Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Too much of a good thing

Too much has gone on this week to really be able to get a good post out...especially because it's now late Wednesday. I'll get a new one out to you next week!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pac-10 should accept fate, move on

As an avid football fan, I enjoy the “poor [enter opponent name here], poor [enter opponent name here]” chant at the end of a particularly good romping as much as the next guy (or gal). But before the college season starts, I’m already uttering the chant, but this time, I actually feel bad for the other team.

Poor Colorado. Poor Colorado. Poor Colorado, you’re getting screwed!

When it looked like the Big 12 was completely lost to the history books, Colorado quickly jumped at the opportunity to be a leader – and ensure they didn’t get left out – and joined the Pac-10 conference. Originally, the invite was issued to Colorado with the expectation that a number of other Big 12 schools would join. The Pac-10 was looking to expand with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech as well.

At the very last second, the Big 12 chancellor, desperate to keep his job, convinced the conference to stick together, even without Colorado and Nebraska, both of whom had already bailed. In an effort to balance out the new 11-team conference, the Pac-10 invited Utah, but it seems they are having some second thoughts…

The expansion may not help the Pac-10 out at all, which is why UCLA chancellor Chuck Young is pushing for the conference to block the expansion. The new teams don’t positively affect the geography or academic success of the conference. And neither team even brings any good rivalries to play. The “package deal” including most of the Big 12 south would have pushed the new Pac-16 into super hero status among college football conferences. But what will Colorado and Utah add?

Regardless, it is unfair to even consider – or promote, Mr. Young – excluding these soon-to-be Pac-10 schools. I was raised to believe that once you made a commitment, you stick to it, even if it isn’t ideal and isn’t what you had originally planned. Would you invite six friends over for dinner and then ask two not to come if they were the only ones who RSVPed? Especially if those friends chose to hang out with you instead of the four who didn’t come over? Pac-10: Colorado and Utah chose YOU. Do everyone the curtsey of choosing them back.

And if it doesn’t work out? Sorry, don’t try to break up a good conference next time! Or at least don’t count those chickens until it’s all said and done.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

College cost hurts graduates' economy

College is ridiculously expensive. In my four years at a major state university, tuition increased in the double digits each year, and for the few years since. Then, of course, the economy is hurting state-funded institutions because state funding is limited. And private schools aren’t doing any better – they have to deal with people no longer affording their higher tuition. Thus, tuition continues to rise.

Unfortunately, these ever-rising rates end up hurting the economy: Both the students who come out of school with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, many of whom can not find a decent job right now, and the parents, who are putting all their entire retirement savings into their child’s education.

Today, the U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings came out, and with it, the newest list of the “Great Schools, Great Prices.” I applaud all the schools who made it on the list. Somehow, they’ve figured out how to offer students all the need out of a university or college education and experience, without leaving students and parents on food stamps.

Also on the report is a list of “Least Debt,” meaning schools whose students graduate with the least amount of debt. Another honorable focus for American universities and colleges. All prospective students should consider these lists when applying for higher education. The colleges on the list have made their focus the student -- not just during their four years at the university but for post-graduate life. Seems they’ve rediscovered the American dream.

More colleges should put their emphasis on assisting students financially. Whether is means a “work study” or bartering system where students work so many hours a week on campus for reduced tuition, fees and living expenses, or it means keeping costs low, even if that means little or no raises on the faculty and staff or cutting a program or two.

As more young people enter the weak work force with massive piles of debt, I wonder why you don’t hear more outcry, more requests for action. And I say this while writing a student loan check for a sum that never seems to reduce…

Find U.S. News rankings at

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

With just a dash of multiculturalism

With English as the native language of the United States, it can be a bit frustrating to have to “press 1” to get the message in English. But the telephone example shows the ever-increasing problem that multiculturalism brings to the country.

The idealistic folks in America’s early years planned for the country to become a melting pot of cultures. Immigrants from across the world became U.S. citizens, blending all the cultures into one American culture. The assimilation helped strengthen the country as one.

Fast forward 200 years. The “American culture” seems to have a bit of an identity crises. Many U.S. immigrants come into the country with their own history, culture and set of standards, and even after years, they do not fold seamlessly into society. It seems some have not learned the value of “melting.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand how important ones heritage can be and how defining it is for some. I would never suggest people forget where they came from, speak only in English, even at home, or exchange empanadas for burgers. It is a great part of who we are. But more important than where you came from is where you’re going. When deciding to come to the U.S., or to stay in the U.S., you are committing a part of yourself to your country, and with that comes its culture. To be a part of the country, to really be in the country, that requires some adaptation. And to become truly unified, Americans needs to understand and embrace that. We are one.

One example of how multiculturalism divides us is the PC terms used to describe your fellow Americans. She is African-American. He is Asian-American. And them? They are Native American. But me? I’m an American – first and foremost. Where I came from is only a part of me. Americans should celebrate their current nationality above their country of origin. Why doesn’t she instead claim to be an American, of African decent?

I love to learn about new cultures and celebrate the diversity in the world. Go ahead, speak your native tongue at home and cook traditional homeland meals. We will all benefit from the wealth of knowledge and diversity the various cultures bring America, but it can also be a divisive factor.

Therefore, the melting pot should continue to be our goal. But without a dash of multiculturalism, the resulting concoction becomes stale. It begins to lack depth of flavor. Just a little of that secret ingredient becomes key to the amazing dish.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mosque could help improve U.S., Islamic relations

9/11 hit us all hard. As we’re approaching the ninth anniversary of the attacks, the event is back in the news. And people from both sides are not shy about chiming in on the hottest issue: A Muslim mosque near the site.

A New York City panel cleared the way for a mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero. Many oppose the outrageous plan as a “glorification of murder,” while others say it promotes religious tolerance and understanding.

I’m sorry, I have to go with the latters on this one.

Just to be clear, the mosque will not be placed at Ground Zero, but in fact a few blocks away from the former World Trade Towers site.

Is it just because the terrorists happened to be Islamic? If a Christian extremist (yes, Christian extremists kill too) had attacked us, would those in opposition to the mosque also insist that it is insensitive to build another Christian church within a few blocks of Ground Zero? I would guess most would support the Christian church.

I can understand how the mosque’s presence could hurt a few of folks directly related to the attacks. Sarah Palin is maybe one of the loudest in opposition to the mosque. She says the mosque will hinder the nation’s ability to heal, as she so eloquently posted via Twitter: “Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing.”

But, in fact, the opposite may be true. The mosque and cultural center will help heal the unknown victims of the attacks: the Muslim Americans, many of whom felt the need to hide away in their homes post-9/11. It’s they who have been under attack since Sept. 11, 2001. It shows the 1.5 million U.S. Muslims that the majority of the country understands the term “Muslim” is not synonymous with “terrorist,” and that we do in fact support them and their faith.

To me the initiative says that we understand those attacks were committed out of ignorance and religious intolerance, but the United States is above that. We support the free practice of religion. It is among our nation’s foundation, and it is something we will support and defend above all else.

I applaud Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York panel and all who can see that beyond all this is actually the chance for the country to continue to heal, learn and reach out. Congratulations.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Observe the rite of passage

When I was 15, I walked into my very first high school pep rally. Along with my friends, I found my way to the section designated for freshmen and sat down, eager to take it all in. As part of the ritual, the cheerleaders asked each group of classmen what the “Trojan battle cry” was, and we were expected to answer with “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!” When our time came to spell victory, booing ensued and the seniors held up diapers in our direction. My friends all looked around in disgust, muttering how rude and disrespectful the upperclassmen were being. I simply smiled and enjoyed the tradition I had become a part of. After all, I wouldn’t be a freshman for long. Exactly four years later, you can bet I booed the incoming freshman as hard as anyone else when they gave their battle cry. (And, as a side note, I also spelled victory ‘S-E-N-I-O-R-S,’ as so many before me had.)

I tell this story to show that rites of passage are important to getting all you can from your experience, event, group or job, and, maybe more importantly, to gain the respect of those around you. Rookie receiver Dez Bryant should learn this lesson.

Bryant recently signed with the Dallas Cowboys, and in the first few practices, he refused to carry veteran Roy Williams’ pads, as Cowboy tradition dictates. As a form of mild hazing, veterans have the rookies carry their pads to the locker room after practice. At first, Bryant refused to participate, saying instead that he was drafted to play football, not to carry pads.

What good ole Dez did is he showed the Dallas Cowboys program that he doesn’t respect its customs, and he’s showing his players that he’s too good to participate in their rite of passage. Each Dallas Cowboy great -- and the non-greats for that matter -- carried other players’ pads as a rookie. Suck it up and participate. Not only can it enrich your experience, but it promotes team building, both by showing respect to your elders and banning together as rookies in misery.

And honestly, is carrying pads really going to hinder your football playing capabilities?

Of course, now Bryant is coming out and saying that he didn’t know it was tradition and that, of course he would participate. Sorry, but I have a hard time believing that no one told him and that he didn’t notice all the other rookies carrying veterans pads. I can’t believe it was news to him when the story broke that Bryant was a party pooper. I guess this was not only a lesson for Bryant in humility, but also a lesson in dealing with the media while in the pros. Who said learning ends when you get out of college?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Think tolerance. Think 'to each his own.'

I subscribe to the thought process of “to each his own.” Do what you want with your life, your choices, your faith. My moral compass works just fine, and if yours points in a different direction, well, who am I to say if yours is faulty. Just to clarify, there are some things – murder for instances – that should always point the same way on everyone’s compass. But in general, you are in control of your actions, and if it works for you, then it has to work for me.

But religion has a tendency to make people feel that they know what is best for everyone in every situation. That leads to judgment and intolerance without the perpetrator even realizing it. And what I didn’t realize until recently was that religious intolerance works across the board, even in an area overwhelmingly dominated by one religion. There’s always people discriminating for or against a religion, non-religion or sect.

Our Founding Fathers wanted to create a country where religion was open and free, and separate from government. That’s, of course, never been the case. And I’m not even sure we are working in that direction. Separation of church and state cannot occur. One can not separate religion from who they are or the decisions they make any more than he or she can change the color of his or her skin. The fallacy in all of it is that religion is a choice. If you choose to believe one way, then you don’t really believe it, do you?

So because of this, you can’t expect someone to make a personal, professional or public decision separate of their faith. It will be present in everything they do, always. So by faulting a person’s religious beliefs or choices made directly related to their faith, you are faulting them as a person. No wonder people take religious attacks so personally.

The lesson to take from all of this is to remember to love one another, which includes a person’s religious beliefs. And to please remember that someone with an opinion different from yours does not necessarily make them wrong. It just means they’re just coming from a different direction.