Blair Munhofen A small move in the right direction is certainly welcome. Seeing the King buck the opinion of the leading religious figure, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al Sheikh, should give the West hope that Saudi Arabia may not be as stagnant, at least socially, as is normally reported. One minor question: how will these employed women be able to get to their jobs? The whole not-being-able-to-drive law could pose a problem....
Blair Munhofen Getting Hamas and Fatah to put aside their differences for the goal of a unified PLO seems to be a pipe dream to me. I certainly agree that Hamas has proven itself to be slightly less monolithic than its portrayal in Western media outlets would indicate. Still, Hamas and Fatah are entirely convinced that their respective particular political programs are the best and, in the case of Hamas, the one ordained by God.
Blair Munhofen Paul, unlike the other candidates, actually inspires people to become his supporters a la Barack in 2008. Romney, the prototypical presidential candidate has all the polish and pedigree of a president, seems to acquire more lukewarm voters. While I won't throw my hat the Paul rodeo-ring, his commitment to a clear political philosophy is a refreshing digression from the partisan- and wishy-washy- position jockeying that is now the norm.
Blair Munhofen I think a simple-though biased since I teach at one-example comes from "independent" schools. At these schools, classes are smaller, meaning that teachers have more opportunities to not only connect with their students but to alter their lessons so as to truly reach the students where they are. Most think the elephant in the room is cost- how can we achieve the same success as independent schools in public schools with fewer resources? The fact of the matter is that at many independent schools, mine included, fewer resources are available, and as result, we are forced to improvise.
Blair Munhofen I certainly enjoy the way the game celebrates these universities, but I also wonder about the costs involved as well. Some schools pour tens of millions of dollars into these programs, and I can't help but think if some of the money would be helpful elsewhere. http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2011/12/22/best-college-football-teams-for-the-money/ For the schools that benefit from college football, rock on. Roll tide in the championship.
Blair Munhofen Human nature-and by extension, American culture-is inherently competitive. Cheating on the SAT isn't necessarily the fault of the SAT or its importance with regards to college admissions. Rather, cheating on the SAT is just another indicator that when possible, man will do whatever it takes to get ahead. Look at the prevalence of college students popping ritalin to do better on exams, papers, etc. Don't even get me started on baseball....
Blair Munhofen Well said, Jake. Sometimes I wonder about another issue that has contributed to a growing aversion to Israel- something I call the "hip" position. What is more "hip" these days- to support the militaristic and seemingly antagonistic Israeli state or to support the plight of the Palestinians, a nation without a state? Clearly, the prevalence of keffiyahs on college campuses indicates the latter.
Blair Munhofen "Convenience fees" are just highway robbery. Pearl Jam lost its suit against Ticketmaster for charging concert-goers these ridiculous fees. It seems as though we've come a long way in the sense that social networking allows for consumers to resist these types of schemes. Rather than a costly (and potentially waste of time) class action lawsuit, the power of the on-line petitions might start a new wave of consumer activism.
Blair Munhofen I have a hard time seeing Iraq emerge from the throes of a dictatorship to a haven of stable, democratic governance. Sectarianism continues to serve as the major stumbling block preventing widespread agreement on critical issues, and this deep-seated mistrust that has been more than a millennium in making won't be fixed in 10 years. Also, I find some similarities with what we have in America right now- no clear party in control to get things done
Blair Munhofen Notwithstanding the slight possibility of an air strike on Iran, I don't see a strong military intervention (i.e., troops on the ground) occurring. Iran has always talked a big game when it came to the "White Devil," but rarely has that resulted in pitched conflict (the capitulation of the American embassy being a notable exception). With an election around the corner, the state of the economy will drive the debates- not Iran (or security).
Blair Munhofen Great question! Not that this debate would actually happen, but it's fun imagining what it would look like. I think that Condolezza Rice would ultimately win. Biden is a smart guy but, as we know, is also prone to media gaffes. Rice has consistently presented herself with poise and is not averse to tackling divisive issues (re: Bush foreign policy). I would love to see them debate foreign policy- as both have significant experience in that field.
Blair Munhofen Well said! I can emphasize with the "distracted" assessment. We have trouble pinning down our hopes, dreams, careers, etc. In large part, this is due to the terrible career prospects- it feels as though choosing a career means to throw all the other choices out the window. Whether or not this is the case, we feel like any decision, even the most minute, is a risk. If this fails to pan out, we feel like we have just lost and may need to start anew
Blair Munhofen I think both Mitt and Barack can prove to be "good" for millennials- though in different ways. With Barack, I see a growing federal government relying more on technologically literature youth, and with Mitt, I see the potential for a growing private sector looking to hire eager 20-somethings. Still, I could also see Mitt cutting federal funding for tuition assistance that could hurt my generation dramatically. I don't see Barack doing the same.
Blair Munhofen Interesting article. In some ways, Bahrain is very much like its Arab neighbors to the north (Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria) in that its population is divided along sectarian lines rather strikingly. However, unlike its peers, Bahraini Sunnis and Shias could find genuine common ground. Perhaps, their mutual poverty will inspire unity in the countries where it has not.
Blair Munhofen Well said. Like other forms of art, hip-hop provides an interesting look at contemporary issues (i.e., materialism, objectification, violence, etc.). Does hip-hop rail against these or promote them? I'll go with the latter. Not all hip-hop promotes bad values, but unfortunately, the most popular "artists" do. A great example is Lil Wayne. Take a look at his lyrics: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/lilwayne/howtohate.html. Simply appalling.
Blair Munhofen I agree that what he said occurred at a time of heightened intensity- still, that does not make blatantly racist remarks excusable. If FIFA, European countries for that matter, are serious about stamping out racism, then they need to take a clear stance. From my experiences in Europe, most Europeans don't consider racism- thoughts, actions, and words- a problem. Consequences like prosecution will hopefully change that mentality.
Blair Munhofen "Blankfein and his Wall Street compatriots utilize their wealth to screw their customers." Is this truly the case? I don't think everyone needs tens of millions of dollars to live a comfortable life. I also don't think Wall Street compatriots en masse use their wealth to "screw" their customers. Even Lloyd Blankfield has some moral compass: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-07/blankfein-charity-gives-1-7-million-to-harvard-law-fieldston.html
Blair Munhofen A number of member states of the UN flagrantly throw aside the "Declaration of Human Rights" for the sake of what they consider to be "just" causes. I agree that the UN-sanctioned moment of silence for Kim Jong-il is regrettable- you can add it to the list of UN mishaps. For the UN to ever claim legitimacy, it must take clear stances as to what is morally wrong. They had an opportunity here. Instead, the UN tried to placate the DPRK.
Blair Munhofen Great article! Racism is pervasive in the EU. Before these incidents, FIFA had taken some steps to help curb the growing issue (i.e., the "Say No to Racism" campaign that went on during the last World Cup). Prosecuting those who make racist remarks will send a clearer message, but more steps need to be taken. I think the biggest challenge will entail changing the mindsets of those who don't see this as wrong- we need more than laws for that.
Blair Munhofen There's something to be said for the American education system's ability to produce innovative students in spite of lower math and science test scores. Perhaps, the strength of the liberal arts and humanities in US schools has ensured that we are not merely producing robots but students who can think deeply and creatively.
Blair Munhofen "In an interview, a young North Korean said, if 'people don't cry in public, then they can be seen as insulting the leadership. It can be regarded as a crime against the state.'" When Kim Song-il died, North Koreans were expected to exhibit remorse lest they be found by government officials to be unpatriotic. Still, some of the feelings we have seen could be genuine. The quasi-religion of Juche is impressed upon all North Koreans.
Blair Munhofen Like you, Tom, I respect Tebow for the same reason: "Tebow’s ad and his genuflecting seem, well, genuine, and motivated less by right-wing demagoguery than a simple set of morals." Tebow is what a lot of us can learn from- rarely does he try to impose his views. Instead, he seems to humbly show thankfulness and speak from his personal experiences (i.e., his Super Bowl commercial). In a world of demagogues, Tebow is a refreshing relief.
Blair Munhofen "I fear that if such political drama continues; it could rip the delicate fabric of the unity in Iraq's current government to pieces." I couldn't agree more. I would add that the more sectarian unrest Iraq faces, the higher the likelihood of other neighboring states (namely Iran and Syria) possibly being drawn into a wider regional conflict pitting Sunnis against Shiites. Let's certainly hope this situation doesn't deteriorate to that point.