Students enjoy a beautiful day in Peace Park

The sun finally poked through the clouds this afternoon in Columbia, Mo., after a few days of overcast skies.

The weather enticed MU students Miguel Sola and Lora Vlaeva to go to Peace Park at the intersection of Elm and 6th Street to enjoy the sun. Both students are from foreign countries and were excited to be out and about.

Vlaeva even took the opportunity to sing a jingle, “The sun, the sun is shining here today!” she said.

Sola, an exchange student from Madrid, Spain said, “we’re just hanging out waiting for our classes.”

Students Lora Vlaeva and Miguel Sola took a break from their days in Peace Park near the MU campus, April 17, 2013 in Columbia, Mo.

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The creek running through Peace Park near the MU campus had plenty of visitors as the weather brought students outside, April 17, 2013 in Columbia, Mo.

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Columbia to Fayetteville: a first hand perspective

I made my first road trip to a Missouri basketball game this weekend. The team unfortunately lost to Mike Anderson’s Arkansas team. It’s safe to say their “W” was on the backs of an officiating crew with a desire to see the home team win but I’ll address that later on.

Despite the outcome of the game the trip was a lot of fun. We left Columbia, Mo. Friday afternoon just before 6 p.m. and arrived at our Super 8 in Fayetteville, Ark. at 11 p.m. The drive wasn’t bad at all, it’s one I definitely recommend to others wishing to see Mizzou in action on the road. 

Traveling south of the state line was a bit of culture shock even though Fayetteville is only an hour from the great state of Missouri. For the first time in my life I was called a Yankee. I actually had to stop and make a mental note of what had happened since I have never considered myself a “Yankee.” I don’t say culture shock in a bad way at all though. I feel Arkansas students really play up the ‘southern’ aspect of their school despite its immense similarities to a town like Columbia. Not sure why it is but there is definitely a noticeable difference between Columbia and other SEC towns.

Outside of our newfound distaste for Razorbacks the trip was a great success though. Just be warned on your next trip to Hog country that their Wop Pig Sooie chant is one of the stranger things you’ll ever see. Having never heard it before, my friends and I were confused when a high-pitched whine consumed the arena for the first time.

The game itself was a back and forth struggle that kept the attention of both team’s fans. With Missouri building a four point lead in the last two minutes of the second half, the phantom calls I spoke of earlier started pouring in. A travel was called on Missouri sixth-man Earnest Ross as he rebounded a missed free throw while being pushed and shoved by two Arkansas players. Moments later Arkansas guard BJ Young got away with a blatant travel that video will show he took around four steps after picking up the ball. Not only did he get away with a travel but he was “fouled” by a Missouri player on the drive. Other amazing calls made included a second “foul” on another BJ Young drive as well as a botched out-of-bounds call in which the refs called a jump ball because they couldn’t decide who had last touched the ball. 

All of these calls got Bud Walton Arena up and going–something the home team had been unable to do in the waning moments of the half. I will say, however, that their fans weren’t overly obnoxious like my friends and I had expected. Everyone during our trip was very welcoming and helpful to any questions we had (I guess it was just a little taste of that SEC southern hospitality thing we keep hearing about). The only fans we had issues with were ones in the student section, but that’s to be expected.

I hope to make the trek to Fayetteville an annual event. It hurts to lose the way we did but road trips to see your team play are always fun. Next up for the Tigers is a huge home game against Florida on Tuesday night so I better see you all there! 

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If not this week, then next: the Boy Scouts and homosexuality

Regardless of the decision the Boy Scouts of America make in upcoming weeks, its ban on homosexuals will soon go away. It was discovered about a week ago that the group intended to discuss the possibility of lifting its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders, according to the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/09/us/boy-scouts-say-leak-undermined-plan-on-gay-ban.html). However, after much public speculation and commentary on the issue the group decided to delay its vote, presumably due to the fact that the public’s eye was focused squarely on them.

Whatever decision the governing body of the scouts issues though, it seems plenty clear by now that it wont be long before the group allows gay members and possibly leaders. A recent survey by The Huffington Post and YouGov showed public support for allowing gays in the Boy Scouts is 48 percent (49 percent amongst past members). Although not a majority, support is much more than opposition, which sits at 32 percent.

What I am trying to illustrate here is that the demographics of America have changed and there is much less ardent opposition to gays being allowed in the Scouts. Prominent social figures have recently played an important role in the gay rights issue. Although Hollywood has always been a place full of much more progressive views, celebrities have come forward to voice their support of gay rights. Rapper Frank Ocean recently announced his first love was another man. In the rap community, as well as the African-American one, this was somewhat of a bombshell. Sam Sanders of NPR wrote hip-hop is “a genre that, at times, seems to have homophobia in it’s DNA.” For an artist as prominent as Ocean to feel comfortable announcing he has had experiences with homosexuality suggests America could be undergoing a collective shift in its stance towards gays.

Obviously, Ocean’s case is not the only example of a prominent figure opening up about their sexuality. Something the Boy Scouts should take note of though is what Ocean’s story has become. He’s currently nominated for six Grammy awards including best new artist. With exceptions to stories like this one, Ocean’s sexuality isn’t the story anymore, his music is. If the Boy Scouts were to once and for all decide to allow gays in the group they could move past the issue with remarkable speed. In the age of 24 hour news, Americans have a remarkably short attention span. The Boy Scouts clearly don’t want to be the center of attention. By finally deciding to rid the group of the ban, it will no longer have to concern itself with being a major story every time the issue boils back up.

It should be taken as a sign that it are yet again having to review a decision it “confirmed” less than a year ago (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/us/boy-scouts-reaffirm-ban-on-gay-members.html?_r=0). If it does not lift the ban this week, then it will the next. It’s only a matter of time before the Boy Scouts allow gay members.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/09/us/boy-scouts-say-leak-undermined-plan-on-gay-ban.html

Survey: http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/toplines020113.pdf

http://www.npr.org/2013/02/09/171510912/frank-oceans-big-year-and-what-hasnt-changed-in-hip-hop

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/us/boy-scouts-reaffirm-ban-on-gay-members.html?_r=0

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Scott Brown’s 2010 election not as important as we thought

When Republican Scott Brown won the Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy, many Americans saw it as a vote of no confidence in Obamacare. I cannot speak much to how his candidacy was presented in Massachusetts but the American public was more-or-less told that a vote for Brown was a vote against the Affordable Care Act.

There’s no doubt Brown’s election was a change in the status quo for Bay Staters. The Democratic Kennedy occupied the seat for years and the possibility of a Republican taking it over seemed a stretch at best. 2010 proved to be a major year for Republicans and Brown “kicked off the movement” so to speak in the January special election. However, the lasting effects of his win proved to be rather minimal.

Even with Brown in the Senate, Republicans weren’t able to block the passage of Obamacare. His win only prevented House leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from altering the bill. William Jacobson, a professor at Cornell Law School, argues that this was key in preventing the bill from becoming even more aggressive.  http://legalinsurrection.com/2013/02/scott-browns-important-place-in-history/. Democrats were in such a hurry to get the legislation through however that it seems unlikely much would have changed.

With Brown’s 2012 loss to Elizabeth Warren, it is clear his 2010 win wasn’t the realigning election that political pundits thought it might be. After the craze surrounding his defeat of Martha Coakley died down, we didn’t hear much from Brown throughout his three years in Washington. Obamacare passed, Brown did his thing and then came home. His Friday announcement that he would not seek the seat vacated by John Kerry essentially solidified the belief that Brown’s election was just a result of him being swept up in the anti-Obama sentiment of 2010.

In reality, Brown wasn’t a game changer at any point. He was always known for being an independent thinker that reached across the aisle (something Washington could use more of). Expecting him to run to D.C. and fall in line with the Republican cause was rather dimwitted given his history. In fact, his own website says, “As your Senator, I have represented Massachusetts as an independent voter and thinker.” http://www.scottbrown.com/issues/independent-voice/. He may be one of the few officials on Capitol Hill who can actually make that claim.

The lesson here is that not every election is as monumental as we think. Although political theory looks at realigning, deviating and confirming elections primarily at the presidential level, we could easily compare Brown’s experience to Jimmy Carter’s in 1976. Seen as a big change at the time, Carter’s win quickly proved to be an exception to the norm. Republicans quickly took back the presidency in 1980, much like Democrats took back the Brown’s Senate seat in 2012. Time has passed and both wins simply proved to be deviations.

As the Affordable Care Act fully goes into effect in 2014, let’s remember that Scott Brown never had a chance to do much about it. He was late to the show and missed the Senate vote on the matter so blaming him for letting it through would be unfair. As we start to look back on the Obama years, be sure not to over-emphasize the importance of Brown’s election. If anything, hope that Democrats and Republicans take the last four-plus years as a lesson and start working together again.

Video: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/01/scott-brown-senate_n_2599612.html?utm_hp_ref=scott-brown

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/republican-scott-brown-wont-try-again-for-a-senate-seat-in-massachusetts/2013/02/01/eb1d7378-6cb0-11e2-8740-9b58f43c191a_story.html

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