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November 26, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-26

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 26, 2002


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SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's
editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

We've had
a lot of
promises of
- International Atomic Energy Agency
spokeswoman Melissa Fleming. on the
response of Iraq to the presence of
weapons inspectors in the nation, as
reported in yesterday's Washington Post.


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There's an 83 percent chance you will read this

It's finally happening.
After seven semesters
x.x'at this great university,
I've finally found myself,
finally realized what I can
offer this world. I'm
going to be a statistician.
I know all the ques-
tions you want to ask me:
Jon, hasn't it been your
stated goal over the past three years to get
through college without taking a single math
class? Didn't you lend away your trusty TI-83
calculator freshman year, telling your friend
that you would never need it back? Do you
even know what a statistician does? Didn't you
want to become a sportswriter?
Yes, yes, not really and yes. But here I
stand, announcing to the world that those feel-
ings are all in the past now that I've registered
for Statistics 350.
At first I was bitter. Registering this past
Thursday night, I found myself marveling at
all the classes I wanted to take in the second
semester of my senior year. But while they all
seemed interesting (and let's face it, easy), the
course descriptions were missing two pesky
capital letters that would have made them per-
fect: QR.
Friends in the area heard me cursing the
University's Quantitative Reasoning require-
ment. For those outside the Ann Arbor com-
munity, "Quantitative" and "Reasoning" are
two big, important-sounding words to replace
a smaller, uglier "math." "Why must I take a
math class?" I asked, the driving question in a
monologue peppered with expletives._

As I saw it, the life I had chosen was one for
which I would never need any formal training in
math. Furthermore, if not for a mistake by my
adviser freshman year, I would have been done
with the math requirement. Even she couldn't
figure out the system, convincing me to register
for a class that she said would fulfill the require-
ment, but which obviously didn't. So there I
was, hitting the "register" button and preparing
myself for a life as a statistician. The irony here
is that because I had to take Statistics 350, I
couldn't register for a class on sportswriting that
I had been planning on taking since my sopho-
more year. But why waste time with something
that I'll never need or want, right?
I soon came to realize, though, that being a
statistician might not be so awful, at least not
in my mind. I have a feeling that statisticians
probably make a ton of money, at least more
than a sportswriter does. Plus, as a statistician,
I'll be able to pull a John Nash and go into a
bar and calculate the exact odds of getting
together with any of the women inside, thereby
saving me the embarrassment of getting reject-
ed. Not so bad when you think about it, eh?
Sure, there will be things about sportswrit-
ing that I'll miss, but apparently I'm not
mature enough make choices for myself. The
thought that as a 21-year-old senior in college,
I was more than capable of choosing classes
that I wanted to take is obviously folly. I
should consider myself fortunate that the Uni-
versity has "encouraged" me to expand my
horizons. After all, it's possible that had I paid
more attention in Cultural Anthropology 101
(thank you, Race and Ethnicity requirement),
this might have all been mootthree years ago,

when I decided to become a cultural anthropol-
ogist. It hurts to even think about all the things
I've missed!
I've decided to make the most out of my
life as a statistician. Wanting to capitalize on
the opportunity before me, I spent a good
part of the last few days on the Internet,
finding out all there is to know about statis-
tics. Here goes:
There is, according to my estimations, a 17
percent chance that I don't hate this class. I see
just a 32 percent chance that the University
ever considers improving the foolishness of its
distribution requirements. I've estimated a 86
percent chance that when choosing between
going to my statistics class and anything else
in the world (believe me, anything), I will pre-
fer anything else. There's a 94 percent chance
that I'll be upset for the rest of my life because
Ohio State beat Michigan my senior year, the
same probability that I get nothing out of this
class, thereby proving to me that the Universi-
ty is content to waste my money by making
me take a statistics class instead of one I might
find interesting.
But there's a 100 percent chance that I'm
going to owe the University a debt of gratitude
for redirecting my career ambitions to the field
of statistics. I just can't wait until January
when I can finally find out what that means.
Jon Schwartz is now in need of a calculator
and has no recollection of who borrowed his. If
you have it, or just want to vent about your own
problems registering, there is a 100 percent chance
that he. can be reached atjlsz@umich.edu,


Stocking suckers

nless I'm mis-
taken, Christmas
is Dec. 25, right?
Please pardon me if my
memory is slightly
askew. It's just that this
summer, I saw some
porcelain Santa Claus
figurines displayed in a
store next to a sign
which urgently reminded everyone that,
"Christmas will be here in four months!"
Thank god that someone remembered.
Last week, about six of them before
Christmas' alleged date, State Street was
adorned with its traditional "Season's Greet-
ings" banner. From which season were greet-
ings being extended? Mid-fall, the
Plus-left" season? Pre-winter, the "realiza-
-a-bowl-of-zero-significance" season? To my
chagrin, I think that those who hung the mes-
sage were imparting some cheer from the
Christmas - or euphemistic "holiday" -
season. And assuming that this conclusion is
correct, all I have to say in return is, "No
thank you."
I don't hate Christmas and I don't hate
Santa. I don't even hate those annoying kids
who, beginning two weeks before the big
day, stop everyone that they see to say
"Merry Christmas" meanwhile ignorant of
the fact that most of the people to whom they
speak want nothing to do with them. (Seri-
ously, who are these people? Have they noth-
ing better to do than recite the same two-word
mantra? Go play happy time in the corner.)
However, I would like a reprieve from the
constant elongation of the Christmas season.

No one, not even a newly turned 21-year-old,
gets so much mileage from simply remember-
ing his emergence from the womb.
To my religious readers (not to be confused
with those who read this column religiously): I
ask that you do not take offense at my disdain
for the Christmas-in-August (CIA) syndrome.
I am not indicting Christianity or Jesus him-
self. (If anything, I need to give you all a shout
out because not only do my people not cele-
brate Moses' birthday, but we don't even
know when it is.) I am merely tired of having
to contend with Christmas all the time.
As a religious festival, Christmas is inac-
cessible to Jews. Fundamentally, we cannot
participate in the holiday. Certainly, Jesus
was an exceptional man who performed
deeds of great virtue and died because of his
beliefs. That we acknowledge, and rightful-
ly so. But the concept of his divinity does
not exist in our culture, and because of this
absence, I can only celebrate the return of
the NBA to national network television that
day. However, I don't want to seem like
some jealous, jaded Jew who wants to spoil
the gentile world's fun. If Christians want to
participate in the holiday, that is their right
and I support it. I don't even mind being
wished a "Happy Holidays" on Dec. 23. But
to live in a country whose culture is neces-
sarily exclusionary for two months? That
shall not pass.
Really, this bastardization of Christmas
is the impetus for my complaints. Bucking
the common birthday trend which sees pre-
sents given to those born on that particular
day, Americans have decided that it be bet-
ter to give each other gifts. Given that Jesus
has passed and not yet returned, I can under-
stand that it's hard to get him something; a

posthumously received sweater surely does
not fit well. Instead, though, Jesus' birthday
has become an excuse for rampant shopping
that, while ostensibly altruistic (buying gifts
for others), has encouraged advertisers to
make the day less about compassion and
more about consumption. Proof? Franken-
muth advertises the world's largest Christ-
mas store as an attraction. Also, you can
hurry in now to buy the holiday glass set at
Arby's, exactly what Jesus would have
wanted. Riiiight.
So that I am not labeled as self-righteous,
I will readily admit that Chanukah can rival
Christmas in capitalist zeal. Yet the CIA epi-
demic extends beyond an obscured meaning
or ignored genesis. Those who perpetuate the
CIA situation (far too many people) have
made "winter" and "Christmas" synonymous.
That's why Arby's can sell their winter glass-
es to everyone so easily, because most people
have the decoder ring. Also, "Have a nice
winter break" and "Enjoy your Christmas
break" should not exist as suitable alterna-
tives for each other. Yet they do.
Please don't get it twisted: Adam Sandler
already serves as the "lonely Jew on Christ-
mas." And besides, that is not the role for
which I'm looking. I simply would like the
majority of this country to recognize that
they've made Christmas into an industry and
a two-month day. When Santa comes this
year, please keep people like me in mind. I'll
be watching the Lakers-Kings and getting
ready for the Passover season, four months
from JC's big day.
Joseph Litman can be reached
at litmanj@umich.edu.


Michigan House Cooperative
is a great place to live
I am an avid reader of The Michigan Daily
and I am compelled to write in response to
Ari Paul's column Hypocrisy's top five,
(11/21/02) which I believe exhibits both weak
editorial writing and fallacious logical reason-
ing and is far below the caliber of journalistic

Fight Poverty," (as opposed-to the misquoted
"Co-ops Cure Poverty"). He proceeds to
assert that people in our house "think that by
sharing tofu and rice and drinking microbrews
they're going to alleviate the world of socio-
economic inequality."
While I certainly do not speak for every-
one who lives or boards at the house, my per-
sonal view of our co-operative living
arrangement is that we are providing an
affordable housing alternative to students
rather than paying exorbitant rental fees to
absentee Ann Arbor landlords.

also criticizes our co-op house because it
contains "the whitest kids on the block." In
contrast to tha assertions made in the col-
umn, our house does contain members of
various cultural and socio-economic back-
grounds, but this fact is irrelevant to the
issue of whether co-operative houses as an
institution actually help to fight poverty.
In the future, I hope that Ari Paul and
The Michigan Daily staff as a whole, will
take more time in actually investigating the
positions of those whom they are criticizing
and researching the issues rather than mak-
;" ii~ *AAna1 rar3adCIPnl


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