Thursday, December 29, 2011

Diversity does not equate freedom

There is a new initiative taking hold in Michigan that is seeking to put affirmative action back in place, allowing formally disenfranchised people to gain a leg up.

But diversity does not create, or equate, freedom.  When the Fairness Doctrine was enacted, it stated to promote diversity in the media, yet, once it was repealed there was an explosion of new TV and radio stations, newspapers, and book publishers.

Those in favor of diversity, often site that there isn't enough, even on college campuses, but the free market creates diversity itself.

Some call affirmative action "reverse discrimination," and that may be true.  Treating a group a people better than another based on race is racism; apparently so long as it isn't done to specific groups.  One would think that in the 20th century that we, as a society, would beyond these petty grievances. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cheap digital storage could cost freedom


There have always unintended consequences with many things in life, but the falling prices of digital storage products and services seems like that would be something that could avoid the lifelong cliché.

Apparently, it cannot.

With the decreasing cost of digital data storage and the increase in digital data use, authoritarian governments could very soon be able to collect and monitor millions of pieces of data from its citizens - and do so cheaply.

Fast Company has a very compelling and very Orwellian outlook on the future of digital surveillance, check it out.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Civil rights in America today

When the Founding Fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence some 240 years ago, the small part about "all men are created equal" was only held to be true for white men who owned property, disenfranchising those of different races and of certain sub-socioeconomic creeds.

Slavery was a common practice then, with many of the founding fathers themselves owning slaves and operating large plantations.  Yet, supposedly, all men were created equal, though at the time true equality was not practiced.

But as time passed after the interpretation of the Declaration changed with society, African-Americans and women were eventually given the same rights as what the white man had had prior, like the right to vote and land ownership.

Yet, though, there is a group of Americans born from the very fabric and definition of this country, defending it, dying for it, who do not have the same rights as everyone else.  For a country that was built upon equality, even with its biased and troubled beginnings, one sould think that a developed and educated society would understand the definition of equality:

1. The state of being equal, esp. in status, rights, and opportunities.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens, dead, 62

Photo by ensceptcio
Even though I have never met Christopher Hitchens, and only recently, yet sadly, came upon his work, I feel like I have lost a fried.

Through his rhetoric and undeniable quit wit, he was un-debatable, a master of words who I can only wish to achieve a miniscule portion of his infinite abilities.

Many may not have agreed with his views on life and the world, but all should agree that Mr. Hitchens was like no other intellectual we have seen in our time and, depressingly, probably never will.

Rest in peace.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2012 best cars to buy


With 2011 models being shipped off dealership lots with incentives stacked in the truck, 2012 models are already showing up before the end of the year.  There are a multitude of amazing vehicles poised to rearrange your garage, from high-tech fuel-sippers to high-tech asphalt shredding machines; below are a few of those cars.

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302

With the return of the 5.0-liter V-8 engine last year in the 2011 GT Mustang, Ford jumped on the opportunity to recreate another automotive legend, the Boss Mustang. Even though the Boss packs the same engine as the less-trim GT, it packs 32 more horsepower for a total of 444.

What makes the Boss such a 2012 all-star is its handling.  Even though it uses very archaic solid rear axle, it can cut canyons with German sports car precision – so much that the perennial driver’s car, the BMW M3, has a new, legitimate competitor on the track.

Offered in both base and Laguna Seca trims, the Laguna Seca famously named for the California race track of the same name, even the Boss Mustang tries to remain affordable to just about everyone.
For $40, 310 without the dealer markup many dealers, the Boss 302 packs American grunt and brawn of muscle cars past while still feeling composed enough for the German Autobahn.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The rise and fall of the electric car in the early 20th century


“Mrs. Henry Ford hated the smell of gasoline and drove an electric car until 1938,” said Matt Lee, an automotive historian and longtime employee of the Detroit Big Three.    Lee helps upkeep the National Automotive History Collection at the Detroit Public Library, which he has been a part of for the last 24 years.  “Last time I looked the recharging equipment was still in the garage of Fairlane, the Ford Estate in Dearborn,” said Lee.  Mrs. Ford drove a 1914 Detroit Electric Model 47 Brougham.

Vehicles at the turn of the century came in many variations; gasoline, electric and steam powered vehicles were all in different stages of development, vying for the run of America’s roads.  An early leader in American driveways were electric vehicles.   

On September 7, 1896 America’s first track races were ran at Narragansett Park, Rhode Island. Things did not bode well for gasoline vehicles.  First and second place were taken by electric cars after five one mile heats.  The Riker Electric Stanhope and the Salom Electrobat took the tops spots, beating out five gasoline powered vehicles entered by the Duryea Motor Wagon Company, though two of the Duryea’s were disqualified. 

In 1897 the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company put twelve electric taxis on New York City streets, increasing their fleet to sixty-two in 1898.  The batteries took eight hours to fully recharge and could travel a distance of twenty-five miles at fifteen miles per hour.  At the time, this proved to provide ample convenience for many.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Top Cars from 2011

Published in the December 15th edition of The Eastern Echo.

With the Detroit Big Three in shambles and the global market on the verge of collapse because of the recession that started in 2009, the importance of automakers in America was in question.  Plants were closed and workers were laid off or fired.  Things did not look good for American automotive manufacturing.

But 2011 marked a beginning.  General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford finally began to deliver the cars Americans have been yearning for – trucks, SUVs and crossovers. 

Yes, even with the influx of new compact car models from almost every automaker, and the persuasion by the American government to make cars Americans actually wanted to buy, small cars sold horrifically less than their behemoth work horse brethren.

So with American’s undeterred in their gas-guzzling habit, here are four of the top cars from 2011 – gas-guzzlers need not apply.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kindle Fire review: it's not an iPad 2

This was published in the print edition Monday, December 13 edition of The Eastern Echo.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire has been touted as an Apple iPad 2 competitor, if not killer, but the Fire is in a different camp of products.  Where the iPad 2 is focused on accomplishing a multitude of functions seamlessly, the Fire’s purpose is one thing and one thing only; accessing and buying multi-media content.

Amazon has an expansive library of e-books, mp3s and albums, and the ability to stream thousands of TV shows and movies for those that have Amazon’s Prime membership.  Prime costs $79.00 a year and offers  free two-day shipping on “millions” of  items, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows, and one Kindle book to borrow each month for free – like a library.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fox News viewers less informed study says

An interesting study has come out of Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Poll a few weeks ago that raises some suspicions.

First, there were only 612 participants in the study. Of those 612 participants, only 34 percent considered themselves Republican or Republican leaning.  It seems fair to say that 208 people in the study who considered themselves Republican should not be taken as an accurate sample of the some 2 million daily viewers of the Fox News Chanel.

If only 34 percent of Democrats were surveyed regarding their knowledge of faith-based initiatives, wouldn't there be some clear biased involved?

Second, the issues that the survey covered involved the protests in Egypt, Syria, the Occupy protests here in America, and the GOP presidential candidates.  Oddly, though, the protests would considered a more Democratic topic to follow, as opposed to business finance reform, or other current economic issue, which would be deemed a more Republican topic.

For the poll to be more fair, the PublicMind Poll needs to rethink its questions to be more equal when regarding news items.  The poll seems stacked against conservatives in every way throughout the study.

I linked the results so you can see them for your self.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wisconsin has some protesting issues, as does Virginia Tea Partiers

Wisconsin seems to be entering a new type of governmental censorship - you got to pay if you want to protest. 

The Daily Kos has the biggest provisions the policy states listed, check it out.  It is understandable that money is needed to cover the extra cost of police, but it should not be put onto the protesters.  It will inadvertently inhibit poorer protesters from demonstrating.

This is a slippery slope indeed.

In Virginia, there seems to be an issue of content selection.  Richmond, Va. mayor seems to be giving the local Tea Party protesters a tax audit and no refund on their $8,500 fees they paid to even protest.  The issue that has arisen is the local Occupiers had protested for two weeks in the city park, had police on hand, and even portable toilets, but have not been served a bill for those services. [Washington Post]

Apparently the Daily Kos didn't pick up on that story for some odd reason.  What do you think needs to be done?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kindle Fire Review

Coming soon, but let me just say it is the tablet everyone needs to buy and they don't know it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Looking for a car?

This can be found in Thursday's edition of the Eastern Echo, or here on their website.

Finding the right used car can be difficult. Do you go for a GDI or TDI? Direct-injection or port-injection? Turbocharged or supercharged?

Does knowing the difference even matter? For some the differences matter greatly, but when money is hard to find, choices are limited.

What follows is a listing of five basic majors and the cars that could best fit those looking for a new ride.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why Occupy Wall Street cannot be taken seriously

The Occupy Wall Street movement seems to be losing the social momentum it has grasped onto for so long.  With the New York protesters evicted from Zuccotti Park, and L.A. and Philadelphia vacated as well, the media appears to be moving on.  And so should the protesters.

There are a few things that bother me with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

First, the bankers are not the only ones to be held accountable for the current financial state of America.  In 1999 the 106th controlled, Congress pased and then President Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.  Even though  the Congress was controlled by Republicans, the billed passed with bi-partisan support.

New York Times Co. v. United States (1971) – The Right Decision


In the turmoil of the Vietnam War, the country was divided.  The early 1970s was a torn time for the America public.  The war was going unfavorably at the time and the nation was in the midst of great social and racial change.
     
In 1971 The New York Times published “The Pentagon Papers,” which wrote R. W. Apple Jr. in the June 23, 1996 edition of the paper, “Demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance.”
           
“The Pentagon Papers” detailed the Johnson’s administration manipulation of not only the public, but Congress as well, regarding the Vietnam War.  After The New York Times published their story, the United States district court in New York, acting at the Government's request, issued a temporary injunction directing The New York Times not to publish the documents.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

To Own or Not to Own That is the Question

This can be read here, on the Eastern Echo's website, or picked up in Thursday's print issue.

To some, owning a car is considered a rite of passage, ranked with graduating high school, moving out and partaking in your first hangover. Being a car owner, though, can come with more headaches than just an upset stomach and a questionable sensitivity to light.

First-time car purchasers have a lot to consider when looking for a car. Next to a house or, for some, an education, buying a car is the next largest investment many will make, and making a bad investment could cost thousands.

One has to consider if buying a vehicle is the best option. Yes, it is nice having the ability to drive to the farthest reaches of the country on a whim, but if there is public transportation available and businesses are within close enough proximity, taking the bus, walking or biking may be a better choice.

If a set of wheels is a necessary requirement for life, then there are things that should be taken into consideration before purchasing a vehicle.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

  • 650 horsepower
  • 600 lb-ft torque
  • 200+ mph top speed
  • 5.8-liver V-8 engine
  • 100% Mustang
Read the release here, at Car and Driver.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Journalists Loose a Great One

Jim Romenesko’s departure from Poynter came as a surprise to me.  His ability to collect and present journalistic news from the deepest confines of the Internet was astounding.  His departure was astounding, as well.
   
Romenesko was a news aggregator, adding snippets of his thoughts and the piece to his Poynter blog\ and then linking back to the original story. 
   
Poynter Online director Julie Moos believed some of the blog posts were not properly attributed and were made to appear to be his own words.  Moos wanted to assign Romenesko an editor before the launch of his own website and becoming a part-time Poynter contributor
   
Romenesko would have nothing of it and resigned.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keeping Vehicle Costs Down

This can be read here, on the Eastern Echo's website, or picked up in tomorrow's print edition.

We have all had a $30 oil change balloon into a $3,000 smorgasbord of tie-rod ends, valves, springs and other oddly named parts that many have no clue what their function is.

There are many things you can do to ensure you are not charged for insanely high fixes like transmission repairs or engine rebuilds.

An honest mechanic is not as rare of a find as people speculate. There are mechanical wizards out there who can do an honest job for an honest price.

The first thing to do is find a respectable mechanic either through friends, word-of-mouth, the Internet, your own trial and errors and shop around.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time Less

It is objective while being subjected to the subjective-ness of human's painstaking manipulation of it; a constraint on life, smothering it with its second hand, diving deep into the human psyche of timeliness and time-less-ness.  Falling away, drip, drip, dripping into the bowels of a forgotten eternity piled with wasted years.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Don't Be A Donner Party; How to Winterize Your Car

This can be read here on the Easter Echo.

Winter weather can quickly turn nasty in Michigan with snow, ice and freak events like freezing fog hindering any commute to class.

Even with such wicked weather, a Donner Party-esque occurrence is unlikely, but ending up in a ditch on the side of the road with snow quickly accumulating is still a possibility.

With winter coldly breathing down Michigan’s seasonal neck, there are simple things you can do to ensure you make it to class safely, on time and not a modern example of the Donner Party.

In case of accident, there are things you can pack in your trunk to make the unpleasant experience, well, less unpleasant.

“Blankets are good,” said Brandon Guscinski, an Eastern Michigan University sophomore.

Things like blankets, non-perishable foods and bottled water are a good start. If help is hours away, these things can save your life. When temperature drop below freezing, the conditions inside the car can become life-threatening quickly, and a few blankets and snacks could help you stay that much warmer until you are rescued.

A little-known winter savior is non-clumping kitty litter. If you are not feline-friendly, a bag of sand does the same thing.

Putting a bag in your trunk will help if your drive tires get stuck in the snow. Tossing the kitty litter or sand under the stuck drive tires will help them gain traction and pull the car out.

If the non-drive tires are stuck, a collapsible shovel can be used to dig out the snow from around the tire and help it gain traction.

With ice storms, keeping an ice scraper or an extra set of wiper blades can be beneficial. Winter slush can clog wiper blades and make them useless, smearing instead of wiping away any mess.

Speaking of winter messes, keeping an extra bottle of wiper fluid next to your blankets and food can come in handy for particularly slushy conditions. Relying on the fluid can clear away most of the smearing, but once the fluid has run out, visibility decreases quickly.

And if the road conditions are hazardous, reaching out to clear a spot on the windshield when both hands should be on the wheel can be deadly.

One way to avoid a winter catastrophe is to purchase a four-wheel-drive vehicle, though for many this is out of the financial question.

“No, I have a four-wheel-drive truck,” said Zach Green, a University of Michigan student, when asked if he took any precautions with his vehicle for the winter weather.

Four-wheel-drive is beneficial, but if it is not in working order come the winter months it will be useless in an emergency or when experiencing icing conditions, as ice has no preferences between two- or four-wheel-drive.

Keeping a set of flares can help you flag down passing drivers for help, or warn them of where you are and your situation. Plus, flares always look fun to use, even in non-emergencies.

Other small wintertime essentials amount to things like a flashlight, paper towels for when ol’ man winter decides to takes a snow-dump on your once perfectly clean windshield, gloves and boots, a small tool kit and knowledge on how to work said tool kit – all for when you have to MacGyver your way to safety.

These items probably will sit in your trunk, forgotten, over the winter, but it is best to have the supplies handy if needed instead.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Junket Sleuth - Tracking the Government So You Don't Have Too

Here is an interesting website I found today thanks to AnnArbor.com.  It's called Junket Sleuth and it tracks government travel spending.  Check it out: http://junketsleuth.com/

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Creative Writing in College Is A Joke

Creative writing, at a university, is a joke.  It is taught by those who majored in creative writing who cannont actually write creatively.  It is taught by those who decided that they should take the higher road and teach the subject - for the better of future creative writing students.

Oh dear God...

They have won awards no one has ever heard of, created by other creative writing professors who feel the need to circle-jerk one another.

The awards are used to compartmentalize collegiate, or "literature" writers, from the mainstream popular, or "money-making" writers.  The awards are used to flaunt to the mainstream, "To bad you can't have any of these awards."  Because the "New Age Experimental Feminism in Post-Modern Sci-Fi/Fantasy Award" sounds almost - if not more prestigious than a Pulitzer Price or even the Oprah stamp of reading approval.

We all know millionaire mainstream writers really want to add that kind of award to their fancy mantles.

I would take the Oprah seal any day, please.

Eastern Michigan University recently had its first Bath House reading event.  A series of historically great writers no one out side a university staff lounge would care to know, read, or even interact with.  This event, quiet frankly as riveting as being a riveter, had great writers from nowhere else but Eastern Michigan University's own faculty.  Eastern Michigan has to pedestalize their own faculty.

I guess they couldn't ring up Stephen King?  Was John Grisham busy tweeting?

As a student I demand a reading of Stephen King by Stephen King.  Why can we not study one of the most successful writers, not only of our time, but also in American History.

Is there a fear that he may undermine the very foundations of creative writing at a university level?  So what if he does?  Reading forget-me authors of pieces that claim experimentalism when in reality are just bad attempts at being different.

College creative writing classes do offer one beneficial thing - a safe workshop environment.  Sitting in class you have the chance to present your work and receive beneficial feedback on things that are good and things that are not so good.

This is something you would have a difficult time doing if you were writing without that kind of college support.

If you are considering creative writing do it for the feedback and nothing more, please, for the love of god, do not became a creative writing professor.

Below is Stephen King's take on creative writing:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Zombie Awareness Week Kicks off Monday

The story can be read here on the Eastern Echo website, or in the Thursday, October 20th, 2011 issue.

If you hear the tired moans for brains across campus next week, do not be alarmed.  The shuffling of the recently reanimated dead is part of Zombie Awareness Week, a week long event put on by Outbreak: Eastern.
                 
The week long awareness event offers games, haunted houses and an obstacle course; all with the zombie touch.
                 
Monday starts off with “The Dead Walk!”  It starts at 3 p.m. at the Ann Street parking lot with make-up prep beginning at 2 p.m. for those that need to look a little more George A. Romero-esque.  The walk crosses campus to the Tower Inn Café for the enjoyment of “The Walking Dead” Season 1 TV series.  The event is free. 
                
Monday’s zombies will also be handing out flyers to raise awareness to the upcoming week’s events.
               
The Zombie Squad of Southeastern Michigan is helping with the walk to keep the event organized and keep the zombies on the correct path through campus.
                 
Tuesday offers “Undead Game Night” in collaboration with Coupe de Gras, a student gaming organization, turning up video and table-top games of the zombie flavor.  The event will be held in the Student Government breakout room located on the third floor of the Student Center building.
               
Bring you games for this free event, which lasts from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.  
                 
The cost of each event is on the cheap side of things, staying under $4 for the entire week.
               
“The week starts out for everyone and the people who want to keep doing it, it’s just a couple more dollars each day,” said Dustin Miller, an Eastern Michigan University senior and President of Outbreak: Eastern.
                 
Wednesday is the “Zombstacle Course.”  It is an obstacle course for the dead. Instead of racing against an opponent over obstacles, you will be chased by zombies instead.  The Bowen Filed House will be turned into the Zombstacle Course, opening at 7 p.m.  The event ends at 10 p.m.
               
“The Zombstacle course should be the best event, personally,” said Garry Mundy, an Eastern Michigan University Senior and board member of Outbreak: Eastern.
                 
The cost of entrance is $2 or one non-perishable food item.  Food and money donations are going to the Food Gathers of Ann Arbor, though Outbreak: Eastern and Food Gathers of Ann Arbor are not performing a direct collaboration for the event.   
                 
Thursday night is set for “Southern Discomfort,” a haunted house on the first floor of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house at 411 Ballard St.  Tau Kappa Epsilon approached Outbreak: Eastern about doing a haunted house this year.
                 
“We are basically filling it with actors and blood-gory awesomeness,” said Miller.  It should be a combination of House of a 1,000 Corpses, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Deliverance.  Doors open at 7 p.m. and the cost is $3. 
                 
Friday night is “Dead Gallery,” which has been a haunted house in the past, but this year will be a haunted show in the Sponberg Theatre, starting at 7 p.m.  There will be crowd participation as the Players at EMU put on the freak show.  
                 
$4 gets you in the doors.  They will not be accepting $20 or $50 at Dead gallery because of its low cost as they may not be able to make change for people.
                 
“Somebody showed up last year with a $100 bill and we actually had to turn them away,” said Miller.
                 
Saturday is the kill shot for the week long Zombie Awareness event.  This is the first time that “Outbreak” is being advertised to the public.  All five floors of the Rec/IM building are being taken over by zombies.  And where there are zombies there is always those trying to survive them.
                
Participation is open to whoever shows up.  Those that do attend need to dress up as either a zombie or a survivor.  Zombies can come as is, while survivors need to pack a Nerf gun.  Both need to bring eye protection.   The event is free with the briefing starting at 7 p.m. and the hunting at 8 p.m.
                 
Like any awareness week, Outbreak: Eastern will be selling Zombie Awareness Week ribbons for a suggested $.75 donation. 
               
“If people wear them, its advertisement,” said Miller. 
                
 Visit Outbreakeasetern.org for the latest on the event.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

2011 Mazda 2 - 500 miles

This is a great little econobox of a machine.  Great acceleration and handling - with all considering.  Only complaint...non-illuminated door-lock buttons (more annoying than you think).

And, of course it's cute.  It has 3.0-liter motor for a 1.5-liter engine.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Where’s the Message?

I’m confused.

The message of the Occupy Wall Street protesters is indiscernible.

The message is messages; cries for “Fiscal Responsibility,” and calling for the end of “Corporate corruption in Washington;” too much for too little time.

The Occupy Wall Street campaign is a hell-bent grassroots effort for socioeconomic and political change.

The motives are good, but what change (changes?) the protesters want is questionable. The Occupy Wall Street protesters are just as disillusioned and disorganized as the institutions they are protesting against.

Their message is just as discombobulated as the media coverage they are receiving.  The New York Times is apparently just as confused as the protest they are covering.

While covering the protesters march onto the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, the New York
Times flipped more than the GOP candidates discussing Medicare on how they felt about the protesters – all in the span 20 minutes.

At 6:59 p.m. the New York Times ran the headline “Protestors Arrested on Brooklyn Bridge.”

Twenty minutes later at 7:19 p.m. the headline was changed to read “Hundreds arrested on Brooklyn Bridge.”

Where the shift in blame from the police to the protesters is prevalent is in the lead change that occurs when the headline is changed.

The first lead read: “After allowing them onto the bridge, the police cut off and arrested dozens of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators.”

The second and changed lead read: “In a tense showdown over the East River, police arrested hundreds of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators after they marched onto the bridge’s Brooklyn bound roadway.”

Do dozens change to hundreds and allowed change to marched in the span of 20 minutes?

The protesters voice is lost because of such flip-flopped media coverage from many sources. In the late 1960s the media displayed the civil war and anti-war protestors as a youthful, self-disenfranchised group of extreme leftists and drug induced hippies, tainting the message, power, and legitimacy of the protests and protesters themselves.

Media coverage of what is happening on Wall Street displays the protestors as a youthful, self-disenfranchised group of extreme leftists and drug induced hippies, tainting the message, power, and legitimacy of the protests; even if their makeup is from all walks of the socioeconomic life style.

The protesters message may not be a cry for a change in everything, but if their one voice cannot be conveyed through the media outlets that are reporting on them, then their voices will never be heard.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

EMU United Way Kick-Off Campaign

This is in today's (Monday, October 3, 2011) Eastern Echo and can be read here.

Eastern Michigan University and United Way are holding the EMU United Way Kick-Off Campaign scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Tuesday in the Student Center Ballroom and runs until Nov. 18.

"Eastern Michigan University has a great tradition of supporting this community and United Way is a part of that tradition” Kevin Kucera said, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and this year’s Eastern Michigan University United Way Kick-Off chairperson.

The kick-off is to gather Eastern Michigan faculty who volunteer to help the United Way collect pledges and facilitate information for the campaign.  The event also allows Eastern Michigan University faculty an opportunity to learn about the campaign, and hear about the people that have been helped.

The money is raised for nonprofit health and human service organizations throughout Washtenaw County.  There are six focus areas the campaign helps; early childhood care and education, school-aged youth, hunger relief, homelessness and housing, senior assistance, and safety net health.

"United Way has partnered with other funders to support 40 nonprofit organizations that help people,” Kucera said.

Eastern Michigan University’s goal is $105,000, up from $100,000 last year. The county goal for this year is $5,750,000

United Way is advertising through Heritage Papers, annarbor.com, and on Cumulus Radio Stations to raise awareness for the campaign.

The theme for this year’s kick-off event is superheros; to help recognize how someone can be a hero in someone else’s life.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Microsoft Offers Up New Media Remote and Bluetooth Headset


Do you remember the Xbox 360 Universal Remote? No? Either do I, but apparently Microsoft hasn’t forgotten.

Navigating the numerous multi-media screens that now accompany an Xbox 360 experience is difficult, especially with a handheld controller. Thankfully a remote would be helpful and a remote is exactly what Microsoft is offering.

The Xbox 360 Media Remote is designed after the Xbox 360 S, so all you OCD types have nothing to worry about as the remote will also be clad in the same shiny-shows-a-million-fingerprints black. The remote will be able to control not only Netflix, HuluPlus, and ESPN, but the Xbox 360 Dashboard as well. This remote also has the ability to diminish or possibly eliminate your media remote stockpile by controlling many basic functions of many popular TVs brands.

It goes on sale this November for $19.99 – batteries included.

But a shiny new remote isn’t the only thing Microsoft is offering up before the pre-holiday wish list writing.

Also expect the Xbox 360 Wireless Headset with Bluetooth® to be available as well. The headset has the ability to not only allow one to communicate over Xbox LIVE, but also any Bluetooth enable device, offering seamless connectivity to a multitude of devices with the touch of a button.

The headset offers up to eight hours of talk time and up to 300 hours on standby for you hard core gamers out there.

It retails for $59.99 and expect it on the store shelves around the same time as the remote.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's Wrong With College Today

The Atlantic is running a series of articles about the value of colleges to today's students.  Hitting issues like the problems with college rankings and admissions, the value of college itself, and who are the traditional students colleges are aiming for.

Being in college, I have partaken in almost every college-decision-sin The Atlantic says to avoid, from taking more than four years to complete my degree - which is near impossible if you have such a thing called a life, to choosing a college based solely on location instead of academics.

So I went to a local university with so-so credentials and yesterday's state-of-the-art technology.  So what?  There are larger problems I could have gotten myself into, but I didn't and now I am nearing the end of my bachelor-degree hunt. But there is more wrong with this than just the university itself.

Academics: The portion of college where you learn things to obtain a piece of paper stating you were sober enough to only sleep through half the classes and smart enough to know when to study (read six chapters fifteen minutes before class starts).

Sitting in class is part of "yesterday's state-of-the-art technology."  Journalism Law and Ethics is an evolving beast of, well, laws, procedures, rules, regulations, and complexly written guideline on how to be a journalist lawfully.

Everything discussed in today's class is either 1. set in Supreme Court stone or 2. has already changed.

Colleges are supposed to be on the cusp of new theories, procedures, information, and knowledge, but they are losing to something many students rely on.  The Internet.

The Internet has the ability to connect millions of people and their ideas with millions of other people and their ideas.

The Atlantic article, "Why You Should Root for College to Go Online" should be an ode to my generation.  Students shouldn't be sitting in class, but changing the definition of class. 

Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring write, "Full-time faculty members must not only assent to the inclusion of online learning in the curriculum."  Though the faculty seems just has controlled as the students do.  They talk about doing this or that, but it always comes down to the University football seed counters who want to make sure the football field is lavishly green.

The quality of grass does not dictate the quality of education, as some like to believe.

The depths of the Internet have no green gas, or mortared institutions that has a board of regents to please with an outstanding football team, but it does have more information available than a university can even begin to offer.

Why can't a university be taught online?  Granted there are numerous classes that need hours and hours of hands on experience (nursing, dental, machining, and mechanics) to name just a few.  But history?  Literature?  Creative Writing?  What does a classroom offer that the Internet cannot do better, especially in a time when everyone can be connected to everyone else?

If universities had the materials to offer students the best education, they would not need to have access to the Internet for their students.

If  someone can put an accredited college online, the entire college and learning experience will go universal.  People would be able to learn what they want when they want, all while having access to more information than their professors can even begin to image.  And for professors...you wouldn;t have to listen to just anyone, the top professors in your field will be able to put their lectures online for anyone to view and learn from.

Think about what can happen when people begin to share ideas...what will we be able to think of next?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Where is America?

I'm pissed off.

I'm pissed off that bankers are running away with millions of dollars while millions go unemployed, hungry, homeless, and uneducated, as money is funneled to fund vacation homes, and millionaire salaries.

I'm pissed off that we are scared, afraid, frightened of our own government to stand up to them a protest against the wrongdoings that are being committed to us.

How much can we take?

As a nation that has been for so long perceived as the promise land of prosperity, what have we let happen to it?

The roads are no longer paved with gold, but instead the hopes and dreams of middle America that have been tossed out the mainstream for profits margins and payouts. 

The backbone that made this country great has grown soft with fear - with fear of the future, with fear of the government, with fear of what this country has become.

Where has all the common sense gone?

It seems like everyone can figure out how to run the government, except those who are in charge.  But wait aren't we, the people in charge? 

I thought so, or at least would like to think so, but the cards are stacked against us, friends. 



Does this look like we are in charge?

Police, the ones who swear to serve and protect us, penning protesters like animals, and then pepper spraying them?

We do not protest because we are afraid too.  We wish to stand up against the government, but can we stand  up to a government that doesn't even uphold the same constitution we are governed under?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A latte a day keeps financial gain away

The published version can be read here on The Eastern Echo's website or Monday's issue can be picked up on campus.

Are you the type of caffeinated machine that thinks a Red Bull is an alternative to Ambien?  Have you ever attempted to attach a baby bottle nipple to a can of Monster for easy bedtime accessibility?  Or are you a milder latte-a-day kind of person?

A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk; an inexpensive pick-me-up for those who have a complicated relationship with mornings.

For those that live on the mild side, let's say the average latte runs around the $4 mark; tax, title, and licensing fees included, along with whatever else you toss in...one shot, two, shot, three shot, four -  of espresso. 

This kind of latte dedication (addiction?) does add up.

One latte a day at the predetermined $4 price for 365 days equates to $1,460.  Is this figure realistic? No, no one gets a latte every single day of the year, but there is somebody currently sifting through receipts trying to add up how close they come to the high-end watermark - don't forget to carry that seven.

A more realistic number would be a latte five days a week, right?

A latte a day sans the weekends should be what a normal person needs to shake the morning cobwebs off by noon, ringing up at a milder $1,040 a year in spending.

$1,040 a year, you're thinking, but it's just a latte?

Yeah, well, lattes are Italian, and Italian things are fancy, and fancy things are expensive, like a Ferrari or a Fiat.

So, what else can $1,000 and some change net you over the course of a year?

Actually, a decent amount.

$1,000 can buy a year’s worth of Sprint's Everything Data plan with 450 anytime minutes, which retails for $69.99 (plus tax and fees), and you would have money left over.

$1,000 can buy a Sharp Quattron 40-inch 1080p 120 hertz LED-LCD HDTV for $649.98 new on Amazon with some change left over for the cable sports package and some brewskies if you want. 

You can never forget the brewskies.

For the more adventurous type, a vacation on the cheap can be had if you stay in the states, but you may need to bring an exterminator, too.

But where does this fit in for a college student who needs a double shot of espresso intravenously to wake up from a study-induced coma before a 1pm class and their idea of spring break is working?

For the espresso fiend it means having enough money to pay for a three credit hour class in cash, if you are a paying tuition as a Michigan resident, which runs $246.95 according to Eastern Michigan’s website.  This includes the usual technology, $11.55, student union, $3.45, and general fees, $24.40, with enough left over for the class’s books - usually.

“I’d probably pay for tuition or put it in a savings account,” Ricky Hurston, a freshman at Eastern Michigan University said.

If you are a non-Michigan resident student you will have to give up more than lattes to cover a three credits class.  This would put you back $727.35 a credit hour plus fees.

Cutting $1,000 out of your financial need for college will help you avoid those nasty student loans that rack up like, well, your latte spending.            

With the cost college being anything but latte-esque in price, a smart move would be to spend it on tuition or books.

“I’d save some of it for school because I have to start paying myself next year,” Taurie Davis, an Eastern Michigan University sophomore said.

Yes, giving up a latte a day sounds wonderful and easy, but can a caffeine addicted Starbuk-aholic really give in?               

“I’d probably not give it up,” Darnell Bostic, a freshman at Eastern Michigan University, said , even with the proposition of an extra $1,000.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Facebook Changes Up What It Created

It looks like Facebook is doing some social change up as Google+ goes public.  Facebookers are crying they'll run to the Google camp, but woah just one minute...Timeline...what's this?, they ask.

Timeline is Facebook's take on your life story - a digital scrapbook of sorts that was revealed Thursday at the F8 Conference.  It catogorizs everything you've ever posted into years so you can look back to see who you were, one, two, or five years ago.  Photos, post, friends, everything - and a slew of new items too, like movies, music, books...virtually anything you can think of.

This is changing the social game forever.

Facebook is bringing the emphasis back away from Farmville and back to the profiles.  Why is this important?  Because the future of social networking will be finding and following trends your friends are starting or participating in.

We go to our friends first for advice on new things, why not make that social and digital too?

Also, I think this opens up Facebook to a whole new world of applications...why can't college classes be tought through Facebook and social networking?  Files can be transfered and sylabi downloaed.  What's stopping a school from going social?

Not a whole lot actually, it's just a matter of time before we move to that relm.

Here's the video on Facebook Timeline, set to debut just a few weeks from now:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dancing Hamsters and Importing From Detroit

Don't you just love good advertising?  I know I do.  And when I catch myself going back to watch a car commercial for a pepped up econobox - well - damn, marketing must have done their job.

First up is the 2012 Kia Soul commercial with the legendary and sometimes freaky dancing Hamsters.


They may be freaky, but you have to love the hip feel to the commercial.  Who are they targeting?  Young adults who thrive on hip, and this does the job,

This next one palyed during the Superbowl this last year and made waves throught the media community with its references to Detroit and it's troubles as of recent.  Some question the usage of the Chrysler 200, but either way, the commercial can be moving for those who know and love Detroit.


Ominous of the troubles Detroit has been through?  Yes.  Imported from Detroit...not so much.  Chrysler is owned by Fiat, an Italian company, and Fiat is far from Detroit.

HTC Flyer- it plays Angry Birds, too!

Here is my first reveiw - The HTC Flyer Tablet.  The original version can be read here on The Eastern Echo's website or Monday's issue can be picked up on campus.

For those of you that love to drink the Apple Kool-Aid – as tasty as it is – there are other tablet products on the shelf. Where are these tablets, you ask? They are usually tucked away next to the broom closet and discounted tape players, forgotten amongst the iPad craze.

One manufacturer, HTC, a Taiwanese company, who has had long running success in the smartphone market with its large selection of Android, Windows Phone, Windows Mobile and Palm OS devices, is dipping its toes in the tablet market as well. One of their more interesting tablets is the HTC Flyer.

The HTC Flyer is an Android 2.3 based tablet with a 7-inch 1024×600 resolution capacitive touch screen, 1.5GHz dual core Snap Dragon processor and 16GB of internal storage space.

If you are looking for a tablet to use in class, don’t worry, the HTC Flyer plays Angry Birds and it’s free. The tablet itself, not so much. The HTC Flyer is selling for $499.99 (plus tax), exclusively at your local Best Buy. But, if you’re smart, you can dart over to Amazon.com and buy one new for $500.00 or used for $379.00, without the pressure of buying any add on merchandise.

There are two cameras on the Flyer; a rear-facing 5 megapixel one and a forward facing 1.3 megapixel one. I wasn’t impressed with the quality of either. Although, I was impressed by the battery life, which lasted 10 hours on normal usage.

What might be the most beneficial feature of the HTC Flyer is a preloaded app called HTC Notes. In order to use the Notes program you need to purchase the Scribe Digital Pen for $79.99 from Best Buy, or $52.99 new on Amazon.com.

If a stylus feels so 1998, well, honestly, it kind of is. Tapping away on a modern tablet with a stylus may feel outdated, but the functions it allows you to do are strictly 21st century.

Notes allows you to literally write on the tablet within the HTC Notes app. But it just doesn’t let you jot down a few scribbles of tic-tac-toe in a varying array of pens, pencils, and makers.

It has also unique function that will allow you to record sound while taking notes.This allows one to not only go back and review the notes, but also listen to a lecture as well. People whose handwriting is comparable to early Egyptian hieroglyphics will find this function useful. The features are reminiscent of the popular, with college students, LiveScribe pen.

The notes feature gets better; with the 5 megapixel camera you can take a photo and embed itself within the notes. Is there an interesting or useful graph you may need later? Just snap a photo and it is in your notes for later referencing.

If your organization skills topped out at a sixth grade level, HTC Notes will even help you keep them organized. Instead of searching though files and files of notes, the program will let you sync your notes to your Google Calendar.

Say you had class last Tuesday at noon and you have that scheduled. The notes you took that day in class can be saved to the specific date and time in your calendar so you can go back and access them.

The final upside to HTC Notes is its Evernote connectivity. Evernote is a program for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, WebOS and web that allows you to save and synchronize your notes from one device and instantly access them from any other device with an Evernote app or web access. The Flyer comes with Evernote pre-installed.

Evernote has cataloguing capabilities and text-in-photo scanning abilities so any image with text can be categorized and made searchable.

HTC notes and Evernote aren’t the only apps you can get. The HTC Flyer has access to Google’s ever growing Android Market, which has a very high percentage of free apps. . Popular free apps include Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Google Maps, Pandora internet radio, and of course the ever popular Angry Birds.

The Flyer is only connectable via 802.11n Wi-Fi, and there is no 3G version available.

If you want to enable the Evernote synching you will need to be connected to the internet via WiFi. Although, some might see this as a drawback, not having a 3G connection also means you don’t have to purchase any expensive data plans, or pay the standard $70 3G upcharge for the hardware.

Even though the HTC Flyer tablet may not have the shine and polish of the coveted Apple tablet, but for those you who think the Apple Kool-Aid is a little to bitter, the HTC Flyer can be a viable, and smaller, alternative.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Commuter Students in Michigan

UPDATE: Edited and published story can be read here.

BEEP…BEEP…BEEP…

You roll over and the clock reads 9:15.

Class starts in fifteen minutes.

You live thirty miles away.

And you have a final exam.

This is a thing that leads to restless nights and horrid, sweaty, nightmares for commuter students.    Just a minute of over sleeping can lead to felonious speeds on the highway, suicide dives for parking spots on campus, and fighting against handcuffs as you beg with the officer to let you go to class before you go to jail –a once in a lifetime plea.

But why take the risk of living off campus and potentially end up being late?

“It’s cheaper and I have someone to live with,” said Jackie Bass, a junior at Eastern Michigan University.  She lived on campus the previous two years and enjoyed living on campus to avoid the parking fiasco, but now enjoys having a plethora of food options that comes with living off campus.

“I lived in Hill and it was awesome to walk downstairs and across the front yard and there was food hot and ready for you,” said Kevin Murray, a former Eastern Michigan University and then commuter who was on campus with a friend.

Living on campus for many is not an option simply due to cost, but living off campus can come with its own surprise surcharges. 

Vehicle maintenance and gas can quickly add up, especially for those that live a good distance away, or those without the sturdiest of wheels.

Gas prices aren’t the only thing that can hurt a student.  With Michigan’s weather being about as unpredictable as U of M’s defensive abilities, some students are faced with tough decisions during the winter months.

For many it’s a split-decision call of heads or tails – or a press of the snooze button – on whether they come into class when the weather turns nasty.

Bass, living only five minutes from campus, doesn’t have to make those kinds of class-participation damaging choices.

Murray said his sub-compact car wouldn’t have made the hour drive through the snow.

“I would have tried, but probably would’ve gotten stuck,” he said.

Michigan isn’t known for temperate winters, with bright sun and moderate temperatures, so for many students driving in the worst conditions is unavoidable. 

Even if you have an oil well in your backyard, and the toughest vehicle to tackle any terrain in any weather, there is still one nail that can be driven into your automotive coffin: reliability.

Climbing into your car at nine in the morning and turning the key over to hear the weak click-click-click of the starter is as about as dreadful as failing a class.  Vehicle maintenance never comes cheap, and the high costs can quickly add up.

What starts as a simple issue, can snowball into thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs, if the problem isn’t fixed.

“You have to keep up on things like checking the fluids, belts, and tires, to avoid the costliest of repairs,” said Jerry Clark, a retired mechanical engineer from Ford Motor Company.

“If something major like a transmission is going to fail, it’s going to fail.  There isn’t much you can do, but keep up on the easiest of things” Clark said.

Not everyone can afford a car made to take a bullet, or barrage for that matter, but if you keep up on the basics, the car, like the body, will keep trucking.  You don’t need a heart transplant, when a simple blood transfusion will work just fine. 

“Changing the oil on a regular basis is the best thing you can do to keep your car running,” Clark said.

So like anything in life, there are pros and cons to go with commuting as there are to go with living on campus.  Which way the scale tips depends on the person.  Some enjoy the close proximity of everything while living on campus, while others enjoy the thrill of beating the clock to get to class.

The question is what will stop you from getting to class; gas prices, a dead battery, the snowpocalype, or a few set of stairs and a walk across campus?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembrance

Ten years ago the world change. The bubble of safety was torn by four airliners slicing through the innocence of the American people; a dagger deep in the mentality of all of us

We were changed.

As a country we were one and on that day we were watching in horror, shock...disbelief at what we saw. 

Our country....attacked? 

Watching through the looking glass of television and photographs many of us were shielded from the reality of that day.

Sometimes, it still feels like a dream...one where you wake up in a cold sweat, glancing around to reassure yourself you are still in the safety of your bed.  But the bedroom has fallen away and the dream is a reality.

Innocent lives were lost at the expense of a cowardly attacker with an agenda of hatred and fear.  No matter what you believe about that day, lives were lost and changed forever. 

I am probably not saying anything new, or useful, or even worthy of a read, but watching the coverage from that day...the pain in the people's hearts and faces, their lives scarred like the landscape of New York, Washington, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania brings full circle the evils of that day and the pain still present in America. 

The landscape has healed but will forever be marred.

Look back on that day and remember the lives that were so tragically ended, the men and women who, in the face of their own death, ran back to save the lives of people they didn't even know.  The heroism that prevailed that day, and as a nation we united.

This day will never be forgotten and  as a nation we move on, but will forever remember those who so tragically died.  

9/11/2001 - 9/11/2011: 10 Years of A Nation Changed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mon Coeur Fait Vroum (My Heart Goes Vroom) - English Translation

If you are a fan of Cars 2, then there is one song, "Mon Coeur Fait Vroum," that makes your heart melt for the open road.  Upon searching for the song I discovered it was by the French artist Benabar.  I eventually found the French lyrics, piecing them together from different sources, and using Google Translate, and a French-to-Spanish translation as well, I pieced together the English version.  Enjoy, and of course, any and all suggestions are welcomed.

J'ai parcouru le monde, Chercher l'amour profond,
Ma vie s'allume et mon coeur fait,
Vroum, vroum, vroum
Ce soir je porte mon plus beau manteau,
Et mon bon vieux, mon bon vieux chapeau,
Permettez?...après vous...peut-être la prochaine fois...
J'ai parcouru le monde,
Chercher l'amour profond,
Ma vie s'allume et mon coeur fait,
Vroum, vroum, vroum
 
Vous et moi marchant sur les chemins,
Main dans la main c'est fou,
Laissez moi vous offrir en cadeau,
Ce delicieux gateau,
 
J'ai parcouru le monde,
Chercher l'amour profond,
Ma vie s'allume et mon coeur fait,
Vroum, vroum, vroum
 Une soirée sous le ciel étoilé,
Ou devant la télé,
Entre nous...avec vous...pas du tout
 
Je veux lire dans vos yeux,
Qu'il y a l'espoir de jours plus heureux,
Et vous entendre dire
Ne partez pas, il faut rester pou moi

J'ai parcouru le monde,
Chercher l'amour profond,
Ma vie s'allume et mon coeur fait,
Vroum, vroum, vroum
J'ai pensé renoncer,
Ne pas m'abandonner,
Ce jeu va me tuer,
Car mon fait
Vroum, Vroum, Vroum...



I have traveled the world
Searching for profound love
My life alight
And my heart goes
Vroom, vroom, vroom

Tonight I'm wearing my best coat
 And my old, good old hat
 May I? ... After you ... maybe next time


I have traveled the world
Searching for profound love
My life alight
And my heart goes
Vroom, vroom, vroom

You and I walking on the roads
 Hand in Hand is crazy
 Let me give a gift
 This delicious cake

I have traveled the world
Searching for profound love
My life alight
And my heart goes
Vroom, vroom, vroom

An evening under the stars,
 Or watching TV,
 Us ... with you ... not at all

I want to read in your eyes,
 There was the hope of happier days,
 And hear you say
 Do not go, we must stay together

I thought to give up,
 Do not abandon me,
 This game will kill me
 Because my heart does,

Vroom, vroom, vroom