SOPA infringes on free speech

He’s twenty-eight years late, but the fear of Big Brother isn’t over yet. Big Brother is the dictator of George Orwell’s "1984", but I’m not talking about a generic totalitarian figurehead. I’m talking about a much worse evil that could cripple the Internet. SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, is an Internet censorship bill that would prohibit websites from displaying copyrighted intellectual properties, or IPs. In theory this sounds like a good idea, but in action it is more detrimental to our country's freedom of speech than piracy is to the music and film industry. SOPA states that any website that might “engage in, enable, or facilitate” copyright infringement is subject to penalty under this law. What exactly does “engage in, enable, or facilitate" mean? Simply stated, this means that an IP holder can seek a court order against a website and shut it down due to copyright infringement. This can be anything from a YouTube tribute video, to movie and music download links. What this means for the Internet is that anything the RIAA and the MPAA sees as unfit can be subjected to having their URL blacklisted and made inaccessible to the public. This doesn’t stop piracy though; the same websites can still be visited and used if a person has the IP address. What this does is create a censored Internet based on what an organization thinks is acceptable. This is way too much power for these organizations, with known agendas, to have. SOPA feels so much more restrictive and fascist than a country based on free speech and basic human rights should even consider. If we pass this law, our media is no better than the censorship in China. In 1996, China started to ban websites and censor the Internet in fear that information could be subversive to the government. In fact, China employs Internet Police strikingly similar to Big Brother’s Thought Police. In fact, this not only violates free speech, it also has a negative impact on the economy. Websites that have user submitted content such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr could all be affected by this act, not to mention all the future websites that could be affected, or even cease to exist. There’s a good chance that every site you frequent could be affected by this act. What SOPA is, and what it says it is, are two completely different things. We must act on the rights we have before they are taken away. This is going down a one-way road we won’t be able to return. It’s our duty as US citizens to act against an atrocity that could damage our freedom that we pride ourselves on so much. There are various foundations that are raising awareness to this bill, the foremost being the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The site www.EFF.org was founded to inform the public about threats to Internet neutrality, which in our technological day and age, is one of our most important assets. The threat of a censored life has finally come upon us. This doesn’t just affect IP owners, the economy, or some political agenda. This act will directly affect you and your daily life. If you don’t want the possibility of seeing only what a bent organization wants you to see, it’s time for action.

A ‘Major’ Pain

Life at Missouri Western has been great so far. I’ve gained confidence in myself, made new friends, learned new things, travelled to new countries, experienced much and gained much experience. There is only one complaint I have about this school, and I suppose you could call it a ‘minor’ one. What I have noticed during my studies is that my major isn’t what you’d call a legitimate major. Missouri Western does not offer a Journalism major. My preferred area of study is actually a concentration of English. That’s what it says on my transcript – Major: English with a concentration in Journalism. It’s really like I’m minoring in the thing I want to do with my life (which I could also do; there IS a Journalism minor). People who want to major in Public Relations, Botany, or Zoology will run into the same problem. These subjects are only offered as concentrations of much broader areas. And yet students looking to major in French or Spanish (but not German), or Convergent Media, or Music Education have definitive majors. Western also offers the traditional Pre-Med, Pre-Law, Nursing, History, Chemistry majors etc. So why not Journalism? While Journalism concentration majors (I guess that’s what we’re called) spend most of their time taking classes on literature and textual analysis along with their reporting, publishing, and photography classes, I’m sure other media majors aren’t bogged down by reading and language awareness. And we’re stuck into such a wide category. English majors can minor or have a concentration in quite a few subjects. But there isn’t one large Language major that encompasses all the French and Spanish students. Don’t get me wrong here – I have NO problem with any students or any majors. It just feels frustrating to people like me (and probably the PR and zoology kids) who are spending our time studying things we may not need, and then maybe getting the job we want but never being able to say, “Yeah, I was a journalism major.”

University president addresses campus future in tough economy

I have been asked to address how the campus in holding up during these tough economic times and what can be expected in the future. We are making the best of a challenging economic climate. One recent example of this would be this year’s homecoming celebration. This was the best homecoming that I have experienced in my four years here. The campus-wide signage, the level of student participation, and the general atmosphere of enthusiasm were all quite impressive. Other points of pride include: • A seventh consecutive year of record enrollment • International recognition of our Wildlife Society • The growth of the arts areas ­­including a new Missouri Western Arts Society with close to 200 charter members • National recognition for the Griffon Indoor Sports Complex as one of twelve noteworthy intercollegiate athletic facilities in the United States I have many other examples of recent accomplishments and special recognition for Missouri Western. My point is that we have not stopped moving forward, and these are highly visible examples of that. With regard to resources, we are pursuing a number of avenues above and beyond our on-going struggle for funding fairness: • We are exploring land leasing opportunities of our land in order to generate additional money. • We are examining alternative energy sources for our campus. • We are actively seeking grants from external agencies. • Our advancement office has stepped up fund raising efforts and will shortly be preparing for our next capital campaign which will coincide with our centennial celebration. Regarding our on-going struggle for funding fairness, we are getting significant support for this from our legislative delegation. In fact, there is an expressed willingness on their part to introduce legislation on our behalf. This will literally become a “campaign” for Missouri Western as we attempt to move this forward. I think we have successfully communicated our “need” to our various constituencies, now we are in the “action” phase. Since the economic free fall in 2008, Missouri Western has experienced its share of additional financial challenges. It has not been easy, but we have continued to move in a positive direction. I believe we are now poised to move even further.

Tigers SECede

Missouri fans will tell you that the reason Kansas is choosing not to schedule Missouri, therefore ending a 120 year old rivalry, is because KU is jealous of the Tigers big move to the SEC.  The theory is make-believe. I fail to see anything to be jealous of. I am going to enjoy MU getting killed every single year in football by LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. If Missouri fans think that their team is going to be anything more than bottom-feeders in the best football conference in the country, then they are mistaken. Don't blame Kansas for not wanting to schedule Missouri. Why is the rivalry ending? Because Missouri went to a different conference. What would Kansas gain by scheduling Missouri? Nothing. Will I miss the big border war game between the two schools every year? Not really. I have a newsflash for you: Kansas is basketball country. So when the Jayhawks Football team went 2-10 this season or when they went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl, it really doesn't matter, and that's just the way it is. When Missouri fans were celebrating a 24-10 win over KU at Arrowhead this year, Kansas fans were far more troubled by a loss to Duke in basketball that came three days earlier. The notion that Kansas is scared to schedule MU in basketball is insane. It's going to take a lot more than a 7-0 start against Nobody University for Kansas to dodge a school out of fear. Mike Anderson was a good coach, and MU was a very dangerous team under him, but he's gone and in a year or two, all the talent he was able to recruit will be gone too. Even if Anderson had stayed, there is no guarantee that he would have turned Missouri into a championship caliber program.  Quinn Snyder had the program on track to do great things, making four straight NCAA appearances and two Elite Eights.  Snyder defeated the rival Jayhawks in each of his last two meetings with them but them resigned following the Ricky Clemons scandal. Frank Haith couldn't win in the ACC with Miami, and he's not going to win in the SEC with Missouri. Bill Self has a 132-7 in Allen Field House, a winning percentage of 95, and when he says "Kansas fans don't give a flip about playing Missouri," he's right. Some people claim that Kansas is great at basketball because Dr. James Naismith jump-started the program. Naismith is the only coach in Kansas history with a losing record (55-60). The program took off under Phog Allen, who coached the Jayhawks for 39 years and led them to 29 regular season championships and a National Championship. Kansas has the most winning seasons in Division I basketball history, the longest consecutive streak of NCAA tournament appearances, the most first team all-Americans in history, the second most wins all-time, three national championships and eight consecutive Big 12 basketball season championships. When I walk into Allen Field House, I see the jerseys of legends like Wilt Chamberlain, JoJo White, Danny Manning, Jacque Vaughn and Kirk Hinrich hanging from the rafters. The best thing that ever happened to Missouri was a Chase Daniel, a chubby backup quarterback for the Saints. Explain to me why I should care about a rivalry with Missouri. The Tigers' last regular season conference basketball championship was in 1994 and the NCAA stripped them of their Elite 8 appearance, vacated their season and forced them to repay $97,000 because a player took things from agents. Kansas is an elite basketball school. Our rivals are other programs who consistently compete at a high level and win National Championships. Schools like Duke, North Carolina, Connecticut, Syracuse and Kentucky. Yes, the same Kentucky that will beat down Missouri twice a year, every year. So instead of losing to Self and KU, they get to lose to Calipari and UK. Great move. I loved a good Kansas vs. Missouri brawl in the parking lot of Arrowhead just as much as the next guy, but really I could care less. The hatred for Missouri will still be there for me whether Kansas and Missouri play or not. I will still take pleasure in watching them get squashed in the SEC for years to come. I'll still find great joy in watching the Gary Pinkel DUI video on repeat. If Missouri wants a game with Kansas, all they have to do is win a few games in the NCAA tournament, and the two schools will meet up.

The Cross Reference: Writers Block

The Cross Reference Writer’s block When it happens to me, if I’m home, I get a glass of brandy and a cigar and say to myself “What would Hemingway do?” The answer is always the same, he would write about it. So here goes. Writer’s block happens to all students at one time or another. You stare at a blank screen or page and have many things to say but the words won’t come. You have had 15 weeks of instruction about a topic you’re expected to regurgitate onto a paper or final exam and nothing is happening between your ears. Students have many things going on in their busy lives. The last thing they need as the intense holiday season approaches is an instructor who is convinced that they don’t have a life. There is shopping, family gatherings, socializing, and a host of other things that distract and fill the brain at the same time. What we all need is time to think, work, study and write. Finals couldn’t happen at a less opportune time. The key is planning and prioritizing your time. You have to be able to tell your friends and family no. If you tell them you can’t devote time to anything but school they should understand. But, you have to follow through and use the time you have set aside wisely. To properly focus while studying here are a few things that might help. Study in an area that is quiet. Having some music on is not a bad thing but make sure you don’t know the songs because your favorites could distract you. Keep the room a little cool. If the room gets too comfortable you could go to sleep while studying. You also can save a little energy here. Try to find an area where others are studying such as the library so everyone has the same goal and objective around you. They are less likely to disturb you with loud conversation and other noise. Lighting should be bright enough to read without eye fatigue. Having the lighting bright also helps keep you from sleeping. Try to use a desk. Studying in bed is a no-no. Don’t sit or lay on the floor because the pressure points will cause muscle fatigue and limit your ability to continue studying in those positions. Another great key I have often used is thinking about what I don’t want to do the most. That is a pretty good indication of what I need to do first. Then, when it is out of the way I become energized to continue with new-found strength. What ever you need to do to keep focused do it. You didn’t come this far to lose your intensity now.