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April 08, 2011 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-04-08

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4 - Friday, April 8, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com *
E-MAIL JEFF AT JEFFDZ@UMICH.EDU

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

JEFF ZUSCHLAG

STEPHANIE STEINBERG
EDITOR IN CHIEF

MICHELLE DEWITT
and EMILY ORLEY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS

KYLE SWANSON
MANAGING EDITOR

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Safety is a choice
Legislature should pass bill easing helmet laws
Motorcyclists may soon be allowed to drive without hel-
mets on Michigan roads. Though attempts to repeal
Michigan's 42-year-old helmet law were twice vetoed by
former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the law may be near-
ing its end. There are two bills in Michigan's Legislature that are
attempting to amend the current law. These bills should be passed to
give responsible adults more freedom and to set a precedent that the
state shouldn't be overzealous in dictating the safety parameters of

Like a kid in Candy Land

an individual's life.
The proposed law stipulates that motorcy-
clists who are 21 years or older and posses a
$20,000 insurance policy are exempt from
a helmet requirement. There is a prevalent
fear in the public mind that in the event of an
individual being injured as a result of a motor-
cycle accident, society is inevitably going to
have to foot the bill. This argument is being
used against the new helmet law, suggesting
that an increase in injuries will lead to higher
societal costs. It's unfitting that economics
should affect the legal discussion of personal
freedom, especially when those impacted are
responsible, insured adults. The new law's
insurance policy requirement nullifies the
economic issues of the proposed bill and will
alleviate the costs that taxpayers may incur
due to medical expenses.
An obvious concern regarding the easing of
state helmet laws is the safety hazard it would
pose to motorcyclists. The National Highway
Traffic Safety Association recommends hel-
mets and says they make motorcycle crashes
less severe and highly reduce the likelihood of
fatalities. According to an April 4 Detroit News
article, some motorcyclists claim that helmets
are restrictive and limit vision and hearing,
which can potentially increase the likelihood
of motorcycle crashes. The NHTSA focuses on

statistics that deal with helmet safety in the
event of a crash, but these statistics do not con-
clude whether or not crashes are more or less
likely to occur for people who wear helmets.
Helmets give necessary protection in
the event of a crash, but that does not mean
people should be forced to wear them. Prop-
erly educated, insured and experienced adult
motorcyclists should not be forced to be safe
because other people want them to be. Ciga-
rettes and alcohol are universally accepted as
detrimental to health and potentially lethal
over time,yet they are permittedbecause their
consumption is regarded as an exercise of free
choice for adults. Like many other potentially
harmful personal choices, motorcycling with-
out a helmet should be allowed.
Motorcycle education and safety infor-
mation should be provided for individuals
attempting to get motorcycle licenses. Safe
driving courses and informative policies
should guide people to make the best deci-
sions. No one should be forced into an action
by an overprotective legal system that does
not allow for an individual to make their own
decisions. It may be a mistake to ride without
a helmet, but it would be a far greater mistake
to perpetuate legislation that eliminates per-
sonal choice.

Ann Arbor is the best place
in the world. I mean that.
I think the University of
Michigan is one
of the best Uni-
versities that
the world has
to offer. I'm not
alone in that,
either. The Uni-
versity consis-
tently ranks
among the top ERIC
schools, often SZKARLAT
higher than sev-
eral Ivy Leagues.
It helps to make Ann Arbor the best
place in the world.
While that makes me proud to go
here, it's not the only thing I love
about the University. I love all the
things the University has to offer.
Many of them I will never expe-
rience. Many of them I will, and
already have.
It's no secret that we have an
immense number of student groups.
Circle K, K-Grams, the Prison Cre-
ative Arts Project, Squirrel Club,
Michigan Quidditch, Glee Clubs,
numerous a cappella groups, the
free theater group Basement Arts
and many others help this univer-
sity offer a multitude of extracur-
ricular activities that help students
grow as intellectuals, workers, art-
ists and people.
How many times have you heard
the words, "Get involved?" It's a
staple of the University, and you're
almost peer pressured into doing so.
I hate repeating cliches, so I won't.
Instead, I want to implore you to live
each day of your time here like a kid

in Candy Land. If you do that, you
can't spend four years here without
being involved.
Did you ever play that board game
growing up? If not, you might want
to look it up. It was among my favor-
ite games. I just remember the sheer
exhilaration I felt while looking at
the board. I just marveled at it. Not
for any particular reason, but for a
sheer and inexplicable love of it. I
always wanted to be a part of it -
to meet Plumpy, Mr. Mint, Queen
Frostine and Princess Lolly.
I got the same feeling when I
played that game growing up that
I do every time I walk past the
Law Quad - and I really look at
the architecture - and every time
I learn about how some University
alum has made the news or done
something significant. Maybe it's
pure aesthetic, but to me it's magi-
cal. And the best part about it is that
it's real.
Sometimes, I'm a bit overzealous.
(Those who know me well are laugh-
ing at the truth in that statement.)
But I'm just so overjoyed by the fact
that I go here, and not anywhere
else. One day, I'd love to teach here.
I definitely want it to be the first uni-
versity my children consider. I hope
that I can help them achieve that
goal throughout their childhood and
teenage years.
School is tough. I don't need to
tell anyone that. Exams wear you
down. Papers keep you.up all night.
But remember that at this university,
you have so many opportunities to
do something important.
Every day I'm motivated by the
fact that I was told I wouldn't get

in here. I had the grades, I had the
extracurricular activities, I had the
ACT score, but my high school coun- 0
selor said I wouldn't get in. If I took
her advice to give up applying, you
wouldn't be reading this. I'd prob-
ably be going to Michigan State Uni-
versity and majoring in something
completely different. (I don't think
my dad or grandfather would ever
have forgiven me.)Yet here I sit, on a
Block M blanket that is draped over
the futon in my room.
'U' is one of the
best schools in
the world.
I'm euphoric just to be sitting in
my room, surrounded by maize and
blue. But maybe Michigan doesn't
strike a chord with you as it does
with me. That's fine. I wish every-
body could be as enchanted by this
school as I am, butI understand not
all will. And I know it's not perfect.
But when a friend of a friend asked
me if I liked going here, I found
myself speechless. I couldn't express
the profound joy I felt. I wanted to
say something about everything,
to surround her with all the sweet
opportunities she would have at her
feet if she came here - like a kid in
Candy Land.
-Eric Szkarlat can be reached
at eszkarla@urpich.edu.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Will Butler, Ellie Chessen, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Melanie Kruvelis,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga,
Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb, Asa Smith, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner

-the Happy, Healthy Women: Anny Fang explores the issue of sex
verification procedures for female athletes.
podium Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium
ANDREW WEINER |
Facebook is taking over the world

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@MICHIGANDAILY.COM

Column's evaluation off
religion is startling
TO THE DAILY:
The language used in Dar-Wei Chen's arti-
cle (Religion is becoming extinct, 4/5/2011) is a
bit startling. The terms "religious baggage,"
"religion excuse" and the statement, "The
Internet and science are exposing many reli-
gious beliefs," offend me for many reasons,
yet I only have 300 words, so I will be brief.
It is very convenient to be so confident that
religion will be "eradicated" when the 21st
century has brought relative prosperity to
the developed world so far. But what of the
dictatorships? Those comrades living under
oppression of every variety must no doubt be
further purged of their religion as well, am I
right? This clearly Stalinist view of bringing
the lowly peasant out of his ignorance is truly
entertaining, especially when the memory of
the millions who have beenkilled in secularist
Chen's argument disregards
facts and history
TO THE DAILY:
This is in response to Dar-Wei Chen's col-
umn (Religion is becoming extinct, 4/5/2011).
I was thinking about responding to his opin-
ion with a logical discussion of religion,
which is as much a universal constant in
mankind as the doubt of religion. I would
have mentioned how every person - even an
ardent atheist - has a God: something that
gives people meaning, something that people
worship and somethingfor which people will
sacrifice everything.
Additionally, I would have made a logical
argument that absolutes cannot be proven.

purges has been forgotten.
I spoke with my grandmother on the phone
last night, and we talked of politics, as usual.
She spoke of living in communist Romania
under mental and religious oppression dur-
ing the last century. It is still hard for her to
believe that she was once forced to choose
between a life of scientific study or religion
(she chose science, so the Romanian secret
police wouldn't take her away). My point is
that people should always be free to choose,
with most everything. Christian Orthodoxy,
a branch of Christianity I doubt many have
heard of, has quite a peaceful and meditative
history that brought hope to so many of the
Eastern Bloc.
I have far too much to say for so little time
and 300 words. I have spoken of Christianity,
because I know that religion best, and I know
that it has followers that have done too much
good in the world to be hounded as they are.
Alexandru Popescu
Engineeringsophomore

Since I saw "The Social Network" a couple months
ago, I've been terrified. Terrified to go on my comput-
er and know that without meaning to, muscle memory
will open an Internet tab to Facebook. Terrified when
I'm pretending to do work in the Law Library, and I
see Facebook open on 13 out of 14 computers. Terrified
that Facebook has begun to take over the world and that
Mark Zuckerberg and his team don't appear to be stop-
ping any time soon.
First, let's quickly consider exactly what Facebook
is. A fun social network that has changed the way we
interact with the world? Yes - but that's what they want
you to think. It doesn't take any stretch of the imagina-
tion to see Facebook for what it really is: an enormous
company that 1 in 13 people in the world entrust with
their personal identities, interests and relationships. It's
a website on which we say, "Here's what I like, now sell
me something." In short, it's the greatest marketing tool
ever created.
Facebook's power as a personalized advertisement
generator may be ingenious, but recent events in Egypt,
Tunisia and Libya demonstrate that its history-altering,
political power is utterly mind-blowing. While Twit-
ter sustained rebellion movements, their beginnings
were on Facebook as groups and events. After the his-
toric events in Egypt this February, my political science
professor even titled a lecture "From Facebook to Tahir
Square." Facebook's power terrified the Syrian regime
after thousands of users clicked "attending" the Days of
Rage protests against the government.
Facebook's power to mobilize the masses - especially
youth - is clear. I truly believe that Mark Zuckerberg
has the power to overthrow an unstable regime. It may
sound outlandish, but hear me out. First, Zuckerberg
could create a Facebook event, or several events, for
protests. Unlike other organizers who can only reach a
portion of Facebook users, he could send multiple event
invitations to every user in a region or country. Then,
he could constantly bombard invitees with messages
reminding them to attend protests and encouraging
rebellion - including plans for a new Zuckerberg-head-
ed government after the current regime is ousted. As
unlikely as this is, it wouldn't take Zuckerberg more

than a few minutes and mouse clicks to organize.
Aside from government-destroying conspiracy theo-
ries, recent miniscule changes to Facebook illustrate its
ability to dominate. As of recently, Facebook users now
simply hit the "enter" key to post comments and other
notifications, instead of clicking a "post" button. Also, the
picture viewing application now hovers over the user's
current page, instead of existing as a separate page.
While these changes may seem insignificant, closer
examination reveals the motives behind them. Instead
of having to move your hands to post a comment, frac-
tions of a second are shaved off the action by simply
clicking "enter." Multiply these fractions of seconds by
Facebook's 500 millionusers, and that equals thousands
of added hours of surfing. Being able to see another page
underneath the photo application allows Facebook users
to return to the profitable pages more quickly. These
benefits emphasize Facebook's agenda: to get users on
Facebook more frequently, to keep them on for longer
and to view as many advertisements on as many pages
as possible.
A less recent change to Facebook is what I find most
troubling. I, like most students, was subjected to friends'
constant whining about Facebook's decision to show
pictures for its instant message feature instead of list-
ing friends' names. At first, I couldn't think of any reason
why the change had been made. It was more confusing
and less user-friendly - usually the opposite of Face-
book's updates.
As I thought about it more, however, it was a brilliant
move. Though it bothers users, the change forces them
to memorize their friend's profile pictures in order to
chat efficiently. That way, at some subconscious level,
we're basing recognition of a users' presence in terms of
their profile picture, not their name. Zuckerberg wants
the world to think in terms of Facebook - profile pic-
tures and statuses - in lieu of names and voices.
However paranoid I may be, along with more than
500 million others, I log on several times a day. Face-
book wants to take over our lives, and we continue to
help it do so.
Andrew Weiner is an assistant editorial page editor.

Therefore all systems (even science) must
start with a belief that must be assumed and
can be doubted, and the best we can hope to
do is find one that works and is not self-con-
tradictory. Finally, I would have pointed out
that differing ideas, doubt and contact with
other belief systems is as old as mankind.
Therefore, global communication offers
nothing new.
However, it was obvious from his tone and
blatant disregard for facts and history that
Dar-Wei Chen was just trying to be childish
and arouse bickering. Therefore, I will glad-
ly accommodate the level of conversation.
Darth Vader chainsaw-joisting a gorilla on
motorcycles: Your argument is invalid.
Andrew Crow
Rackham Ph.D. student

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be fewer than 300
words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. We do not print anonymous
letters. Send letters to tothedaily@michigandaily.com

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