POV: Politics

Apropos of Nothing: Favorite music around the US gets put on the map

I love the map showing each state’s favorite musical artist, which people started sharing on Facebook a few days ago. It pretty much tells you everything you need to know about America. A guy named Paul Lamere from the music research company The Echo Nest created the map, and Internet news sources, such as Slate.com and BusinessInsider.com, published stories about it. If you Google “distinctive band by state” you will find plenty of links to it.

The map technically isn’t a map of every state’s favorite musical artist. Lamere’s company discovered that the artists with the most listeners in America are Jay-Z and Drake, because they are two of the most popular musicians in the country right now, like it or not. Forget Red States and Blue States, the real divide is between Drizzy and Hova, even though Drake is notoriously Canadian.

But what’s a lot more interesting than which artist is most popular in a state is which artist is unusually popular in a state, and that’s exactly what the map measures. So, which band uniquely rocks each state’s world?

New Hampshire — The Grateful Dead — New England is now the hippie capital of America.

Vermont — Phish — Looks like folks are getting high on more than just maple syrup up there.

Ohio — Florida Georgia Line — I guess people in Ohio are messing with us, or they just really wish they were living anywhere warmer than Ohio.

Alabama — The Civil Wars — Surprise, surprise: the Deep South still can’t get over The Civil Wars.

West Virginia — Matchbox Twenty — Looks like the mountaineers like to party like it’s 1996.

Illinois — Sufjan Stevens — All Sufjan had to do to win over the Land of Lincoln was literally write an entire album about Illinois, called “Illinois.”

Maine — R.E.M. — It’s a little-known fact that the “M” in “REM” stands for Maine. Seriously, you can check Wikipedia. As soon as I edit Wikipedia.

Virginia — Dave Matthews Band — Hey wait, isn’t the Dave Matthews Band from Virginia? Maybe the Dave Matthews Band is just really, really popular with the Dave Matthews Band.

Colorado — The Naked and Famous — Ironically, this band is neither of those things.

Arizona — Linkin Park — In our defense, lead singer Chester Bennington is from Phoenix. But if we’re going to support good bands with local roots, couldn’t we go with Jimmy Eat World … or maybe just something other than Linkin Park?

Texas — Lady Gaga — Am I just messing with you? ey, maybe this will teach you not to make assumptions based on cultural stereotypes about what specific states will like. Except that, yeah, I am messing with you. Texas’s unique favorite is really country crooner George Strait.

Florida — Rick Ross — Ross is all well and good, but Florida, if you’re going to pick a rapper, how can you not go with the awesomely—named Flo Rida?

New Jersey — Bruce Springsteen — People from New Jersey love Bruce Springsteen, mostly because he’s the only thing their state has produced that they don’t have to be embarrassed about. Bruce has also been amazingly loyal to the Garden State, probably because the state government has secretly agreed that when The Boss goes off to jam with the big E Street Band in the sky, his memory will be honored by officially renaming the state Brewce Jersey.

Here’s what the music map teachs us about good old America:

1. There are 50 states.

2. People in different states like different things.

3. Americans peacefully co-exist, despite having very diverse, and sometimes very questionable, tastes in music.

4. People in this country are accepting of artists from other states. (Jack Johnson is from Hawaii, but he’s most uniquely popular in Wisconsin. Hawaii’s distinctive preference is for a Californian rapper named J-Boog.)

5. There’s a successful individual in this country whose professional name is J-Boog. Wow. I hope he has it on his business cards. That’s what this country’s all about.

Disclaimer: As a general rule, nothing in Logan Rogers’s columns should be taken seriously.

— Logan Rogers is a second year law student. Follow him @AproOfNo

Running towards a fun, healthy life

My Saturday mornings in high school were not spent sleeping in — like those of the average teenager. I spent mine running, screaming and drinking chocolate milk. That is, I ran 5Ks. I ran cross-country throughout my four years of high school, and most of the races were 5Ks. The way my heart would pump before the race started, the adrenaline coursing through my veins, people cheering and screaming along the course, and that last burst of energy that came out of nowhere when I spotted the finish line — all of these are reasons why I love 5Ks.

Just in case you aren’t well-versed in distance lingo, a 5K is approximately 3.1 miles. 5Ks are perfect for racing, jogging and even walking. They are a good way to reach individual fitness goals, stay fit with friends and have fun.

Training for such a race involves at least a few weeks of long runs, tempos and shorter, easier runs — that is, if you plan to race it. Even if you just plan to walk one, you can still prepare by walking for half an hour to an hour every day. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, walking and jogging support bone strength, muscle definition and a healthy heart and lungs — all added benefits of the regular exercise involved in 5K preparation.

If you don’t like the thought of training alone, you can gather some friends and make your own team. Doing this is a good way to have fun, bond more and push each other to perform at your best. The inevitable laughs, random conversations, mood swings and memorable stories that follow are an added plus and all part of the fun of preparing for and running a 5K.

My favorite memories from cross-country came from long runs and race days. The stories and jokes my teammates told each other got our minds off of the longer runs, and losing our voices while screaming for each other on race day was a good, if unusual, way to spend a Saturday morning. Just having people to train and race with made the experience unforgettable.

You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy a 5K, though. This type of race is so versatile that almost anyone can run or walk one. Even if this type of thing isn’t your cup of tea, you can still go out to support the runners and have a good time with other people in the community.

If you’re interested in running a 5K, several take place around Tucson and in the Phoenix area throughout the year. You can simply Google “Tucson 5Ks” and several helpful sites will pop up to help you find the right race for you. The Southern Arizona Road Runners put on several road and trail races throughout the year, and the UA’s own Wildcat Running Club is putting on its “Sprint into Spring Community 5k” on March 8 at the Kennedy Park Fiesta Area.

Why should you run? Because these local 5Ks are a good way to get into or stay in shape, support your community and meet new people. 5Ks provide a good opportunity to have fun and be healthy and to reach individual or group goals. Many involve music, colors or costumes, which can provide the extra motivation to go out and enjoy something you might be hesitant about.

If you have the right attitude and training and you choose the right race for yourself, you can enjoy the experience of participating in a 5K. So, grab your friends or your iPod — and go have some fun!

Selfies: snapshots of feeling fabulous

From the time it took me to walk from my sociology class to the bookstore — no more than 200 feet — I witnessed the taking of 11 selfies. Most of us, if we aren’t active participants, are at least aware of this craze that has captivated society with the increase of social media use in recent years.

The word “selfie” became Oxford Dictionaries’ 2013 word of the year after its use increased by 17,000 percent, according to an article in Express. Every celebrity from Roger Federer to Miley Cyrus seems to have snapped a quick solo picture at some moment or another, and don’t forget the selfies of Pope Francis and President Obama, both of which were wildly shared on various social media sites. It seems as though everyone has caved in to this addicting trend at least once.

I admit, when I see a photo of someone making the seemingly inescapable “duck face” expression, I have to suppress an eye roll (especially if the photo is paired with an unrelated, inspirational quote). But when I really think about it, a selfie is nothing more than public declaration that says, “I feel good right now, and I want everyone to know it.”

While I don’t feel that people should rely on the validation of others, some selfies I have seen seem to reveal an underlying confidence. A “pre-workout” selfie or one that shows off the “outfit of the day” seems random, but I can respect that the person in the photo was feeling good about themselves in that moment.

Selfies allow each individual to choose how he or she wants to be portrayed to the public, usually in a positive way, and that’s kind of a powerful thing. In a time where the media arguably pressures people to look, dress, act or feel a certain way, being able to take a photo where you feel your best is somewhat liberating. Maybe we should celebrate that.

While I don’t plan on flooding my Instagram account with selfies, I recognize that they aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They may be a little annoying; but if they reflect a positive moment in someone else’s life, more power to them.

Marijuana is a cash crop banks need to accept

It’s not often that you hear of a bank or credit union turning down cash deposits. The banking world is renowned for its perceived greediness and willingness to engage in shady dealings, insider trading and fraud, but in states like Washington and Colorado, where marijuana dispensaries are now legal, money is being turned away by the bag.

While banks have a legitimate fear of engaging in business with legal marijuana businesses on account of federal rulings labeling marijuana as a Schedule I drug — up there with heroin and LSD — risk is the nature of capitalism, and the marijuana vendors should be able to find a safe place to deposit their cash in the banking system.

Legal marijuana businesses like Ryan Kunkel’s in Seattle are being crippled by their inability to open and maintain bank accounts. Running a cash business may provide exclusivity and mystique, but, in reality, it is both difficult and dangerous to maintain a business worth hundreds of thousands of dollars exclusively in cash — hoarding mounds of cash makes businesses more susceptible to theft. By having a bank account or other access to banking systems — like an ATM that operates on debit transfers — these businesses are able to function in a more competitive environment without severely risking their employees or their capital.

These risks make the high demand business of marijuana distribution much less lucrative and desirable. Being treated like criminals hardly sends the right message for legalization, and it’s a message that needs to change. Legal marijuana distributors like Kunkel live in a capitalist country, and it is odd and outlandish for them to be denied banking opportunities. Have these banks never heard of risk investments?

They aren’t demanding capital, loans or lines of credit that would necessitate some form of credibility; they are simply trying to deposit huge sums of cash. These banks clearly don’t understand the purpose of banking if they’re turning down such large quantities of legitimate money.

Hopefully, the federal government will recognize the legitimacy of the businesses like individual states have. Without federal approval, legitimacy is a rapidly self-distancing object that is just out of reach for legal marijuana dispensaries, something that is certainly holding them back from expansion and complete control of their businesses.

"Happy holidays" preferable winter greeting

“Happy holidays!” is an easy term to express cheer from roughly Thanksgiving through the new year. Of course, in 2013 – as usual – it garnered attention as being anti-Christmas and somehow offensive, instead of being a general wish of good cheer in the winter.

A picture that made rounds on Facebook is of a sign in a tree lot. The sign reads, “Christmas Trees $5.00 per ft. Holiday Trees $10.00 per ft.” This sign is an example of the unnecessary hate “happy holidays” gets this time of year.

I will happily say I come at this as an atheist who is frequently critical of the capitalism and consumerism that loves Christmas. I do the tree, the lights, the presents, the loved ones, the food, the turtleneck sweaters, the Eartha Kitt songs and the Christmas movies. I do not, and I cannot, understand why people insist on being told “merry Christmas” instead of “happy holidays.”

I get this much. If a holiday is celebrated for religious reasons, it is important to those who observe it and they would like to see it recognized. That is completely fair. Showing it through observance with friends and family, religious groups and practice is super.

However, expecting a stranger, like an employee at your local bookstore or grocery store, to correctly guess a religious background and choice of holiday celebration is ridiculous.

It is not easy to tell if someone celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Boxing Day, Yule, the 12 Days of Christmas, the Gregorian New Year’s, Thanksgiving, the occasional Tết Nguyên Đán or Ramadan that falls in December – or one of the many other holidays this time of year.

Religious and cultural tolerance is part of why “happy holidays” is practical to say, but, in my eyes, the bigger part is convenience. I celebrate three holidays in November and December. “Happy holidays” just as easily is a wish for a good Thanksgiving, Christmas and Gregorian New Year’s as it is for any holiday or combination thereof.

It may be late, since the holiday season has already passed, but here’s an extremely early wish for “happy holidays” and good cheer in 2014.

Wildcat Opinions is hiring

The Daily Wildcat opinions desk is hiring columnists for the spring semester. Send a résumé, cover letter and clips or an argumentative or persuasive writing sample to spring opinions editor Katelyn Kennon at kkennon@email.arizona.edu. Previous journalism experience is not required. Be prepared to write, pitch ideas and work with a great group of people.

Shipping services do not deserve holiday anger

Every year around the holidays, legions of people pride themselves on their ability to “last-minute shop” and get the deals that others didn’t because they didn’t wait long enough in the stores. This last-minute shopping may save marginal amounts of money, but it can also cause gifts to not be purchased or delivered by UPS Inc. or FedEx – something these shoppers seem to think is the shipping giants’ faults. It’s not.

Millions of shoppers every year ship packages with UPS Inc., FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service. It should be to no surprise that packages can get lost in what amounts to hundreds of millions of packages handled in large warehouses by overstressed employees that work long hours lifting and sorting billions of pounds of mail. Yet, people continue to complain that the boots they ordered online on Dec. 22 from their home in Covered-in-Snow-and-Ice-Land, Minnesota – that were made in China, packaged in Los Angeles and distributed from a facility likely in another state – did not arrive on Dec. 24, just in time for them to wrap and put under the tree.

On Twitter, users were berating the customer service representative in charge of UPS Inc.‘s Twitter handle with expletives and accusations – like user @flipgearz claiming, “you just ruined my Christmas spirit by losing my package.”

The spirit of Christmas, and just being thankful in general, shouldn’t revolve around material objects, but few of these angry Twitter responders and other complainers seem to realize that. It is almost as if around the holidays, people forget that they’ve ever used a shipping service before and think that because they paid $30, the seven business days they were guaranteed – days that do not include holidays – evaporate into their package arriving when they deem fit.

These shipping and mailing services work incredibly hard, and people need to cut them a break. Personally, I have no pity for the people who order online days or even a week before Christmas; they’re asking for trouble, and they’re going to get it. The employees are people, too, and they shouldn’t be expected to work around the clock and their families for materialistic people who just demand packages that, realistically, are probably not supposed to be delivered for days.

Order responsibly, and behave like adults. The matching Snuggies you ordered for your family to wear on Christmas are not going to kill you when they arrive a day late. So, stop rage-tweeting, and enjoy some family time.

12-month housing valuable option for otherwise homeless students

The second that I hand in my last final exam of the semester, I feel the stress of all-nighters, midnight coffee runs and endless studying begin to melt away.

Some students book their flights home as soon as the temperature begins to drop. Others hug friends tightly as they restock their snacks and set off on a road trip home. It is easy to get so wrapped up in the idea of going “home for the holidays” that we forget that many students across the nation don’t have a place to go home to.

Going home simply isn’t an option for more than 58,000 college applicants who indicated that they were homeless on federal financial aid forms this year, according to CNN. This number has increased from 53,705 applicants last year.

The University of Arizona implemented changes to its housing policy for the 2013-2014 academic school year that combat homelessness on campus. For the first time, UA Residence Life gives students the option to live on campus year-round, according to the Residence Life website. This 12-month housing option allowed students to move in to their dorms in early August, stay in their rooms over winter break, and live on campus while attending summer school.

College should be a time for individuals to focus on finding themselves, rather than finding a place to live, and I am glad to see that the UA is being sensitive to the living situations of all of its students by making this policy change – even if it is overdue.

Striving for academic success, participating in extracurricular activities, applying for scholarships, working and maintaining social relationships are just a few obligations that students are attempting to juggle. The added threat of homelessness once the final bell of the semester rings could be enough to derail these aspects of college that students benefit from the most.

Rent for Colonia de la Paz, the designated 12-month hall for this year, which includes two full kitchens where residents can cook, is $700, according to Residence Life.

While $700 is expensive, the guarantee of having a roof over your head could be worth seeking out the financial means, and having a 12-month housing option is a step forward. Implementing a change such as this reflects the UA’s commitment to its students’ health, academic success and overall well-being.

EU asylum measure not enough

In a recent but still late move, the European Court of Justice ruled that the “fear of imprisonment due to homosexuality in African countries” is viable grounds for filing for asylum in the EU.

This recent policy implantation for the 28-member European Union is a “landmark decision”, which is ironic since it’s a policy the U.S. has had since 1994. It’s also a setback.

The measure requires concrete proof of persecution or fear of imprisonment and doesn’t concern people who live in fear daily. It’s too specific and this specificity could hurt potential applicants for asylum.

For those living in these African countries (as well as the 41 commonwealth countries where homosexuality is illegal), merely existing is an affront to the government and a large majority of the population. And while asylum is a very extreme measure to take, seeking it can often be the difference between a life of semi-freedom and a life in prison. The “sufficiently serious” require of the law is a missed opportunity for the countries offering asylum –requiring such obvious proof can when the mere existence of the laws causes fear and persecution seems outdated and silly.

Amnesty International, the world’s foremost agency for refugee activism and protection of basic human rights agrees that the ruling is underwhelming. In a statement they released questioning the ruling as incomplete, Livio Zilli, senior legal adviser at the International Commission of Jurists, said “The court should have found that these laws, even when they have not recently been applied in practice are capable of giving rise to a well-founded fear of persecution.”

It’s 2013 and in more than 70 countries it is a crime to be gay or lesbian. In four African nations (Mauritania, Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia) it’s a crime punishable by death.

One would think that fearing for your life day in and day out would be validation enough to apply for asylum in a country where not only the standard of living is better but there is a larger community for activism and you can’t be imprisoned for just being, but apparently you have to be in the process of being detained to even qualify.

This discrimination is widespread and is reminiscent of religious persecution in the early 1900’s and racial persecution long before that (and presently). LGBTQI people shouldn’t be forced to conceal their identity in order to leave a seemingly normal life in their home country – which the ruling deemed as equally ridiculous.

“The court considers that requiring members of a social group sharing the same sexual orientation to conceal it is incompatible with the recognition of a characteristic so fundamental to a person’s identity that the persons concerned cannot be required to renounce it,” the judges ruled.

In effect, the ruling leaves too much chance to the individual, case-by-case error. The incredibly left Daily Mail, a British newspaper, is incredibly critical of the initiative even though it changes nothing for the UK – who has similarly ruled since 2010.

Regardless of “sufficiently serious” concerns, these people should be offered asylum on the basis of infringement of basic human rights. They are being repeatedly oppressed and no human should have to live in the squalor of hiding their personality in order to merely subsist.

The ruling is not enough and doesn’t send a clear enough message to the governments imposing these irrational and antiquated laws – treat your people with respect or we will but only if they can prove severe and consistent persecution and fear of imprisonment – it merely suggests that and further measures should be taken to prevent any more violent hate crimes or unwarranted imprisonments.

SlutWalk needs to be renamed

Tucson’s SlutWalk took place last Saturday and I’m pleased to see a (mostly) positive response.

I support action. I support women speaking up, protesting against sexual violence and fighting for sexual autonomy. I think that, despite the specific politics of different brands of feminism, SlutWalk participation is worthwhile.

But I wish SlutWalk would drop the “slut” schtick.

SlutWalk was created in reaction to a 2011 comment by a representative of Toronto’s police department: “if women don’t want to get raped, they shouldn’t dress like sluts.”

Yes, that’s ignorant and misguided. But so too is thinking that the proper, blanket response is, as SlutWalk Toronto’s website says, to reclaim “slut” and reappropriate it to mean something different.

We don’t need “slut” back. We never had it in the first place.

The attempt to take a word traditionally used to denigrate and restrict the sexual behaviors of women and to transform it into a “hoorah” for female sexual freedom is admirable.

By celebrating “slut,” SlutWalk is taking the old Madonna/Whore complex and, instead of eliminating it, turning it into a new Slut/Prude dichotomy, in which the slut is the ideal, empowered woman, and the prude is both oppressed and dangerous to women’s freedom, as a weapon of the other side.

“I’m too sexual — except for when I’m not sexual enough. Those are the classic oppositional forces that women face,” Tracy Clark-Flory wrote in Salon while referencing SlutWalk.

Female sexual activities are still being classified, these two groupings still being used as a signifier of a woman’s worth. The insidious attitudes which prompt us to divide and conquer based on sex have not been weeded out.

Why does a word that means “a woman who has ‘too much’ sex” need to exist at all, whether with a positive connotation or a negative one?

The full spectrum of women’s sexuality and sexual experience is also not represented in the Slut/Prude model any more than it was in the older one. Many women are not willing or able to call themselves proud sluts.

Women who haven’t had overwhelmingly positive sexual experiences, who have been victims of sexual violence, who perhaps don’t enjoy sex, will find it difficult to participate in a system that equates compulsory sexual-outspokenness and participation with goodness.

In fact, by championing ownership over “slut,” SlutWalk has excluded whole demographics of women from their efforts. That’s just not conducive to a woman’s movement, unless it is one that wants to remain, as many have already accused feminism of being, white.

Back in 2011, SlutWalk’s advent, this was already apparent. An Open Letter From Black Women to the SlutWalk appeared on Facebook.
The signatories of this letter did not recognize themselves, their particular histories and the intersection of their race and gender, in the SlutWalk initiative to reclaim “slut.”

To call themselves sluts, these signatories wrote, would only be to validate years of negative historical perceptions of black women.

The Crunk Feminist Collective, which does explore the territories between blackness and femaleness, further explains this important distinction.

“Black female sexuality has always been understood from without to be deviant, hyper, and excessive,” a piece on the site says.

So, while white women are often denounced as sluts because they do not conform to a prescribed sexuality, black women have mostly been understood as unable to conform to any reasonable standard due to their assumed natures. They were and are, in the minds of many, born sluts.

Why be proud of this?

Victim-blaming sucks. Rape really sucks. SlutWalk has every right to laugh in the face of those who would blame “sluttiness,” whatever that is, for rape rather than blaming rapists.

But for many women “slut” is violence. It is hatred spit in their faces. It is irredeemable. SlutWalk, as it is, cannot do these women any real justice.

Having babies is not a college student's first priority

OK, I’ll admit it. Sometimes when I see a baby, I can feel my ovaries bursting with anticipation.

It’s terrifying; I’m only 19. Grad school exists. Careers.But apparently, according to a recent Gallup poll, 58 percent of Americans think I should get cracking soon on reproducing.

And that’s really terrifying.

Women, like me, who want to pursue a college degree, face severe disadvantages in doing so and in achieving their later career goals if they have children so young.

So what are 58 percent of Americans trying to say?

The majority of the 5,100 American adults polled by Gallup believed that women should have their first child before the age of 25.

In reality though, a recent Pew Research study showed that only 3 percent of mothers with a college degree give birth before the age of 25. In fact, 31 percent of all mothers with a Bachelor’s Degree did not start having children until they were over 35.

Why? Because the earlier that women start having kids the more difficult it is for them to continue their education.

I think all of us who have pulled all-nighters preparing for a test could understand the added difficulty, nay the impossibility, of pulling frequent, additional all-nighters calming down screaming babies.

The statistics seem to agree. In Hoffman and Maynard’s 2008 studies on teen pregnancy, they found that only 10 percent of teen mother completed a 2 or 4 year college degree program.

Even if they complete the amazing feat of college education, young mothers can be hurt later down the line too, as they enter the workforce.

Sociologist Joya Misra’s research has found that motherhood has become a greater predictor of the pay gap than gender in America, mostly because of a paltry child care system that prevents women from working full time as mothers.

Another sociologist, Shelley Correll, has discovered that mothers earn 5 percent less per hour, per child, than their childless female peers.

Mothers, in general, are also less likely to be hired if they leave or try to change jobs. Correll’s work showed that employers were half as likely to call back women whose résumés, through mention of an elementary school parent-teacher association, implied that they were mothers.

In our already hostile economic climate, these are risks that the under-30 cannot take.

The Guardian reported that over 2 million of those Americans 20 to 24 years old are unemployed, as are 2.5 million 25 to 34 year olds.

Additionally, student debt has reached a staggering 1 trillion dollars, and studies show that our generation will not reach our median wages until we are 30 years old- bad for mom and bad for baby.

A 2013 Pew Research study concluded its findings on higher education and motherhood by saying that it was “irrefutable… that on average the more education a woman has, the better off her children will be.”

If this is true, why is “when should women start having babies” a question that needs to be asked?

I can’t say I’m glad that yet another facet of my behavior, appearance, and lifestyle as a woman has now been marked out and dictated to me by the larger American public, but I’m more concerned that the dictate is one that limits my opportunities in the public sphere, and is, in fact, not beneficial to me or to my potential baby.

Is America telling its women to retreat to the birthing rooms of lore? To focus on family before personal growth? To trade their identities for ultrasounds? It seems so.

And that makes my ovaries calm down significantly.

New Marvel series should not only be available on Netflix

If you are not a huge comic book nerd like I am and do not spend all of your free time surfing comic news sites, you may have missed the next big Marvel comics movies and TV news.

In 2015, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones are getting Netflix original series that will eventually come together for a team-up miniseries, “The Defenders.”

Normally, I would be completely psyched by this information. I have many good memories associated with these characters, mostly because I did not watch the Ben Affleck Daredevil movie.

Realistically though, getting the new point of view on the Marvel cinematic universe through the eyes of street level heroes sounds like a good time.

Despite the excitement I think I should be feeling, especially with the announcement of Drew Goddard as show runner and a writer for Daredevil, I am dreading the fact they will only be available on Netflix because it makes them exclusionary.

One of the things I most admire about Marvel making an interconnected cinematic universe is that it gives a sense of continuity without being overwhelming like comics can be. I know plenty of people who have enjoyed “The Avengers” without seeing “Thor.”

By only having these shows on Netflix, there are surprisingly large populations that will not get their chance to see this portion of the universe. Certainly, places like China, a large market for Marvel proven by the additional scenes that were shot for “Iron Man 3” that only aired in China, will be lacking on the experience, unless Netflix begins serving them between now and 2015.

Closer to home, having grown up on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, Arizona, I know Netflix streaming is not an option for everyone. My parents can only watch Arrested Development season four when they are staying in hotels. They still get DVDs, but so far Netflix has yet to release any of its original series in that format.

I am going to watch them when they come out and I am going to keep mild levels of excitement. However, if the trend of Netflix producing exclusive content, the trend that helped kill Blockbuster, continues making things like the Marvel cinematic universe a public club with a specialty VIP area, I do not know that the brand will hold the same overall appeal.

President Obama owes us apology

It’s really something everyone should take into consideration – if you underpromise on something and overdeliver on it, you’re doing both yourself and whoever you’re working for a service.

Recently, the president has not really followed that guideline.

With the rolling out of Obamacare and subsequent – almost immediate – repercussions for Americans that already had plans, Obama owes the country an apology. The federal healthcare law, eponymously named Obamacare, has gone into effect and it’s affected hundreds of thousands of people in ways they didn’t expect.

The president assured Americans, “you can keep your coverage if you like,” but that assurance fell flat of true recently when a gaggle of people received cancellation letters from their coverage provider due to different standards enforced by the new healthcare plan – in some areas entire coverage umbrellas were removed due to lack of profitability, leaving many previously insured Americans uninsured.

While I’m of the opinion that the bill shouldn’t have gone into effect if it wasn’t ready – which it certainly wasn’t – this splash back further proves the ineffectiveness of the plan in its current state. We were strongly overpromised something that could have been great and greatly underdelivered on it. The Spanish language version of the healthcare.gov isn’t even functional – a massive disappointment since that alienates a large portion of the population who otherwise couldn’t complete the paperwork.

This lack of consistency doesn’t bode well for the president. With less than half of the country (41 percent) in agreement with Obama’s job performance, it’s a shame that the president faces yet another hurdle in legitimacy and consistency.

“What Americans want to hear is that the president is going to keep his promise. That’s why the house will vote next week to allow anyone with a health care plan they like to keep it,” said House Speaker John Boehner, “If the President is sincerely sorry that he misled the American people, the very least he can do is support bipartisan effort. Otherwise, this apology doesn’t amount to anything.”

In all actuality, President Obama shouldn’t have had to issue this apology because the program shouldn’t have been rushed into place without being adequately vetted to determine all probable fallout in the event of its release. The least he can do in the wake of this upsetting turn of events is to encourage some bipartisan effort – something that has been severely lacking in recent times – to turn around what could otherwise be considered a catastrophically poor opening for a program that was so highly anticipated.

Obama says he’s confident that most people eligible for coverage will be able to have it applied for and secured by November 30, an ambitious date in light of the most recent setbacks.

The healthcare system needed reform and he took the initiative, but hopefully missteps in its early release didn’t completely shaft the entire project. Luckily, he’s not up for reelection.

Paving the path to legalization of same-sex marriage

In the wake of Illinois’ decision to be part of a progressive future of legislation via their passing of a same-sex marriage law, it is prudent to consider the nation as a whole.

Our nation, the United States, is often thought of as a progressive center for innovation and tolerance – in fact it was founded on the basis of religious freedom and subsequent freedom from persecution.

Historically this hasn’t been the case. And while the gay community isn’t experiencing a general sequestering and semi-genocide that the Native Americans experienced during the trail of tears, Illinois(and Hawaii’s) efforts to bring this country into the 21st century are duly noted.

As this wave of sanity slowly progresses across the country, it’s exciting to see some change to the social makeup of the country. As a nation that subsists on the basis of slight equality and freedom to do most things, it’s sad to see an entire population being hindered in their CONSTITUTIONALLY given right to pursue happiness.

Currently, 15 of the 50 states have worked towards some sort of legalization of same-sex marriage or civil unions but it doesn’t make any sense that an entire portion of the population should have to fight so vigorously for something that heterosexual couples have the right to, especially since it is often squandered on divorces, annulments and separation.

The federal government should take a look at this new legislation.

Considering it’s only new for the states of Hawaii and Illinois, who are following 13 other states that already recognize the ludicrousness of refusing to let two consenting, happy people marry each other, the federal government should maybe take a hint and do something to change this.

While it is incredibly taxing to get anything through both Congress and the House, same-sex legislation is especially horrific to deal with because of the ignorant and archaic way that some of our elected representatives think. While it’s clear they were elected to lead and to respond to the wants and needs of their constituents, a frankly geriatric group that was conditioned to look away from same-sex relationships is a little behind the 8-ball on this one.

They need a little bit of a push, and that’s where Illinois and Hawaii come in. Their ability to retroactively make up for years of persecution and ignorance is a small win in the grand scheme but could eventually bring about nationwide change – something activists and logical people in general have been working on for years.

Hopefully this recent spark of rationality will help the rest of the states and the federal government to get a clue and hop on the bandwagon of granting people the constitutional rights they should have been granted long ago.

Attendance in class matters

Let’s face it, that 8 a.m. that we signed up for during the peak of summer was ambitious – we were bright eyed and tan and it seemed like a good choice – but it wasn’t.

It’s now almost 8 weeks into the semester and paramedics couldn’t pry your sleeping body from bed to go to that class and now you’re missing out.

Attending classes in college is crucial because not attending classes could affect your grade, your degree path and potentially your wallet.

In this burgeoning age of technology, not going to class seems pretty sweet. It means you can stay up to finish that episode of Gossip Girl you were watching – it’s totally healthy to watch 8 a day, right?- with no consequences because who really needs to go to that 9 a.m. lecture where all the powerpoints are posted? Not you.

Sure there may be clickers to probe who is actually in the audience, but it’s easy to just forgive those points or get a friend to do it for you – so why go?

Bree Wang, a Biomedical Engineering and Math junior, said she “pretty much only comes for the clicker points,” in regards to her Physiology 201 class.

While most professors use their own attendance policies, a lot of departments – the Spanish department for example docks 2 percent from the final grade for each missed class after the first 2 a student misses – have fairly strict policies. Participation points may goad students into attending class but students should really go for their own benefit.

Unless someone filled out all of the paperwork and you as a student have no idea how much you’re paying for this education, you’re well aware of just how costly a four year degree can cost.

According to the UA’s Bursar website, 1 unit as a resident undergraduate costs just under $800. Is there really any reason to pay for something you aren’t going to experience?

Class attendance could also potentially affect your grade. While some professors prefer to give students carte blanche to show themselves, a large majority of professors offer some sort of incentive for coming to class. This incentive often manifests in the form of pop quizzes, participation points or extra credit for being there – you’re doing a disservice to yourself and your grade if you don’t show up.

A 2010 article in the Review of Educational Research showed a sharp increase in the percentage of students earning A’s or B’s when a mandatory attendance policy was enforced – without the policy, students were more likely to earn C’s or D’s or fail the class.

Ben Bossler, a biosystems engineering junior, argues that it’s “silly to go to class if they post the power points online and you can go through them way faster on your own.” But simply logging into D2L and reading some power points doesn’t give you the in-depth explanation a professor can give in person – nor does it allow you to ask questions and get feedback.

Attendance also affects professors – Spanish and Portuguese professor Edgard Ore-Giron is incredibly enthusiastic about the classes he teaches and wants his students to be to.

Don’t be that guy that only shows up for the tests but is constantly asking other kids in the class for notes. Show up to class, take initiative and be a student because it’s what you signed up for.

Truly going green requires some initiative

Many college students advocate “going green” and consider themselves environmentally friendly, and there are several organizations at the UA that aim to educate, like Students for Sustainability, Compost Cats, and the Rainwater Harvesting Committee.

Whether you consider yourself “green” or not, there is always room for improvement—and it starts with learning innovative ways to show love to Mother Earth.

“The University of Arizona is at the forefront of sustainability in a college setting,” said Maddy Bynes, the Committee Chair for the Rainwater Harvesting Committee. The organization aims to educate the UA on water harvesting and operates under Students for Sustainability, which works to promote environmental activism and educating UA students.

“College is all about getting involved, so if someone were to be looking into “going green” they should look at different programs like Students for Sustainability to learn more about how they can create environmentally friendly habits in their personal lives,” said Bynes.

Simple changes can produce great effects, all you have to do is dedicate yourself and get started.

“Making small efforts to change how you use electronics, how you transport yourself places, whether you have your air condition on all the time…those simple things in your daily habits can make a huge impact,” said Natalie Lucas, environmentalism grad student. “First, I think consumerism is a really big issue.”

Lucas urges people to consider the amount of waste we generate. By selling your clothes online or shopping at thrift stores you can give new life to an old garment. Another step one can take, is by thinking twice about if you really need that new phone or pair of shoes before you make a purchase—your wallet will thank you.

“It makes more sense financially to be environmentally friendly,” said Lucas.

Switching to a limited or no-meat diet and making changes to your travel habits are easy ways to save you money while eliminating production costs, negative environmental effects from production, and reduce air pollutants.

“There are a lot of options that students don’t utilize to decrease their travel,” said Lucas. “Become more aware of what you do and your surroundings because it all adds up.”

Choose to bike to school, carpool with a friend, or utilize public transportation instead of driving. If you’re going to the Rec Center ride your bike and double your exercise. Tucson is extremely bike-friendly and there are many route options for bikers across the city.

Student housing complexes like College Place and Blue Agave Apartments among others do not offer recycling to its residents, and all trash—including recyclable plastics, paper, glass, and cardboard—go into the same dumpster. My apartment complex doesn’t recycle, so I box up my recyclables and find a recycle bin somewhere around Tucson. It’s time costly and effort-conscious, but it’s worth it not to let everything go to waste.

When Lucas had a similar situation at her apartment, she encouraged neighbors to speak to the manager and within a couple months recycle bins were introduced. By encouraging those around you to be environmentally conscious you’re working as an activist for the Earth.

“Any student looking to become more sustainable should first and foremost remember the 3R’s: ‘Reduce. Reuse. Recycle,’” said Bynes. “By following this and incorporating it into daily life, we are better able to practice the basics of sustainability.”

The first step is to reduce your consumption. When you’ve reduced all the waste, water, and energy that you can it is time to reuse.

“Reclaimed water is a great example of reuse,” said Bynes. “It is reusing water we already have used for a different purpose, essentially giving it another life.”

Lastly, recycling is vital. UA students are very informed about its importance, but often people won’t walk an extra ten feet to the many blue and green recycling bins around campus. Students for Sustainability has pushed for more bins to be placed around campus, including near all athletic fields.

“On the UA campus we pay a lot more for trash per ton than for recycling,” said Lucas. “The companies get rebates from recycling; the more they recycle the more they get back.”

To protect our big beautiful Earth, we must be the ones to take initiative. It starts small but the effect of educating, practicing, and being an activist for the environment will pay off. If you really want to consider yourself “green,” take the steps to prove it.

Falling in love should count as mental health day

I was in the backseat of my friend’s car sharing an Eegee’s we bought to console ourselves after midterm week, when the conversation turned to his film class.

His professor had informed the class that if they were to fall in love, they should simply inform the professor of their circumstances and he would excuse them, at least for a while.

Though perhaps simply a tongue-in-cheek way to encourage students to be honest about their absences, there’s further wisdom implanted in-cheek.

Why shouldn’t we allow a few breaks for the Cupid’s-arrow-stricken? If you catch feelings, try catching a day off.

Taking a “mental health day” for stress, depression, or other maladies has become relatively common and acceptable in the work place. In a study by the World Health Organization, 82 percent of Americans admitted to sneaking in a day like this.

Love, left unsatisfied, can wreak just as much havoc as any of those conditions.

When we begin to fall in love, we act a little nuts. There’s a reason. Our brain chemistry is going nuts too.

Really, all those pop singers were right: love is a drug.

Studies using MRI scans of the admittedly enamored have shown that the regions of our brains activated by new-found love are the same that start to flare up if we are addicted to drugs.

In the early “attraction phase” of love, How Stuff Works explains, the object of our affections becomes a highly coveted goal. Our brains put blinders on thanks to the heightened release of dopamine and norepinephrine, the notorious “pleasure chemical” and an adrenaline act-alike, respectively.

Along with endorphins, those natural painkillers that make us feel cozy inside, these chemicals produce, not only the elation we enjoy, but the sleeplessness, hyperactivity, loss of appetite, and inability to concentrate that we could do without mid-semester.

Also not conducive to productivity are our skyrocketing cortisol levels, which cause stress, and our rock-bottom serotonin levels, which bump up aggression and obsessive thinking.

When we first fall for someone, the only bona-fide solution to these chemical cravings is to spend time with the lucky someone, says Scientific American.

We’re dependent, ensnared, until this dictate is fulfilled.

In college, love, sex, and lots of somethings-in-between abound, inherent to the campus environment.

If professors remembered their own on-campus experiences and the accompanying scrambled brains, perhaps they too would understand the need for just a couple good mental health days, spent in the arms of our cherished life-ruiners.

College rankings are just subjective

The Arizona Daily Star ran an itty-bitty article online and in print last week about the University of Arizona’s new rankings by the Daily Beast. In the article they say we Wildcats are “more sexy than smart.”

When I first read that, I took some offense. I am not a fan of anyone other than me saying I am hot and dumb.

In my frustration, I looked up rankings from other publications.

Unsurprisingly, rankings are all over the place.

The Daily Beast putting us as the 123rd best college is low compared to the Center for World University Rankings, who put us at 78th best in the world and 49th best in the U.S. However, it seems about on par with U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of 119th.

Not to mention it seems high compared to Forbes and Find The Best, both of whom put us below the top 200.

Each one of these rankings has a different methodology. Daily Beast’s weighed heavily on future earnings, quality of education, and affordability, all of which students care about.

Granted, they take most of their stats from College Prowler, which is fueled by student feedback meaning that stats are all over the place and highly debatable. For example, how subjective is UA being 1342 of 1343 in “Smartest Girls.”

This begs the most important question when it comes to rankings: since there is no standard and rankings can be determined by student feedback like Daily Beast did or from fancy math and formulas that focus on publications, patents, and how many awards the faculty has won like CWUR, what makes one ranking more reliable than another?

All college ranking systems are flawed.

There will always be a problem of them being arbitrary and subjective. They might not provide enough information, rely too much on student feedback, rely too little on student feedback, or assume that all students fit in a gender binary.

Knowing that rankings are never going to be perfect, and figuring there are about 4,500 degree-granting institutions according to the National Center for Education Statistics, makes me think being 123rd, even making it on the best 200 lists, says the UA is a pretty great school, even if the Star thinks our rating “is not so great.”

Just be yourself

I’ve often heard that girls all want nice guys, but never go for them. I heard it in high school and I have heard it in college. To those suffering from, or who know someone who suffers from, “Nice Guy Syndrome,” it is not true.

I saw my first case of Nice Guy Syndrome when I was 15. A high school buddy of mine, Nick, was this sweet fresh-faced kid.

He wore Greek fisherman’s caps, loved Firefly, and created a superhero that could shoot mice out of his eyes. He was a good friend, but I let him down. I did not stop him when he first said, “Girls all say they want a nice guy, but then they date jerks.” He caught a bad case of Nice Guy Syndrome and it eventually ended our friendship.

As such I feel that it’s necessary that I discuss this to prevent the outbreak of this dangerous idea system.

Geek Feminism Wiki breaks down Nice Guy Syndrome into three related, generally non-exclusive, schools of thought, all of which revolve around the idea that women do not like “nice” men.

My ex-friend Nick believed all three.

The first school of thought says women are hypocrites who go after “bad boys” and “jerks” instead of the “nice guy” they say they want. Alternatively, women end up with “jerks” because they are too cruel or ignorant to see the “nice guy” in front of them.

The second school of thought says it is a problem with the guy. He sees women being attracted to “bad boys” and needs to learn to become one so he can get dates. He needs to become a pick-up artist because currently, he’s “too nice.”

And then there are those who subscribe to the third school of thought. They feel entitled to rewards for niceness. There is supposed to be this understood quid pro quo that being nice to a woman, treating her like a friend and human being, should be recognized and rewarded with a date.

When they are not rewarded, then they complain about being “friend zoned.”

One of the most important things to realize about the “friend zone” is that it suggests that being friends is a failure. It makes romantic relationships the only successful outcome between cross-sex friendships.

Despite thinking that being friends is a failure of the relationship, that’s where nice guys start.

They pretend to be platonic friends with women to ease themselves into the woman’s life long before showing any actual signs of interest. When it turns out they actually did make themselves platonic friends, they loose interest and dump the friendship entirely.

Based on these different schools of thoughts, it becomes obvious that being that “nice guy” is sexist.

“Nice” guys discount, ignore, or blame women for not wanting to date them. They objectify women. They think they should get dates based on deception and manipulation. They have no interest in friendships that do not advance to romantic relationships.

Fortunately, there does seem to be a cure.

Do not act like Nick. Notice who gets called “nice.”

As Lore Sjöberg of Wired.com points out, being a nice guy should not be a goal. It sets the bar to as low as “essentially lackluster, if largely unobjectionable male person.”

Go for being a kind, interesting, intelligent, multifaceted, sexy boy wonder instead.

It works for me.

UA needs to fund public art

In 1989 Tucson and Pima County required one percent of every capital-improvement project be used to create public art, but because none of the money was set aside for maintenance. Now, the nearly 200 public art pieces are deteriorating.

In a recent column in the Daily Wildcat, Carson Suggs stressed the importance of public art for displaying the city’s culture and history, and urged the community to be passionate about preserving Tucson’s pieces.

The public art displays on the UA campus should be equally important to the city. Public art is not merely sculptures and murals; it showcases the city’s rich culture and history and brings people together to celebrate with a sense of community.

Although the UA’s art maintenance is not currently suffering as much as the city’s, future upkeep will require funding that isn’t available. If plans are not put into place to fund art maintenance now, it will be too late to mend existing problems in the future without a more significant monetary investment.

“The problem, as always, is funding,” said Kristen Schmidt, the Registrar at the UA Museum of Art.

The UA also used to have a percent-for-art program where .5% of the building budget was designated to commission new works and pay for upkeep of current works.

Currently, however, the UAMA only receives $553 each year to maintain its more than 40 sculptures and innovative public artwork pieces; but that does not come close to covering the cost of upkeep.

It cost almost $1,000 just to repaint the “50 Scientists” sculpture in front of the Chemistry building and more than $6,000 to repair “Border Dynamics,” the large muscle sculpture in front of the Richard P. Harvill building, according to Schmidt.

In 1996, a Save Outdoor Sculpture! grant helped the Tucson Pima Arts Council create a maintenance plan for Tucson and the UA. If a similar financial strategy was reenacted, future problems in public art deterioration could be avoided.

“Realistically, with budgets the way they are, it’s difficult to see a way forward,” said Schmidt. “We do our best to keep the sculptures clean of graffiti, flyers, trash and damage.”

UA public art is currently in good standing, but if the pieces were to expire by effects of the environment and upkeep, more expensive action would have to take place – action the city is obviously struggling to afford because it didn’t invest in preservation earlier.

The Diamondback Bridge East of Broadway and just west of North Euclid Avenue was built in 2002 for $2.47 million but is now shedding its “skin.”

What were once flowing fountains welcoming pedestrians now run dry outside the Tucson Music Hall by the Tucson Convention Center.

The Barbara Grygutis sculpture along the Santa Cruz River Walk has been fenced off because the ground it stands on is sinking.

“Anita’s Song,” a tiled mural near the Barrio Anita neighborhood off West St. Mary’s Road was built in 2005, cost $340,000, and is now slowly losing tiles as they chip off and litter the ground below.

These costly pieces were once a proud statement of Tucson’s talented artists and visionaries, but are now a sad reminder of the lack of funding for public art. It is frustrating to see what were once beautiful pieces of art crackling under the strain of time and their environment with no immediate plans for revival.

The UA should avoid falling into the same trap as the city by facing similar deterioration issues from a lack of consistent funding.