constant struggle since its inception in 1948 and over 40% of the world’s Jews continue to live there today.

    On a happier note iPhone 5 has been released. I have had first hand experience with it already and it was love at first sight. The iPhone is a solid device Apple stocks alone have a very large force in driving our economy foreword. Whether you are an apple fanboy or not one cannot counter against that Apple is good for the US and world economy at large.

  22. Brandon Vath says :

    One thing that bugs me about the whole replacement ref scenario is the expectations of the players and fans. Like Tyler stated previously, you cannot expect these officials to be of the same caliber as the normal refs. I am sure most of them are not as attuned to the pressure and intensity of NFL games. An agreement was reached today between the refs and the NFL, so hopefully everything will go back to normal.

    On another note, over the past few weeks I have been debating whether or not to upgrade my phone to an Iphone. I currently have a non-smart phone (dumb phone?), and would like to have something with smart phone capabilities. I was waiting for the Iphone to come out to ensure there aren’t any software glitches or issues with the phone. So far everything I have heard has been very minor. I know many people say it’s not much different than the current 4s, but to someone without a smart phone its a large improvement.

  23. APhelps says :

    Why the heck is this PB&J issue national news. No wait, I know. It comes down to an overreactive parent getting worked up over an event that has no real ramifications to their own life other than that of obtaining attention. What is the real goal of this mother? Surely it’s not solely to allow her son to eat PB&J at school, otherwise we would not be hearing about this. Now I know she is trying to say that we shouldn’t have to accommodate the needs of one person as part of a large school, but let’s take in mind the consequences. Death vs. waiting till 3:30 to have that PB&J? Seems pretty one sided to me. Now I do not know the extent of the allergies in this situation, but it sounds like whatever alternative exists would go along the lines of separating this kid from school entirely. Which seems a bit harsh compared to the simple peanut ban. Let this kid live the life of a true student and keep the desire for national attention from clouding what issues are truly important to life, human compassion.

  24. Tyler Durham says :

    All of this turmoil that is going on in the middle east is terrible! Kiilings everyday over there of U.S. ambassadors and other important people is just horrible news. The amount of terror that these people must face everyday is horrifying. I believe that before the year is over there will be a massive war in the Middle East. These countries seem as if they hate each other more and more everyday. The country that I believe will strike first is Iran on Israel. The amount of hatred that Iran’s president Ahmadinejad has said they will bomb Israel with Nuclear weapons if Israel decides to attack Iran. I believe that will happen then all hell will break lose in the Middle East. I feel bad for all of the civilians over there that are not involved in this and all of the children there. Hopefully a war will not break out there and there can once again be peace. But, I believe that is far from happening at this time.

  25. Jake Hellman says :

    I’m pretty excited about my online portfolio. I’ve gone through this exact process in two of my other classes. I’ll just need to modify it a bit and add in my resume. That’s pretty scary about all the protests over there. I had no idea it escalated that quickly. It’s also kind of sad that only way that it immediately effects me is that I now have to BING the video if I want to to see it online.

    I’ll be in the first row of that PB&J controversy. I used to be a very picky eater in elementary school and even middle school. I’d eat a PB&J every day, no joke. I could understand the opposite end though, but kids with nut allergies like that have the responsibility of being that careful. If my mom understood facebook she would’ve gone to that extreme.

  26. Zach Gerbner says :

    The situation with the NFL replacement officials was very unfortunate. In my opinion, the officials are just as important as the players on the field, and the owners were being very greedy in their demands with officials. While yes the officials wanted a lot of money, and specifically to keep their healthcare programs, the owners tried to act proud and defiant, not caving to the officials demands. Unfortunately, that backfired for the owners when it was obvious what a disaster the replacement officials were. Sure, it was tough for the replacements. They had very little time to learn the rules, and were put in a tough position. No high level officials would leave there jobs, so the NFL had to pluck officials from low level college, lingerie leagues, and occasionally high school officials. These men, and one woman were fans thrust into officiating the most powerful sports league in the world. Its unfortunate it took an accumulation of poor calls by the replacement officials, ending with this weeks Monday night game between Seattle and Green Bay to get the real officials back. I am just thankful it is all sorted out now, so we can stop focusing on the officials, and back to the game itself.

  27. Daniel Hudspeth says :

    The situation in the Middle East is a complete mess and will always be a mess. No matter what we do in the Middle East, these countries do not believe in our ideals, culture, nor way of life. With these terrorist groups based in these regions, the idea of them making peace with us is folly. Especially with the U.S. presence in the region, the resentment of our country will continue. For example, we value our self in our ability to speak freely and give our own opinions i.e, the video that started all this. The middle east doesn’t share this and in such doesn’t understand how a movie like that can be made and expect no consequence. But as the U.S., we will continue to be involved and the issues will still continue so I will be waiting for the next incident.

  28. liv4creativity says :

    I am very excited to learn how to make a web portfolio; however, it is depressing when the first two themes I found had broken code somewhere. They worked at one point and did not work during class Thursday. So I had to find another theme to use. It’s not perfect yet, but will have to do.

    I agree with Ashlynn about the school lunch incident. The mother and son are being selfish about not being able to bring peanut butter to school. If we want to start discussing rights, the boy has a right to eat what he wants including his peanut butter sandwich, but the student with the severe peanut allergy has the right to not have his life put in danger by another student’s lunch. Consider the greater risk. I also see both sides of the story from having a cousin who ate nothing but peanut butter as a child (literally) and going to school with several people who had severe peanut allergies. My cousin has gradually expanded her food preferences, which is something to celebrate. My classmates who had severe peanut allergies stayed away from peanut products and the rest of us who knew about the allergies were courteous to not eat peanut products around them. The schools must consider what is in the students’ best interest. They cannot appease everyone all the time and certainly want to prevent potential death whenever possible.

  29. Craig (@ctlocker) says :

    I love football, I spend the majority of my weekends watching it, looking up stats and adjusting my fantasy football team. With that said I think this ref situation is a joke, and not the actual job they are doing, but the amount of attention it is getting. I totally agree that they did a terrible job, and I know football affects millions; literally, 150 million in bets on the Packers Seahawks game was lost, but what ensued was ridiculous. People were seriously outraged, ESPN replayed it for I think 36 hours straight, which I guess is what a 24 hour sports channel is for, but when I start seeing ever news show having that as their main headline I am starting to think we have our priorities out of whack. Every class I had on Tuesday talked about it, then again the next day and even when the refs were reinstated we still were talking about it on Thursday. I am glad the issue has been resolved, but I think in the future we need to tone it down a bit, it’s just a game.

  30. tbanas says :

    I love how my tax dollars are going towards zombie training (that was sarcasm). And people wonder why were 17 trillion in debt. Granted most of it is owed to ourselves, we have a severe spending problem. I’m sure most people have seen the Facebook picture comparing the salaries of active duty soldiers to congressmen. It’s sickening how much our ‘representatives’ make and how much gridlock comes out of it. A lot of businesses have made spending cuts, but that hinders economic growth. The government is the one that needs to make cuts.

  31. Rachel Dockter says :

    I’m looking forward to the web portfolio, actually. I started building one over the summer and never quite got around to finishing it, so this serves as a nice incentive, I think. Same goes for the resume…I have one but it’s been awhile since I’ve updated. I should probably get on that.

    I’ve never liked PB+J because I’m weird, and I’m also probably a little jaded when it comes to parent/school issues since I grew up with a high school principal for a father. If the school is enforcing a policy due to nut allergies, they probably have a good and fair reason for instituting that policy and that boy’s mother should probably calm herself down. It’s bad enough when it’s just the students making Facebook pages for the sole purpose of complaining. What’s wrong with eating a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch instead? Silly parents.

  32. Rachel Moore says :

    I think the Middle East is getting way to upset over a YouTube video. I don’t see how they think killing people, particularly people who help their countries, and attacking embassies is in any way an appropriate response to a short video voicing one person’s opinion, not the entire country’s. It is nice to see that many Muslims don’t react that way, and that there are even a few pro-America demonstrations. I still wonder though just why exactly they hate America so much. We do have the freedom of religion, so it can’t be the country’s religious position that causes such an uproar. I wonder if they realize that their radical and outrageous reactions to stupid things like a YouTube video make people’s opinions of them worsen.

    I think Romney needs to work on his campaign more. I don’t want Obama to be re-elected. I am not impressed with his administration, especially his health care reform. I believe it should stay as it is. People shouldn’t be forced to bury health care. It’s their health, so it’s their business. Not to mention, I heard government health care does not lead to quick service. You could wait a long time for a dentist appointment, which is bad if you have a serious problem.

    Apple’s massive sale of the iPhone 5 was not a surprise. People trust the company and their products, so they would buy the phone even with less than stellar reviews. It just shows how important making reliable products is. When people trust that you make a good product, they will buy it.

  33. shaliniKannan says :

    It extremely sad to hear that the terror attacks as well as the rage in the middle east against the US has not calmed down. I feel that its just worse that now the anger and rage has spread to 20 more countries, and all of this is happening in response to a controversial “Innocence of Muslims” trailer on Youtube which apparently mocked Islamic Prophet Mohammed. It isn’t right to kill innocent foreigners because of a movie that one man had made. Its extremely frustrating to hear that 20 were killed and 200 were injured in a Pakistani Protest.
    I feel that this election will be very interesting because both campaigns are pretty strong and its going to be a close race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. There was definitely a lot of excitement in the public for IPhone 5. I definitely agree with the mother of the child with the peanuts that children should be able to bring what they want to school. One child’s dietary restriction cannot limit what every other child can enjoy.

  34. mmccune91 says :

    It’s good to see the real refs back in the NFL. The bad calls were getting out of hand. Now as a Bears fan, I think the call that happened during the Packers game was pretty funny, but I will agree that it was a terrible call. So I guess what I’m saying is that I am glad it happened to the Packers. Now that the real refs are back, I am looking forward to watching some good football.

  35. Jae Hyeon Joo says :

    I have an experience with making my internet homepage before. However, unfortunately, I almost forgot it. Nowadays, digital area is getting bigger.
    I think this is a great chance to learn making my blog.
    As an undergraduate student, there is an implicit limitation on resume.
    This means I can only use one page for my resume, even though I have lots of things to say such as work experiences.
    However, this blog lets me say, or express myself more without restriction like page limit.
    This is good, I should have used it before I attended job fair.

  36. Zak Palazzo says :

    I think the turmoil in the MIddle East is getting out of hand. I have no idea what we could do, if anything, to improve US relations with these countries. It almost seems that every time the US government does something, there are protests and riots. I really hope that we can figure something out soon cause at this rate we will have some serious problems to deal with.

  37. meyer44 says :

    I’ll join in with everyone else in talking about the NFL replacement refs. It was frustrating throughout the whole situation, and it was definitely unfair that some games were altered by the bad calls. However, I don’t feel anger, nor was I even that annoyed, by the replacement refs. They did the best they can in the situation, and I even applaud them for that. How can we judge them for their poor job when they were suddenly thrust into the job with very little experience? Also, the players were pushing the limits because they knew they could. They took advantage of the inexperience. Again, how can we fully blame the replacements for this?

    In regards to the whole peanut butter situation, I find it laughable how we can start such a huge debate about anything and everything. That being said, I believe the kid has a right to bring in whatever sandwich he wants to. At the same time, by going to the school, he agrees to abide by their rules. Whether or not the rule is just or not is another story. The mom of the kid who brought the sandwich should stop whining and just suck it up.

  38. Paul Laurinaitis says :

    I would like to comment regarding the NFL referee lockout. I think it is shame that a deal could not get completed sooner. The game was tarnished and some games were decided by poor refereeing. The games were not on the same level with the replacement officials officiating the games. I wish it took something less than the unfortunate events in Seattle for the NFL to get it together and get an agreement signed.