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September 10, 2012 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2012-09-10

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4A - Monday, September 10, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A -MonaySepembe10,201 Th Miciga Daly micigadaiyco

Edited and managed by students at
- the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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.
Shop tl you drop
"Course shopping" leads to better scheduling
Syllabus Week isn't exactly a walk in the park, though its name
might suggest otherwise. Instead, it's a week spent trying to
register for the maximum number of credit hours without
time conflicts and sending frantic e-mails to professors begging for
overrides. However, on the East Coast, schools including Harvard.
University, Pennsylvania State University and Brown University are
"shopping" for classes. Unfortunately, the adding and dropping process
at the University of Michigan often locks students into classes without
allowing them to familiarize themselves with the course materials or
class structure - despite increasingly better course descriptions. The
University should implement a "shopping period" at the beginning of
the fall semester, not only to alleviate unnecessary stress and textbook
purchases, but to further promote academic ambition.

Eleven years later, deafening silence

Nearly one year ago, I wrote
a column about how our
generation makes sense
of the post-9/11
world we've
inherited. That
was the tenth
anniversary of
the 2001 attacks,
and tomorrow
will mark the
eleventh. DANIEL
Before Tues- CHARDE
day comes and
we observe
moments of
silence to honor those lost to terror
and war, I think it's fitting to reflect
on the challenges we still face - not
only as a nation, but as individuals.
One of the most obvious - and
costly - legacies of 9/11 is the ongo-
ing war in Afghanistan. This war is
the longest in U.S. history. As of Sep.
7, the Department of Defense reports
that the total number of Ameri-
can casualties in Afghanistan is at
2,106. However, this figure does not
begin to illustrate the human suf-
fering that underlies raw numbers.
Indeed, headlines like "War-weary
US is numbed to drumbeat of troop
deaths" are frighteningly accurate
observations of the widening gap
between domestic public opihion and
wars abroad. (For an excellent depic-
tion of life at war in Afghanistan, see
the 2010 documentary "Restrepo.")
The article attached to that headline,
written by Robert Burns, highlights
a recent spate of American deaths in
Afghanistan, including that of Pfc.
Shane W. Cantu of Corunna, Michi-
gan. Cantu was only 20 years old.
Despite all of the lives lost, this
protracted war does not figure
prominently in the minds of Ameri-
cans today. According to a July
2012 Rasmussen poll, only 30 per-
cent of Americans deemed the war
in Afghanistan a "very important"
issue. Meanwhile, as the November
presidential election approaches, the
economy remains the most pressing
concern for the majority of voters.
At the Republican National Conven-
tion, Mitt Romney did not once men-
tion Afghanistan. Clint Eastwood
referenced the war one time, but, like
most of his cringe-worthy speech, it
was incomprehensible. Similarly, at
the Democratic National Conven-
tion, President Obama mentioned
Afghanistan only twice. With the

exception of vague platitudes about
Israel and Iran, one would think
our presidential candidates can't
acknowledge the existence of any
other nation outside the U.S. border
- let alone that we've been at war
with one for almost 11 years.
At the core of this disconnect in
civil-military relations is a striking
paradox. Although we've become
willfully deaf tothe distant sounds of
war, we reflexively and unquestion-
ingly lavish praise on all American
men and women in uniform. Now let
me be clear: they deserve this praise
entirely. But what of those who failto
return home alive from their service
abroad? As the names of the dead
pile up and fall by the wayside in the
24-hour media machine, who among
us will offer them our gratitude for
their sacrifice?
After all, the most accessible
portrayal of warfare is currently
NBC's sanitized, sensationalized
and much-derided reality televi-
sion show "Stars Earn Stripes." We
are taught to have pride in, and give
thanks to, those who protect us,
but we refuse to acknowledge the
brutal, less-than-glorious reality of
war itself.
I was reminded of this on Sat-
urday, when the University of
Michigan hosted the U.S. Air Force
Academy for the first home football
game of the season. At the begin-
ning of the match, the crowd roared
as a B-2 Stealth Bomber flew over
the Big House. At halftime, in a for-
mation spelling out "America," the
marching band finished off their
military-themed show with a rous-
ing rendition of John Philip Sousa's
"The Stars and Stripes Forever."
In the student section, fragmented
chants of "U-S-A!" rang out across
the stands. And in an editorial pub-
lished last week, The Michigan
Daily endorsed a student initiative
to ban the fourth down "You suck"
chant - especially in time for the
Michigan vs. Air Force game, since,
they assert, "[i]t's important to
show other universities and sports
fans that Michigan students have
respect for those riskingtheir safety
for our nation's.'
This is all very well, but I find it
insincere to suggest that this, of all
things, is the best way to show those
who serve our country our respect.
Such efforts are well intentioned,
yes, but superficial.

Real respect requires more than
chanting patriotically and refrain-
ing from immature jeers. Respect
starts with honesty. The great
majority of us have grown lazy,
myself included. With the complic-
ity of the media and overly simplis-
tic political rhetoric, we are at war
without understanding what war
entails. We've led ourselves to erro-
neously believe that we show our
respect by cheering for America
but remain silent when faced with
too many deaths to comprehend.
Sound bites and gaffes now blot out
the deaths of young Americans in
our collective consciousness. That
is why we lack respect, and all of us
are guilty.
9/11 and it's
after-effects are
still newsworthy.
As I wrote in my column one year
ago, our generation has inherited a
seemingly endless war. This is why
Tuesday, on the anniversary of Sep-
tember 11th, I encourage everyone
to think deeply about the persis-
tence of the past: the consequenc-
es of 9/11 endure in the present.
Although those attacks occurred
more than one decade ago, they
continue to claim victims today.
The tragedy of 9/11 is not delimited
to history - it remains a current
event. To ignore its legacies, to turn
a blind eye to the lives our wars
continue to claim, would be tanta-
mount to ignorance.
For this, I challenge The Daily to
buck the trend in the national media
and more prominently feature sto-
ries on the American casualties of
war - particularly those related to
the state of Michigan and the Uni-
versity community. It is the respon-
sibility of this newspaper to inform
the student body. If we are to offer
genuine respect to those serving
abroad, as we claim to, let's begin by
building awareness at home among
the leaders of tomorrow.
- Daniel Chardell can be
reached at chardell@umich.edu.

At the University of Michigan, returning
students register for classes in the spring, and
incoming freshmen register at their orientation
sessions during the summer or early fall. Stu-
dents may register for 12 to 18 credit hours at
normal student rates and are permitted to add
or drop courses for two weeks after the firstday
of classes. However, students at some universi-
ties spend the first weeks of school in a "shop-
ping period" and attend any and all classes that
interest them. Students then go through the
normal registration after "shopping" for their
favorite professors, topics and class structures.
The term "course shopping" has a connota-
tion that promotes exploration and experimen-
tation. This policy gives students the time and
opportunity to discover what interests them
without restrictions. Students can step out of
their comfort zones and see if something unex-
pected interests them.
As many freshmen and undecided stu-
dents sift through hundreds of courses and
a difficult-to-navigate registration process,
many are understandably overwhelmed.
Deciding on a life path is a stressful process,
and the finality of pre-registration makes it
that much more nerve-wracking. A shopping
period would allow unsure students to get a
better feel for what they do and do not like,

which would lead to less "buyer's remorse,"
especially considering the price of textbooks
and other class materials.
If students had the opportunity to shop
for classes, the instructors would have a
greater incentive to make class introduc-
tions interesting and competitive. This would
deter instructors from the typical introduc-
tory classes, filled with syllabi and review.
Instead, students would get a feel for the
material right away and be able to quickly
determine their interest level. The scramble
to find the best professor before registering
wouldn't be as important and students could
enroll in the most appealing class.
Implementing a shopping week at the Uni-
versity is beneficial for students in several
ways. It promotes exploring new subjects
and branching out of comfort zones without
negative repercussions. Freshmen and unde-
cided undergraduates would especially ben-
efit from this policy, and all students would
benefit as teachers would be more inclined to
make course material interesting. Ultimate-
ly, a shopping week at the University would
allow students to truly enjoy the classes
they've chosen, instead of wasting time and
money on subjects that only seemed interest-
ing in the course guide.

Kaan Avdan, Eli Cahan, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Harsha Nahata, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne Roberts,
Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Caroline Syms
NASA's unsung impact


'Illegitimate' arguments

In the aftermath of August's inexcusable,
irrational and horrendously offensive "legiti-
mate rape"gaffe uttered by U.S. Rep. Todd Akin
(the hopefully soon-to-be ex-Republican candi-
date for U.S. Senate in Missouri), I, as a Repub-
lican, have found myself in the unfortunate
position of being vulnerable to guilt by asso-
ciation. My peers may unfairly conclude that I
must somehow sympathize with the extremist
ideology of some fringe politician who happens
to associate with the same political party. In
lieu ofthe well-deserved backlash against Todd
Akin and the undeserved stigma that some of
my fellow college Republicans may be facing, I
find it necessary to clarify some essential facts
that may be lost in all of the hype.
As soon as Rep. Akin's comments went viral,
the Republican establishment dropped him
like a hot potato, as they well should have. The
National Republican Senatorial Committee
promptly pulled his funding, both Mitt Romney
and Paul Ryan called for his withdrawal from
the Senate race, Republican Sen. Scott Brown
of Massachusetts, himself a victim of sexual
abuse as a child and the father of two daugh-
ters, railed against Akin's gaffe as "outrageous,
inappropriate, and wrong" and demanded his
resignation from the race. In short, probably
99 percent of Republicans condemned Akin for
misrepresentingthe values of his party.
The swift condemnation delivered by the
party establishment most visibly rebukes the
idea that reasonable Republicans would sym-
pathize with, or even cover up for, a radical and
severely misinformed beliefheld by one of their
own. While I'm at it, I find it necessary to men-
tion a Democratic politician whose infamously
shameful acts of infidelity were covered up
and overlooked by members of his own party
who are now railing against Akin for offending
women. Does the name Bill Clinton ringa bell?
Slick Willie, perhaps? I digress.
For those who may be emboldened after
recent events to label all Republicans as out
of touch on women's issues and who may feel
that the reaction by the party establishment
was merely political damage control and not
heartfelt condemnation, I present some more
food for thought. Adding to Senators Kay Bai-

ley Hutchison of Texas, Lisa Murkowski of
Alaska and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe
of Maine - all three of whom are pro-choice
- the 2010 election cycle saw the election of
.New Hampshire's first female Republican
senator, Kelly Ayotte. Further, at the state
level, three of the 15 newly-elected Repub-
lican governors in 2010 were women. This
includes the nation's first ever Latina gov-
ernor, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, and
the first female governor of South Carolina,
Nikki Haley, who is currently the country's
youngest governor as well as the second ever
Indian-American governor.
These new leaders are visionaries and pio-
neers, both for their party and for the rest
of the country. They represent the future of
the Republican Party, rebuff the notions that
Republicans as a whole are out of touch with
women, and thatstrong,talented women can't
also be drawn to core Republican values: hard
work, personal responsibility, entrepreneur-
ship, equality of opportunity, individualism,
smaller and smarter government, etc.
Todd Akin does not represent mainstream
Republicans, nor do the vast majority of
Republicans and Americans sympathize with
his statement. I would hope that my peers
would not be so judgmental as to label all
Republicans bigots simply because they iden-
tify with the same broad-tent, pluralistic con-
glomeration known as the Republican Party.
Contrary to current hype, women's issues
are not exclusively Democratic issues. Being
a Republican can mean a number of differ-
ent things to each individual, as can being
a Democrat. I myself am pro-gay marriage,
as are a small but growing number of fis-
cally conservative, socially moderate-to-
liberal Republicans. One bad apple cannot
and should not spoil the bunch. After all, just
because Bill Clinton made shameful personal
decisions that tarnished his reputation and
undermined his marriage doesn't mean I
believe that my Democratic friends condone
or accept his behavior simply because they're
Alexander Veras is an LSA junior.

When I return home on breaks
from school, my 14-year-old brother
gives me a bear hug, and then imme-
diately proceeds to offer a descrip-
tion of the newest technology, from
Apple's next iPhone to Samsung's
newest tablet. When I look at these
devices, I'm amazed by the advances
in technology and wonder at these
innovative ideas.
During my internship on Capi-
tol Hill this past summer, I learned
about the growing role of NASA in
America's economic competitive-
ness. Even though NASA has discon-
tinued launching men and women
into outer space, it plays an extreme-
ly important role in our economy.
NASA has been working to apply
space technologies to commercial
markets. Using their advances to
spark innovation in a stagnant global
economy may be the boost America
needs to get back on top.
Over the past several decades,
NASA has been looking to improve
American economic competitive-
ness through its Small Business
Innovation Research/Small Business
Technology Transfer programs. As
a result, NASA has sponsored over
1,000 technology projects and has
invested billions of dollars in proj-
ects across the country, including
$28 million in the state of Michigan
in 2011.
There have been many examples
ofthese products, also known as
"spinoffs." NASA has invested in
projects in numerous industries,
including medical care and sports
performance. For example, at the
Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, doc-
tors and nurses have been using a
portable ultrasound machine that is

based on technologies licensed from
NASA. This device allows anyone to
send medical imaging to experts for
NASA has also attempted to use
its technology to tackle looming
environmental challenges. With
solar technology subject to much
public scrutiny since the Solyndra
scandal in 2011, NASA has quietly
been working with GreenField Solar,
a company that has been develop-
ing PhotoVolt solar technologies
in Cleveland. GreenField Solar has
created a solar energy concentrator
that can track, capture and concen-
trate the sun's rays 900 times better
than a normal concentrator, which
dramatically improves the efficiency
of the solar panel, according to Dr.
Mason Peck, the chief technologist
of NASA.
As a result of NASA's efforts,
America has seen great benefits at a
low cost. According to a study con-
ducted by Georgetown and NASA,
out of the 187 projects assessed, 76
percent reported productivity and
efficiency improvements for the
companies. 62 percentof the projects
produced quantitative benefits, such
as improving or saving lives, along
with job and revenue benefits. The
technologies generated about 1,600
jobs and $532 million in revenue. In
the cases in which data were collect-
ed about productivity and efficiency
improvements, companies reported
total savings of $4.13 billion.
With these benefits in mind, this is
the future of the American economy.
While the recovery continues to lag
and the federal government remains
deeply indebted, Congress and the
White House should not stop fund-

ing NASA's efforts. These projects
will contribute to provide revenues
for companies and new industries in
which America can be a global lead-
er. President Obama's 2013 budget
allocates $17.7 billion to NASA. This
number is quite small when com-
pared to the possible return on the
investment made.
If there is any hope in makingthis
work, America must invest in and
rework its education system, partic-
ularly in math and science. Accord-
ing to a 2009 study conducted by the
Organization for Economic Coop-
eration and Development, Ameri-
can students rank 25th out of 34
industrialized countries in math and
17th in science. Not only that, fewer
students are studying math and sci-
ence in the highest levels of educa-
tion. The biggest companies today,
including Apple, have said that they
have moved their production cen-
ters and offices overseas in part due
to the fact that there are not enough
skilled workers in the U.S.
NASA has made an attempt to
solve this problem by providing
internships and scholarships for stu-
dents interested in math and science.
These solutions will help bring jobs
back to the U.S., but America must
be willing to cultivate the greatest
innovators of the world. NASA must
play a large role in spurring that
innovation, though it will be up to
students to make it possible. Ten or
20 years from now, I'm hoping that I
can still hear my little brother tell me
he and his classmates are designing
tomorrow's products, not just read-
ing about them.
Paul Sherman is an LSA sophomore.

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