Discussion Post: Week 11

NOTE: You can follow my election night coverage, updated minute-by-minute throughout the evening, on our sister blog, which I continued from a previous semester of COM 315.

It’s about time for Presentation III! How has your presentation been coming along? What have you learned from Presentation II that you’re planning to apply here? And how do you expect the challenge to be different than what we’ve faced in our first two presentations?

Well, America’s fateful day is almost upon us. On Tuesday, citizens across the nation will cast their ballots for the next president of the United States. Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have been hard at work over the final weekend of campaigning, both sides hoping to swipe as many votes as they can in order to pull out what may be a narrow win in two days.

Even as both sides have pushed to maintain an upbeat appearance as we near the finish line, the candidates have become mired in arguments over a poorly timed comment by Obama, who suggested during a Friday speech in Ohio that the American public should re-elect him over Romney out of “revenge.” Republicans have blasted Obama for the comment, with Romney saying that people should “vote for love of country, not revenge,” while Democrats argued that too much is being made of his word choice, showing that Romney is desperate enough to resort to “scare tactics” amid stalling momentum in the polls. Either way, it’s left Romney’s latest messages feeling oddly reminiscent of Obama’s 2008 campaign, with Romney echoing Obama verbatim in imploring Americans to vote for “change.”

Both candidates have been sharpening their messages and retooling their get-out-the-vote efforts over the final days of the campaign. And both are also trying to outflank one another to win critical battleground states: Obama will spend much of his time in the final few days in the obvious toss-ups of Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Virginia, while Romney moves through Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, and even Pennsylvania, a state that once appeared to be firmly in Obama’s grasp but which began edging toward Romney in October. Romney has also dispatched running mate Paul Ryan to Minnesota, another Democrat-leaning state that he hopes to snatch from Obama.

So what do the polls say? On the surface, a lot of states appear to be incredibly close. The average of major polls, for instance, shows Obama with only a narrow lead in Ohio and Romney with a small margin in Florida. Numerous states are too close to call, with statistically insignificant leads paramount throughout classic toss-up states like Ohio, Florida, and Virginia.

But that’s hardly the whole story. Ohio provides a useful illustration for us, as does a recent analysis by Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard. As Cost points out — and as I explained several weeks ago — different pollsters are sampling different proportions of the electorate. Because of this, we’re not seeing the sort of random distribution around a single “true” point, as we might expect from a normal distribution. Instead, since different polling agencies seem to expect starkly different proportions of voters to show up on election day, we have a bimodal distribution of Ohio polls from October 4-28. Some polls are clustered around a margin of roughly 0-1% for Obama, while others have consistently shown him with a lead of more like 3-5%.

Here's what we would expect from a normal distribution.

See the two peaks?

Because the polls have fundamentally different expectations about who will vote on election day, they’re basically sampling two different populations and telling two different “stories” about what will happen this Tuesday. So perhaps the real question isn’t what’s happening in the average of state or national polls, but rather, which of the two stories will actually be played out?

Either way, it’s become increasingly clear that in this campaign cycle, the presidential debates actually played a major role. Many pundits were ready to write off Romney before he scored a decisive victory in the first presidential debate a month ago. The debates presented a key opportunity for Romney to hammer Obama on his economic record, while Obama was oddly reluctant to bring up Romney’s verbal gaffes during the first debate, at the very least. As the candidates sprint toward the finish, and as political commentators argue over early voting tallies, results, and the voting procedures themselves, it falls to the American public to resolve the squabble once and for all. So I’ll see you all in the voting booths this Tuesday.

With that said, the election isn’t the only story this week. After all, it’s hard to ignore a storm that’s so much bigger than last year’s Hurricane Irene:

Yes, the two maps are on exactly the same scale. Keep your eye on the Florida coastline if you want proof.

With over 100 deaths in Hurricane Sandy’s wake and the catastrophic storm wrecking infrastructures along the coast, people across the country are searching for ways to help. While power has already been restored to some areas, which also restored cell phone service, the recovery has been inconsistent, with many other regions still decimated. A number of hospitals were caught unprepared for the inclement weather, with flooding and equipment failure serving as major obstacles to relief efforts — a repeat of the generator failures that plagued New Orleans hospitals during Hurricane Katrina, which has many worried about what will happen when the next Katrina or Sandy hits. Patience is wearing thin for many residents, especially given the gasoline shortage throughout the area.

The crisis has drawn even the U.S. military to get involved, with the Department of Defense planning to deliver 24 million gallons of fuel to New York gas stations. The state even offered free gas to all comers, but the rush of citizens hoping to soak up the expensive commodity forced the state to retract that offer, saying that the general public would have to wait until first responders fueled up. Others have been packing up supplies like canned goods, garbage bags, and toilet paper, or working to make emergency shelters more hospitable for the children seeking refuge.

A number of celebrities helped to host a one-hour telethon on Friday night to raise money for those affected by the storm, and that charity drive has since moved to the internet. Still, authorities are warning the public about scams masquerading as relief efforts and advising citizens to do their homework before donating the the recovery.

Of course, the hurricane may have an effect on the election, as well. With the northeast still in shambles, the dangerous conditions may make it more difficult for citizens to make their way to the polls in order to cast a ballot. It also might change the way several states count their votes. In the critical battleground of Ohio, for instance, nine voting locations around Cleveland still don’t have power. If they’re still off the grid when election day arrives, they may have to shift to paper ballots instead of computerized voting booths. That could significantly delay the vote-counting process, so if the election comes down to states like Ohio, we might not know who the next president is for several more weeks.

A different sort of catastrophe is plaguing the rest of the nation, as the fungal infections that we’ve previously discussed now exceed 400 cases and have resulted in 29 deaths. Worse yet, fungal meningitis and joint infections are no longer the only problems for those patients who were treated with the fungus-tainted steroid injections from the New England Compounding Center (NECC). Doctors have reported two new complications plaguing some who have been treated for meningitis: epidural abscesses, or pus-filled fluid sacs around the spine; and the more serious arachnoiditis, or the inflammation of tissue around spinal nerves. Most of these complications have been found in Michigan, which appears to have had more people affected by the contaminated steroids (112 out of the 404 currently identified) than any other state.

It’s little wonder that victims and lawmakers alike are pushing for tighter regulations on compounding pharmacies like the NECC. Congress is looking to increase federal oversight over these largely unregulated compounders, which once merely treated the few patients that fell through the cracks between major pharmaceutical companies but now directly compete with them. These preventative measures would, lawmakers hope, protect the public from similar large-scale outbreaks in the future.

Let’s direct our attention to the great beyond for a moment. No, I’m not talking about the new “Shatoetry” app released by Star Trek’s William Shatner, which allows users to create “Shatisms” from pre-recorded words spoken by Shatner himself. I’m talking about the Curiosity rover searching for signs of life on Mars. This week, Curiosity ingested a burst of Martian air (yes, Mars has an atmosphere, even though it’s about 100 times thinner than ours) in order to analyze its composition. Their initial findings suggest that physical processes over time resulted in the red planet favoring heavier elemental isotopes. This change pushed lighter isotopes higher in the Martian sky where they eventually escaped the planet’s orbit.

The bigger surprise, though, was what Curiosity failed to find. Scientists have long suspected that the Martian atmosphere contains traces of methane, even though the gas is normally produced by life forms. (There are certain non-biological processes, it should be noted, which also produce methane.) As such, the presence of methane on Mars would suggest that life might exist deep below the planet’s surface. More importantly, telescopes have previously detected the unique signature of methane in the Martian atmosphere, and a (now-controversial) study indicated that there might be pockets of the gas clustered around the equator.

But although Curiosity used the most sensitive measurements ever to search for methane on Mars, it failed to sense any in the atmosphere. Still, scientists say they’re going to keep using the laser spectrometer on Curiosity to search for the elusive gas. The rest of us… well, we can just enjoy some Shatoetry while we wait.

Under normal circumstances, we might be enjoying some hockey around this time of year. (Or the World Series, for that matter, which ended quickly this year as the San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers in four straight games.) But instead of watching hockey, we’re watching hockey games getting cancelled. The latest casualty is the Winter Classic, which the NHL terminated citing “logistics” — in other words, because they haven’t been able to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the players union. The game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs, which was scheduled to be played at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on New Year’s Day, was expected to draw a world-record crowd of 115,000 fans. (The league says that the game will instead be played on the next New Year’s Day after a labor agreement is reached, with the same teams in the same location.)

Players across the league, naturally, were exceedingly frustrated by the cancellation, as the Winter Classic is one of the hallmarks of the hockey calendar. The same goes for fans, many of whom had already booked flights and made hotel reservations for the sole purpose of attending the big game. The cancellation of what is effectively hockey’s Super Bowl highlighted hockey’s administrative conflicts and, some say, the mismanagement that has run rampant through Gary Bettman’s tenure as league commissioner. But some took matters into their own hands. Members of the 2010 Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks took the ice against an assortment of players from other NHL teams in a charity match. The Blackhawks lost the high-scoring affair in front of 12,000 fans; the game ended 16-15 in a shootout.

If charity games aren’t enough for you, then you can always keep following the weekly EA Sports simulations of the games that were supposed to happen this season. Looking at the standings, though, the league may as well be locked out. After all, my St. Louis Blues are wallowing in mediocrity with their 4-4-2 record. Some things never change.

The NHL isn’t the only organization making questionable administrative decisions lately. Consider the United Kingdom, which has been so strapped for cash that it has ordered its departments to cut back on any unnecessary expenditures. Which, of course, is why they spent 10,000 pounds ($16,000) on a dead snake! As the story goes, a Bishop in Guyana presented the corpse to the Colonial Secretary during the 19th century. 120 years later, the 20-foot anaconda, lovingly called “Albert,” was in bad condition and needed to be re-stuffed. So the giant snake, which hangs in a Foreign Office library, was sent away for “essential maintenance.”

Naturally, someone thought to ask a Foreign Office spokesman whether re-stuffing a snake was really so vital, given that in October the prime minister warned British citizens to prepare for “painful decisions” to survive a weak economy. His response?

It is quite a bit of money, but he is a very big snake. We will not be constricted, nor will we scale back, in our dedication to preserve this historic national treasure.

I wish I was kidding.

Here’s another stupid decision for you. We’ve all heard the stories of students pulling the fire alarm to escape a test. (It happened to me during my first year at Purdue — the fire alarm sounded during a class I was teaching, so everyone had to evacuate. Nary a candle was burning.) In a twist, a Chinese man accidentally rang a bell too early on June 8, ending a college entrance exam almost five minutes too soon. So all 1,050 students at the facility were forced to turn in their tests four minutes and 48 seconds before time elapsed.

That might not seem like such a big deal, but it’s a catastrophe in a country where university spaces are strictly limited and higher education is key to societal advancement. So thousands of students and parents gathered outside the school “multiple times” to demand that the government investigate the incident. Ultimately, they traced the mistake back to 54-year-old Xiao Yulong, who was eventually convicted of negligence and, on Friday, sentenced to one year in prison.

With that said, Xiao also received a one-year reprieve, so it’s possible that he may eventually serve minimal or no jail time. Still, a one-year prison sentence for ringing a bell early? That’s rough.

Now, here’s a group that deserves whatever is coming to them. A band of smugglers decided to build a ramp along the 14-foot fence between Mexico and the U.S. so that they could drive an SUV full of drugs into America. Bad idea. The less-than-brilliant smugglers miscalculated, and their Jeep wound up stuck atop the fence. Patrolling agents spotted two of the smugglers trying to free the vehicle from the Mexican side of the border, but they fled when the agents approached. The Jeep, which they abandoned, was empty, having been cleared of its contraband before the smugglers fled.

It kind of looks like one of those 'epic fail' demotivators, doesn't it?

Here’s another bit of foolishness for you. A nearly $23 million dollar California lottery prize almost went unclaimed when the lucky winner, a 69-year-old disabled widow who received the ticket as a gift from her daughter, left the winning slip of paper in her car console and forgot about it for months. So how did the winner, Julie Cervera, find out that she was a multimillionaire? Well, California SuperLotto Plus officials got desperate, so they tracked down the time and location of the winning sale. The liquor store at which Cervera’s daughter bought the ticket had a surveillance camera, so officials posted a picture of the woman online. Only when Cervera’s daughter showed her mother the picture in the local newspaper did she learn of her win. The realization came five months after the winning numbers were announced, and just 25 days before the ticket would have expired. It’s the second time that California lottery officials have been forced to use a surveillance video to track down a winner.

Cervera opted to accept a one-time payment of almost $18 million before taxes instead of the $23 million in installments. She’s planning to use the money to take care of her family and two close friends. She also intends to buy a house for her daughter, who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Let’s shift to something a little different. Most of us have been on an airplane and have seen those boring safety demonstrations. Some of us may have been treated to a video version, depending on the airline you fly. But Air New Zealand just upped the ante. Their new safety video teaches flyers that the short, hairy-footed person sitting across the aisle might just save their lives.

Yes, that’s right. It’s a safety briefing based on the upcoming film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The video, “An Unexpected Briefing,” has become an overnight sensation, scoring well over five million views since it was posted to YouTube on Wednesday. Elvish crew members in the clip explain flight safety to the orcs and hobbits flying to Middle Earth, while Gollum slinks along the aisles and points out emergency exit lights. Even Peter Jackson himself makes a cameo — can you see him?

If you didn’t notice him, don’t worry. You’re not the only one who can’t recognize the people nearby. For instance, there’s Pennsylvania resident Thomas Grant, who is facing charges of assault and reckless endangerment after shooting his young cousin at a Halloween party. You see, the girl was wearing a black costume with white plumage on her hat, and she was lying facedown during a game of hide-and-seek. So, naturally, Grant thought that she was a skunk. Then he grabbed his gun.

The girl is recovering from her wounds. Grant’s lawyer intends to ask that the charges in connection with this “tragic accident” be dismissed.

Then there’s the “murder victim” in Alabama. On Thursday morning, police received reports that a woman had been shot and was lying dead in the driver’s seat of her car, and that the vehicle was blocking traffic at a busy intersection. When the police reached the intersection, they found the woman — who was passed out, intoxicated, in her pregnant zombie costume. The car was still running and in gear when officers woke her. Needless to say, she has been charged with driving under the influence.

Well, that should be just about enough for this week. And we didn’t even get into the South Korean elephant that imitates human speech, the Texas man who was thrown in jail for skipping jury duty, the ex-mayor who erected a bronze statue of himself outside his home, or the dog that is acting as a surrogate wet nurse for a white lion cub.

Oh, but wait! We definitely can’t forget the iPad Mini’s worldwide launch on Friday. …Well, actually, maybe we can. It was rather lackluster, after all, with nothing resembling the consumer circus surrounding other product launches like those of the iPod and the iPhone. But if you think that Apple should stop selling the same products in slightly different sizes, at least one guy thinks that you’re wrong.

Okay, so that last one’s not really news. I couldn’t resist.

Other articles of interest:
Report: Child born without brain dies in Pueblo
U.S. Supreme Court hints at limits on dog sniffs for drugs
Fla. police bust pee wee football gamblers
Suit: Officer shot boy, 10, with stun gun
A Promising Drug With a Flaw
A Loss for Society as Decorum Wears Thin
English town to burn Lance Armstrong in effigy
Foul-mouthed parrot seeks new home in UK
Skeleton found when historic Conn. tree uprooted
Missing gamma rays were abducted by light from the first stars
Technology Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say


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41 responses to “Discussion Post: Week 11”

  1. annadell57 says :

    I went home last Friday for early voting. I am definitely anxious for Tuesday! The story about 54-year-old Xiao Yulong shows how crazy some parents can become. I understand that the students did not have the last 5 minutes of the entrance exam, but 5 minutes is not going to change how they did on the test. With five minutes remaining, they may have had the option to answer a few more questions but untimely, their knowledge of the material was already assessed. Based on the questions answered, the university should already have an idea if they wanted to accept them. I don’t think this was a federal matter or that anyone should serve time.

  2. tbeach21 says :

    I honestly am not concerned about any of this. My Presentation III outline is done, so that’s out of the way. I prefer not to think about the election at all because I don’t like either one of the candidates and don’t want to have to be ashamed/responsible for voting either one of them into office. I think deciding not to vote can be a very responsible decision if you actually have legitimate reasoning. Anyway, the only thing on my mind is Thanksgiving break. All I’m focused on is getting through the next two weeks. Don’t care about the election or anything else. I just want Thanksgiving.

    • APhelps says :

      I would like to touch briefly on an article I stumbled upon regarding Hurricane Sandy. Brian mentioned a little about the shortage of gasoline and how the government was working to provide it to the people. A lesser known trade agreement has been brewing recently as a way to receive fuel. As many homes were without power for such long times, and power became a vital necessity, fuel became almost more powerful than money. As price gouging went through the roof on gas, individuals saw an opportunity to take advantage of those in need.

      What I mean by take advantage is the exchange of goods. Gasoline soon became a commodity that people were willing to exchange for sex via craigslist (http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/11/06/sandy-gas-woes-continue-people-trading-gas-for-sex-on-craigslist/). This is unethical in so many ways that it is almost inconceivable. But I suppose everyone has their personal priorities (albeit disgraceful.) Here are people simply trying to acquire the means for power, and in different circumstance would never consider such a deal. However, the situation and the deal becomes lucrative for the sole reason of acquiring cheap gasoline.

      I would like to think that in a time of need those with a surplus would be gracious to provide help to those neighbors and possible restore some faith in humanity. And I am sure there are many people who did decide to take that route, but it was those who take advantage of the situation solely for personal gain that truly infuriates me.

  3. Garret Howard says :

    Presentation 3 is coming along well, I almost have my outline finished. I dont think that it will be too bad since we are going to be talking about ourselves, I guess the real challenge is deciding what traits that we have to sell to the employer since we all go to Purdue and have a lot of good things going for us.

    On a side note the drug smugglers that tried to drive a jeep over the fence separating the US and Mexico are idiots, I guess that is why they are drug smugglers instead of people with real jobs.

  4. Tim Gleeson says :

    Presentation III might be a challenge in that we have to essentially brag about ourselves, which can be difficult for some people. I’m looking forward to the election being over and have already voted. Neither candidate gets me terribly excited, but I don’t feel I would be entitled to any kind of opinion after the election if I had not used the only tool I have to shape our society and vote. The Air New Zealand safety video is creative, I have seen others they have made that are equally amusing, like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Mq9HAE62Y. The iPad mini did indeed go somewhat unnoticed, I was amused to see some people calling it the iPhone Big.

  5. Craig Jones says :

    Presentation III is in the back of my mind right now. I have not started on my outline or even thought about how I will angle my speech to fit my topic. Thanksgiving break cannot get here soon enough. My take on the election is that I can’t wait for it to come and go. I am so tired of seeing all of the campaign ads on tv, signs, newspapers,…everywhere. I do not think that either candidate is a great choice. I feel we are picking between the least of two evils. It’s sad that politics has come down to this for me, but I do not think it matters who is our president at this moment and time. It’s going to be nearly impossible for anyone to get us out of this recession.

  6. Brock Wolfe says :

    Presentation 3 is slowing pulling into port here. I have so much lab work and exams, it will have to wait until next week to get any of my time.
    As for the articles, I thought the one where the police officer shot the 10 year old with the taser was pretty interesting. Aren’t all guns supposed to treated like they are loaded? Guns don’t kill people, Idiots kill people. There is proof in that story.

  7. Garrett Rood says :

    Really I have little to say this week except people are so dumb, and you can’t fix stupid. First of all I just cannot believe someone thought that a person hiding was a skunk, they must have some pretty large skunks. Secondly, how dumb do you have to be to DRIVE a Jeep over, not through or around but, OVER the border wall, I guess they could have just been extremely desperate too. Lastly, my mother was telling me about the lotto incident and it is just funny to me. If I ever buy a lotto ticket I am essentially glued to it and my television screen until they call the numbers so it’s baffling to me that she almost couldn’t even find the ticket once they finally found her. Mainly this article has shed new, but not surprising, light on the the stupidity of some people in this country and this world.

  8. Edward Dang says :

    It could sound cold but I think it’s pretty awesome that only about 100 people died as compared to how many could have died. It is terrible knowing a disaster is coming that can destroy almost all you know and love but these numbers show, to me at least, that plenty of people know they will survive and pick up the shattered pieces of what’s left afterwards. This is a generation of people who can treat a huge storm like a glorified car accident. Human beings were probably more hardcore before, but never this durable.

  9. kcorcimi says :

    I can’t wait for presentation three to be over with for the sole reason that after that it is just a group project and the website to complete and then we’re done. I feel like the end is in sight now, but after next week, the end will be in reach. As for hurricane Sandy, the disaster relief in the eastern states is going to take awhile. It is just an overall bad scenario because there is no good way to prepare for a storm of this size. You can do a lot but it never seems to be enough. It’s great that so many people are again trying to pitch in and do their part to help. A few girls in my sorority live out there and they say that their families have told them that situation obviously isn’t ideal, but they’ll get through it. With time, all things get better.

  10. Eric P says :

    I read a facebook status post the other day stating that it is both a right and a privilege to vote in this election. I have to say I don’t feel privileged voting for either of these so-called politicians. Both are now campaigning on a platform of change and both intend to bring change with more of the same: promise-making, grandstanding, and willful ignorance of the facts. Its no surprise that there is so much uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the election; given all the half-truths and accusations flying around, no one knows what to believe about either candidate. Frankly I’m going to try to be optimistic about the next presidential election, but I have little hope for either candidate in this one.

  11. Zack Palazzo says :

    That picture that compared the two hurricanes was incredible! I have been watching the news and following the aftermath of the hurricane, but i had no idea that Sandy was that big of a storm. Having watched the news it seems that things are slowly returning to normal in some of the affected areas. However, it seems as though some of the more effected areas will take more time. This serves as a sobering reminder to just how powerful nature can be.

  12. Jordan Berk says :

    Presentation III is coming along well. It is a challenge though. Hurricane Sandy was pretty insane. I have a lot of family on the East Coast and my parents were without power until Thursday. I also have friends who are first responders in New Jersey and have been working round the clock with rescue efforts, fortunately most of them have been successful. As far as the election goes I feel, in general, it has been a mostly fair and tolerable campaign season. With the predictions so close it will be interesting to see who wins. I voted via absentee ballot but prefer to keep my political views to myself.

  13. kearstenolson says :

    Sometimes it’s very frustrating to see how people in power say one thing and do another. This can be said for the election, but I was speaking more towards the story about the snake. To say that departments should cut back unneeded spending and then spend $16k on a snake would make me question who’s in charge and why they thought that stuffing a snake was a better decision than spending money on things the government should actually be spending time and money on.

    I think it’s also a bit ridiculous that California Lotto would take the time to hunt down winners via security tapes. If they are buying lottery tickets and aren’t attentive to when it’s announced then why should they be awarded the money they don’t care much about? I guess on the more ethical side of that, it’s nice that they take their time to seek out the actual winners.

    As for those not voting, you have no right to complain when your government screws you over. You had a chance and a say and no politician will ever be the perfect candidate but one will be in office. So pick one.

  14. colinbyram says :

    Although I am not pleased with the results of the election….I am happy that it is over. The news stations will probably have some trouble finding topics to talk about now that they can’t, but nonetheless I am glad it has concluded. I hope that Obama can provide to us what he promised in his first four (we shall see). Hurricane Sandy is a terrible national disaster and I hope that for the sake of our country we can bounce back quick and better than before. I would love to go out to the east coast and provide assistance, but financially that would be tough and would require a lot of school to be missed. Speaking of school, I think the story of the Chinese professor going to jail for ending an exam early is another example of how their country is going to great lengths to pull past ours both economically and educationally. However, 4minutes and 48seconds earlier and a year in jail is absurd but not too surprising coming from China. The NHL lock out does not bother me simply because I don’t follow hockey, however I feel that the two sides need to work quickly and cooperatively together because losing a sports entertainment such as that is probably causing financial hardships on many people not just the ones having to cancel reservations.

  15. Cameron says :

    Lots to write about this week! First off, I will say a little about the election. So I didn’t vote, I don’t really care, I would have voted for Romney and he won Indiana anyway, so no big deal. I was looking up the results earlier and it blows me away how valuable California is. They get like 52 votes! If you do the math, even Romney would have won if he took California! The whole Electoral College thing just confuses me. We take the time to figure out the popular vote, so why not just go off of that?
    Also the flight safety video based off of the Hobbit is awesome! I wasn’t able to watch it with sound but it was pretty cool. I think it’s a good idea to keep passengers a bit more entertained, that stuff saves lives!

  16. MeganEvilsizor says :

    Presentation III is slowly getting accomplished, but presentation 4 is creepin along for our group right now. Sorry but COM isn’t really that high on my list of classes to stress over, so I usually allocate the least time to it. One thing on the Election is what the hell was America thinking?? Too bad this blog is connected to a class otherwise it would be great to vent outright on here about the stuff about the election and what it means for our future. If only I had a time machine…….

  17. jhellman says :

    I’m feeling fairly confident for presentation III. It will be excellent practice to try and “sell” yourself to the audience. And it seems as far as the election goes, I’m the only one happy with the winner. I’m not the biggest Obama fan but I definitely take him over the opposition.

    It’s nice to know that the lottery makes that much of an effort in finding the winner. Winning the lotto is such a false hope that if I ever happened across a ticket, I’d probably just throw it away.

  18. lukeshall says :

    I have wanted to go to New Zealand for almost five years now. A lot of this is thanks to watching the making of the Lord of the Rings and seeing how much of a beautiful place it is. After seeing the briefing video on New Zealand Airlines last week, that just added to my reasons to travel there. That video is defintely creative and made something that is boring and something that people ignor, into something fun and interesting. Not to mention it involves my favorite movies! So go Hobbit, and go New Zealand!

  19. Blake Neata says :

    I watched the Conan video clip about the iPad mini. I thought that video was funny because of how true it is. It seems that with so many of Apples products, the differences are so miniscule you wonder why they made a new one in the first place. Take the new iPhone 5 for example. Yes it has faster internet but for the most part its exactly the same other than its a little lighter and a little bigger. It seems to me that apple releases their products too often and they I feel like they would do better on sales if they extended their release dates and shocked the world every time something new came out.

  20. Zach Gerbner says :

    Hurricane Sandy was really an incredible storm. Being from Philadelphia, the storm impacted my life at home, as my house had no power for a week, and my brother had no school for three days. Many of my friends beach homes were damaged, and even worse, destroyed. It was truly a tragedy, but with global warming, scientists are suggesting that these monster storms on the East Coast are going to become more and more common. Therefore, if there is one thing we must learn from this storm is that us people from the Northeast are going to have to learn how to adapt to storms like Sandy. We are going to have to build infrastructure that can hold up to large hurricanes, and prepare for rising sea levels. Mayor Bloomberg suggested constructing large wetlands for New York City and possible sea walls to prevent future storm surge. Dunes in New Jersey will have to be fortified. What is clear is that major changes will have to be made to prevent future disasters.

  21. jteagard says :

    I think that flight instruction video is amazing. It is a great innovation. Most people simply tune this video out, but with making it interesting you have easily increased safety on the plane. I have to wonder how much that video cost them to create.

    I feel as though Hurricane Sandy isn’t getting nearly the same amount of media attention that Katrina got. I have heard a couple stories, of the extreme destruction that is being done. I almost have to feel as though the election took a lot of the focus off the hurricane which can be very dangerous for the people effected.

    When it comes to the iPad Mini, well, I’m glad they now have a small, medium, and large iPod Touch.

  22. Daniel Hudspeth says :

    I love that the Air New Zealand airlines are setting the bar higher when it comes to their service announcements. For one, it will help get people’s attention so that the flight is safer. It also shows a sense of national pride. The Lord of the Rings movies and the Hobbit were filmed in New Zealand, and the airlines are taking pride in that. Thirdly, the airlines are helping to promote the film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which comes out in December. I’m sure this will increase the profit for the movie, as well as the airline. I’m happy to see that the airline using such creativity, and I think other airlines/companies should learn from this kind of advertising.

  23. Shalini Kannan says :

    For Presentation III, I have brainstormed many ideas however I am yet to start writing up my outline. I think the presentations so far were extremely interesting and everyone did a great job to start off the presentations. As for Xiao Yulong accidently pulling the fire alarm, I think his sentence was definitely too harsh. So many people on a daily basis pull the fire alarm by accident that one man doing it should not be receiving jail time. As for the Halloween shooting, its so unfortunate that a poor child playing was shot being mistook as something else. I definitely agree that taking a gun out and shooting anything in front of children is dangerous.

  24. Craig (@ctlocker) says :

    As much as I got into the elections this year I am glad they are over, not just because of the commercials, but what it brought out in people. People got downright nasty when their candidate didn’t win, I understand to be passionate, but then to name call and talk about the end of the world is just ridiculous. On the other side I did see several good remarks from people, on both sides, that realize complaining won’t change anything and are hoping for the best. I believe Romney and President Obama said it best, our responsibilities as citizens don’t stop with one vote; we need to continue to be vocal and be in contact with our local representatives about the issues that concern us. I won’t go on much further as I don’t want to beat a dead horse. I will leave with this though, and it is direct towards Cameron, I found this video explaining the Electoral College and its flaws it was highly informative and hopefully can explain it better. http://www.upworthy.com/i-didnt-realize-the-failure-rate-for-us-elections-was-this-high?g=2

  25. mmccune91 says :

    For me, Presentation 3 is going pretty slowly. I will probably put it together a day or two before I present. As for the election, I am glad it is over. Elections are exciting times, but I am pretty tired of the political commercials on TV that do nothing but bash the opponent. Also I’m pretty tired of all the political comments on Facebook. I’m ready for everyone to settle down and go back to the way they were before the elections.

  26. Brandon Vath says :

    The smugglers feeble attempt to drive a Jeep over the boarder wall is a perfect example of the lengths they are willing to go to complete their job. Although proper planning was not exercised here, this is certainly an original idea. At the same time this is a perfect example of the desperation smugglers are resorting to in order to complete their mission. I believe this shows that it is becoming increasingly harder to smuggle drugs across the boarder and the smugglers are having to resort to new methods.

    I believe Air New Zealand’s new safety briefing is a creative spin on what is ordinary a very monotonous portion of a flight. Although I am not a Lord of the Rings Fan, I still like the creativity expressed by Air New Zealand. I know that Southwest Airlines tries to be creative with their safety briefings with the added hope of gaining the attention of every passenger.

  27. nlosande says :

    What happened with Hurricane Sandy was unbelievable. The greatest thing though, was that they were able to see the storm way ahead of time and got the track of the storm almost perfect, allowing the correct people to be warned and allowing as much time for preparation as possible. And it’s a good thing too because one thing is sure, we are definitely going to continue to see large destructive storms so the more advanced warnings that meteorologists are able to get out will hopefully save many more lives in the future.

  28. Garey Bogo says :

    Presentation III is coming out fine. The topic isn’t that much to worry about in terms of getting information and having to research like the other presentations. Also its pretty similar to questions asked at an interview and altogether has the interview feel, so a lot of people should already have practice with this. I’ve got all my information down, I just need to format it into a speech with the appropriate time restraints and the recommendations from the outline

  29. liv4creativity says :

    I loved the Air New Zealand’s safety video. I am a Lord of the Ring’s fan and loved the creativity. I was quite amused by the Jeep that got stuck on the fence. It reminded me of a book I read in High School called Over the Wall (I think). The book was about how many different people tried getting across the Berlin Wall. Some people tried going over, around, through, and under. One of the most memorable attempts was a man who modified his car so that it could just barely fit through a large hole in the Berlin Wall. Once modified, he floored his car through the hole! I think he survived, but was shot at multiple times.

  30. Jae Hyeon Joo says :

    I had no idea until I saw classmates’ presentation 3 on last Thursday.
    I realized what I need to present on my presentation 3. I have got some ideas how to express myself to my audience.
    I can say experience is much more important and valuable than just reading a book. My presentation 3 is coming and I want to do better than last time.

  31. Rachel Moore says :

    I think they will end up just cancelling the current hockey season. There haven’t been any games so far, that I know of.
    I think it’s horrible that people will set up scams after natural disasters to make money when people give that money to help the victims. It just seems very disheartening when you see that stuff happen.
    I can’t believe the guy got a year of jail time for an accident. That is harsh, especially seeing as it was barely less than five minutes. They could have just continued the test for that much longer. I don’t see what harm that could have had.
    Nervous about presentation three. I don’t like talking about myself, or public speaking in general.The presentations on Thursday helped me finalize what to have in my presentation, and I hope it goes better that the last one.

  32. Rachel Dockter says :

    I’m a bit nervous about Presentation III, and I think it’ll definitely be something of a learning experience, but for the most part it’s coming along rather nicely.

    I’m pretty glad the elections are over, mostly because now hopefully all the fighting over candidates will stop. Most of my family and friends back home in Ohio were Romney supporters and the constant trash-talking of President Obama admittedly got pretty tiring after awhile. I personally didn’t vote (which I feel a little guilty about, but ah well), but I can’t say I’m disappointed with the election’s turnout. Hopefully Obama will have a successful second term, but I guess only time will tell.

  33. tbanas says :

    I’m so glad the election is over. I just find it amusing that the candidates raised and spent close to a billion dollars and what was the en result? Everything is the same as it was before the election. The house is republican. The senate and the presidency is still democrat. It’s just a large circle of pointlessness to an extent.

  34. mbruhn says :

    In regards to the woman who had been 25 days away from not being able to become a millionaire. I think it’s quite funny that she didn’t check the ticket ever. I guess that’s what happens when the chances of winning are so slim that before you even lose or win you just figure you lose. This makes me want to go buy a mega million lottery ticket and let it sit around for a while after the actual drawing. Maybe I’ll get as lucky as her!

  35. meyer44 says :

    I am so glad for the election to be over. The common consensus seems to be that nothing has changed at all, and I agree with that. It seems like both candidates are so similar that nothing will change. I have become apathetic to the whole thing. On a different note, I think it is horrible that the young boy was shot with a taser. I don’t care if he made fun of the police officer or not. Since when do people not have freedom of speech? He should be able to say whatever he wants without being worried about being bullied by a police with a taser.

  36. jetblueberry says :

    Well, I have to say that I am just fine with how the elections had turned out. My first vote went to Obama, and, happily enough, so did my second. This election has also given me the opportunity to reevaluate my friends on Facebook as some of them were posting many racially oriented statuses that had nothing to do with the political stances of the President. Needless to say, I wen on a chopping block spree with regards to friends. Cut down at least a good 6-7 people though I did not aim for a specific number. It just shocks me that people can still act like that nowadays…..

    But on a lighter note, a friend had made a comment (on FB) about a status I had made about how the flag of the USA would have to change to reflect Puerto Rico’s inclusion…..

    “I agree. Or put the star for Puerto Rico in the middle of the stripes and make their state motto “Deal with it.””

    It made my entire year.

  37. Daniel Spivey says :

    I would like to comment on the election and the hurricane. As far as the election goes it will be interesting to see what happens in the swing states. Should be a good battle. The hurricane is something crazy and horrible. It is a little bit ridiculous how something like that can happen to such a major city and make us look like a third world country. New York may be one of the richest cities in the world, and something like this happens and people do not know what to do. People are going days without power, and they are talking about having a marathon there. It seems pretty ridiculous to me. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone effected.

  38. Paul Laurinaitis says :

    I would like to comment regarding the NHL lockout. I think its a shame that the Winter Classic will not happen this year. The winter classic is such a great sporting event, and you do not have to be a hockey fan to enjoy it. Its shame that billionaire owners and players cant come up with an agreement to resume work. I hope the NHL figures it out and resumes work. Go BlackHawks!!!

  39. Ashlynn Johnson says :

    Well we all know who one the election now, so YAY no more political news!

    The airplane safety video is awesome. I’m not all that excited for The Hobbit release, but it’s awesome how they made a safety video based on it. It’s always interesting when people mix two things together that aren’t normally associated with each other.

    The smugglers failed terribly at their plan. They must have been very desperate or dumb to try a stunt like that and not expect to be caught. Some one would have come across the ramps sooner or later, come on!

  40. bwulf24 says :

    I can’t believe the iPad mini is a real thing, it sounds like something that would have been in a parody commercial when the iPad came out ” here is the iPad, it does exactly what an iPod touch does but… it’s bigger! or for those who don’t want a big device but also want to spend more for an iPod touch, we have the iPad mini!”. I can definitely see why it didn’t have a good release… what is the need? It seems to me that anyone who is new to apple products probably will get an iphone or ipod first. And once you have that… I mean why? Why would you want something that does the exact same thing but a tiny bit bigger. Maybe it’s just me but it seems pretty silly and that is definitely one thing that will not be on my christmas list this year.