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April 13, 2006 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-04-13

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Best of Ann Arbor: A good argument
Chris isn't better than me | Guest Column
By James V. Dowd

While compiling this issue, where we
celebrate all the great things about Ann
Arbor, I thought about my best experi-
ences in Ann Arbor: meeting people who can
have an intelligent argument with you.
Going through college, with so many peo-
ple from so many different places and back-
grounds, it's inevitable that you will come
across people who don't agree with you.
Maybe you are a liberal arguing with an
extreme conservative, or a group of mod-
erates arguing about on which side of the
prominent moral issues you stand. Whatever
the case, everyone at Michigan disagrees
with someone.
My experience hasn't been any different. I
don't care to use this column to advertise my
own political views. I simply want to thank
the people who have respectfully agreed to
disagree with me over the past few years,
regardless of the issue. I'm talking to those
of you who can state a carefully thought-
out opinion without making outrageous,
unfounded claims regarding the current
administration, the Republican or Demo-
cratic Party in general.
At a school of Michigan's stature, one
would think that these people would be easy
to come by. Everyone was an outstanding
student in high school, everyone works hard
day in and day out, and everyone is capable

of forming educated opinions. But unfortu-
nately, that's not the case.
I run into people every day that have
decided to forgo the little bit of effort that
it takes to think analytically about what
they read. Just the other day, I witnessed an
instance where someone decided to poke fun
at a conservative friend, basing his argument
on a political commentary which used only
anonymous sources.
While I applaud the effort to get on the
Internet and come across such an article, it
was hard to believe that a story with so many
holes could be taken as seriously as it often
is on this campus.
It seems like so many students will watch
the news channel with the bias of their choice,
taking the news as gospel truth and laugh-
ing off anything on a station with opposing
views. The same goes for magazines, blogs,
political journals and newspapers.
Having run into so many of these frustrat-
ing people in the dorm during my sophomore
year, I became fairly fed up with politics, or
talking politics at least. As an economics and
political science double major, giving up on
discussing politics isn't the healthiest solu-
But my hopes of intelligent conversa-
tion were revived in a Political Science 311
course I took last fall. Rather than bore us

with details of the constitution that he knew
we would all forget, Professor Arthur Lupia
centered the class on making intelligent, log-
ically consistent arguments.
All of the sudden I was in a room of intelli-
gent students, participating in and witnessing
debates on issues ranging from the tax cuts
and the war in Iraq to immigration reform
and abortion. I walked out believing that
there were indeed people who I could have
an intelligent argument.
My rejuvenated belief that there were sen-
sible debaters at the University was furthered
one night while I conversed with another
member of my fraternity who I had long
dreaded talking politics with since I knew we
were nowhere near each other on the political
After talking for a long time, citing our
individual sources - which ranged from
the Congressional Budget Office Historical
Tables to newspaper articles (taken with a
grain of salt of course) - we came to a con-
sensus. We agreed to disagree.
My respect for this particular brother of my
fraternity grew once again when I happened
upon him reading a book the other night as
others were watching a movie or basketball
game. He was highlighting and underlining
the book furiously. I asked him what class he
was studying for, and he told me he was read-

ing solely for his own enrichment.
These are the students who should be
the pride of the University, the best of Ann
Rather than skating through classes for the
sole purpose of jumping to a career in a cubi-
cle, shooting films or throwing touchdown
passes, this student is inspired by his classes
to form complete, educated opinions on what
is going on in the world and to enhance his
ability to converse intelligently.
This ability will help students immense-
ly as they move on, either in Ann Arbor or
anywhere around the world. It is this kind of
analytical thought which drives progress in a
two-party system. While there will always be
extremists on both sides, it's the swing votes
that count in the ballots each November. And
those swing votes are won by people shar-
ing thoughtful, educated opinions, not by
screaming and flailing your arms because
the other person doesn't agree with you.
I don't claim to be the most informed. I
don't even think I could hold my own in an
argument with a lot of people on campus. But
I sure appreciate all of those people who take
time to think through things before they try
to convert me to either side of an issue.
- James can be reached by e-mail at

4B Best of Ann Arbor
A list of the best enter-
tainment, businesses and
University hangouts.
5B Best Textbook Store
Shaman Drum's myriad
of textbooks helps keep
the niche store open.
6B Best Bookstore
Borders' massive selec-
tion trumps other

10B Best Burger
Bimpy Burger's legacy lives
on as long as its negative
health effects continue.
11B Best Clothing Store
Bivouc offers the latest in
outdoor clothing as well
as casual attire.
12B Columnists' Best
The Statement
columnists weigh in on their
best and worst of Ann Arbor.
13B Best Coffee
Starbucks' wires
Internet, coffee selection and
location overpower competition.
14B Editor's Column
James V. Dowd thinks an
argument is the best
part of Ann Arbor.

14B Editor's
Chris Ga
he's the
15B Best of
A scrapb
most rner


stores on campus.
Best Gift Store
Middle Earth's blend of kitsch
gifts and ethnic artifacts
gives it a unique touch.

8B Photos of the Year
A compilation of this
year's best and most
memorable Daily photos.

Cover Art
Photo Edi
Editor in C

The best student on campus
I'm better than you I Guest Column
By Chris Gaerig

So the Best of Ann Arbor issue is
finally out, aren't you excited? I just
assume that every year,.students wait
around to hear where you should do your
computing and what restaurant makes the
best burritos - I'd say their name in print,
but I'm a little worried about an ensuing
lawsuit. Anyway, looking over the results,
I was a little worried that they were pain-
fully inadequate (and I'm not just talking
about the actual selections - I would've
made better ones I promise). I'm talking
about the lack of the most important cat-
egory: best student in Ann Arbor.
Pat Gurin won best professor. That's
a pretty good deal. I'm sure more kids
will take his class now. Mike Hart won
best male athlete. Not too bad consider-
ing I ran more than he did last football
season. There's even best speaker in the
past year: Bill Gates. Some of you hor-
ribly deranged Apple users will probably
convert after his speech. But again, who's
the best student?
So I decided to conduct a poll. This
mystery needed to be solved and I was
the man to do it. So after taking a sur-
vey of myself, my roommate, brother and
parents (kisses, Mom and Dad), it was
obvious, by unanimous, University-wide

decision that I, Chris Gaerig, am the best
student on campus.
Now, when I got the results back I was
a little flattered, a little happy but entirely
unsurprised. As much as I wish other stu-
dents had a chance in this race, they sim-
ply didn't. I am just that fantastic. And for
those of you saying: "he didn't use proper
methods to determine this outcome. I
should've won," all I can say is that you're
wrong. Look next to my picture. There's a
reason it says "I'm better than you." Plus,
I'm getting a solid C in my Stats 350 class.
That means I know the right methods for
taking surveys ... and execute them at a
75 percent level
But as I said earlier, I wasn't surprised that
I won. So let's run this down objectively.
My first and most obvious qualifica-
tion is my clear superiority in physical
attractiveness. Exhibit A: my boyish good
looks. Look to my picture again and you'll
see what I'm talking about. A lot of guys
get puppies to attract ladies. My friends
just ask me to tag along ... the first time,
anyway. Because after they see all the
women flocking to me, they realizing
that while I attract girls, they don't get to
touch any of them inappropriately. I do.
Hoorah. Exhibit B: My painfully manly

facial hair. The New York Times has said
there is a "trend toward full beards." And
seeing as I've been in between stubble and
a full beard for the last two years - I can
grow a beard in about two weeks - I am
ahead of the game. The Times would've
voted me best student on campus too.
The next criterion that qualified me for
this award is my broad range of mediocre
attributes. I'm a less-than-average skate-
boarder, above average hockey player, I'm
a better writer than you and I know enough
about music to be considered knowledge-
able (the list goes on but I will stop so you
don't have cry yourself to sleep tonight).
Come on, it's called a jack of all trades for
a reason. Not an ace of all trades. Any-
one who can dominate anything they do
is clearly too great to be allowed to live.
They're systematically killed off.
So with all of these overachieving super-
humans killed, I take the lead as the apex
of student/human life. Michael Phelps has
seven gold medals and one bronze ... for
swimming. I could totally kick his ass in
hockey and I'm sure if we had a Spike
TV-sponsored novel-off I would write a
vastly superior one. After that, I would be
awarded a $1,000 gift certificate to Best
Buy and a life's supply of Axe products.

He dominates one sport and I beat him
in two things. Who's better? I am, objec-
tively ... like I set out to do.
Some of you may not be convinced, but
that doesn't matter to me. Want to know
why (besides the fact that I already hypo-
thetically won)? Because I'll never have
to hear it. Sure, if you're lucky, Daily
Opinion will publish a letter titled "Best
columnist should be fired" that I won't
read. But you still would've heard my
argument. Which brings me to the point,
I have the power to spew 800 words about
myself and how great I am in a respected
published newspaper. And I'm an editor.
Are you? Chances are, you're not.
But I want to give people a chance to
try and be as awesome as me. If anyone
wants to challenge me to a duel of any
sort, I'd be more than willing to partici-
pate and beat you.
So as I sit here with my paper-plate
award for best student on campus, shar-
ing a glass of Cristal with Mary Sue and
being fanned by naked women, I apolo-
gize for being so much better than you
and having to point it out in print.
- Chris can be reached at

14B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 13, 2006

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