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April 16, 2009

Tear of The Year

January 20, 2009 marked an ultra historic day in the America’s history. A time where it was impossible not to feel affected and moved in some way. Over two million people showed up to witness the inauguration speech of our newly elected president Barrack Obama and it was a day of many emotions. The tears flowed and people came together forgetting the differences that they once held.

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April 7, 2009

Stewarts CNBC Takedown

This is ironic how the CEO's of all these companies are trying to cover up and convince the public that their company is doing fine and will be fine in the future. Basically the public is being lied to and it is hurting the public. The CEO's make it sound like everything is going to be alright, so do not worry if you have some connection to the company. Then you have Jim Cramer telling the public "buy buy buy," when stocks are low because you can make money in the future. Then these companies go under and the public is in a lost. Then you have home owners that went out recently got loans to buy a house and now are losing the house because they cannot afford the payments anymore. They public wants to know why their payments went up. Now it does not matter if you have perfect credit and a large down payment you are going to have a lot of trouble getting a loan for anything right now. Then you have the loan companies working with the public to work out payment plans for their mortgages. They companies will pretty much do anything to get you to be able to pay them some of the money because if they take your house they are losing money. They public needs to start reading the loan agreement know exactly what they are signing.
It is sad that it takes a Comedy Central show like the Daily Show with John Stewart to actually show the real side of the economy to the public. Most people are experiencing hard times due to the economy falling. The public does know what is going on. But to have someone actually sit down and research it and inform the public of something’s they may not know, and actually have evidence to back it up and support it. This is being done by a comedy television production, think that is a little ironic. This is pretty ridiculous. Yes, journals and news papers do not have the opportunity to put videos together to back up what their article is about but the still need to research the thing they are to be writing about. This is getting harder and harder because the companies are losing employees due to cut backs because news papers are becoming less useful and unnecessary. This is just becoming a vicious circle of things going downhill. The public needs to look farther into major choices in their life, like signing for loans.
Serr0069@umn.edu

April 2, 2009

On Stewart's CNBC Takedown

Jon Stewart’s take on CNBC, is a critical view of a huge news broadcasting company that has consistently been wrong in its alleged expertise. In order to repay Rick Santelli, who had been booked for the show to elaborate on his statements regarding homeowner bailouts, the Daily Show devoted about seven minutes of the show to reveal false optimistic predictions before and during the economic crash. The seven minutes also included, what Jon considered to be lighthearted interviews with top CEO’s that beat around the bush without asking any real questions considering the meltdown taking place.

Ultimately, the seven-minute clip showed a supposedly well-informed financial network projecting future trends and advising very poorly. I am wondering what’s wrong with this? Maybe the fact that if Jon Stewart and the Daily Show didn’t point this out to the American public, I highly doubt any one would have noticed. I’m sure this has dealt a fair blow to CNBC’s credibility as a financial network as it would have done to any other network that was reporting false information time and time again.

More and more people are beginning to watch shows like the Daily Show because it seems to be one of the only ways to obtain news via television that is not partly full of shit. Its roots go deeper than just the way the information is presented and the correctness of that information. In such a time where the economy is in chaos, people want more help from the government but they are highly critical of the way that help is implemented and distributed. When a comedian like Jon Stewart comes on and shows allegedly well respected professionals and reporters who are supposed to be giving sound financial advise to be not just slightly wrong but no where near the correct quadrant, it deals a real blow not only to that network but to the credibility of all news networks.

Jon had obviously invited Rick Santelli to be on the show in regards to his slight on homeowner bailouts while he was sitting in Wall Street complaining about the economic crisis. Santelli’s network, CNBC, cancelled, saying it was “time to move on to the next big story.” People say that CNBC and Rick Santelli should have known that the criticism was coming because of the similar situation that happened with Letterman who used the same tactics when senator John McCain cancelled an appointment on the late show. As with many of his guests I believe John would have made Santelli squirm through some of the humiliating material as he often does with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’ Reilly when he visits the show, but I believe Jon would have been affable as well. In any case, even if Rick Santelli were humiliated, he would have at least had the chance to defend himself and the network. It is often said that it is not the explosion of a bomb that is most terrible, it is the silence that follows, and without Santelli there to rebuttal the silence followed.

This clip really shows that a professional network that a lot of people trust may not be as trusty as they thought. In a society where most of the news is gained from television it really makes one question what can I believe. This is the exact reason that these so-called “fake news” programs are becoming so popular. They bring into light that which is often hidden by the respected and prestigious networks. Perhaps this is the exact reason why everyone feels so comfortable that the tid bits of news that one extracts from the Daily Show are reliable and fact based because it is often news on news that was reported falsely or incorrectly.

Another reason that I believe that the American people are giving more credit to shows like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report is because they can relate more to these comedians better than they can relate to respected officials and reporters of prestigious networks. Since the beginning of my education it has basically reiterated that politicians are untrustworthy, cheating, stealing individuals. It shows the enormity of the radical changes that have taken place in our society in the last thirty to forty years. When it is taught to our children, and often true, that politicians are often not very trustworthy and that everything they say is to be taking with a grain of salt. These untrustworthy people are the leaders of America, often very respected individuals, and we can’t even trust them?

Instead of the leaders of America, we are to turn to former comedians to gain and attain viable worthwhile information. People’s shady opinion of politicians and network reporters has led to the lack of trust in the information presented by them. I believe that the Daily Show is a direct form of democracy that keeps the bigger fish in America in check, and not only do these sort of shows act as watch dogs but also a very good source of entertainment.

March 27, 2009

We call it Book(TM). Now try to find the plug...

As I started reading "People of the Screen", I was immediately reminded of a recent Penny Arcade strip on the same subject- and in three panels it sums up why books won't be made obsolete so easily. New devices and services like the Kindle are constantly being released and updated, and they deliver compact storage and speed of information that paper books can't match, but I don't see them ever fully replacing traditional books.

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March 26, 2009

Madoff does Minneapolis

Oak Ridge Country Club was hit hard by a big scandal, after wealthy families invested with Benard L. Madoff. This particular Country Club in mostly Jewish and was founded around the time of 1921. This is where the scandal started in the Twin Cities. Madoff had a very agonizing impact on these wealthy families’ lives. The “Ponzi” scheme that he used totaled over $50 billion all together from the different towns. In the town of Hopkins just west of Minneapolis, he preyed on Jewish families and Jewish foundations. Regional reports showed that there were losses of $300 million, but a local attorney has a different opinion. He says the $600 million is a much more accurate number that best describes the situation. The lawyer claimed that he knew two families that together lost a total of $130 million. Some of the rest of the money from the scandal was at a smaller scale, for example like for a child’s college savings and for retirement. This also got Jewish funded groups stuck in a rut and not able to pay basic core missions for the poor.
This however wasn’t the only hit the Twin Cities received, just two months before the Madoff case, Tom Petters was arrested and charged on 20 felony counts for a scam of about $3.5 billion dollars that he took from investors as well. Petters also scammed on a religious community, which happened to be his members from his own evangelical Christian faith.
Maddoth didn’t only hit in one place in the Twin Cities he also trapped the small group of Hillcrest Country Club, also a Jewish golf course, but this time in St. Paul. Bruce Graybow was personally affected and one of the victims of the former scam artist. He heard about Madoff from his late father, many gulfing buddies and good friends shared madoff’s name amongst each other and they formed a trust with him so a large majority were all affected. In Graybow’s case he put a large amount of money from his family plumbing and heating business into Madoff’s firm. These families that have been affected by this have truly had their lives turned upside down. “I saw this as a safe and conservative investment, a good place to put my discretionary savings,” says Graybow. “When I found out what happened, I was shocked and in absolute disbelief.” He also felt physically ill and went into a cold sweat. The state government is even involved in the process because many investors will have the right to reclaim taxes paid on fake gains at the state and federal level. Because of the way the economy is and for a state like Minnesota the impact of the losses could have major consequences.
The Oak Ridge Country Club members are worried about the future of the club because of what people may think from the scandal. To regain confidence the clubs president sent out letters to members reassuring them that they will pull through this just fine, he also inscribed the charitable work of the Oak Ridge members and encouraged them not to talk to them press about Madoff. Many houses of worship that are Jewish are already struggling from the economic rough times and in the near future the Madoff scandal could make things much worse. But even under these circumstances some of the rabbis are trying to teach the people to learn from this incident. Rabbi Alexander Davis is trying to be optimistic, even though he knows that people are shocked and some think that this brought shame to their Jewish Community. “It’s definitely an opportunity, whether we wanted it or not, to rethink our values,” says Davis.
Graybow thinks that the government failed to see Madoff’s mischief behavior even though there were warnings and many investigations into the firm. He thinks that the government should have a fund for victims. This sounds like a good idea but I don’t believe that this will work in the real world. Just as the writer says, “The line at the government till is already very long and is likely to grow longer” (Kansas). For right now there are no for sure answers for the Oak Ridge Club.

The Grinch that Stole Hanukkah

Just two weeks ago, Bernie Madoff pled guilty to 11 felonies which included security frauds, wire frauds, mail frauds, money laundering and perjury for what has been called the greatest investor fraud committed by one person ever. For those who do not know, Bernie Madoff was chairman of the Bernie L. Madoff Securities LLC which bought and sold stocks on the New York Stock Exchange. He gained great fame when he helped develop a computer technology that was able to disseminate its quotes called the NASDAQ. By 2008, Madoff’s firm was the sixth largest market trading on Wall Street. However, he told his sons that the asset management arm of his firm was a ponzi scheme. Later that day his sons told the authorities and arrested Madoff the next day. Recently, prosecutors have said that the scandal has amounted to nearly 65 billion dollars in fraud.

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March 14, 2009

People of the Screen

As a freshman in college I am finding myself surrounded in the age of digital technology. I find myself spending hours and hours a day on my computer. Like many other Americans I am spending those hours buying, blogging, surfing, and playing games. According to Christine Rosen of the new Atlantis, the screen is “the busiest port of entry for popular culture and requires navigation skills different from those that helped us master print literacy.” With the age of the internet growing and developing at alarming rates I find myself wondering how traditional printed books have the capacity to compete with the new technology. Computer use is causing us to become increasingly “distractable, impatient, and convenience obsesses, the paperback book just can’t keep up.”

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March 13, 2009

The World's Most Expensive Hymen

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March 12, 2009

The Fall of America

The Mall of America is incredibly symbolic in its position as a tourist attraction and as a symbol of our society today. Looming above the city of Bloomington, Minnesota, the Mall of America is a sign of industrialism. Ever since the industrialization of America and the move from out to up, we have been going higher and getting bigger. The mall is the epitome of this change. In Ian Frazier’s article he describes how the mall stops time itself, it encourages visitors to live in the present. It is easy to see how the Mall achieves this status. With over 500 venues, the Mall is the second largest shopping place in the world.
In Frazier’s article, he talks of the Mall and the history it encompasses. He claims that history becomes feeble. Being in the Mall is like watching television. It is hard to remember anything other than what you’re seeing at the moment. Things come and go regularly, and it is not uncommon for stores to be moving in and out, sometimes in under a month. He talks of book tours at the Mall and how each time he goes there things have changed. One of the more recent changes is to the amusement park, Camp Snoopy’s transformation to Nickelodeon Universe is the most obvious mark of change in the Mall’s atmosphere. When inside the Mall, one can’t help but be taken aback by the atmosphere inside. It really is its own little world, and how it all works is largely psychological. Every day the Mall caters to those who can’t hold on to their wallets without throwing down some cash to buy the latest styles or trends. It seems as though the goal of the Mall and its hundreds of shops is indeed to create a shopping craze throughout the population.
Frazier talks about how the mall of America actually does incorporate history, though without trying. In a deep corner of Nickelodeon Universe, there is a plate in the shape of home where home plate lay when the old Metropolitan Stadium occupied that area. This history takes the imagination away if one lets it, it creates somewhat of a parallel universe where one can feel the energy, the hundred thousand eyes focusing on the plate. I think that it is interesting to consider this. The Mall is a place of the present, the psychology behind shopping is not often talked about, but indefinitely still existent. However, at the same time there is so much history encompassed in its being.
Halfway through the article Frazier mentions the mall as a terrorist target. Being the largest shopping mall in the country, with more than 45 million annual visitors, it’s something that cannot be denied. There are so many people at the mall on a daily basis, especially the weekends, that the mall is easily at the top of the list for possible strike zones. After the attack on September 11th, sales were down. The flow of visitors was visibly squenched, and talk of the possible effects on the Mall’s business numbers was pessimistic. But in reality, who could deny a visit to the Mall? After a period of time, of course visitors will come back. It’s the largest mall in America. A consumer giant of that scale couldn’t possibly go under. The talk of terrorism brings up an interesting point in Frazier’s article. He mentions the USA America Pride store, and how business there was incredibly steady. People were buying American paraphernalia and other goods that showed the United States stars and stripes or anything that one could proudly hold and claim they supported their country. However, upon looking at the labels on all of these items, Frazier could not find a single one that was made in the United States. Isn’t it ironic that people buying these “American” goods and symbols of USA pride are really supporting other countries? Things in the world of economics are never what they seem. Frazier’s article shows us insight into exactly what the Mall of America is, and even how its name may be miscommunicated. It is obvious that the Mall isn’t exactly innocent in its behavior, nor does it promote a positive message when it comes right down to the bones.

Works Cited
Frazier, Ian Frazier. "The Mall of America." Online posting. Aug. 2002. 12 Mar.
2009 .

Kinzer, Stephen. "A Nation Challenged." New York Times 20 Oct. 2001. 12 Mar.
2009 fullpage.html?res=9D05E3DC173FF932A25753C1A9679C8B63>.

People of the Screen

Christine Rosen’s article “People of the Screen” made a lot of sense to me and made me think, as well as consider, a lot about how we are required to be “digitally literate,” as she puts it. She explains in her article how we take for granted how we are able to just pick up a book and start reading. It has not been until recently that we have had the technology to create books that can be produced on a large scale. She says that technology is evolving which means that the screen will replace the book. She means that we will be viewing books on small, personal computers such as a cell phone, or something similar to an ipod. I agree with Rosen in that the book will be completely replaced by digital versions that will be much more easily accessible as well as less costly. I also believe that this is a good thing and will have positive effects on our society. As is presented in her article, there seems to be a problem with this transformation of books to online files. She points to several articles that seem to demonstrate that we are not reading printed books as much as we used to. There is a lot in this article and a lot of ways to go about explaining it, but one thing that is very important is how we are becoming less efficient readers of printed material.

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Valuable Virgin

Natalie Dylan is clearly a very educated woman earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies, and soon to enter a Masters Degree program in Marriage and Family Therapy. It is quite a surprise to me when she decides to auction off her virginity online. If I was to hear this from someone and not by reading the article that Ms. Dylan published “Why I’m Selling My Virginity” I would assume that Ms. Dylan has made an asinine decision. After reading her article, what surprise me the most was that her virginity is worth 3.8 million dollars and she auction herself off to hear the public’s response.

With Ms. Dylan’s education, she is not making a senseless decision. She realized that she could use her virginity as a tool for power, a power over men because that is what us men think about all the time. Ms. Dylan also said “what’s to stop me from benefiting from that? It is mine, after all.” She is correct and from the numbers, she is benefiting a lot for her virginity. I agree with Ms. Dylan, virginity is nothing special, it is such a big deal to most women because of the media, friends, parents and religion. People always say the good girls are the virgins and when people hear about this or that girl is not a virgin anymore, most would say that she is a slut. What Ms. Dylan is doing is a great idea and as one CEO of a Fortune 500 company put it "entrepreneurial gumption." She is doing what many who are as educated as her would not think of doing what she is doing, she is doing what a smart business person would do, something different.

While I do agree that what she is doing is smart, I also think that what she is doing is wrong. She is making a big stand for women but in a negative way. She says that it would give women power over men, but I see that she is just spoiling men. Just like a kid, if you give them what they want, they would only cry for more. Ms. Dylan states “These days, more and more women my age are profiting directly from their sex appeal, but I’m not sure other women should follow my lead,” I hope that other smart women do not see this as a smart way for power because in this society, we only see the hopeless and the desperate as prostitutes.

Mall of America a Sports Stadium!!

After reading the Mall of America position article I have learned a lot of things that I never knew about. I have been to the Mall of America twice and have never noticed the things they mentioned in the article. Just how they say that you learn something new every day, today I became educated on the Mall of America. The Mall of America was once a stadium for the Vikings and Twins back in the day. That is why after you start looking at the mall you think about why it is so big and then your told that it was a stadium at one point and then you understand why it is so big. It is also interesting how the first indoor mall was built in Minneapolis, Minnesota which was the Southdale Shopping Center. It was originally the first Mall of America before the Mall of America took over the stadium that belong to the Vikings and Twins in Bloomington, Minnesota, which was rebuilt and the mall opened later on when the sports teams moved to downtown Minneapolis. The Southdale Shopping Center was the world’s first enclosed mall and was built in 1956 by the Minneapolis department stores.

Also in the article they pointed out a very good objective that the United States does not have many things that says ‘made in the United States’. Ian Frazier, the writer of the article, also wrote books and one of her places to go sign books was the Mall of America. She always had an escort that she took to the book signing and selling, which was when she learned about the Mall of America. Ian learned the history through her escort who grew up in the area and knew a lot about Minnesota. One time when Ian came to Minnesota early before a book event and she studied the Mall of America before it even opened looking from the outside and the looks of where everything once was when it was a stadium. Then she started to ponder on a store that was a level up from the ground opening. It was a United States of America Pride store. She went in there when it opened and that was when she realized that we have very little things made in the United States. She looked at where things were made and she realized that there was only maybe five or less things made in the United States and why is that. The United States imports clothing, glass items, pretty much anything we use or have today. The reason why we import most of the things we have today is because it is cheaper to have them imported then to be made here because we cannot afford the things made in the United States and also that it is more cost efficient.

The Mall of America is almost the largest mall in the world except for the one in Canada but if the Mall of America adds on to the south it will take back the title. The Mall of America does have the most shoppers and visitors, however. It is also known to be one of the best tourist attractions in Minnesota. The largest shopper response during the Holiday Season in the Twin Cities area takes place at the Mall of America where people will spend hundreds of millions—very close to a billion spent just in the holiday season.


Works Cited
http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/stories/2008/11/17/daily34.html

March 5, 2009

Pray before you go to hell

The article “Born Believers; How your Brain Creates God,” holds a truth and reality that many people live by on a day to day basis. In the world today, many things have to be “scientifically proven” for it to be a fact; everything has to have proof of where it originated from and why. Each generation has become more technologically advanced and has various methods of investigations and analyzing stories and data. For example, there have been many scientific investigations in attempt to prove and disprove the story of the Bible and of Jesus Christ. The entire world is diverse in politics, economics, cultures and beliefs; there are different beliefs in higher beings, saviors and God’s such as Buddha, Allah, Brahma and Jesus Christ. In the article it states, “During the Great Depression… most authoritarian churches saw a surge in attendance. … Only now is science beginning to tell us why. Our brains effortlessly conjure up an imaginary world of spirits gods and monsters, and the more insecure we feel, the harder it is to resist the pull of this supernatural world.” After analyzing the article and the reasoning for people’s faith, not only are religion and their beliefs a way of life, but it has grown to be an explanation to why humans feel obligated to believe and have faith in a higher being.
As a way of life, people have their religion and their beliefs in God completely integrated in their lives; starting early in the morning praying before the first meal of the day and each one there after up until before falling asleep. Women are to stay a virgin until the day they are married, children have to be baptized when they are born and men were to be strong for the entire family and support them with everything he could. The bible, originally to be told as a story, is a book of rules and ideas that people are supposed to follow throughout their entire lives so they can be with God. The sins were to never be committed, and if they were, you had to confess them to God and to the Priest for forgiveness. People had to dedicate at least one day a week just for God, some more than others to demonstrate their true dedication to their Savior. People believe that if they show the dedication to God everyday, they will go to Heaven. Not only do they pray from him throughout the entire day, but they pray for the “after-life” they imagine they will have when they pass away. One of the most powerful reasons why people choose to turn their beliefs to their religion and in God is the idea of what will happen to them once they are no longer able to walk on Earth. Living in a world of ideas and beliefs in the supernatural, the idea of higher beings gives humans the idea of protection and security when we least feel it.
“It turns out that human beings have a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during hard times.” Humans have the desire for tangible things, but long for those that are not. We want to have the luxuries in life; money, cars and big houses. However, we desire the intangible even more; fame, love and happiness. Many people turn to God or their religion when they have problems; they feel that if they pray, their faith can relieve them of their problems. Whether the problem may be of financial issues, family illness or just simply want to have a better day than the last, people turn to their religion or their higher being for help, luck or something as brilliant as a miracle. Many people believe they have no one there to help them get through their problems and that God is their only hope; that God will solve everything and make everything better. When something unfortunate happens to a person, that person will believe that it was not their wrong-doing, or the fault of another person, but will believe that God did it for a reason. They believe that God has done this to them because they will learn from in it in the long-run or because it was meant to be.
There are many people who are not religious, but when that time comes where they feel they have absolutely nothing in life, are about to lose their life or even feel like they will lose something important to them, they will automatically ask God for help, for strength and for happiness. Humans will search for their higher being, the One who has the image of always being there no matter what. The idea and beliefs of God brings humans a sense of happiness and security that is difficult to find tangibly. In the generation that we live in today, humans always need answers, and if answers are not given, they are investigated until a conclusion has been reached. Scientists question in a higher being and their research has given them answers. Similarly to how psychologists wonder why people act a certain way and why, scientists have wondered what is it about God or the idea of a higher being, why humans feel the necessity to have God in their life and why is it God that we ask for forgiveness and not an actual human being. Scientists have proven their methods by having people take public surveys, and have gathered a lot of quantitative information. “It seems that our minds are finely tuned to believe in Gods;” our minds run on electricity and electricity is a part of the science of life.