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41

Thursday, August 7, 2014
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

Thursday, August, 7, 2014
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

9

PAUL SHERMANI
Time for trains

'Outlander' Premiere 'Honorable'

IAN DILLINGHAM
EDITOR IN CHIEF

AARICA MARSH
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

STEPHANIE SHENOUDA
MANAGING EDITOR

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.
Education, not incarceration
Michigan prisons in desperate need of reform by state legislature
T he largest growing industry in Michigan since 1980 is
the prison industry. Twenty-four years ago, Michigan
corrections department's budget was three percent of the
state's fiscal budget. Today, the corrections department accounts for
20 percent of the budget. Similarly, Michigan prisoners serve longer
sentences and cost more to taxpayers than the national average. With
correctional facilities using more money than education, reforming
the prison system has become increasingly important to the state
legislature's bipartisan agenda. The state legislature must take
reformatory action as soon as possible so funding can be redirected
to areas in desperate need of help such as education.

Every time I go back home to Seattle, I
always look out across Lake Washington
and see construction cranes out in the
distance. Construction on the Evergreen
Point Bridge, which connects the eastside
suburbs to downtown Seattle, is well
underway. However, it has taken much
longer than expected. Not only that, the
project is $128 million over budget.
After watching the development of
the bridge, I started to think more about
transportation and its infrastructure. As
I took an Amtrak train from New York
to Washington, D.C., I noticed some
differences between American railroads
and European ones. In Europe, one can
travel from Brussels to Paris in about 1.5
hours in their high-speed trains (about
160 miles). For a comparison, it took me
about three hours to get to D.C.
So, after making this trip, I wondered
how much money would be needed
to fix America's infrastructure issues.
According to the American Society of
Civil Engineers, continuing to repair
existing equipment will cost Americans
approximately $570 billion by 2020 and
$1 trillion by2040.
The part of ASCE's transportation
report that piqued my interest the most
wasthesectionaboutAmerica'srailroads.
Rail has been one of the bright spots for
American infrastructure even duringthe
recession, as funding for railroads has
increased to $75 billion. In some states,
such as California, governments have
even tried to develop high-speed rail
projects.
However, as the ASCE indicated on
its website, changes can still be made to
further improve rail services:
"To meet future demand in the
Northeast Corridor for both Amtrak
and the eight commuter railroads that
use the corridor, estimated investments
are about $10 billion over the next 15
years to achieve a state of good repair
and to increase train capacity by 40%.
Maintaining adequate track capacity to
address expanding passenger and freight
needs is among the largest challenges in
creating a competitive passenger railroad
network."
Thisis wherehigh-speedrailcomesin.
As seen in the diagram from
Cambridge Systematics, the long-term
benefits of having high-speed rail would
be larger than one might expect. In
California for example, high-speed rail
projects would be a huge step forward,
as it would create new temporary and
permanent jobs. According to a report
released by the California Rail High
Speed Authority, the development of
high-speed rail in California could lead
to the creation of 150,000 new jobs and
maybe more. In the long-term, providing
new trains and equipment would help

to reduce fares and possibly help spur
innovation. And fewer planes in the
skies and cars in the streets means there
could be a reduction in pollution. At the
same time, there would be a reduction in
accidents.
Opponents of high-speed rail have
said that it would be very expensive
to develop the necessary technology
throughout the country - and they have
a point. According to the Los Angeles
Times, it would cost between $6.19
billion and $7.13 billion to build just one
portion of California's rail system. Unlike
Europe, the U.S. could not possibly have
high-speed rail tracks across the entire
country.
Abettersolutionwouldbetoimplement
incremental changes, since planes are a
more viable option over longer distances
interms ofthe cost to producers toupdate
existing infrastructure (i.e. Seattle to
Boston). For the time being, high-speed
rail will make sense in higher density
areas, such as Detroit to Chicago, Boston
to New York, or San Francisco to Seattle.
With any spare money they are able to
find, state and local governments would
have the necessary funds to update the
current rail system. Trainswould be able
to compete with planes in terms of cost
and efficiency for consumers.
Creating connections such as the
ones listed above would be much more
efficient, according to Tom Zoellner an
article written in the Wall Street Journal:
"At an average speed of just 68 miles
an hour, Amtrak's Acela is a lumbering
mastodon compared with true 186-mile-
an-hour high-speed rail. Yet the Acela
and other trains in the northeast corridor
still manage to capture three-quarters
of the air and rail travelers between the
nation'scapital anditsdominantfinancial
center."
Journeys such as these are exactly
where the airlines are at their most
wasteful. Whether a plane is going 50
miles or around the world, substantial
fixed costs must be paid: maintenance,
labor, bag loading, taxes, landing fees,
cleaning and, especially, fuel. Planes
typically burn most of their fuel during
takeoff and landing. Despite this
inefficiency, short-haul trips still make
up the bulk of U.S. air travel: About two-
thirds of domestic flights are less than
700 miles, and about 35% of those are
less than 350 miles. It is much harder, of
course, to build a high-speed rail system
thanto add a fewnewplanestothe fleet."
So, perhaps it's time for a change. In
the future, I hope I can hop on a high-
speed train that could take me from Ann
Arbor to Washington D.C in no time at
all.
Paul Sherman is an LSA senior

itriona Balfe as Claire Randall

N

ronr

The Citizens Alliance on
Prisons and Public Spending,
a Lansing-based non-profit,
advocates guidelines for the
state to take into consideration
during the reforms. Policies
such as, presumptive parole,
where all prisoners are released
after their minimum sentence
unless there is reason to believe
there's a risk, more discretion
for "good time" and revamping
the parole board have been
suggested by CAPPS to help
both prisoners and the state.
While violent crimes in
Michigan fell by 30 percent
from 1986 to 2006, state
prisons experienced growth
of more than 250 percent.
This increase stems from a
variety of factors that can be
altered. Our prisoners spend
4.3 years in prison compared
to the national average of
2.9 years. Imprisoning non-
violent crime offenders for
longer time proves ineffective

in ensuring safety for the
state. A 2013 study by the Pew'
Center found that Michigan's
rate of incarceration dropped
12 percent between 2007
and 2012 while crime rates
fell 17 percent during the
same time period indicating
incarceration may not be the
answer to preventing crimes.
Lightening sentences could
prove beneficial to both
taxpayers and those convicted
of minor offenses.
Partly due to the War on
Drugs established in the
1980s and the rise in felony
convictions, Michigan's prison
population is becoming older,
with some older prisoners
costing $200,000 a year -
significantly more than the
already expensive $35,000
cost per prisoner average.
As many drug policies are
outdated and unjust, releasing
elder inmates would alleviate
the burden on Michigan's

corrections system.
Correction facilities
constitute 20 percent of
Michigan's state budget,
a percentage higher than
funding for crucial programs
like higher education. With the
majority of public universities
in Michigan increasing
tuition by upwards of three
percent, redirecting funding
currently used towards the
corrections department could
subsidize increased costs
that students pay. These high
prices act as a hindrance for
students to attend college,
and this hindrance increases
the incarceration probability.
With one year of college
decreasing incarceration of
Caucasians by 10 percent
and African Americans by 37
percent, it's imperative that
we adjust our funding to help
our youth stay out of prison
instead of increasing funds to
keep them locked away.

The
a built
but its
er,"
bring
and ac
that o
lar ca
"Outla
vaguel
cal dr
tuated
guts a
toned
is base
els. Bu
than"
it mar
at leas
with a
"Ou
World
dall ((
See M
Frank
Scottis
honey
theirn
Claire
point,
outside
is soli
establi
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likeabl
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oblivio
Upo
lands,

ew show mixes ing couples activities for himself
and Claire - sex in a ruined castle,
timle-travel sex in a rickety bed. Fans of Diana
lance and strong Gabaldon's racy romance novels
will find plenty of well-adapted
characters material here. The sensual mate-
rial never feels gratuitous though.
A palm reader tells Claire that her
By CHLOE GILKE "husband is n'er likely to stray far
Daily Arts Writer from her bed," so we're supposed
to accept it as part of her charac-
Starz network doesn't have ter. Without getting too graphic,
-in followinglike HBO or FX, one especially refreshing element
newest offering, "Outland- of these scenes is that the female
will surely body isn't displayed just for male
new fans pleasure. It's somethingthat Claire
claim. Like enjoys, and her way of dealing with
ther popu- Out the strain of years spent away from
able show, tiander her husband.
nder" is a Series Premiere "Outlander" also does a fantas-
y histori- tic job of introducing the mystical
ama punc- Starz world the characters inhabit. In
by spilled Saturdays at9 p.m. the show, folk religion is mysteri-
nd unbut- ous but benevolent, and is a signifi-
pants, and cant presence from the beginning.
d off a beloved series of nov- Claire has an encounter with
t "Outlander" is much more the aforementioned palm reader,
Game of Thrones" lite, and where she learns that her hand's
nages to hook viewers (or, marriage line is forked and her tea
t, this enthusiastic viewer) leaves convey conflicting signs.
single episode. Claire and Frank happen to be in
tlander" follows charming town during a pagan festival, and
War II nurse Claire Ran- Frank runs into a creeping spectre
Caitriona Balfe, "Now You on the street. The ethereal beauty
e"). Claire and her husband of the Scottish highlands is cer-
travel from England to the tainly part of this characteriza-
sh countryside for a "second tion. Although Frank and Claire
moon" to try and rebuild visit the country in 1945, it's almost
marriage after years at war. like the setting is timeless.
loves Frank, but at this "Outlander" takes its time in
they struggle connecting developing its story, and it isn't
e the bedroom. The premise until forty minutes through the
d, and characters are well- episode that Claire picks a fated
shedwithin the first few flower and travels to the 18th cen-
es. Claire is immediately tury. From then on, though, the
le, independent and strong- action flows freely. Claire meets a
, and Frank is kind, ifa little redcoat who looks just like Frank,
Sus. and happens upon a group of
n arriving at the high- strangers led by the handsome
Frank plans some charm- Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan, "A

Princess for Christmas"). Balfe
and Heughan have electric chem-
istry, and Jamie is an appealing,
scrappy romantic lead. The show
is utterly unafraid of its romance
novel roots, and I mean that as
the highest compliment. When
a windswept Claire dresses her
good looking, shirtless compan-
ion's wound, lockingeyes with him
for just a moment, you can almost
hear the sighs of a thousand house-
wives.
Yes, "Outlander" is chasing that
female viewer demographic, but
it's not just for moms and Nicho-
las Sparks. Showrunner Ronald D..
Moore is a master of gorgeous sci-
ence fiction (see: "Battlestar Galac-
tica"), and his vision is stunning.
The cinematography is top-notch,
and the charismatic Scottish high-
lands are almost as beautiful as
Jamie Fraser himself. The music,
composed by fellow "BSG" alum
Bear McCreary is romantic and
searing, and scores every scene
perfectly. The actors, although
mostly newcomers, are well-cast
and talented. "Outlander" is well-
written, and the dialogue is never
heavy-handed. With such a fine
pedigree, it's unfair to blindly clas-
sify "Outlander" asa "chick show."
There's exciting storytelling and
great characters, which doesn't
have to be gendered.
This is only the beginning for
"Outlander," and the remainder
of its 16-episode season is sure to
bring more surprises and delight.
My only complaint about this epi-
sode was that the first two thirds
are so slow in comparison to the
ending, but it's a bold move for a
show to begin with an eye toward
quiet characterization. "Outland-
er" enjoyed a confident start, and
will hopefully follow through on
its promise in the comingweeks.

By ALEC STERN sequent scenes, which wouldn't
Senior Arts Editor seem out of place in a 007 flick,
pull you back in too-quickly.
When SundanceTV and UK- Despite this lapse, most of the
based BBC Two teamed up with episode is tactfully constructed,
writer-director Hugo Blick on the with all of the series' moving parts
eight-hour miniseries "The Hon- converging in a swift, satisfying
orable Woman," July 2014 couldn't cliffhanger. Even more, Gyllen-
have proven to be a more timely haal's Nessa is as quickly develop-
release date. Set ing as she is moving up the ranks
in the Middle of TV's most complex female char-
East against the acters - in the vein of Virginia
backdrop of the The Hon- Johnson (of Showtime's "Masters
conflict between orable of Sex") and Claire Underwood
Israel and Pales- (of Netflix's "House of Cards").
tine, "The Hon- Woman Nessa's wit is undeniable and her
orable Woman"is Mini -Se capabilities far outshine the men
a welcome depar- Premiere who surround her. Together with
ture from typical Blick's writing and Gyllenhaal's
summer fare like The Sundance performance - both executed
"Falling Skies" Channel with finesse and patience -"The
or "Sharknado Thursdays Honorable Woman" will undoubt-
2: The Second at10 p.m. edly forge its place onto year-end
One." Unlike its "best lists" and into the awards
seasonal com- conversation.
panions, this smart, engaging Also working in its favor, the
thriller is in a unique position to Sundance miniseries is not only
not only entertain but also spark a focused on its titular woman, but
dialogue, encouraging its audience the women who surround her; it's
to remain informed and educated something particularly refreshing
on both sides of the decades-old for a gritty series about business
struggle, just as the series strives and war. Whereas the male char-
to do. acters are painted rather poorly
Academy Award nominee - from Ephra (Andrew Buchan,
Maggie Gyllenhaal ("The Dark "Broadchurch"), Nessa's mild-
Knight") is the best she's ever mannered brother over whom
been as Nessa Stein, a British phi- she inherits the family business,
lanthropist of Israeli descent who to Shlomo (Yigal Naor, "House
inherited her father's company of Saddam"), the oafish, loud-
years after witnessing his murder mouthed professional who loses
as a youngchild. After acolleague's out on a major contract - "The
suicide and later, a kidnapping, Honorable Woman's" female char-
Nessa's limits are pushed to the acters are far more dimensional.
edge while her mysterious past Alongside Gyllenhaal, Lubna Aza-
is pulled back into focus. Beyond bal ("Paradise Now") and Eve Best
that, the first installment plays it ("Nurse Jackie") are key pieces
extremely coy, posing many more of the ensemble. Janet McTeer
questions rather than delivering ("Damages") also stars, though
answers, explanations or time to she does not appear in the first epi-
digest. And Blick's sly direction sode.
only encourages the general sense "The Honorable Woman" leaves
of disarray and confusion. viewers with a lot to look forward
Intriguing and perplexing to to. The questions presented serve
a fault, "The Honorable Woman" as a substantial starting point,
suffers from tonal inconsistencies while the journey is already prov-
too jarring to ignore. An angsty ing to be an exciting and thought-
mid-episode montage (accompa- provoking one. As real life tensions
nied by the always-welcome yet continue to escalate, "The Honor-
admittedly out-of-place Radio- able Woman" can only strive to
head track "How to Disappear capture some of the intricacies of
Completely") juxtaposes the the struggle. Luckily, through the
sleek action sequence that fol- eyes of Nessa Stein, there is real
lows. Impactful separately though potential for the series to dem-
strange together, each isn't with- onstrate fairness and objectivity,
out its merits. But the classic '90s transcending the bounds of espio-
rock band takes you too far out nage thrillers and culminating in
of the narrative, while the sub- somethingtruly meaningful.

V,

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