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January 07, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-01-07

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4 - Friday, January 8, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
E-MAIL DANIEL AT DWGOLD@UMICH.EDU

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

DANIEL GOLD

JACOB SMILOVITZ
EDITOR IN CHIEF

RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

MATT AARONSON
MANAGING EDITOR

Sick. I just
Hey Roomie, slept 'til noon,
how was your played Halo all
winter break? day, and got drunk
every night.
5..-
"- .s /

You had to go How else would
home for that? I have gotten my
laundry done?
rK

is

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
A greener shade of blue
'U' must invest in students' innovation, green technology
Jt appears that congratulations are in order. The University
was recently ranked fifth among several top universities in
the use and encouragement of clean energy and technology,
according to the founder of green energy investment firm Sus-
tainable World Capital. This achievement is a bright energy-effi-
cient light for a state that has been in the dark for a long time. But
the University could do much more than it currently is to help
reduce carbon emissions and excessive energy expenditures. The
University should depend on its students for progress in the field
of environmentally-friendly technology, and take advantage of
its resources to practice what it preaches.

The paradigm of party purity

Sustainable World Capital Founder
Shawn Lesser's released his Top Ten United
States Universitiesfor cleantech on Monday.
The ranking placed the University behind
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
the University of California at Berkley, the
University of Texas in Austin and Stanford
University. In his rankings, Lesser refer-
enced University programs that encourage
green businesses, like the business school's
Zell Miller Institute for Entrepreneurial
Studies and the student-led MPowered.
The University's encouragement of
green energy is admirable - and vital. By
now, it's obvious that global warming isn't
a myth. Reducing carbon emissions and
switching to greener fuels is necessary to
keep the environment clean and healthy.
And venture capitalists are looking to col-
lege campuses for investments in the tech-
nology that will reduce society's carbon
footprint. Universities hold some of the
most promising ideas to improve green
technology and increase energy efficiency.
The wealth of knowledge and creation pos-
sible on campuses is unmatched. New con-
cepts for green technology will come from
students at top research institutions like
the University - and this spring of innova-
tion should be utilized.
But while the University's support of
green businesses is encouraging, it must
act on a practical level to decrease its own
waste and pollution. It hasn't been com-

pletely remiss. The Ross School of Busi-
ness, which opened in January of 2009,
is LEED-certified. LEED, or Leadership
in Energy and Environmental Design, is a
program that sets guidelines to determine
the efficiency of buildings. And University
recycling numbers are impressive.
But the University has only two LEED-
certified buildings, and the Ross School
of Business has a lower certification level
than comparable buildings at MIT and
Stanford. The University should be more
invested in attaining LEED certification.
Meeting this program's requirements
shouldn't be difficult, considering the Uni-
versity's astronomical budget for construc-
tion. Additionally, the University has failed
to switch to hybrid buses, which the Ann
Arbor Transportation Authority already
uses. The $1 billion University budget
allotted to research for this cause puts the
University in a prime position to expand
its environmental initiatives. More can
always be done, and the University hasn't
lived up to its potential.
Public universities are playing a vital
role in promoting green energy initiatives.
The University should incorporate student
innovation to help improve its environ-
mentally-friendly programs. And it should
incorporate more green technology on
campus. Because making campus greener,
not simply achieving accolades, should top
the University's priorities.

Airports are underrated. Espe-
cially during the holiday sea-
son when the opportunities
for mindless dis-
traction are end-
less. While I could
devote this whole'
column to the man
on my flight that
looked like Osama
bin Laden wear-
ing a French beret
(hey, just because
they're terror- ALEX
ists doesn't mean SCHIFF
they can't have
style), there 'are
even more ridicu-
lous matters that deserve attention.
Browsing the web before my flight
back to Michigan, I came across this
gem of Republican lunacy: Newt Gin-
grich - former Speaker of the House
and one of the many de facto lead-
ers of today's fractured conservative
movement - recently asserted on
"Meet the Press" that "every Repub-
lican in 2010 and 2012 will run on an
absolute pledge to repeal" the health
care bill making its way through Con-
gress. And, Newt, thy will be done.
This insane demand comes only a
month after widely publicized propos-
als from Republican circles to deny
Republican National Committee fund-
ing and endorsements to any candi-
date that doesn't adhere, based on past
statements and votes, to 8 out of 10
"core principles." If you dogmatically
support the Republican Party on every
other policy, but don't want the Ber-
lin Wall built on the Mexican border,
believe in civil rights for all people (not
just those that behave and look exactly
like you) and don't think every Ameri-
can has the right to a submachine gun
with their morning coffee, then you're
out of luck. This will serve to weed out
internal dissidents and purify the party
of "faux conservatives."
These proposals are far from being
implemented, but it demonstrates
a growing tendency towards purity

over reform in the party. Based on
this line of thinking, Republicans lost
control of Congress and the White
House not because they were too con-
servative and scared away too many
voters, but because they weren't con-
servative enough. The Republican
Party, by running up enormous defi-
cits with huge taxcuts, entitlement
expansions and wars funded by thin
air, became politically indistinguish-
able from the freewheeling fiscal lib-
eralism of the Democrats.
When I first read about these ideas,
I was overjoyed. The Republicans are
going to further marginalize them-
selves by appealing to the extreme
fringes of their support base, alien-
ating the swaths of independents
and moderates that decide elections.
Democratswill skate to office largely
uncontested from now until either
President Barack Obama is found
to be a double agent working for the
Taliban or the Republicans finda way
to inject a drug into the water supply
that makes people think Sarah Palin
is actually more intelligent than a
rabbit (but it's a really smart rab-
bit, you betcha). But then a thought
hit me, what if the Democrats only
backed "pure" candidates too?
At first, I imagined a world where
politicians were nothing but a carica-
ture of how the other party sees them.
Democrats would, of course, all be Karl
Marx. Common lunchtime Democratic
conversation would feature the exploi-
tation of the proletariat, the fashion
no-no's of Joseph Stalin, and the best
methods of fomenting revolution.
Republicans, however, would worship
their almighty leaders, Rush Limbaugh
and Sarah Palin. All men would dress
in the style of Lord Rush and eat their
weight in jelly donuts to resemble his
image of perfection, and all women
would be forced to wear their hair in
the Palin beehive or risk waterboard-
ing. Since both Marxists and free
market demagogues seek to eliminate
the state (the former in its entirety to
bring about the final stage of commu-

nism, the latterinall economic affairs),
the two parties agree to abolish the
government and settle all political dis-
putes via the method of governance
I advocated for in my last viewpoint:
steel cage death match.
Democracy isn't
the same thing
as duopoly.
But once that little thought cloud
above my head dissipated, I began
to think deeper about the possible
implications. If the Democrats and
Republicans purified their parties,
those who don't adhere strictly to
either party platform would have no
recourse but to form new political
parties. Party litmus tests might just
be what we need to take down the
two-party duopoly that force Ameri-
cans to choose between the lesser
of two corrupted, ineffective, often
brain-dead evils and replace it with a
thriving, multi-party democracy.
Instead of just Republicans and
Democrats, the political process
would be opened up to a host of new
voices, and with more voices comes
more ideas - something we've been
sorely lacking for many years. While
litmus tests are ridiculous exercises
in ideological pandering, when they
are taken to their extreme, politi-
cians might not be afraid of taking a
stance on an issue that differs from
the , Democrats and Republicans,
because there could be another party
for them. In an ideal world of politi-
cal diversity, anyone with a few good
ideas and some initiative could start
their own party, launch a movement,
and take the White House. That's real
democracy.

- Alex Schiff can be reached
at aschiff@umich.edu.

6

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, William Butler, Nicholas Clift,
Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff,
Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Radhika Upadhyaya, Laura Veith
BRIAN FLAHERTY
Let my textbooks go

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. All submissions become property of the Daily. We
do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedoily@umich.edu.
WANT TO BE AN OPINION CARTOONIST?
E-MAIL RACHEL VAN GILDER AT RACHELVG@UMICH.EDU

a

An energetic generation

In the midst of purchasing course materials
yesterday, I found myself dancing on the grave
of a local business - the recently deceased Sha-
man Drum. Although I felt some empathy for
those harmed by its fall, it made me giddy to
realize that I had escaped the jaws of the book-
store's overpriced course materials and that,
with a little more effort on the part of students,
University officials and certain professors, text-
book affordability may be a reality for students.
But some students may not remember the infa-
mous Shaman Drum, so I shall tell its story.
Once upon a time, there was an overpriced
bookstore called Shaman Drum that sold
course materials for many professors. Despite
its community contributions, charming decor
and whimsical moniker, Shaman Drum was
much despised by students as the impending
symbol of a struggle that raged across campus
- the epic battle between a number of instruc-
tors who wish to support local bookstores and
frugal students who wanted to get their text-
books cheap.
While most professors have traditionally
treated their serfs with respect and dignity,
some once held that serfs do not make good
textbook purchasing decisions without help.
Professors of this sort used controversial tac-
tics to support Shaman Drum. In many cases,
Shaman Drum was designated as the only local
merchant for course materials. A number of
professors also routinely failed to provide text-
book lists and ISBNs that would've allowed
cash-strapped students to buy books else-
where. Having perhaps studied basic econom-
ics, Shaman Drum flaunted its monopoly with a
maniacal laugh and sold at prices often double
those of online sellers.
Why some professors in the ruling class
opted to subsidize Shaman Drum with stu-
dents' money is still shrouded in mystery. It
was alleged (and in at least one case substanti-
ated) that certain instructors owned stakes in
the store. In rare cases where professors were
asked to explain their behavior, they would
point to the value of supporting local business
or make bizarre claims that their behavior
was environmentally beneficial. They perhaps
thought that Shaman Drum's books were being
delivered via bicycle or assembled from recy-

cled materials on site by solar-powered robots
- and that the reused books delivered by UPS
are made of dead panda bears and baby seals.
Brave revolutionaries resisted textbook
imperialists by e-mailing their professors to
explicitly request textbook information, before
retreating for supplies to their bastions: Ama-
zon, Half.com, student book exchanges and
old or international editions. For many years,
University royalty left students to fend for
themselves against the textbook affordability
monster. But it was decreed that there would
be a website that would provide transparent
textbook information on Wolverine Access and
that professors should put course materials on
CTools for free when possible.
Shaman Drum went under. "Better late than
never" was the zeitgeist of the time, as the Wol-
verine Access textbook list went online. Many
professors used it and received fewer inces-
sant demands in students' emails for textbook
information. Students saved tons of moolah by
ordering their books early online. Well-to-do
students still bought their books at Ulrich's,
which began offering the option to rent, rather
than sell, books to students for cheaper rates.
Students who were struggling to pay their bills
had more affordable options available. And pro-
fessors even attempted to save a few trees and
help their students by putting materials online.
Although there has been progress, the con-
flict remains far from won. Even today, some
professors aren't transparent in providing
course material details or do so late with the
inevitable result that some students will face
a financial burden or obstacles in completing
coursework (such as books that arrive late). The
University should take action to ensure that vir-
tually all professors use the textbook site. But
in the meantime, students don't have to take
that sitting down. They can write professors or
department chairs to request textbook infor-
mation in advance and explain why it's impor-
tant for this information to be available. They
can ask that materials be put on reserve at the
library so that they're available to students. And
they can thank and recognize the professors
who are already doing the right thing.
Brian Flaherty is a senior editorial page editor,

h my god, I was up all night
studying for this test but am
still not prepared," said the
manic stranger
sitting to my left.
I nodded uncom-
fortably as I
awaited an exam
on "Dinosaurs
and Other Fail-
ures," trying to
think of a response
more inspiring
than "Wow, that LINCOLN
sucks." Sitting BOEHM
on the stranger's
desk, resembling
ancient docu-
ments from the third century B.C.,
were three bottles of 5-Hour Energy.
Oh my god, I thought. Is this test
really going to be 15 hours? I began
to panic, realizing that I would likely
have to break my dinner plans. When
I asked the girl to my right if the syl-
labus had indicated the test would be
15 hours, she looked at me like I was
crazy before picking up her two cans
of Red Bull and fleeing to the opposite
end of the classroom.
When I glanced around the room,
I realized that I had stumbled into
the United Nations of energy drinks.
There were black cans, white cans,
big cans and small cans. Cans with
colorful pictures on them. Some with
long names, others with short names.
Fat, skinny - everything you could
possibly imagine. Never before had I
seen diversity in such full effect. Why
did everyone have these chemically
enhanced energy drinks? What kind
of test was this going to be?
It seemed that each of the 250 stu-
dents in my class had a preferred ener-
gy drink that had been designed for
them like a fitted suit. Explanations
ranged from: "this one doesn't make

me crash afterwards" to "this one
doesn't give me heart palpitations."
Everyone I spoke with loved theirbev-
erage for a different reason. But it was
never a positive reason like, "the great
taste." It was always because of the
things their drink didn't do that oth-
ers did: "this poison doesn't blur my
vision as much as the other poisons."
Why does this generation need so
much energy all of a sudden? Are we
doing more than previous generations?
Let's catalogue my Sunday. I woke up
at noon, met my friend for brunch,
took a nap, watched a basketball game,
went out to dinner, watched a "Jersey
Shore" rerun, spent an hour on Woo-
Tube (Wikipedia/YouTube), listened
to a friend lament about girls, went to
buy cookies and then slept for 12 hours
straight. I have enough self-awareness
to admit that I didn't accomplish a
whole lot that Sunday, but Ilived to talk
about it, energy-drink free.
What do people have against
sleep? I love sleeping. It may very
well be my favorite thing to do. But
our society has conceived the notion
that it's glamorous to deny your body
what it wants. This is why God cre-
ated appetite suppressants, energy
drinks and chastity belts. You need
to eat and sleep to live, but research-
ers have found that resisting natural
instincts is a lucrative market.
It might make sense for a doctor
working a 24-hour E.R. shift to have
a swig of an energy drink from time
to time. But is it really necessary for.
my roommate to drink two Red Bulls
before work at the University dining
hall where he refills the ketchup con-
tainers when they reach dangerously
low levels?
Never before had I seen my room-
mate as excited as he was when we
saw a commercial for the new product
6-Hour Energy on TV. The introduc-

tion of 6-Hour Energy dethroned the
previous king ofenergy drinks: 5-Hour
Energy. And it's inevitable that in time
we'll see the dynasties of seven and
eight hour energy arise. At some point,
we'll logically come to 23-Hour Energy 4
- at which point sleep will make the
endangered hobbies list, along with
knitting and yo-yoing.

Two Red Bulls
to take an exam

a

seems excessive.
Shockingly, professional athletes
are drinking this poison, and even
promoting it on TV. So in the spirit
of research, I tried a 5-Hour Energy
drink and went to play soccer. After
thirty minutes, I threw up on the
goalie and got a red card.
Being someone who can't remem-
ber anything before the Clinton
administration, I may not know much.
But one thing I do know is that when
my colleagues are snorting prescrip-
tion drugs and drinking three bottles
of energy drinks to survive a two-hour
exam, something is wrong. What hap-
pened to the good old days when col-
lege students would stay up all night I
having sex and listening to music?
Now they sit in the libraries cram-
ming information into their heads
the way frat bros smash cans against
theirs, refusing to admit that their
bodies can't take any more. Something
needs to be done. If I had more energy
I'd try to figure out what it is. I wonder
if the corner store is still open.
- Lincoln Boehm can be reached
at Isboehm@umich.edu.

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