4A - Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A -TuesayJanury 7, 212 he Mchian Dily- mihigndaiyco
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The 'Norm' of celebrity gossip
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
and ANDREW WEINER JOSH HEALY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
EDITOR IN CHIEF
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En ourage e-books
'U' should mandate affordable class materials
extbook costs continue to rise each year, resulting in an
increasingly expensive burden for students to carry at the
beginning of semesters because publishers can increase
prices on a whim, and textbooks are required in most classes. Uni-
versity Dean of Libraries Paul Courant has expressed interest in
beginning a new push toward e-books on campus to help lower
high book costs for students. With the option of e-books, not only
would textbook prices drop by an estimated half, but the University
would play a lead role in a digital technology transformation.
Norm doesn't care much for
Kim Kardashian. Or Blue
Ivy, for that matter.
care much for
Or Blue Ivy, for
he slurs over a
burger, "is stu- MELANIE
pid. My mom's
name was Mary. KRUVELIS
She lived 72
A valid point, Norm. Especially
from the likes of a clearly intoxicat-
ed fellow traveler with a mouth that
seems incapable of containing the
river of saliva within. Heres a little
airport advice from the terminally
chilled-out - say it, don't spray it, my
Norm isn't his real name, by the
way. Like all the 511" white guys
out there with wire-rimmed glasses,
untamed Dumbledore beards and
breath smelling vaguely of cabbage
- or maybe fermented Mad Dog,
I couldn't tell - who stumble over
vacant seats, gracing unassuming
women with their presence, Dave,
62, of Decatur, Ill. wanted to make
his presence known.
"Like that guy who keeps painting
over the Moaning Lisa, what is he -
Banksy? British, I think. Do you have
any gum that's not this green shit?"
No, Norm, only spearmint, but
thanks for asking. We sat across from
each other: two strangers patiently
waiting for a flight that would invari-
ably arrive late. I anticipated the
curiously angry stares from flight
attendants - after all, it was my
fault westerly winds had distracted
the pilot from being distracted by
bosoms of Southeast Asian women
eager to refill coffee on that return
flight from Dallas.
I hadn't by any means invited
Norm to sit next to me - I mean, he
smelled weird - but I suppose we
were both a little lonely. After all,
his flask was running dry and I had
already listened to all of the Tom
Petty on my iPod. Twice. And aside
from the difficulty I faced trying not
to stare at that weird mole on his
neck, it was almost enjoyable. Well,
as enjoyable as strange, old, dirty
companionship can get for a misan-
And then he started talking.
Preaching. What had happened
to America? What's with society's
mindless infatuation with celebri-
ties? Where was the bathroom near
this gate? And what was worse - I
started to listen.
"You know there's something
wrong with this country when
babies, who haven't even done a
goddamn thing, get more panties in
a bunch than anything else in the
paper. I mean, I swear to God," he
garbled, as my face crimsoned and I
began planning my conversational
getaway. "You know that Blue Ivy
baby kept regular parents out of the
ICU? Yep, in just one day of living
that infant was so valuable that secu-
rity guards kept new parents from
seeing their babies. And I can't even
get mylandlord to get off my ass."
And so on and so forth. Norm had
a lot of issues - most related to alco-
hol -but in the hour I spent with him
in the airport terminal, it became
clear that society's insatiable appe-
tites for all things shiny and famous
drove him mad. And with his blood
alcohol content, he really shouldn't
have been driving anything.
"Everything's just so... shallow...
these days. No one gives a damn
about anyone that ain't pretty. It ain't
like how it used tobe. I mean, in the
He paused, sinking into what
appeared to be memories of weed
and Woodstock past. Then he began
talking again, but I started picking
my teeth and zoned out for a while,
so we'll move along to the parts I did
"I mean everyone that's anyone
now got that way because they paid
their way. It's all about the money...
fame... iPhone... WiFi... the Black-
Yeah, I don't know what that
"Everybody ain't worth noth-
ing now. Jus' think about it. Like
that skunk-haired chubby and the
Paris..." - Nicole Richie and Paris
Hilton, The Simple Life - "...and the
twins, the skinny wide-eyed noth-
ings from California..." - The Olsen
twins, maybe - "...the damn fuck
from the movies that won't shut up
about who's-it-what's-it from wher-
ever, you know"
It ain't like how
it used to be in
College students at public universities on
average spend more than $1,000 on text-
books annually, according to the College
Board Advocacy and Policy Center. This is
an incredible amount of money to spend on
books for classes at a time when tuition and
housing continue to make higher education
inaccessible. Courant said he believes that by
enacting a program similar to Indiana Uni-
versity's e-book program, the University will
be able to integrate e-books in the future, sig-
nificantly lowering book costs for students.
Indiana University began an e-book pilot
program in 2009, and it has been success-
ful. More than half of IU's student body now
prefers e-books to regular textbooks, and
support continues to grow as more students
and professors adopt e-books for their class-
es. Though IU requires professors to make
e-book versions of the texts available, the
University of Michigan should first imple-
ment it as an option for students and not
make it mandatory.
By implementing an optional e-book pro-
gram on campus, book prices would drop
dramatically for students. The University of
Michigan is a large university consisting of
three campuses and therefore has the buy-
ing power to influence big publishers to make
prices as low as possible, and make a major-
ity of texts accessible online. Students could
stick to traditional textbooks or move for-
ward to the cheaper e-book alternative.
The Internet is the largest educational
resource for the current generation. By work-
ing with publishers to increase web accessi-
bility, the University has the chance to play
an important role in the growing transfor-
mation of digital technology. The University
has already become an educational leader
by working with Google to create a digital
library, and it should remain a digital pioneer
by implementing an e-book program.
In addition to cutting costs and paving the
way toward a more digitally advanced educa-
tion, e-books also help save paper and resourc-
es that are used in the manufacturing of
thousands of traditional textbooks each year.
It's an obvious point - e-books are a more
environmentally friendly option for a univer-
sity that values environmental conservation.
Conventional textbook prices are at an all
time high, and the trend will continue as pub-
lishers gain market power and up the costs of
textbooks. By switchingto an e-book program
to allow students the option of digital texts,
students will be freed of a significant expense.
The University should implement an optional
e-book program as it moves toward a more
technologically advanced future.
Okay, I legitimately have no idea
who that might be.
"But it just don't make any sense.
We've got people all wrapped up in
the lives of people they'll never meet,
giving a damn about the weddings
and the shows and the I-don't-know-
what's. But let me try to get a damn
cigarette from anyone in this fucking
city and. I. Won't. Get. One. No one's
even gonna look at me."
In everyone else's defense, that
mole was horrifying. But maybe he
was onto something. The cult of the
celebrity is everywhere in America.
It's on our televisions. It's in our mov-
ies. It's in our sewers. And if we don't
stop and take a second to think about
what we're digesting, we're going
to end up with pizza-eating green
turtles crawling out of underground
conduits with stupid catchphrases
and dumb headbands that will later
be sold in Hot Topic and even later
will embarrass every last alternative
It's something to think about. But
for now, I've got a plane to catch.
- Melanie Kruvelis can be
reached at email@example.com.
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What makeS a qood' essa.0
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain,
Jesse Klein, Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne Roberts,
Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner
KEVIN TUNG Wr N
The other 2012 election
As the political tension and anxiety rise
after the last week's Taiwanese presidential
election, talks emerged about the subsequent
political path the country would take after
the newly elected President Ma Ying-jeou's
President Ma returned to office to serve his
second term after defeating candidate Tsai
Ing-Wen by 6 percent, or 800,000 votes, in the
Jan. 14 election.
"U.S.-Taiwan relations have grown
increasingly close over the past three years
under my administration ... the mutual trust
between high-level officials of our two coun-
tries will continue to deepen," Ma said at the
Presidential Office a day after re-election, the
Taipei Times reported. Ma plans to further
ties with China. The majority of Taiwanese
people were in favor of such policy, yet a good
portion - represented mostly by the young-
er generation - voted for candidate Tsai
Ing-Wen in the hope of protecting Taiwan's
Taiwan is an island occupied by those
defeated by the Nationalists in 1949 asa result
of the Chinese Civil War. The country was
internationally recognized, and democracy
was established as the political organization
of Taiwan. The alliance of the U.S and Taiwan
has since gradually developed from a celebrat-
ed partnership to a ticking bomb.
The result of the election in Taiwan,
however, would not diffuse or resolve the
political tension among Taiwan, the U.S and
China. Instead, it would fuel the political
pressures of the region and delay the explo-
sion of the bomb.
Without Taiwan as an ally, the U.S. would
lose the benefits of having a strong line of
defense stretching from South Korea down
to the democratic nations of Southeast Asia.
With the absence of Taiwan as an indepen-
dent democratic nation, chances are China
would use economic force to coerce the coun-
try into becoming a Chinese province.
China remains communist state, and
there isn't much evidence of democratization
occurring anytime soon. If Taiwan were to
increase trade and other forms of economic
interactions with China, the political strings
attached to these economic deals would soon
turn into total political dominance by China.
It's at the same time not in China's interests
to seize Taiwan by means of military force.
Such crude decisions would reflect extremely
badly on its reputation and severely under-
mine its recent impressive economic growth
and importance on the global stage.
With four more years of governing under
President Ma's administration, it's likely that
Taiwan would continue to move closer to
China. I'd agree, but I wouldn't actively sup-
port this movement. In order for China to gain
popularity among Taiwanese, China would
need to undergo major educational reform -
focusing more on moral and ethics.
The reason the majority of Taiwanese
decided to move closer to China stemmed
from their insecurity and loss of faith in what
Taiwan could achieve on its own. This sense
of insecurity was a result of the failed govern-
ing in Taiwan over the past several years.
The relationships between the U.S., China
and Taiwan would only become more tense
in the near future. There are no practical
solutions to the political stalemate in the
region. This isn't to say that no progress -
either political or social - would take place.
Gradually, the Chinese economic engine will
win over enough Taiwanese leaders and an
increase of ties with mainland China would
Kevin Tung is an SLSA sophomore.
A11 through middle and high
school, English teach-
ers drill in rule after rule
makings of a
be five para-
graphs, with .
an intro, three
paragraphs and HARSHA
a conclusion. NAHATA
have three - and
only three - main points. Thesis
sentences should clearly state these
three points, should be exactly one
sentence long and should always be
the last sentence of the introduc-
tion paragraph. Begin the introduc-
tion with a broad, general statement
to get readers interested and then
narrow down to your specific point.
Never start a sentence with "and"
or "because." Start each paragraph
with a topic sentence that describes
a point from the thesis, and end with
a conclusion sentence that reiterates
the main point of the paragraph.
Never even think about writing
essays in first or second person.
And the list of rules goes on.
With so many parameters and
restrictions, it's no wonder writ-
ing is a cause of anxiety for many
students in grade school. I've heard
many people groan at the notion of
writing essays. They claim, "Writ-
ing isn't really my thing." And why
wouldn't they groan? Sitting down
to write means being overwhelmed
with an endless amount of somehow
both vague and structured rules.
Even before kids begin to contem-
plate what to write about, they're
stressing about how long the para-
graphs are, what the three main
points are, where to put the thesis
and how to fit everything they want
to say into five paragraphs.
The other day, my 12-year-old
sister was working on an essay. She
asked for help comingup with a first
sentence. The catch? The sentence
couldn't have anything to do with
her main point, had to be broad and
general and had to be moderately
interesting to capture the reader's
Ironically, on the first day of my
first-year writing seminar at the Uni-
versity, our GSI told us to never start
a paper with a broad generalization
that couldn't be supported. None of
that "Since the beginning of time ...
" business, I was told. We were also
told that the upside-down pyramid
approach to writing was ineffective,
and instead our essays should be con-
cise and to the point, without fluff
and unsupported simplifications.
Five paragraphs? That limit wasn't
binding either. Instead, we were told
that we should write as many para-
graphs as necessary to structure a
sound argument and make our point
while providing ample evidence.
Which brings me to the most sur-
prisingrule we weretoldtobreak: the
arguments. Yes, we could have more
than the magic number of three. No,
we didn't have to miraculously fit a
summary of all our points into one
sentence. Yes, our thesis statement
could be more than one sentence
long. Shocking, I know.
We grow up learning how to write
intermsofrules and afixed structure.
While this is beneficial for beginner
writers, eventually such an approach
to writing becomes too limiting. The
worst part is, after spending the first
12-or-so years of life learningto craft
essays like this, we get to college and
are told that almost everything we've
learned is incorrect.
In essence, the transition from
high school writing to college writ-
ing forces us to unlearn all the rules
engrained in our heads. It's no won-
der that even self-proclaimed "good
writers" struggle with their first cou-
ple of papers at the University.
High school writing focuses on a
set structure with a ready-made for-
mula for what is considered a "good"
essay. In college, however, we are
taught that the formula and struc-
ture is dependent on what argument
you're trying to make. There is noset,
technical, correct way to structure a
paper. Instead essays should be writ-
ten in a way that fully develops and
supports the argument in the stron-
gest way possible.
Real life is much closer to the col-
lege view of writing. Writing is flex-
ible and should differ based on its
purpose and audience. There isn't
one set way to write, and teaching
young students otherwise is doing
a huge injustice. In the real world,
quality writing will be evaluated by
its ability to make a clear point in a
unique way, not by how many para-
graphs are used to make that point.
When cover letters for job applica-
tions or papers for a class are written,
people care about the voice, style and
content - not about the placement of
the thesis sentence.
Placing restrictions on writing
from an early age limits creativ-
ity and discourages students from
taking risks and exploring style. It
also teaches them to focus more on
the technicalities of structure and
format than on what's important:
actual content. The result is fluff
and writing that sidesteps the main
point but fulfills the page count or
paragraph requirement. Students
develop into redundant and wordy
writers in a world where brevity is
a virtue. If we want better-prepared
writers - and good writing is an
asset in any field - perhaps it's time
we restructure how students are
taught to write from the start.
- Harsha Nahata can be reached
at email@example.com. Follow her
on twitter at @harshanahata.
--the Upgrade/Downgrade: Laura Argintar on how to
podiUm pick - and drop - classes this semester.
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