Discussion Post: Week 14

We’re on the home stretch now! With Presentation IV right around the corner, how is your group doing with its final refinements? Do you have a convincing proposal ready to be delivered? Remember, stellar projects here really ought to be presented to the groups that can actually enact your plan — there’s no reason for this to remain confined to the classroom, after all, especially if you have a proposal that could do some good.

Don’t forget to submit your third and final self-evaluation at the start of Tuesday’s class, and be sure that your group submits its Presentation IV outline via SafeAssign at least 24 hours before your presentation. You’ll also want to bring a paper copy of the outline and rubric on your presentation day, as always.

Anyway, I know it’s tempting to kick off the week with the obvious local Black Friday headlines, but let’s start with a wider gaze, shall we? You probably recall the Arab Spring that began unfolding around two years ago. It’s not clear, however, if the revolution did the region much good.

Egypt, which featured a great deal of positive press coverage during the revolution, is perhaps the most obvious example, as it is now under the thumb of new president Mohammad Morsi. On Wednesday, Morsi won widespread praise for his role in brokering a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas forces — many commentators in western nations called out Morsi for apparent partisanship toward the Hamas faction, but much of his own country hailed his work as a shining success. On Thursday, however, he stunned the people in his fledgling democracy by granting himself incredibly broad new powers, making his own unilateral decisions trump those of any Egyptian court.

The declaration, which was read on national television, indicated that Morsi “can issue any decision or measure to protect the revolution…. The constitutional declarations, decisions and laws issued by the president are final and not subject to appeal.” Morsi insisted that his move was merely a temporary measure, but it evoked concerns about how liberally such “temporary” measures might be enacted in the future.

Some are concerned that Morsi is quickly becoming just another oppressive dictator, rendering the much-heralded Arab Spring pointless. It’s easy to see how they got that impression. After all, even Hosni Mubarak, the longtime Egyptian leader who was ousted in the Arab Spring, never had powers like those Morsi just gave himself.

And that’s why the protests are beginning anew. On Friday, demonstrators in Tehrir Square, which was the heart of the Arab Spring protests, began what they say will be a week-long sit-in. As one protester said,

We are heading towards a totalitarian regime again for the second time. This is not what we revolted for. I elected Morsi myself the last time and now Morsi is repeating Mubarak’s mistakes.

The U.S., the U.K., and the European Union have all expressed concerns about Morsi’s power grab, particularly given its apparent conflict with the pro-democracy tone of the revolution. In the mean time, clashes between police and protesters have already turned violent, with security forces firing tear gas canisters to disperse some of the crowds. The protesters, in turn, were tossing rocks and burning a police truck, in a disturbing mirror of the conflicts that reached their climax last year. It’s no wonder that some analysts now wonder whether the great Arab Spring may have done nothing more than replace one problem with another.

How many Arab Springs will it take before we stop seeing the region in flames?

Speaking of democracy, Facebook doesn’t want to hear what you have to say anymore. At least, that’s the message many are taking from the internet giant’s move away from letting users vote on policy changes. Facebook has traditionally given its users the right to vote on major changes to its terms of service, but it seems that the administrators are tired of bothering. So now it’s asking users to engage in one last vote, to abolish their own right to take part in deciding future changes.

That’s right: Facebook wants its users to vote to abolish their right to vote.

Facebook established its current system of interactive governance in 2009, when the system had “only” 200 million active users. That system, which remains in effect today, works as follows: when Facebook administrators want to enact a new policy change, they post it on the site. If the changes receive at least 7,000 comments within a week, then they are put to a vote among all users, and if at least 30% of active users vote either for or against the change, then that decision becomes final.

Evidently, Facebook’s administrators hope to restructure its entire governance system. Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan told reporters on Tuesday that the site has grown beyond this outdated system, as getting 30% of users to vote on any particular topic is an increasingly tall order. In the last site governance vote, for instance — which users triggered through their comments, mind you — only 0.038% of all active users voted.

Clearly, these votes are becoming less and less meaningful as users consistently fail to meet the minimum threshold for the vote to count. Furthermore, campaigns like the anti-information gathering movement last year have made administrators wary of users commenting and voting without understanding the content of proposed changes, further making the system pointless. As the company’s VP of Communications, Public Policy, and Marketing Elliot Schrage put it,

[W]e found that the voting mechanism, which is triggered by a specific number of comments, actually resulted in a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality. Therefore, we’re proposing to end the voting component of the process in favor of a system that leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement.

Egan says that Facebook would continue taking user feedback, of course, but that they would simply do so in other ways. As she said, under the new system, administrators would instead consider user feedback through other means like question-and-answer sessions — but users would have no definitive votes.

Still, many advocates are concerned that while the need for a user vote is rare, removing that ability may disenfranchise the site’s tremendous user base. After all, as many have noted in the past, if Facebook was a country it would be the third-largest in the world, trailing only China and India. (Yes, Facebook is bigger than America.) For now, it’s a democracy, albeit an imperfect one. It may soon become a dictatorship.

As it currently stands, there’s only one way for the change to be blocked. First, at least 7,000 users have to comment on the proposed change. Second — and this is the tricky part — at least 30% of users must vote, and the majority must oppose the change, in order for that decision to be binding. That demand comes to about 300 million of the roughly one billion active users casting a virtual ballot. We’ll soon know whether Facebook’s governance will radically change, or whether its users will show up en masse, demanding to keep the power in their voices.

We should also address a rather critical healthcare topic. For several years, researchers and policymakers alike have questioned whether routine mammograms really serve a purpose in breast cancer treatment, or if they are merely a waste of time, inconsistent as an early detection tool and prone to causing damage of their own.

A new study by researchers at Dartmouth College reignited this debate on the value of breast cancer screening. Their paper, which was published on Thanksgiving Day in the New England Journal of Medicine, acknowledged that regular mammograms have, indeed, caught more incidents of breast cancer than were detected prior to the screening practice. However, this effect has been negligible. Only 122 out of 100,000 women screened in the study received a positive diagnosis for breast cancer, and of those 122, a mere eight would have progressed to later stages which would actually warrant life-saving treatment.

The other 114 women who received a cancer diagnosis never would have otherwise never have been at risk, whether due to slow-developing cancers or mere temporary abnormalities that would eventually recede — although it is impossible to know which eight cancers would have progressed, and which 114 would have remained effectively (if not clinically) benign. Mammograms seem to have minimal benefit, the authors concluded, even while missing more severe forms of cancer that develop quickly, making annual or biannual screenings useless.

But many feel that this wasn’t the authors’ most important finding. After all, even if only eight lives were saved through every 100,000 mammograms, aren’t those eight lives enough of a reason to keep up the practice?

Not so, say many commentators, because there’s a darker side to the story. You see, the authors also found a startling number of overdiagnoses — discoveries of cancer that would never actually pose a threat, but which would lead to invasive treatments like biopsies, chemotherapy, and mastectomies that may irreversibly alter the lives of those women who go through them.

The authors ultimately determined that in the past 30 years, these have amounted to a whopping 1.3 million needless diagnoses. In 2008, the most recent year examined in the study, overdiagnoses amounted to 31% of all breast cancer diagnoses. In sum, for every one woman saved by early diagnoses, the authors estimated that another three are overdiagnosed, which mirrors the findings of a study completed in New Zealand earlier this month, even though their standard is only one mammogram every three years.

However, there are those who argue that even those unnecessary treatments are a small price to pay in order to save thousands of lives. They make a good point. It is true that some women who go through invasive mastectomies are never able to come to grips with the change in their identities and self-image, but many others say that while adjusting to their new realities took a great deal of work, it was certainly worth maintaining their health and their lives.

The big problem is that breast cancer treatments are themselves dangerous. Chemotherapy and surgery carry risks of their own, after all. Some have even speculated that more women die from unnecessary cancer treatments than those who were saved by early detection, a damning allegation to be sure.

Furthermore, while breast cancer mortality for women under 40 years old declined by 42% over the 32 years examined in the study, it fell by only 28% for those older than 40. Given that mammograms are almost never given to women under 40, the disparity in these mortality rates suggests to some analysts that the declining mortality rates which they observed were borne of improved treatments, not early detection.

These commentators are led to proclaim mammograms little a humiliating hassle at best, and at worst, the reason for countless personal lives being needlessly shattered over nothing more than propaganda. There has been some outcry against the study by those who call it an attempt to deny women access to treatment through “malicious nonsense,” and some organizations have questioned the researchers’ statistical methodology. Many others, though, are beginning to wonder whether routine mammograms are really worth the price we pay.

(On a side note, I’m perfectly aware that men can also contract breast cancer. But given that the health guidelines under fire deal with screening for women, as do most studies and analysis on the subject, I chose to confine the above commentary to female welfare.)

Alright, that’s enough of that for now; I suppose it’s time to satisfy our consumerism. This year, more than any other before, Black Friday began to leak into Thursday itself, with the traditional post-Thanksgiving sales starting before the day had even ended. With some families abandoning their dinner tables early on “Gray Thursday” in order to go shopping, some wondered what the new trend means for business in the U.S., as well as the broader moral implications of allowing one holiday to be overtaken by purchases for another. Perhaps, as some commentators have claimed, Black Friday is now a holiday of its own.

In any case, some shoppers welcomed the early start to the holiday sales, with many stores drawing the hefty crowds that were previously reserved for the day after Thanksgiving. Others, however, believe that as Black Friday becomes longer, its impact is thinning, with more money being spent during the holiday season but fewer doing so as part of the mad Black Friday rush. One projection estimated crowds of 147 million people hitting stores from the start of the sales through today, down from 152 million last year.

Perhaps declining Black Friday attendance should come as little surprise. Many potential shoppers were disturbed by the shopping spree’s infiltration into Thanksgiving Day itself, while others simply avoided the typical in-store chaos and did their shopping online. Not to mention those customers who were more inclined to support local stores on Small Business Saturday than to throw more cash at multi-billion dollar corporations on Black Friday.

Speaking of the corporations, Walmart was home to disgruntled employees throughout the affair, with scattered employees across the U.S. going on strike to protest the company’s low wages and high insurance premiums. Not that it had much of an effect — despite quite a bit of hype early in the week, few employees actually participated, so it was hardly as though any stores were shut down. In fact, the retailer recorded its best Black Friday sales total of all time.

Other Black Friday activities were quite a bit more noticeable. If you know anything about Black Friday, you should be expecting these. We have the San Antonio man who pulled a gun on other customers for cutting in line. Then there’s the Walmart in Tallahassee, Florida where two people were shot in a dispute over a parking space. We also have the uncontrollable mob in Georgia; the Massachusetts man who left his girlfriend’s two-year-old son in the car while purchasing a 51-inch television, then took home the TV and left the toddler behind; and the drunk 71-year-old in Washington who ran over two pedestrians and left them pinned under her SUV.

…How did this become mundane? When did this become ordinary?

Black Friday. How delightful.

As for entertainment news, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 is on track to remain atop the box office this week after taking the number one spot with a $141.1 million debut last weekend. In case there are any fans among my readers, I’ll spare you the pain of stumbling across unwanted spoilers here. (Psst: Snape kills Dumbledore.)

Whether you’re entranced by the series or find it deplorable, the controversy it carries, at least, is entertaining to behold. When a book series sells 100 million copies and compels even the Vatican to go on the offensive, when fans of literally all ages proclaim their love for the main characters and have their fanfiction licensed for mainstream publication while detractors compile signs of an abusive relationship within the supposed fairytale romance, well, you may as well watch the skirmish.

If nothing else, it’s better than seeing the near-repeat of the Colorado movie shootings from earlier this year. Blaec Lammers, a 20-year-old Missouri resident and sufferer of various psychological disorders, planned to gun down moviegoers at a Twilight showing with two assault rifles and 400 rounds of ammunition. Authorities detained him on Tuesday before he could carry out the attack. Lammers was previously arrested in 2009 for entering a Walmart with a knife and ski mask. He said he was looking for an “easy victim” after watching Halloween.

Okay, let’s switch to sports. Hockey has been, well, more of the same. The NHL has now cancelled all games through December 14, and the 2013 All-Star Game is officially off the calendar as well. With each passing week, it looks more and more likely that the entire season is going to evaporate.

At this point, it’s hard to even speculate about the future of professional hockey itself, as many fans are tired of feeling betrayed by both the league and the players association. For some, the international game is quickly growing in its appeal. For others, college, high school, and other amateur competitions are the place to be.

And for a select few, it’s all about the weekly EA Sports simulations. Calgary, San Jose, and Chicago lead their respective divisions in the West, while Montreal, New York, and Washington are clinging to their leads in the East. And the St. Louis Blues are 7-10-2. Come on, couldn’t this be just a little less accurate?

The gridiron brought its own share of drama on Thursday night, but not for the reasons you may have expected. Sure, there were some interesting football games, but the real shock was a ruling that came during the tight battle between the Houston Texans and the Detroit Lions.

In the third quarter of their Motor City showdown, Texans running back Justin Forsett appeared to be tackled near his own 25-yard line. Even his own players slowed, assuming that the play was over, but the referees never signaled that he was down. Forsett himself evidently didn’t think that his knee actually touched the ground, so he fought through the defenders and continued running right past his bewildered opposition, ultimately running the length of the field for a touchdown.

Naturally, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz angrily threw his challenge flag, certain that when the referees reviewed the play, Forsett’s score wouldn’t count. The problem? By rule, all scoring plays in the NFL are automatically reviewed anyway, so Schwartz received an unsportsmanlike conduct. And a rule change from two years ago indicates that if a team is penalized, they lose the opportunity to have the previous play reviewed — even if it otherwise would have received an automatic review.

So Forsett’s touchdown, the longest in Texans history, stood despite blatantly obvious video evidence that his knee hit the ground. Even Forsett himself acknowledged that, based on the film, he should have been called down.

More importantly, that touchdown may well have decided the game, as Detroit ultimately fell late in overtime, 34-31. Had the touchdown been reversed, which undoubtedly would have happened if the little red flag had stayed in Schwartz’s pocket, then the Lions might have upset the team with the best record in the NFL rather than falling to 4-7.

Well, at least there’s one uplifting sports story this week. A U.S. professional team sports record fell on Friday night, as the San Diego Sockers of the Professional Arena Soccer League took down the Toros de Mexico in a 14-4 rout, sealing their 41st consecutive victory. Prior to Friday night’s showdown, the Sockers were tied with the Sioux Falls Storm, which won 40 straight United Indoor Football games from 2005-2008.

San Diego hasn’t lost a match since falling 9-8 in overtime on December 27, 2010. The first of their 41 straight wins came two days later.

These guys now hold the all-time record.

Let’s close with an especially timely story. I’m sure that most of us enjoy a scoop or two of ice cream every now and then. Just thinking about it makes the mouth water. Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, turkey….

…Turkey?

Well, if you visit Scooptacular in Arizona, then yes. Store owner Nindi Wadhwa and his staff handcraft their concoctions, and they’re offering a number of specialty flavors for the holidays, turkey included. Other samplings in their unique selection include cranberry, pumpkin pie, sweet potato and sweet corn.

Asked how they make ice cream taste like corn, Wadhwa responded that his staff drops morsels of the food into the ice cream while they prepare it. So if you want some turkey ice cream, you’d better be ready for a meaty surprise in your snack.

Well, it’s still probably better than being caught in the stores on Black Friday.

It's only funny because it's true.

Other articles of interest:
Absentee voting impacts ‘integrity’ of elections
UN criticizes Russia over torture allegations
4D scans show foetuses yawn in the womb
What Should Children Read?
Postcard mailed in 1943 finally arrives
At Launch, Does Wii U Lack a Game That Matches the Wii?
Instagram’s Thanksgiving Is Its Busiest Day Ever
Dwarf planet Makemake examined for the first time
Super-Earths Get Magnetic ‘Shield’ from Liquid Metal

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42 responses to “Discussion Post: Week 14”

  1. Rachel Moore says :

    I think Facebook should have other ways of letting the users choose what new policies to have. The voting seems to not work, as so little people actually participate. The users should still have some input, so hopefully they can find a way to incorporate that in their new governing system. As for if the users will vote on their right to vote, I don’t know if there will be a mass voting, or if there will be a small percentage voting as usual. I’m not affected personally, since I don’t have an account, but I like to be part of organizations/groups where I have a say in what happens.

  2. kearstenolson says :

    I had no idea that Facebook even let its customers vote on policy changes. I feel as though if they wanted more people to vote they should get the word out instead of just announcing changes. I also feel like if they were that frustrated with people not understanding the reasoning behind the policy change then they should be explaining their position better. However, it is interesting to note that they’re abolishing it altogether when they had it there in the first place for a reason. Probably no other social networking site has a voting system like that and with Facebook being the highest on the list of social networking sites it seems strange that they wouldn’t want feedback from their large customer base in a more democratic system.

  3. tbeach21 says :

    I think that the whole situation with stores beginning their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving is pretty sad. Not only does this take away from Thanksgiving itself, but it even ruins the whole sick Black Friday tradition of getting out at 4 in the morning to freeze in line for your cheap TV. Everyone’s heard the “Only in America do we give thanks for what we have on one day, and on the day after, trample people to buy crap that we don’t need” line. It’s so true though. Thanksgiving doesn’t mean what it’s supposed to anymore. For most people it means food and planning for sales the next day. Maybe they’ll change the name of the holiday to “Black Friday Eve”.

  4. Blake Neata says :

    I read the story on breast cancer. It was nice to know that the risk of dieing from breast cancer is reducing due to the fact technology is improving. The facts that these authors were giving seemed odd to me. I guess I couldn’t truly grasp the fact of someone being over diagnosed. I feel that it is important to treat every patient the same if they come up positive for cancer. The study was a good start however. More research groups and individuals should be conducting these types of experiments because the more people focused on helping cancer patients, the better.

  5. Brock Wolfe says :

    What is interesting between the two main topics you picked for this week.. Black Friday and Arab Spring. In looking at the pictures, even though they are two totally different topics in absolutely different directions. The picture are growing together.. Meaning Black Friday is starting to resemble the photos in Arab Spring. I look for rioting for things that get sold out in the near future as people begin to think of this behavior as as the norm. The main reason for this direction I have taken is Black Friday’s direction. It has been headed south for a long time. It has actually tainted the meaning of Christmas.

  6. Alex Johnson says :

    Consistently year after year I’m glad I didn’t trek out with the masses to Black Friday. While it’s true the stories about people losing toddlers and running each other down are isolated incidents, I could never justify even dealing with the moderately mild mannered mob of Fort Wayne shoppers that I’d have to deal with for a few deals. That being said, I was extraordinarily jealous of my friends who received 1080p huge monitors for about $100 and a 51″ TV for about $500. Trust me, 51″ gets a lot bigger when you see it in person. Thanksgiving break was a great time to relax at home, but I’m looking forward to finishing off the semester.

  7. Craig Jones says :

    I too agree that the whole Black Friday thing is ridiculous. I don’t think i can come up with a deal that will be good enough for me to go through that ordeal. My mom waited in line 3 hours to get an iPad that wasn’t even on sale, it merely came with a $75 Wal-Mart card. Now I’m not going to sit here and bash the people that do participate because a lot of the times they do get really good deals, but for me I would much rather be at home with my family during this holiday. It isn’t every week that I get to see my extended family and that is more important to me than a cheap TV. The way that Facebook votes on things is new to me. I had no clue this is how changes were voted on. Guess I am part of the reason less than 1% voted on the last change. Be nice if this information was more obvious….

  8. Garrett Rood says :

    To be honest I went out for Black Friday sales on “Gray Thursday.” I am not one to generally enjoy this “holiday” but my wife dragged me along so I went. I’m not sure if any of you have been to Walmart during this great time but it is awful. The released items at different time intervals and 10pm was the one we were waiting on. That was also when the Walmart tracPhone or whatever was released. At like 9:45pm hell was breaking loose and they had to have 2 sheriffs come keep the crowd at bay. Personally I think Black Friday pushing more and more into Thursday is ridiculous, especially when people were waiting outside stores in Terre Haute at 11am on Thursday. On top of it getting early I think people are getting more and more violent. I’m not sure what needs to be done but there definitely needs to be.

  9. Tim Gleeson says :

    Black Friday has never been something I’ve participated in, and it seems sort of ridiculous. But if you’re shopping on a tight budget I suppose it is a good way to get good deals and finish all Christmas (I should probably say holiday) shopping in one run. The mammogram story is interesting as my mother had breast cancer which was missed by a mammogram as the story discussed. I have never read or seen anything related to Twilight and I expect that to continue this year.

  10. Garey Bogo says :

    I do agree that some people take Black Friday too crazy, however it is a great day to get good deals on a number of different items. It seems that recently a good amount of retailers are offering the deals online, including “Cyber Monday” shopping. The big-ticketed items such as TVs and Ipads are the ones that are only offered in stores. As with the release of any new, highly sought item, there is going to be over-hype for that item. Altogether I still think that Black Friday is a great shopping experience, however there will always be people going crazy because of the great deals on some of the big-ticketed items.

  11. colinbyram says :

    I would like to talk briefly about the breast cancer research because as both sides have a clear and logical stance, I do believe that it is better to be safe than sorry. With my aunt being a survivor of breast cancer, I feel that catching a abnormality that has the slightest potential to become cancer is better than letting it go undetected. However, I feel that maybe this can be prevent by continuing the increased scans but rather monitor the minor situations progression opposed to starting treatment right away.
    This years black Friday debacle is ridiculous. It is called black FRIDAY for a reason so beginning the sales and shopping the night before on a holiday is rather disrespectful I feel. I understand companies have been struggling with sales here in the recent years, however those workers have families and taking away from Thanksgiving so the buyer can get a cheaper flat screen is not necessary. Opposed to starting it earlier the stores should just extend their sales through the weekend.

  12. Daniel Spivey says :

    My group is chugging along on presentation IV. I believe that we have a good topic and work well as a group. I am excited to present on thursday and get this project out of the way. I found the study on breast cancer to be interesting. Although I have never been directly affected by breast cancer I have a good friend who lost his mother to breast cancer and he is my age. I know that there are so many affected by it so any new studies are definitely worth it. I would also like to say that I did not participate in Black Friday. It has really just gotten out of hand for me and I do not find it appealing at all.

  13. Cameron says :

    Black Friday, oh what a joy! This year was the first time I ever participated in Black Friday. I didn’t really want anything; anything I did want, I bought online beforehand at the already discounted price. I just wanted to experience it and see what all the fuss was about. So my friends and I went to Kohls at the mall at midnight on Thursday, and it was insane. I was most frustrated trying to maneuver through the people just to get to the bathroom, but luckily there was no line in there. I ended up getting three shirts and then proceeded to wait in line for about an hour. We found out that you need to come prepared for a good time or you will be miserable. We all wore funny hats, which made it very easy to keep track of each other, especially my friend in the silver construction helmet.
    So although it was all kind of fun, it was also really stupid as you know. Most people there were taking it way too serious. I even went back to Kohls on Sunday with my mom and they still had most of the same deals, making what I went through at midnight all unnecessary.
    I won’t say anything about the terrible Black Friday incidents posted by Brian, they just make me extremely angry. In the words of Professor Farnsworth, “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.”

  14. APhelps says :

    I cant help but think deeper into the attempted movie shooting story. Now I know it’s unrealistic to completely shut down media when it comes to covering stories like this, but I strongly feel that the reports they build only enables those on the brink to follow through with such ill-minded crimes. Blaec Lammers appears to have completely followed the actions of the tragic movie massacre in CO this summer. But perhaps if less focus was about the culprit (James Holmes) and more on the victims it would have a less impressional impact on other psychologically ill people thinking about this kind of violence. We all remember how much coverage was given to the shooter, his background, motives, and reactions in the courtroom. So much so, that it was the only topic on the news for a good period of time. Same with the Va Tech shooting back in April 2007, most if not all of the news coverage was about the shooter. We will all forever recognize his name (Seung-Hui Cho ring a bell?) when instead it should be the names of the victims we remember. In a twisted sense, we are glorifying the culprit, and only exposing their image to others that might sympathize and commit similar acts on their own. Like I mentioned above, I dont think we can completely fix this by not reporting the incidents, I would just like to see some less-negative news from time to time. Let’s restore some faith in humanity.

  15. Edward Dang says :

    The compulsion to buy something because it is half price is very scary. It fascinated this Friday when I saw things I honestly did not want and bought them. Like the steam video game service on computers, when there is a sale that deducts massive amounts of money from a product’s full price, people buy it because they want to capture the chance and opportunity. I know that is how I feel about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I don’t care what it is, as long as it is a category of product i enjoy in my life, I will probably buy in to it just because it’s an opportune chance to get something for less than it is normally. I am such a tool…

  16. Eric P says :

    There was a lot of fanfare surrounding the initial outbreak of the Arab Spring, especially from so-called “experts” in the West who declared that a new era of peace and democracy was arriving in the Middle East. But those who actually research the Middle East and understand their cultural and religious leanings know that the secular democracy touted by the west simply does not fit in predominantly Muslim countries. We have made the foolish assumption that Muslims are simple-minded and will blindly accept our ways, but in reality they are driven by a totally different idea of what government is. In attempting to appease both Muslims and the West, Morsi has pleased no one, and may bring about Arab Spring Part II.

  17. Daniel Hudspeth says :

    I believe that all the unrest in the Middle East will continue to occur no matter what political pressures we press on them. With the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas will eventually once again break out into missile fire between the two sides as shown in history. It is going to be the same for Egypt as well. With Morsi’s power grab, the people of Egypt will not accept his rule and will revolt once again. Hopefully, we can avoid unnecessary bloodshed as in the case of Syria and have a quick and bloodless transfer of power. As we can see, a pattern has been established with Egypt and Syria. Which other Middle East country will be the next country to fall into unrest?

  18. lukeshall says :

    I think that in terms of facebook and the whole voting things, that facebook should get rid of voting and just do what they want. They are their own company and are in charge of what they do and how they organize the site. They should not have to go the users to figure out what to do. People shouldn’t be upset when they can’t vote… it a website… that someone else made so people should chose whether or not they want to use the site themself.

  19. Junter says :

    I, like everyone else it seems on the blog, think Black Friday is a travesty. It’s ironic timing after Thanksgiving just shows the absolute greed of the American public. I’d rather pay the extra 100 dollars instead of deal with those hordes of crowds and angry soccer moms. I also was very interested in that yawning article. I fascinates me that something that we all do on a daily basis still cannot be explained today. And now the fact that fetuses are shown to do it and its believed to somehow correlate why a healing/growing process?? I think that is awesome and would really like scientists to figure out the scientific reason of why us adults still yawn. As with the attempted shooting at the twilight premiere, doesn’t it seem odd that a person who has had a past record off walking into a public store with a knife looking for “an easy target” was allowed to legally purchase assault weapons? I know Indiana isn’t really the place to preach about gun laws but something seems very wrong in that situation.

  20. Jordan Berk says :

    I have never been a huge fan of hostile crowds so Black Friday shopping at 4am doesn’t sound like the greatest of times to me, even with all the deep discounts on merchandise. I do like Cyber Monday. There are no lines and the discounts are virtually identical to those in the stores. Facebook, as a publicly traded company, has the right to set whatever policy they want. The vote was a great idea when Facebook was a much smaller company but it no longer fits their needs. In any company It is important to accept user feedbacks and adapt to new wants and needs. Facebook is a service, if you don’t agree to the terms of service then you don’t have to use it. Besides, theres always MySpace.

  21. Garret Howard says :

    This is the first year that I have participated in “Gray Thursday,” as well as black Friday. I went to Walmart with my mom on Thursday because she wanted to get a few christmas items and all I can say is WOW. Walmart released items at different times on Thursday night, I was waiting on a blu-ray player for about thirty minutes, when the worker let us go at them it was insane! I muscled my way to the front and grabbed one because I didnt want to leave empty handed after waiting in line but as the pile started to get low I saw one guy deck another guy in order to get one. I cant believe that people will get that violent in order to save a couple dollars. I dont really think that black friday and gray Thursday are really a bad thing though, in my opinion if you want to take time out of your thanksgiving day to wait in line for a good deal then more power to you.

  22. Ashlynn Johnson says :

    I never liked Black Friday, although I’ve never gone shopping for that day. Who wants to wake up early anyway? If I went, I’d just start impulse buying. I’m tired of Christmas taking over Thanksgiving though! They started playing Christmas music before it was even Thanksgiving break! And there are already commercials for the holiday… >.> It’s irritating. Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas, but it’s not even December yet…we have a whole month still!

    As for the study, dang! To think that mammograms do more harm than good. It makes you wonder what else we think is good, but really isn’t..

    Facebook can take my vote back. I don’t care. It’s just a website, not a country. lol But it is funny that if it was a country, that it’d be the 3rd largest. I know several people who have Facebook accounts for anything from a toy or pet to an imaginary person or thing. So basically, Facebook is the 3rd largest country filled with imaginary people, pets, toys, and then the rest are people. lol

  23. Megan Evilsizor says :

    I think that walmart opening at 8pm on Thanksgiving day is ridiculous and absurd. I love that the employees staged a protest at a ton of the businesses. Why can’t one of the biggest companies in the whole world treat their employees better? I think that walmart should set a new standard and not open until 10 am on the actual black friday. We definetely need a new outlook on how we treat each other. Shooting each other for a parking space?? That’s barbaric and last time I looked we weren’t Habibs in Iraq so we need to show that we are not.

  24. mmccune91 says :

    I’ve never really had an interest in Black Friday. I’m not the biggest fan of shopping to begin with, so the thought of getting mauled by a pack of angry middle aged women does not make me want to participate. On the other hand, I’ve always wanted to take a chair and a bag of popcorn, set up in a safe place and watch the carnage ensue. I understand that there are some really good deals on Black Friday, but personally I don’t know if it is worth it.

  25. annadell57 says :

    I am not on board with this whole “Gray Thursday” thing. I am all about deals and sales but I am more about holidays, family and eating. Luckily, no one in my family left dinner to go shop, or they would have heard it from me. The stories about people pulling guns out are just sad… priorities have been all screwed up lately. We should have more days thinking about what we are thankful for than for being aggressive about what we want to buy.

  26. kcorcimi says :

    I would like to talk about Black Friday. I participated in the event for the first time last year. It was thrilling and I got some good deals. Lines were kind of long, but nothing too bad. So after what I would call a good experience, when the time came this year, I figured why not do it again? This time, instead of going at midnight, I went early in the morning and throughout the day. What I discovered was that SO many more people go in the morning rather than at midnight. Lines were wrapped around the department stores twice, people yelling, screaming, much like what you had talked about in the blog. On top of that, as hard as I looked, I didn’t find anything that was significantly under priced. So it has convinced me, unless you’re one who gets those door buster deals, prices are probably around the same as what you could get them in the days leading up to Christmas. People shouldn’t take it so seriously. I mean really, if it’s between shooting someone and saving a few bucks? Let’s think about that one..

  27. Brandon Vath says :

    I am proud to say I slept in on “Black Friday”. I just think this whole “shopping all night” thing has gotten way out of hand. Just a few years ago, businesses began to open around 7am on Friday; and as time passed, they just kept opening earlier and earlier. I can imagine the store employees are not too thrilled to be at work all night, especially after just having Thanksgiving dinner with their families. I also see a benefit in staying home and partaking in on-line shopping. Many on-line stores offer shipping discounts, and even if you have to pay a few bucks for shipping, it’s way less than the gas it will take you for a days worth of shopping. “Black Friday” is just one American tradition I am personally not very fond of.

  28. tbanas says :

    The hypocrisy of Thanksgiving and black friday is laughable. Only in America do we have a day that were suppose to sit down with family and stuff our faces with food, being thankful for that opportunity, then the next day wake up at 4am to trample people for material things. I saw an article that said that the best deals usually aren’t even on black friday. The best deals usually run throughout the holiday shopping season. I completely expect Thanksgiving to to disappear in a few years and it will just be a few days off to go shopping. Black friday is about as frustrating as 12 year-olds with smart phones.

  29. nlosande says :

    As of this last summer, I have lost two very close family members to breast cancer. Both of them would have greatly benefited from early screening. That being said, I find it insulting when researchers say that mammograms are useless. If both of my family member had been screened early and caught the breast cancer early, I may even still be able to talk to them today.

    I do not believe that the low number of life-threatening cases of cancer is reason to discontinue the mammogram (full disclosure: I am a male and a mammogram does not directly affect me) but rather as a reason to improve upon the system we have now. I know that my family members have my back when I say that we need to be doing anything and everything to catch breast cancer, and for that matter, any cancer, as early as possible.

  30. Brandon Poindexter says :

    I think our presentation on Thursday went pretty well. I myself messed up here and there but overall as a group we did quite professionally well. At least its out of the way so I don’t have to worry too much about a speech this weekend.
    It’s a shame really, these people in the middle eastern countries fight for their lives to oust a leader with an iron grip on the population. Only replaced with a leader, hiding his iron grip. But who know, it could very well be a temporary solution. But taking a step further it’s a questionable temporary law that could be replaced by something much worse.
    And regarding Facebook: I don’t really care too much. . . Without scrolling down your mouse on my Face book page you’ll probably see posts from 2011. I basically don’t use it at all.
    . . . .
    Twilight eh? Nah how about Star Trek in theater’s for a one night only special. This past Thursday a friend of mine and I went to Wabash Landing 9 on the 29th to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation – A celebration of Season 2. It was glorious. “Q who” and “The Measure of Man” (with 18 minutes of deleted scenes) were the episodes that were shown, as well as some blooper’s and a reunion of the cast after 25 years. I realize that it’s basically a glorified promotion to buy the new blu-ray release of season 2 of TNG. But watching an episode on TNG, redone in 1080p (which is a resolution quite a bit lower than 35mm film but whatever), in surround sound and on a large silver screen is a trekkie’s dream come true. Not a lot of people were there, which is fortunate for me as a movie goer but unfortunate that it didn’t get as much attention. Hopefully CBS will do this again for season 3.

  31. liv4creativity says :

    That article about the postcard mailed in 1943 was interesting. It makes me wonder how many other items of mail are ‘lost’ only to be found and sent many years later.

    The 4D scan showing fetuses yawning was fascinating. The human body is so intricate and complex. Just the thought that one human body can house another developing human body is amazing!

    The article about what should children read hit home for me. I love reading. I read a lot during my childhood. Reflecting back, I can recall many of my classmates who hated reading. If they hated reading books back then, how in the world will children nowadays develop a love of reading when we require them to read nonfiction memos, reports, and recipes? I had to read Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point for a class and loved it. Though it was dry in a few places, the information was very thought-provoking. We need to step back and look at the current education system. Is it really helping our youth become successful adults? We have the rest of our lives to work and be mundane. Our childhood years should be embraced and nurtured and not saturated with dry, boring news reports.

  32. jetblueberry says :

    Even after reading through the entire bit about mammograms and preventative screenings, I still cannot agree with what is stated. My mother had breast cancer and it was detected via mammogram. After something like this, no matter what anyone else says, there is nothing negative that I can now say or think about it. It’s easy to say that we shouldn’t do ‘x’ or ‘y’ anymore but until you have actually seen it work for you, no judgement should be made.

    • brianbritt says :

      Yeah, I can definitely understand what you and a few others are saying about this matter. (If you were wondering, much of my text echoed the general tone of the articles I read on the subject as opposed to precisely reflecting my personal viewpoints.)

      It may be true that there are, say, 100 needless surgeries for every life saved, but I have a hard time convincing myself that even one life is worth less than 100 unnecessary procedures — especially when there aren’t clear statistics that indicate that, say, one out of every 100 unnecessary surgeries has fatal consequences, as that would make the decision easier, at least statistically.

      The other thing that stands out to me, and which few of the articles highlighted, is that the methodology used by the researchers has fallen under considerable scrutiny. I haven’t looked deeply enough into the subject to be able to judge the study’s methods one way or another, but it does make me wary of making a rash decision about breast cancer screening as a whole.

  33. Jae Hyeon Joo says :

    I missed my third presentation on the assigned date. I had to do the presentation III on last Tuesday. That is why I couldn’t submit my third self-evaluation on the due date. I am expecting the group presentation. I saw the group 4 and 5 presentations on last Thursday. They did really great. I should prepare well for the group presentation.

  34. Rachel Dockter says :

    Ah, Black Friday humor. It’s almost as much a staple of the holidays as any other aspect. I personally did not go shopping that day (I’ve gone before, a couple years ago…it was terrible), but some of my family did. I don’t really see the point in it, honestly. Sure, there’s sales for stuff, but I don’t think it’s really worth it. Nowadays I just stick to making Christmas presents for my family instead. Pretty ridiculous that people are actively ignoring Thanksgiving for it, though…my Thanksgiving was spent with family, good food, and beating my brothers in pinochle. What’s not to love about that?

    The popularity of Twilight still catches me off-guard some time. I’ve read the books (mostly out of curiosity) and they’re…okay? I don’t know. I haven’t seen any of the movies though, so I can’t really speak for them. I’m glad disaster was averted, though. No one wants another tragedy.

  35. Shalini Kannan says :

    I think we are almost ready for our Presentation IV speech! As for Black Friday, did really go shopping for that this year because I did not find anything worthwhile to buy. I was rather happy sleeping in for once. This is actually the first year that I have not gone Black Friday shopping, and I do not regret it one bit. I definitely do not agree with the idea of discontinuing the mammogram screenings because less women are having a life-threatening case. It is required so that the cancer can be detected early enough so that the it can be treated in time. It is a valueble safety precaution that should be continued because there is no other way to detect breast cancer on a timely manner anyways.

  36. Zach Gerbner says :

    The NHL lockout has been very frustrating for some time now. I am a huge hockey fan, my font license plate is even a Philadelphia Flyers logo, but this lockout has driven me crazy recently. I think that over the past five or so seasons, the NHL has made great strides in improving the TV viewership, promoting the game, and really making it more popular in the United States. With this lockout, they are throwing all of the progress away. Both sides want too much, and when you only allow federal mediators to work with you for two days, and debate is clearly broken. Both sides want too much, and neither will budge, especially because the players can play elsewhere. I read a statistic that said the NHL is loosing $20 million a day during the lockout. Both sides just need to realize the damage their are doing to their reputation, and fix the mess they have made!

  37. Jhellman says :

    I read somewhere that you can only be a consumer if there is a product for you to buy. And since facebook is free to everyone, that in a round about way makes the user the product. Which is kind of weird but totally relevant to the topic. Since when did guinea pigs get a say?
    As far as Black Friday goes, I’ll be the 39th person to say it’s crazy. And it’s crazy that it’s become a week long plus event with cyber monday deals extending to the end of the week. I mean it’s good for online shopping but it’s too much of an intense phenomena for us to continue at this rate in physical stores.

  38. Zack Palazzo says :

    Black friday is a pretty crazy event. I didnt even see that many deals worth going out for. I went to best buy on wednesday and there was already tents set up and waiting. Its crazy what some people will do to save some money

  39. bwulf24 says :

    This black friday business is out of control. I understand the actual friday stuff… sort of, well I can look past it anyway since I do not participate. But actually working thanksgiving? C’mon now. Thanksgiving I feel is a pretty big family holiday and its kind of sad that people will leave their family, especially if they don’t get to see that family often, to go spend crazy amounts of money all the way through the night and into the next day. Shame on people for participating and shame on the companies for even making it an option. I feel like that’s a terrible way to treat the employees too, they better get paid triple that day, because not only are they working through the holiday, they have to deal with the craziest of the crazies, but hey, at least I’m sure all the people in the corporate offices are working just as hard on holidays… or maybe not.

  40. mbruhn says :

    I don’t ever participate in black Friday but I find it quite amusing. The amount of time people spend standing in line to buy a product is ridiculous. If they were to spend those hours working, and then go purchase that product on another day without having to wait in line, they probably would end up making more money than they would have saved. It’s also quite silly how now they are starting the sales on Thanksgiving. In a couple more years, black Friday is probably going to start on Wednesday.