4 - Friday, February 18, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4- Friday, February 18, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
E-MAIL JEFF AT JEFFDZ@UMICH.EDU
So book sales have been down, No matter what, books have Oh, sorry, dude.
and now Borders is going been a staple of our culture Didyou say
to declare bankruptcy. Big deal for centuries. Nothing is ever something?
ltdaesn't mes naythingl gaing ta replace chew.
Books are still relevant. gigt elc hm -
Am I right?
IBM takes on Jeopardy
EDITOR IN CHIEF
and EMILY ORLEY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS
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.
Snyder is all busin s
Budget proposal focusses on jobs, cuts education
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder unveiled his new budget pro-
posal yesterday, and Michigan residents are in store for big
changes - that are potentially good and bad. Either way,
it's clear that Snyder is fulfilling his promise to shake up business
Synder's budget announcement was by no
means out of left field. He has been talking
about large-scale changes to Michigan's eco-
nomic system since he began his campaign.
His proposal to eliminate the Michigan Busi-
ness Tax and replace it with a flat 6 percent
corporate income tax, for example, came as
no surprise. And his substantial cuts to gov-
ernment spending were also not a shock.
Even schools were prepared for a reduction
in state funding, but few anticipated a 15 per-
cent cut - Synder's official proposal.
In what came as a huge blow to schools
around the state, it was proposed yesterday
that funding for public schools would be
reduced by $470 per student - $170 of which
had been previously determined - and that
public universities would receive 15 percent
less funding, according to a Feb. 17 Detroit
Free Press article. These cuts have left
schools scrambling to determine how they
will cope with this decrease in state appro-
It's clear that Snyder's eye is on the future
of Michigan and building the state up to a
competitive level. There's no doubt that Sny-
der's budget decisions weren't made rashly.
The recently inaugurated governor certain-
ly hadhis work cut out for him, after being
handed down astate economy that is $47 bil-
lion in debt. But he seems to have lost sight
that there are people who still need to live
and work in Michigan while he is working to
develop businesses and bring new people to
Current Michigan students at all educa-
tion levels are going to encounter significant,
and potentially detrimental, changes at their
schools. It's unrealistic to expect schools to
perform at the desired level - a bar that will
potentially be even higher if scores needed to
pass standardized tests are raised - without
the proper resources. It's also unrealistic to
expect Michigan businesses to want to stay
in Michigan if workers can't send their chil-
dren to well-funded schools.
Synder is known to reference Michigan's
"brain drain" problem. And while he may
be working to establish job opportunities
in the state for college graduates, taking
away funding from public universities cre-
ates a problem for students trying to obtain
an education in Michigan. If the state can't
give young people educational opportunities,
then our future will be rather bleak regard-
less of the strength of our economy.
The self-proclaimed "nerd" is also a self-
proclaimed businessman, and in all likeli-
hood his budget proposals will be good for
small businesses. But if you're a student, a
film producer or unemployed, Michigan isn't
going to be an easy place to live in in the com-
ing months. The state hasn't heard the last
of Snyder's budget proposa s, and the Leg-
islature will likely be tieb in debate over
the specifics for weeks. 5 as this budget is
revised, Congress needs to ensure that Mich-
igan's students remain a priority because the
current 15 percent funding cut says the oppo-
Dozens of IBM researchers
spent three years build-
ing one computer for what
appeared to be
Watson, whose .
10 racks of off-
pack 13 trillion
bytes of data,
three straight MATT
nights this week AARONSON
on the popu-
lar long-running NBC game show
The gender-neutral Watson
faced stiff competition in human
champions Ken Jennings - whose
74-game win streak in 2004 has
yet to be surpassed - and the pre-
viously undefeated Brad Rutter,
who holds the record for monetary
winnings. Yet when all was said
and done, in the "Final Jeopardy"
round of the third and final night,
Jennings quoted "The Simpsons"
to declare in parentheses following
his written answer: "I, for one, wel-
come our new computer overlords."
If you can't beat 'em, he figured,
might as well praise 'em. And nei-
ther Jennings nor Rutter could beat
Watson. Rutter finished the first
night tied with the supercomputer,
and Jennings made a good run early
on in night three. But Watson ran
away with the game, the tourna-
ment and the million-dollar grand
prize (which IBM split evenly
between two charities).,,
Writing for Slate on Wednesday
night, Jennings said it didn't take
long for him to realize that "this
was to be an away game for human-
Not everyone was impressed.
New York Times television critic
Alessandra Stanley wrote after
Watson's first appearance that "It's
not the match of the century, it's
more like the letdown of a lifetime."
Stanley approached the situation
with such skepticism and casu-
al indifference that we can only
assume she owns a Jetsons-esque
robot to dress and groom her every
morning before she gets into her
flying car that drops her off at the
Times office and parks itself while
she rattles off orders for her interns
using only a chip implanted in her
Stanley criticized the represen-
tation of Watson by an on-stage
avatar as unfair, wondering why the
human contestants couldn't "con-
sult a backstage ensemble of 2,800
experts," referring to the number
of computers to which Watson's
power can be compared. She con-
cluded that if Watson loses "IBM
should be ashamed: the company
should have gone all out and sprung
for a full 3,000 (computers)."
Perhaps she's right - there are
plenty of reasons that the challenge
wasn't necessarily fair for the prov-
en human champions. But that's
not what makes this event special.
It was an exhibition tournament,
Putting all preoccupations with
fairness and competitive purity
aside, it's remarkable what this
machine can do. As IBM research-
ers explain in advertisements
promoting the special challenge,
Watson illustrates a breakthrough
in the ability of computers to
understand and interpret human
language, idioms and even tone. At
lightning-fast processing speeds,
it applies these capabilities to a
vast pool of knowledge, and if its
best answer reaches the "confi-
dence threshold," Watson buzzes in
before the humans can wrap their
head around the question (or on
Jeopardy, the answer).
On Monday night, the $1,000
prompt in the category "Final
Frontiers" was as follows: "Tick-
ets aren't needed for this 'event', a
black hole's boundary from which
matter can't escape." Watson, with
97-percent confidence, buzzed in.
"Event horizon," said the robotic
In Wednesday's "Dialing for Dia-
lects" category, the .$200 prompt
would seem simple for a human but
quite tricky for a computer. "Spre-
chen sie plattdeutch? If you do,
you speak the low variety of this
language." Watson buzzed in right
away: "What is German?"
The "question-answer machine"
even makes informed risk decisions
on the fly. Consider Tuesday night's
Final Jeopardy answer: "Its largest
airport is named for a World War II
hero; its second largest, for a World
War II battle." Watson wrongly
offered Toronto, but saved itself by
taking confidence level into account
and only wagering $947.
Trivia show was
an 'away game
If Watson's capabilities were
truly confined to winning quiz
shows, the project would be a seri-
ous waste of time, effort and money.
The technological advancements
made by the -IBM team represent a
leap, forward in the long-dreamed-
of utility of artificial intelligence.
According to the IBM employees
featured in the specials, the same
natural-language capabilities could
do worlds of good in improving
business logistics and even in help-
ing doctors make faster and better
"It changes the paradigm in
which we work with computers,"
said one researcher.
But even without such an opti-
mistic outlook, anything'that puts
science and engineering in the fore-
front of conversation - especially
in a country that lags significantly
in education for these areas and
will likely feel the effects of that in
the future - is a good thing. Any-
thing that does it in a fun and stim-
ulating way is even more valuable.
- Matt Aaronson was the Daily's
managing editor in 2010. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Will Butler, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer,
Melanie Kruvelis, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga,
Teddy Papes, Asa Smith, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
AVERY ROBINSON I
Rethink bottled water ban
MEAGHAN O'CONNOR, ANDREA BYL AND AMANDA USTICK I
'Go Red' for a healthy heart
I am sitting on my couch trying to draft an
e-mail when all of a sudden I am bombarded
with c-mails asking me to sign a petition to
ban bottled water sales on campus. I think
it's a great idea. There is a gross amount of
environmental abuse associated with this
industry, and bottled water is worse for you
than tap water (tap water is almost always
better). Bottled water is regulated by the
Food and Drug Administration, which has
much looser regulations than the Environ-
mental Protection Agency and Safe Drinking
Water Act that regulate tap water. However,
despite the chemical pollutants that may be
found in our bottled water, the health effects,
physical and environmental, of drinking bot-
tied water are not nearly as bad as drinking
pop (read: soda or Coca-Cola for people out-
side the Midwest).
If the argument for banning bottled water
is based purely on bottles being an environ-
mental tribulation, then the same logic applies
equally for pop and other beverages. But the
ban does not mention these items, so there
must be more to the issue than just packaging.
The cost of bottled water is relatively low
- it's just tap water and a cheap plastic bot-
tle. But colas and other pops require the same
amount of water with the addition of high
fructose corn syrup or other "diet" sweeten-
ers, natural and artificial flavors (whatever
those are), coloring, caffeine and who knows
what else. Essentially, take water and com-
pound it by the cost of industrially growing
and refining corn and soy.
By removing bottled water from the
shelves of vending machines and campus
cafes, this ban will push people toward mak-
ing unhealthy consumptive decisions. Stud-
ies have shown that drinking pop and other
non-water refreshments leads to poor health,
a greater risk of heart disease and weight
gain. I know this isn't the intention of this
ban, but you should always think about the
consequences of your actions.
I always carry a water bottle, but is it
reasonable to expect 40,000 students and
30,000 faculty and staff, as well as visitors
to our campus, to always have a water bottle
handy? Is it reasonable to compel people to
frequently excuse themselves from meetings,
classes and work to use the water fountain
because they cannot access bottled water (or
a cup for their water)?
Michigan Student Assembly, before you
vote on this petition, I beg you to consider
the consequences of your actions. Do you
want people to resort to unhealthy beverages
because you took away their water bottles?
Educate the campus about water and the
impact of bottles through the LSA theme
semester, but please don't make such a bold
decision without considering the social and
Avery Robinson is an LSA junior.
February has been proclaimed "American Heart
Month," and we would like to share the importance
of living a heart-healthy lifestyle with students, espe-
cially women, on campus. We think it is important
to acknowledge that heart disease is not just an "old-
man's disease." In fact, only 55 percent of women
realize that heart disease is their number one killer,
according to goredforwomen.org. Female heart attack
symptoms are understudied in comparison with male
symptoms. Women are often misdiagnosed, leading to
premature hospital discharge, missed heart attacks
and, consequentially, an increased mortality rate.
Females deserve proper medical care and the same
preliminary precautions as males. In order to approach
equal medical treatment regarding heart disease, we
believe raising awareness in the public sphere is an
important first step.
In an attempt to promote awareness in our own com-
munity, we want to draw attention to the Go Red for
Women Campaign, sponsored by the American Heart
Association. This campaign focuses on encouraging
women to educate themselves about personal heart
disease risks, as well as promoting healthy lifestyles
to actively lower these risks. It also advocates mak-
ing the fight against heart disease a personal mission
and connecting the individual lifestyle with political
action. We want to make young people aware that they
can actively lower their risk for heart disease by mak-
ing heart-healthy decisions now.
Because heart disease can affect women at any age,
the Go Red for Women Campaign offers several tips
for women in their 20s to help promote a heart-healthy
lifestyle. We share these tips in the hope of promoting
this campaign's message on our own campus. College
can take a toll on our bodies both mentally and physi-
cally. Staying healthy is just as important as getting
It's important to check your family history of heart
disease. Learn this information now so you can be
aware of your own risk. Don't smoke, and stay away
from secondhand smoke. Drink in moderation. Choose
birth control carefully, Know your numbers: Evaluate
your own cholesterol, sugar and fat levels, blood pres-
sure, BMI and waist circumference. Eat well: Heart-
healthy foods include fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich
whole grains, lean meats and foods low in saturated
and trans fats and sugars. Be active: Make an exercise
routine part of your daily life, make an effort to get off
the couch or visit the gym regularly - briskly walk-
ing to class counts. Watch your weight: Transitions
between relationships, school and work can take a toll
both emotionally and physically. Aim to develop a posi-
tive body image, and take pride in taking care of your
own health. Keep portions small, starteverymealwith
filling foods and drink lots of water. Don't be afraid to
talk to your doctor. Reduce your risk of heart disease
by starting heart disease screenings now.
The Go Red for Women Campaign has a useful,
interactive website that provides women of all ages
with effective and useful tools for taking heart health i
into their own hands. The website offers a BetterU
Program - a free 12-week online nutrition and fitness
program - to help users "makeover" their heart. The
website also provides heart-healthy recipes, weekly
guidance, online journals, support forums and daily
expert tips to guide your quest for developing a heart-
healthy lifestyle. The website provides a Go Red Heart
Checkup as well as background information and statis-
tics regarding heart disease.
If you are interested in joining the fight against heart
disease in women, the website provides an easy way to
donate, share personal stories and get involved with
the campaign. It even has a Go Red store where you can
purchase clothing and other accessories, and proceeds
are directed to heart disease research because, as the
site states, "doing good and looking good are always
in fashion." You can even "like" Go Red for Women on
Facebook to shop, share the information with others or
even receive a free red dress pin - the symbol of the Go
Red campaign. Who doesn't like free stuff?
When women become more informed, they are
more likely to recognize their heart disease symptoms
as potentially threatening and dangerous. It's time to
take your heart-health into your own hands. Go Blue
and Go Red today.
Meaghan O'Connor is an LSA freshman. Andrea Byl
is an LSA freshman. Amanda Ustick is an LSA junior.
-the Happy, Healthy Women: Anny Fang thinks about
podium feminism after an experience in Nepal.
Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium