February 14th, 2014 § § permalink
Common Sense Action Launches the First Annual Campus-Movement Competition
Ann Arbor, MI – Common Sense Action officially launched the CSA Campus Challenge. Twenty-five chapters will compete to build the Common Sense Action movement on their campuses, and they will begin to introduce the Agenda for Generational Equity (AGE) – CSA’s Millennial policy agenda – to electoral candidates. The competition will run for two months from February 3rd to April 1st, 2014.
“After researching, negotiating, and finalizing the national Agenda for Generational Equity, the Campus Challenge gives CSA chapters an opportunity to build the Common Sense Action movement and mobilize a nationwide network of Millennials who want to address the problems threatening our future,” said Common Sense Action Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Sam Gilman.
“With the CSA Campus Challenge, we ‘gameified’ campus organizing and movement building. We want the Challenge to be fun,” adds CSA co-founder and Chief Action Officer Andrew Kaplan, ”Through a healthy mix of collaboration and competition, CSA has created a structure that incentivizes our chapters to begin growing the CSA movement exponentially.”
The competition has three goals 1) to increase millennial voter empowerment 2) to foster a candidate education program and 3) to broaden its community by increasing its network and advocating on the behalf of CSA. The voter empowerment goal’s purpose is to challenge Common Sense Action members to get their community involved in grassroots politics, candidate education will be achieved by chapter leaders engaging politicians with a questionnaire, and network building will help CSA garner national support.
Chapter’s will be evaluated and scored based on their success in six essential activities: the candidate education questionnaire, voter empowerment by gathering signatures endorsing CSA’s Agenda for Generational Equity (AGE), social media engagement, events hosted, media attention, and collaboration with other chapters.
AGE addresses a wide range of policy issues that uniquely impact the Millennial generation, including entitlement reform, investing in education, workforce development and infrastructure, and repairing America’s broken political system through greater civic engagement. The Agenda was designed form a truly bipartisan standpoint, utilizing valuable policy recommendations from both sides of the aisle.
Chapters are expected to achieve the core requirements, with the ability to be awarded silver or gold status if they go above and beyond the minimum requirements for each section of the scorecard. There will also be a grand prize awarded to the highest achieving chapter based on the amount of silver and gold benchmarks achieved.
Chapter leaders will submit a weekly scorecard and participate in leadership development calls to help the chapter leaders develop essential marketing and grassroots organizing skills needed to be successful in the competition. The national board will track the competition’s progress and keep participants motivated. The leadership calls will involve discussions on social media strategies, campus organizing, and leadership development.
Raina Sheth, Vice President of Communications for CSA at UofM is “looking forward to engaging our large student body in a national grassroots bipartisan movement.” She also “cannot wait to connect student organizations through press releases, social media and campus-wide events.”
Potential prizes CSA chapters can earn include: dinner with a Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) senior fellow, CSA and BPC gear, priority status for future BPC and CSA internships, a one year subscription to Netflix or Spotify Premium, and other exciting opportunities.
To follow the competition’s progress like the Common Sense Action national Facebook page and Twitter. You can also check out the blogs chapters will be writing throughout the competition, and more information on AGE at www.CommonSenseAction.org.
The following chapters are participating in the Campus Challenge: Arizona State University, Boston University, Brown University, Claremont McKenna College, College of William and Mary, George Washington University, Hofstra University, Lafayette College, Louisiana State University, Loyola University, Ohio State University, Swarthmore College, Tulane University, University of Alabama, University of Arizona, University of California: Berkeley, University of California: Davis, University of Georgia, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina, University of Northern Iowa, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, Washington and Lee University, and Wittenberg University.
About Common Sense Action
Common Sense Action is a grassroots organization that expands opportunity for Millennials by bringing the next generation to the policymaking table and building a movement of Millennial voters committed to advancing generational fairness, investing in Millennial mobility, and repairing politics.
Contact Jevin Hodge with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
February 14th, 2014 § § permalink
Race has been the primary issue of debate on Michigan’s campus recently, but is also just as contentious a topic on campuses across the country – from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaking about race at Palm Beach Atlantic University, to a spoken word video gone viral at UCLA.
Here at Michigan, the recent Black Student Union protest demanding various race-based special treatment for minorities yielded compliance by both administrators and the Central Student Government.
On Monday, when speaking to students at Palm Beach Atlantic University, Justice Thomas took a shot at political correctness and hypersensitivity towards race, noting that our current society is more race conscious than during his youth in pre civil-rights Georgia.
“My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school. To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up,” remarked Justice Thomas.
“Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Every person. Somebody has said something that has hurt their feelings or did something to them — left them out.”
Thomas also said that he faced greater discrimination from those in the North, rather than from the South, which is stereotyped as being more discriminatory and racist.
“The worst I have been treated was by northern liberal elites. The absolute worst I have ever been treated,” Thomas said. “The worst things that have been done to me, the worst things that have been said about me, by northern liberal elites, not by the people of Savannah, Georgia.”
On the west coast, at UCLA, The College Fix ‘s Josh Hedtke reported on a video from November of a student group called “The Black Bruins” who express their misfortunes and victimization in spoken word.
“The video is prefaced by a slide reminding or enlightening us of the assassination of two black students on the UCLA campus in 1969. It then jumps to black students standing in a group lodging their grievances openly on campus, behind their head spokesman, Stokes, who is currently working on a degree offered by an Afro-American Studies program that may soon become its own independent department at UCLA” reports Hedtke.
The student in the video cites low graduation rates of minority students, as well as underrepresentation and marginalization, amongst other “racist” inequities.
Hedtke argues “different groups of people are simply represented unequally in different endeavors. It’s what happens in a diverse society where people are free to pursue their own goals. Professional sports, such as basketball and baseball, provide illustrative examples of this.”
UCLA has an even more diverse student body than Michigan does, and white students are actually more underrepresented than black students, according to Hedtke.
“In 2012 in California, the total percentage of the black population was 6.6 percent, and the total percentage of the white population was 73.7 percent. In contrast, the percentage of white student at UCLA is 27.8 percent and the percentage of black students at UCLA is 3.8 percent.
In effect, white students are actually severely “underrepresented” compared to black students: the white percentage at UCLA is only 37.7 percent of the total percentage of white residents in the state, whereas the black percentage at UCLA is 57.6 percent of the total statewide percentage of black residents – a 20 point difference!”
More so, UCLA is extremely proactive in creating a diverse and inclusive study body population. There are 112 student groups that contribute to diversity at the institution, Hedtke writes. Not to mention 16 ethnic or cultural study programs and other initiatives that induce diversity.
“Many of these groups receive funding from the UCLA student government. We have 16 “___________ studies” majors ranging from Chicano Studies to Gender Studies to Israel Studies. UCLA has an actual written “Strategic Plan For Diversity.” In the 2011 “UC Accountability Report,” an annual report that addresses subjects such as “Affordability” and “Undergraduate Student Success,” the longest section, totaling 22 pages, is devoted to “Diversity.”’
The University of Michigan is comparable to UCLA, both in its academic rigor and its pursuit of diversity through various programs, organizations, and departments. Michigan houses over 18 centers that are devoted to studying various cultures, races, and globalization to foster a diverse learning community – not including all the programs and majors that are housed in such centers.
Michigan also has a whole portal dedicated to diversity, as well as a provost dedicated to diversifying the Wolverine student body.
Michigan also has an administrative position similar to UCLA’s that is dedicated to spearheading diversity, the Vice Provost for Education and Equity. In a letter to the Michigan community, Provost Martha E. Pollack wrote, “This position will have responsibility for providing strategic leadership that results in increased access and success for all students, the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty, and the development and expansion of academic programs that prepare all students for success in a diverse world.”
Hedtke writes further about so called “transgression” committed against minority students by faculty members, one being a distinguished professor of education who instigated a sit-in of a lecture.
“Among the 81-year old professor emeritus’s alleged transgressions are repeatedly requiring students to write “Indigenous” in lowercase form instead of uppercase form (consistent, by the way, with its not having proper noun status as can be discovered readily in any standard dictionary), requiring students to capitalize “white” if they also choose to capitalize “black,” and my personal favorite: requiring the students to use the Chicago Manual of Style instead of the style standards of the American Psychological Association.”
Seemingly, minority students at UCLA have similar woes to those here at Michigan, both calling for more diversity and inclusion while administrators of both institutions strive to comply with students’ concerns and demands.
Read Hedtke’s full article at The College Fix.
February 4th, 2014 § § permalink
Gleaves Whitney is a former student of Professor Tonsor, as well as speechwriter and historian for former Governor John Engler. Currently, Professor Whitney directs the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University.
What contributions did Professor Tonsor make to Michigan’s History Department?
Back in the 1980s, when I told a friend that I was doing graduate work in history at Michigan, he looked surprised: “But you are conservative, and there aren’t any conservatives on the faculty in Ann Arbor.” “Oh, that’s not true,” I shot back, “I had lunch with him.”
Academic rigor requires intellectual diversity, and Stephen Tonsor contributed prodigiously to both the rigor and diversity of a Michigan education. During his career, the history department was in the vanguard of social history, which was decidedly progressive, so Tonsor’s brand of intellectual history made him an outlier. Yet his reputation going back to the ‘fifties was legendary. I cannot tell you how many people I’ve come across who, decades later, vividly remember their class with Professor Tonsor. His insights were brilliant; his humor, biting; his turns of phrase, beautiful.
What was his legacy regarding the conservative movement in America?
Tonsor was a self-described paleoconservative – a devout Catholic and traditionalist – who exercised limited leadership in conservative institutions but who was never afraid to exercise intellectual leadership within the broader conservative movement. He is most remembered for thrusting a spear at the heart of neoconservatives at a 1986 gathering of prominent conservatives in Chicago. It was during the Reagan presidency, and many of the neocons in attendance had ties to the 40th president’s administration. Tonsor told a cautionary tale that culminated in this bombshell: “It has always struck me as odd, even perverse, that former Marxists have been permitted, yes invited, to play such a leading role in the conservative movement of the twentieth century. It is splendid when the town whore gets religion and joins the church. Now and then she makes a good choir director, but when she begins to tell the minister what he ought to say in his Sunday sermons, matters have been carried too far.” That image – classic Tonsor – signaled the end of playing nice between the two camps. It brought the tensions within the conservative movement to the surface, and there has been open suspicion between paleocons and neocons ever since.
As a former student of his, what is the most important lesson you learned from him?
I once asked Tonsor what was the most important quality the historian should possess. Without hesitation he said, “Imagination.” The past is a different country. Historians who follow their intellectual curiosity must be able to distance themselves from the tyranny of the present and be able to enter the past with an open, alert mind.
Tonsor also placed a premium on intellectual integrity. Historians must not reconstruct the past out of an ideological commitment but be open to wherever the evidence leads, no matter who might be offended. The honest treatment of the evidence might alienate the more politically correct among us, but that is the price the historian must be willing to pay to produce good work.
Tonsor also put a premium on excellent writing. If it is worth saying, it is worth saying well (as he himself demonstrated in his own essays, articles, and books).
What’s do you think current students should know about Prof Tonsor?
Tonsor had the reputation for being intellectually tough and personally gruff – he could be hard on his students. But he also reached out to connect more deeply with them. After class he liked to invite students home to have lunch and a glass of sherry with him and his wife, Caroline. The trek to 1505 Morton (in Burns Park) often involved a stop at Ulrich’s to pick up the latest Wall Street Journal (for editorials) and New York Times (for reporting, art, and book reviews). It was on that twenty-minute walk that Tonsor, given his encyclopedic mind, could hold forth on just about anything you wanted to talk about. Nor was he shy about expressing his prejudices. I well recall his judgments concerning the horrid sentimentality of English choral music, the excesses of Romantic poetry, the best moraines to hike in, the damage squirrels do to gardens, the inadvisability of buying Japanese imports, and the zigs and zags of the modern Catholic Church. If the discussion turned political, he would express impatience with statists. If the conversation turned academic, his anger would flare at the rise of identity politics. In his view, radicalized academics were turning university departments into theme parks and freak shows. This is not to say that he could not also enjoy more lighthearted conversation. He had a bevy of humorous stories from his personal life, especially his childhood spent in a German Catholic home in southern Illinois.
Despite the prickly exterior, Tonsor had a sweet side, especially when it came to children. One warm Halloween he invited my son and other children to trick-or-treat out of his home in Burns Park. And if ever he saw a penny on the ground, he would pick it up for his grandchildren’s piggybank.
Tonsor was also a faithful correspondent with friends and former students. He wrote striking longhand letters – some of the most beautiful that I have ever received. And I would be remiss if I neglected to reveal, on a personal note, that he became my godfather when I was received into the Catholic Church.
What could students best take away (or learn) from his life and scholarship?
There were so many things Stephen Tonsor taught those who came into his orbit. Among the most important lessons, he believed the good life – the life worth living – is inseparable from truth, goodness, and beauty. He argued that culture trumps politics, so you shouldn’t become enamored with Washington, DC. He cautioned that while books are faithful friends, you should not become so overeducated that you forsake common sense or neglect the sublime and beautiful around you.
Stephen Tonsor was sui generis. There will never be another. May he rest in peace.
The Michigan Review thanks Professor Whitney for his time and effort in telling us about his time with Professor Tonsor.
February 2nd, 2014 § § permalink
This past December, members of the American Studies Association, the United States’ oldest and largest academic association dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of American history and culture, passed a resolution endorsing a boycott of Israeli universities. In the election that led to this endorsement, which drew the largest number of participants in the organization’s history, an overwhelming 66 percent of members voted in favor of the boycott. According to the ASA’s website, its endorsement stems from “Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; [and] the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights…”
In passing such a resolution, the ASA has joined the growing international ranks of left-leaning academic associations and individuals who have condemned Israel for its treatment of its Palestinian population. Some within this movement, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, have even drawn parallels between Israel and Apartheid South Africa. These condemnations have drawn consistent and impassioned criticism from a variety of fronts, notably academic and political, which have continued their criticism by reacting to the ASA’s recent boycott.
In the month and a half that has followed the resolution, at least five institutions have withdrawn their membership from the ASA while several current and former presidents of prominent American universities, including Amherst and Princeton, have condemned the ASA’s resolution. In doing so, they have cited general opposition to academic boycotts for their negative impact on academic speech and exchange as well as displeasure with what they perceive as a double standard in the ASA’s decision. Furthermore, two Democratic state assembly men from New York have indicated plans to introduce legislation that would remove state support from any public or private college that participated in the ASA or any other group involved in a boycott of Israel.
Though such reactions may appear rash, they make sense when one considers several basic facts. Firstly, it is interesting to note that the ASA has not endorsed the boycotting of universities in countries with far worse human rights records than Israel’s, such as Iran or China. Following the ASA’s rationale that violations of human rights and international law by a country’s government merit repercussions against that country’s educational institutions, it is illogical and unfair that Israel’s universities alone should be singled out for boycott. The ASA’s decision to narrow its resolution to Israeli universities is thus logically inconsistent and, more importantly, intellectually dishonest.
The ASA ignores Israel’s tangible achievements in human rights as the strongest democracy in the Middle East, with free and open elections and minority representation in parliament. It also ignores Israel’s strides in reducing inequality of opportunity between Jews and minorities by instituting a comprehensive affirmative action program. Such a program has led to high minority enrollment at institutions such as the University of Haifa, where over 30 percent of the student body is Arab (with Arabs comprising roughly 20 percent of Israel’s total population). Rather than unfairly single out Israel by endorsing university boycotts that adversely affect the flow of ideas and the empowerment of a group of people on whose behalf the organization is claiming to act, the ASA should withdraw its support for the boycott and promote proactive policies that further assist Israel’s Palestinian population. It should also distribute its criticism more evenly and hold Israel’s neighbors to the same standards.
February 2nd, 2014 § § permalink
Illustrations by Mark Weaver, Mike Theiler/Corbis, Enzo Signorelli/Getty Images, Nick Servian/Alamy
by Sayaan Saha
The National Security Agency is estimated to be the largest intelligence agency in the entire world, both by personnel and expenditure. But what do we really know about the NSA? The DOD is headquartered at the Pentagon; the CIA is headquartered at Langley and the FBI in Washington DC. So where is the NSA located? The FBI stops crime; the DOD protects our borders, and the CIA fights terrorists. So what does the NSA do? Even throughout the ongoing data mining scandal the NSA has remains a shifty figure in the shadows. The agency has recently run into a lot of unwanted publicity with the Edward Snowden affair. However, amidst all of the whistle blowing, it seems NSA just becomes more opaque.
Let’s start at the top. The National Security Agency is located at Fort Meade, Maryland, it is directed by General Keith Alexander. Unlike their counterparts the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, the NSA is not authorized to conduct personnel based foreign espionage. Essentially, a spy agency with no spies. So it begs the question: Who populates the ranks of the NSA? The NSA recruits computer experts, hackers and engineering PhDs. It is the largest employer of mathematicians in the nation. The NSA isn’t looking for devilishly handsome, martini sipping lady-killers, like James Bond. They are looking for the math and computer geeks that are as skilled in programming and engineering as you and I are in breathing. At the top they are led by a four star military general, a graduate of West Point. He holds degrees in electronic warfare: physics, national security strategy and business administration. General Alexander has thus rightfully earned the nickname “Alexander the Geek.” I recommend looking at an amazing article on Wired.com that does an exemplary profile of General Alexander and is entitled “The Secret War.”
Under Alexander’s vast wings he commands the National Security Agency, the United States Military Cyber Command, and the Central Security Agency. He presides over the all three branches of the military, his domain ranges from our military’s cyber defense capabilities to clandestine signals intelligence. The sheer vastness of Alexander’s authority is unparalleled, and the range of his capabilities grows with every passing hour. When Alexander took the helm of the NSA in 2005, it was in danger of being left behind in the technological revolution. He is quoted in a New York Times article in that same year saying how the NSA needs to reform in order to become more “modern” and “advanced.” Within just a year of his ascension to the head of the Agency, the NSA developed a cripplingly advanced virus known as Stuxnet. A nasty bug designed to cause centrifuges that are used in nuclear plants to malfunction and destroy themselves. This virus was so advanced that it was able to cause critical damage to Iranian nuclear facilities while simultaneously creating the illusion that everything was fine. The Stuxnet virus was never detected by any of the Iranian scientists, even after it had destroyed the centrifuges. Ironically, the virus may have worked too well. The virus quickly began infecting other computers, and it began spreading to computers worldwide. It was only then, a third party cyber security agency was able to discover the virus. It was clear that the virus was so advanced that it could only have been built by thousands of hours of professional manpower.
Alexander took an agency on the brink of irrelevancy and in no time had it developing advanced viruses. Alongside the data mining and the tapping of phone calls, General Alexander builds cyber weapons. Unlike the numerous bombs and tanks in our military’s arsenal, Alexander’s weapons don’t hold any physically form. They don’t make a peep, and are virtually undetectable. Alexander can cripple your forces with his computers; he can cause critical damage to nuclear facilities, steal all of your secrets and disable your offensive capabilities. Electronic devices manage our world; computers manage our financial information, control UAV drones armed with bombs and help write that essay that is due next week. In 1908, Alexander Graham Bell famously said, “The nation that secures control of the air will ultimately rule the world.” For one hundred years that was identically true; however, as we begin to truly transition into the 21st century, it appears the nation that secures control of cyberspace will ultimately rule the world.
February 1st, 2014 § § permalink
When the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos meet up in Super Bowl XLVIII, it will be the ultimate clash of styles in what should make for a truly memorable game. The Seahawks, the top ranked defense in the league, will test the Broncos, the top ranked offense in the league. The Broncos are a finesse, up tempo, quick-starting offensive unit, while the Seahawks are a physical, bruising, “mash-it-down-your-throat” team that enjoys low scoring, ball-control, take-the-air-out-of-the-ball style of play. Peyton Manning and the Broncos act like they are frontrunners and play with an aura of supremacy and dominance that passes the eye test of a Super Bowl Champion. The Seahawks, on the other hand, play with chip on their shoulder each time they take the field, as if nobody respects them despite their dominating physicality, carrying the weight of seemingly the entire Pacific Northwest on their backs. Immersed in this clash of styles are a number of headlines that will provide no shortage of drama as the game approaches.
First and foremost, Peyton Manning has the chance to cement his legacy as one of, if not, the greatest quarterback of all time with a second Super Bowl win. This would quiet all of his doubters who constantly criticize him for his inability to succeed in the playoffs and would add to his incredible resume of NFL dominance. Speaking of dominance, Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman has dominated the headlines as of late, due to his theatrics at the conclusion of the NFC championship game. The world will have the opportunity to see if he can live up to his haughty words on the highest stage in all of sports. Another key headline will be the weather at MetLife stadium, where temperatures are expected to be between the 20s-30s and the winds will most certainly be a factor in the play on the field.
A few other subplots of intrigue: Pete Carroll is seeking to become the first coach to win both a college football national championship and a Super Bowl. This is the first Super Bowl where both teams hail from west of the Mississippi since the Chargers played the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX in 1995. Seahawks’ wide receiver Percy Harvin should return from his injury sustained in the NFC Divisional Round against the Saints, giving the Seahawks another offensive weapon. The experience gap between Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson, at 14 years, is the largest between any two quarterbacks to start the Super Bowl, and Wilson is the 6th youngest quarterback to start a Super Bowl. On the field, watching Denver’s talented core of receivers go up against the Seahawks’ vaunted secondary will likely be deciding the factor in the matchup, while watching Marshawn Lynch against Denver’s stout run defense will provide no shortage of entertaining, tough, physical play.
So, where will the game be won and lost? Five key factors as follows will go a long way in determining who wins Super Bowl XLVIII.
Which set of running backs will be tougher in the trenches?
Marshawn Lynch will be receiving all the hype in this matchup and deservedly so. He’s already run for 249 yards and three touchdowns in the playoffs after rushing for 1257 yards and 12 touchdowns in the regular season. However, Knowshon Moreno is having a career year of his own, rushing for a career high 1038 yards and 10 touchdowns while adding 548 yards through the air. The Broncos leaned on him heavily in the cold, especially in their epic game against the Patriots when he rushed for over 200 yards. Despite battling a nagging rib injury, health will not be an issue for him in the Super Bowl. The ability for these two running backs to grind out tough yards against stout opposing run defenses will be crucial for getting their teams into manageable third down situations, especially considering the conditions and winds. Expect both running backs to carry the ball above their per-game averages.
Kickers and the Wind
Broncos’ kicker Matt Prater missed one field goal in the regular season. Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka missed two. Both of these guys are money in the kicking game. Both are also used to outside, cold, windy environment in their home stadiums. The wind will be a huge factor at MetLife Stadium, and the ability of these kickers to remain steady in the kicking game could make a difference in the game, especially if the weather conditions prevent offensive explosions. Eight of the last Super Bowls have been decided by seven points or less, meaning missed field goals become ever more painful to stomach.
Coaches in Unchartered Territory
John Fox’s last appearance in a Super Bowl came 11 years ago, when the Carolina Panthers lost to the Patriots by a field goal. Pete Carroll has won college titles but he’s never advanced this far into the postseason at the professional level. In a game with very low margin for error, every 4th and 2 decision, every time-out, every play, every challenge, and every 40 seconds rolling off the clock is important. Will the coaches let these moments get the best of them on the big stage? Will they handle the expanded press coverage, the exposure, the distractions, the longer halftime, and extended warm-ups properly? Will the coaches have their teams prepared to handle adversity with the stakes at their highest?
Russell Wilson’s Feet
While the Broncos certainly don’t lack for experience in terms of facing opposing mobile quarterbacks, as they faced the likes of Michael Vick, Terrelle Pryor, and Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson presents more complex problems in comparison. The Seahawks utilize less designed quarterback runs for Wilson compared to the number of designed runs utilized in the offenses of the aforementioned quarterbacks. Most of Wilson runs come as a result of scrambling once the play breaks down or carefully thrown-in designed run to keep the defense off balance. Wilson’s football IQ is also a couple of levels higher than his fellow dual threat quarterbacks, as evidenced by his 32 games played in his first two seasons, without injury. This alone will give the Broncos defense fits, and will be a key for the Seahawks in extending drives and keeping the ball out of Peyton Manning’s hands.
Response to Adversity
Russell Wilson’s high football IQ has already been mentioned and it’s no secret that Peyton Manning is commonly regarded as one of the most intelligent players to ever play football. The precision and preparation with which each quarterback play on weekly basis spreads to the rest of their teammates. As a result, both of these teams are almost never caught off-guard, always stick to their plan, often controlling games from start to finish, whether it be on the strength of their defense or a fast-paced high powered offense. This game, on the other hand, won’t be easy for either team, as they may see their strength taken away or at least slowed. The winner of this game will emerge based on how they respond to adversity. Peyton Manning hasn’t trailed yet in the playoffs. How will he respond if he needs a touchdown in the 4th quarter? Richard Sherman hasn’t had a touchdown scored on him in weeks. How will he respond if Manning beats with a spectacular Manning-like throw early on? Responding strong to adversity separates champions from contenders, and adversity will certainly show its face in Super Bowl XLVIII in multiple facets. Who will step up and persevere?
January 28th, 2014 § § permalink
One of the Official logos for the Sochi Olympics (Courtesy of www.sochi-travel.info)
Set to begin February 7th and run through the 23rd, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia are fast approaching. Recently, it has been revealed that this year’s games will exceed cost projections by roughly 500%, making them the most expensive of all time. Upon winning the host bid, Vladimir Putin pledged $12 billion to turn Sochi—a small waterfront town—into a “world-class resort.” As it turns out, this number hovers around $50 billion. Despite vastly inaccurate budget projections, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister has affirmed that “everyone is satisfied” with how Sochi has been developed since winning the bid in 2007. Regardless of what the Russian government has reported, it seems as if the process has been riddled with issues and inefficiencies.
To begin, past Winter Games suggest that the $50 billion investment will not be recovered. According to Robert Barney, founding director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario, “no Olympic games in history have made it in the black.” Considering that the average cost projection is underestimated by 180%, it seems nearly impossible that a 500% projection error is recoverable.
If all goes according to plan, Russia will see returns on their investment for years after the games. Sochi, an area of Russia that rarely sees snow, is slated to become an upscale tourist destination after being developed for, and receiving publicity from, the Winter Games. However, this plan is typical, and in most cases, it falls through. When considering the amount of money spent on security for the 2014 Winter Olympics, who is to say that Sochi can provide consistent safety for tourists in the future? If facilities go unused in the future—which is very common in host cities—Russia will have to either absorb tremendous maintenance costs (on stadiums, etc.), or abandon them as a sunk cost.
To make matters worse, much of the money is coming from the government, the public, and state-owned banks. Accordingly, Sochi appears to be Vladimir Putin’s “pet project: a sign of his power over people and nature, and of his international legitimacy” (The Economist). Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and opposition leader, has argued that Sochi is a model of “lawlessness, inefficiency, and disregard for human nature and people.” In this way, everything surrounding Sochi appears to be part of a larger political agenda in which Russia’s long run welfare is marginalized.
Olympstroy, a Russian state corporation, has been overseeing most of the construction. According to a report by The Economist, “The quality of the work is patchy. The ski jump has been redone many times, and the cost has risen sevenfold. Newly laid sewage pipes have burst, so a nasty smell drifts over a kindergarten playground. Sea-coast fortifications cracked soon after installation. The work has been carried out with little concern for the environment. The river flowing into the Black Sea has been polluted by construction waste and protected forests have been cut down. A green whistle-blower was prosecuted and chased out of Russia.”
Still, there are some (perhaps unfounded) benefits to hosting the games. In all cases, leaders who are responsible for winning the host bid fortify their resume. Additionally, host cities hope to increase both tourism and trade. However, even cities that bid for hosting and do not win the bid see 30% increases in international trade, as their bid signifies that they are “open for business with the global community” (CNBC). So, all the benefits that Sochi hopes to realize from hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics are either based on speculation or unnecessary spending that will likely not see a return.
Hopefully, Sochi turns into a tourist haven after the Olympics, but given a $50 billion trench and shady political agendas, it seems unlikely. Still, we look forward to watching eight of our fellow Wolverines participate as athletes.
January 24th, 2014 § § permalink
(Courtesy of www.heritage.org)
By Benjamin Park
As of January 23, 2014, the US national debt was seventeen trillion, two hundred seventy-six billion, five hundred eighty-two million, one hundred seventy thousand, three hundred forty-seven dollars and seven cents. The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $2.52 billion per day since September 30, 2012. To put that into perspective, the United States population is approximately 313.9 million, and each of us would need to provide $54,414.23 in order to pay off this debt.
Still don’t get it? If we were to fill up the Big House with hundred dollar bills, that still wouldn’t cover the US debt. If we were to stack crates of hundred dollar bills, we would be able to rebuild the Empire State Building, the Twin Towers and the new Freedom Towers with the money and still have cash left over. If we were to stack one-dollar bills, we could make a direct line a little past Uranus, which is 1.98 billion miles away.
Let’s think about that for a second. If we think about the universe and the entirety of life, we, as humans, are often considered a small speck in the infinite universe. And yet, the impact that we’ve had financially, as a nation, can be compared to the distance from Earth to a planet that we have yet to reach with our advanced technology. This isn’t just another issue; this is, perhaps, the biggest issue.
Then why is it that we seem to be doing nothing?
Is it because it’s larger than life? Is it because it doesn’t affect us? I can assure you that even though we don’t see the immediate effects of the fiscal policies in the United States, it will affect us eventually. And if we don’t do anything about it, I can assure you that each and every one of you will feel the hit.
As the United States continues to have much controversy surrounding the United States’ fiscal topics, such as social security, health care, education and defense, we have spurned away the idea that the debt, policies and budget of our nation is a fiscal issue. We’ve turned it into a social issue. It’s no longer about solving the problem for the most fiscally responsible solution, but for politicians, legislators and representatives to argue for their own agendas. We are continuing to spiral into a bipartisan government, where one side advocates less taxation and the other presses on for more spending. It doesn’t take an economics major to know that spending more and taxing less will lead to the government increasing its debt.
As part of the Up To Us campaign, I believe the voices of students have been lost. When asked about the current state of US fiscal policies, many students are unsure of their answers and admit that they feel unqualified to answer because of their lack of knowledge. It doesn’t help that these issues are clouded by vague concepts and legalistic terminology that is not easily understood by the everyday American.
We cannot stand for that. This rising debt doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Soon, it won’t be our parents’ problem, but instead, our problem. We will be working endlessly to make ends meet, and trying to fix the problems that could have been fixed had we been more proactive. I’m challenging all students to become more informed. Learn why the US debt has occurred, where the money is going, and what your representatives’ stances are. If you don’t like the direction we’re taking, petition to the government! Contact your congressmen and senators! Raise your voice! In the end, this is going to be our problem. And it’s up to us.
January 24th, 2014 § § permalink
Picture source: http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2014/01/university_of_michigan_picks_n.html
After months of anticipation, the University of Michigan announced its new president on January 24, 2014. Mark Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D., will serve as the 14th president of the University beginning July 1, 2014. Schlissel comes to the University of Michigan after serving as provost of Brown University from 2011 to 2014. His notable academic background includes an undergraduate degree from Princeton University, followed by a master’s and doctorate degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His career as an independent researcher, associate professor in the University of California – Berkeley’s Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, and dean of biological sciences in their College of Letters and Science demonstrates Schlissel’s strong dedication to the sciences. The University’s regents sought to choose a president with the skillset and dedication to lead the large, complex University of 19 colleges, as well as its Health System. Though Schlissel’s academic and vocational qualifications are impressive, his devotion to the position of president demonstrates his passion to lead students and faculty. When asked during the initial interview process “What are the qualities of a great president,” he replied, “You have to love and be amazed by students. You have to love and be amazed by faculty and you have to love and be amazed by research and discovery” (M Live). Schlissel demonstrates the experience, qualifications, and attitudes of an ideal president. The staff members of The Michigan Review welcome Dr. Mark Schlissel to the University of Michigan, and wish him luck during his presidential term.
December 2nd, 2013 § § permalink
Many seniors are graduating this fall or next winter. It is a good time to be retrospective and evaluate whether they have a fruitful undergraduate study. A question one could ask is: is my undergraduate degree a good investment?
One way to answer this question is to look at the employment data as a reflection of market evaluation. According to a report by PayScale on College Salary, both the starting salary and mid-career salary are showing that undergraduate degrees in liberal art are correlated with relatively less salaries, compared to undergraduate degrees in engineering, actuarial math or statistics. Two liberal arts degrees that have the best employment data are Government and Economics. The starting salary is $42,000 for Government and $48,500 for Economics, and the mid-career salary is $95,600 for Government majors and $94,900 for Economics majors. However even those two degrees are unsatisfactory compared to Electrical Engineering (starting salary of $63,400 and mid-career salary of $106,000) and Computer Science ($58,400 and $100,000) not to mention Petroleum Engineering ($98,000 and $163,000).
Let’s take University of Michigan as an example to factor in the costs. Let’s assume a student enters U of M and study for four years (4 fall term plus 4 winter terms), enters job market immediately after graduation, gets same salary increase every year, reaches mid-career salary after 3 years, and continues to get salary increase at the same rate. We further assume the discount rate is 5% and apply a discounted cash flow analysis to six different majors: two best paid liberal art majors, Government and Economics, two typically paid liberal art majors, Psychology and English, and two typically paid engineering majors, Electrical Engineering (EE) and Computer Science (CS), and here are some results:
- It takes about 2.5 years (after graduation) for EECS majors to earn their full tuition back, 3 years for Government and Econ majors, and 4 years for Psychology and English majors.
- The salary gap is big at the beginning, but quickly shrinks as you stay at industry and accumulate working experience.
The analysis does make the employment situation for recent liberal arts college graduates looks a little bit better, but it is still counterintuitive. Aren’t the skills most wanted by employers, such as communications, critical thinking, and presentations, exactly the focus of training in a so-called traditional liberal arts degree? Why college graduates holding an undergraduate degree of liberal arts are earning less salaries both in the entry level, and in mid-career? What exactly made the difference between employment of a liberal arts student and his friend graduating from the department of engineering, math or statistics?
First of all, curriculum design is an important reason. Education and training in an engineering degree do a better job to prepare students for future engineering jobs. College of Engineering puts weight on projects in addition to theories. Some course projects are even sponsored by firms from industry, and thus very well recognized by other firms in the same industry. On the contrary, an essay or a term paper in a liberal arts class can hardly be a convincing experience to recruiters. To make up the gap between theory and practice, liberal arts majors need to participate in research assistantship, internships and well recognized competitions.
Secondly, the job market are in increasing demand of interdisciplinary talents, which puts liberal arts majors at disadvantage. For journalists to cover energy, they need to have at least basic knowledge in energy forms, generation and transformation; for public policy makers to design technology-promoting policies, they have to understand technologies; for lawyers to win patent infringement litigation in the Smartphone War, they have to understand all different things about smartphone as well. Nowadays, there are plenty of pure hard-science jobs but there are not much pure liberal arts jobs. It is easier for a pure hard-science major to gain skills trained in liberal arts education but it is much more difficult for a pure liberal arts major to do so vice versa.
Third, the standard deviation for salary is larger for a liberal arts degree than for an engineering degree, because engineering and statistic students learn hard skills that meet hard demand, for example how to master a software. Thus engineering and statistics students depend less on the reputation of their college, while liberal arts students rely more on signal effects of their college. Since PayScale constructs its report on 10,000 colleges and universities, the employment situation would be better for liberal art fresh graduates from top universities, for example University of Michigan.
In respond to the reasons are suggestions for current liberal arts majors to maximize the benefit from a liberal arts degree. First, try to build on soft skills such as critical thinking, team work, leadership and so forth through internships and extracurricular activities. Second, have a second major, or minor, or even some courses on mathematics, statistics and hard-science. Third, get into a good college or university because signal matters sometimes. Finally, despite our focus on employment in this article we want to make it clear that university education is not just about employment. A liberal arts degree helps student understand history and culture which will benefit students in the long-run and the benefit cannot be captured by employment data or salary numbers. After all, university students need to find out their own interests and passions, working hard not just to look for a job, but to find a career.