Posted by: jeffbabl | May 5, 2011

West Bank Review

Since I was in California when the rest of my class wrote a review for the film and I was unable too, I decided to take a stab at it.

West Bank Story was directed by Ari Sandel and won an Academy Award in 2007 for best live action short film. West Bank Story is about the strain in the Middle East, specifically in Palestine and Israel.   The film poked fun often at the stereotypes of the two groups, and did it with such great humor.  Musicals are not for everyone, including myself, but West Bank Story used it affectively to lighten the seriousness of the conflict. Two conflicting ethnic groups brought together by the forbidden love of two young members from each group, al la Romeo and Juliet.

West Bank Story is a short parody the classic musical West Side Story and just like West Side Story the plotline is fairytale in nature.  A rapunzel and prince charming reference is also made which begins to make West Bank start to lose it message, but Sandel and crew rebound nicely and put 20 minutes of quality plot line and dialogue, on a set that resembled a Middle East dessert. Despite the anti climatic ending, Beverley Hills, the musical tackled a much bigger issue promoting peace and not war in the Middle East, blending fairytale and humor well the folks in Israel lived happily ever after.

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Posted by: jeffbabl | May 3, 2011

Blooper Reel for Video Commentary

Posted by: jeffbabl | May 3, 2011

100 Ideas that changed the world

Standing in the Wal-Mart checkout line I’ve always looked at the tabloid magazines that have outrageous headlines but have never bought one because I never found it to be worth my money.  Standing there one day I saw a TIME magazine special about the top 100 idea the changed the world.  Not in the order of greatness but by time period they listed things from the ancient world to the middle ages and the renaissance to today. From the light bulb, automobile and computer to vaccinations and tectonic theory, TIME reports on the most significant scientific and technological breakthroughs-in the form of ideas, inventions and discoveries-that have driven human progress. I’ve narrowed down the list to my top 15 choices:

  1. Geometry
  2. The alphabet
  3. Zero
  4. Electricity
  5. Computers
  6. Internet
  7. Seven day week
  8. Democracy
  9. The arc
  10. Gunpowder
  11. Flight
  12. Assembly line
  13. Movable type
  14. TV
  15. Photography

If anyone would like the complete list, just comment and I will post it.  You can even make your own top 10 list.

Posted by: jeffbabl | April 28, 2011

Video Commentary

Posted by: jeffbabl | April 27, 2011

A blog about not blogging

As the semester has progressed I have clipped newspapers articles and bookmarks news haeadlines on the internet.  I was hoping to blog about each one of these topics but as time wore on I was either too busy to find time to sit down and write a blog post, and after awhile some topics lose their timeliness.  It would make no sense writing about something two months prior because many people have forgot about the topic.  So after compiling piles of clippings and clogging my favorites bar, here is the list of topics I wished to blog about but ran out of time:

The new NCAA basketball tournament TV scheduling; the UNO cutting of football and wrestling programs; the NBA/NHL playoffs; the Auburn tree poisoner;  teenage engagements/marriages/pregnancies; 18th century America/Politics vs. 21st century;  pros and cons of coffee drinking;  gas prices;  facebook: the movie, the twins, and privacy;  Miss America – from Nebraska;  Nebraska’s splitting of its’ electoral college votes;  Nebraska’s license plates: new design and possibly eliminating the requirement to have two plates.

I have a few ideas that I will post about later this week, but I am open to writing about one the topics above if anyone would like to hear my thoughts.

Posted by: jeffbabl | April 23, 2011

Presidential Platform Part 9 of 9

Camus Dining Service

The single most important piece of the platform, the final post, is on campus dining.  As shown by recent posts in the class by myself, Erik Dodge, and Sam Bates this is a vital issue for UNK students.  Both President Gonzales and vice president Mena-Werth are genuinely passionate about the value and quality of the food and the future food provider.  The three meal plan options currently at 21 meals @ $1783 per semester, 15 meals @ $1749 per semester, and 20% discount for commuters/staff for purchasing meals via loper dollars.  The ten meal plan was eliminated causing Gonzales to claim that students, especially older students eat much less frequently than the options require.  They hope to bring back the ten meal option in addition to a new five meal plan as well as upping the loper dollars discount to 25%.  They also are proposing increasing the transfer rate from $5.50 to $6.00.  Currently Chartwells has an “exclusive catering clause” giving them an airtight monopoly to cater ALL food and beverage needs on campus. Gonzales says that many student organizations have limited budgets and cannot afford the prices of the food service.   His number one priority is to give student organizations catering discounts and that any outside food brought on campus under $100 be allowed on campus.  Next year he hopes to have the food provider keep an updated website to keep students informed on dining news, notifications, hours, menus, and nutrition information.  In addition there will be an anonymous section for students to write about food service, quality of food, and staff.  Contact information will also be posted for students to know who is in charge and how to get a hold of administration if they have a concern.  The president hopes to add a new restaurant on the 1st floor in the food court, holding a student vote to determine which restaurant students want.  Food quality is the last concern for Gonzales and Mena-Werth.  They hope the new food service provider fosters a friendly atmosphere between students and staff and of course improved food diversity and day-to-day quality.

The meal plans are not good for value or variety.  You must pick one or the other, so I love the idea of lower meals per week, because I myself don’t even use ten of my twenty-one meals.  What I’d like to see is block meals, let’s say 250, for the whole semester that you can use anytime not just within the designated meal times.  The discount for loper dollars is good for commuter students who might want a quick bite to eat between classes.  Increasing the transfer value to $6.00 is a must, because when I order a combo 3 meal at Coyote Jacks I must pay money out of pocket or use my ever shrinking points to cover the excess cost.  The “exclusive catering clause” is complete garbage and should be eliminated.  All student organizations I am in always bring outside food on campus to avoid paying the overpriced “food” Chartwells would give us.  If it must remain, I like Gonzales stance on discounts and all food under $100 be allowed.  If anything there should be a price match guarantee by Chartwells to avoid forcing student organizations to pay money they don’t have. The new website with all information regarding meals, hours, ECT is perfect because I am always wondering what place is open and when will it close.  The extra feature of contact info and anonymous comments will help keep the dining provider accountable.  A new restaurant on first floor will be great, just to get some new variety, because burgers, tacos, and Chinese get old very quickly.  My vote would be a Subway, because tastes good and is good for you.  Lastly I definitely want a new food provider but if they are retained, I am behind Gonzales on promoting a friendly atmosphere because the service currently is very bad and unfriendly.  Food orders are constantly messed up and sometimes I’m ignored so the staff can talk about their personal lives.  I am very behind Gonzales and Mena-Werth on this issue, because it seems to be a big concern among students.  I would like to see them also address hours, prices of food, and the cleanliness of the dishes. This platform is a GREAT first step to addressing campus dining issues.

Posted by: jeffbabl | April 20, 2011

Presidential Platform – Part 8 …. 1 more to go

Accomplishments

Senators Jordan Gonzales and Mena-Werth have many notable accomplishments during their tenures with student government.  They hope to add the proposed ideas in their platform to the list of accomplishments after their term end next spring.  Some notable accomplishments for the duo included creating the Residential and Greek life subcommittee.  This committee was created for residence hall delegates to be informed on student government and for student government updated on resident programs.   The Collegiate Readership Program was supported by Senator Gonzales when it was established three years ago.  The CRP provides students access to newspapers from the Hub, World Herald, and USA Today to enhance the learning environment on campus.  As a JMC major I love the CRP and am happy it was passed due in part to Gonzales.  Creating the Student Organization of the Month award is another accomplishment because the award has served as a beacon of excellence for student organizations by honoring organizations that perform excellence in programming, community service, and campus involvement. Advocating for student jobs and outdoor recreation facilities have been recently accomplishment for the pair.  They have kept many student jobs around, when budget cuts have called for the elimination.  The newly demolished Stout Hall will be home to sand volleyball pits thanks to the efforts of the duo.  There are numerous other accomplishments within student government that have been beneficial as well.

My next blog post about the presidential platform will be the final one of the series and the biggest issue the elected pair hope to tackle, or sink their teeth into, campus dining.  As a dear friend of the president elect I wish him the best of luck in his upcoming presidency/regency, and based on the accomplishments above and the detailed platform proposed I have a feeling his presidency will be very successful not only for him but the UNK student body and UNK as a whole.

Posted by: jeffbabl | April 19, 2011

Column #4 Final Draft – Undercounted

When the 2010 census was released a lot of cities were disappointed with the results, everywhere from big cities like New York City and Detroit to rural areas in the heart of Texas.  In New York City an estimated 225,000 residents about 2.6% of the population were missed and Hidalgo County, Texas, believes 8% of its rural population was missed.  Locally the two cities with the biggest gripes would be Omaha and Grand Island.

 For Omaha the Census revealed a shocking total of just 408,958 that came in 11 percent below the 2009 estimate of 454,000. Estimations have historically been overestimated. Even with the annexation of Elkhorn in the middle of the last decade Omaha is left feeling undercounted. The city has two options; either challenge the results or start annexing surrounding neighborhoods that aren’t in city limits.  The Omaha metro is just fine growing to a population of 865,350 but the city needs more residents.  Omaha did little annexation during the last ten years because it would cost more money than city officials thought the urge to grow was.  That is why many high debt areas were passed over.  About 85,000 people live within one mile of Omaha city limits but weren’t counted as Omaha citizens in the 2010 census.

Omaha needs to compete nationally against other metropolitans areas for companies, concerts, sports teams, and other federal funding. They need the population numbers to compete, but when places are resistant to annexation, all they do is hold Omaha back.  Omaha’s second option is to challenge the results of the census as long as they can prove errors.  City leaders have two years to file a challenge beginning June 1st to claim some more residents.

Grand Island faces the exact situation hour’s west on I-80.  Grand Island for years have had a campaign called “Grand Island – Be Counted” in hopes of reaching the 50,000 plateau. The federal government hands out money for things such as schools and public safety based on the count. Millions of dollars in federal and state aid were at stake for GI and the distinction of becoming the state’s third metropolitan area. Omissions can be costly. Grand Island officials wanted to count all people, even illegal immigrants. Grand Island was exactly 1480 people short of the goal, 48,520.  The language barrier between census workers and many legal and illegal citizens are likely the reason for coming up short.  Grand Island’s population is now 26.7 percent Hispanic.  That only counts the roughly 13,000 legal Hispanic citizens who took part in the census.  Discussions I’ve had with classmate Kristen Friesen, from GI, indicate that large numbers of Hispanics and possibly illegal’s are living together packed in small apartments when housing thinks only one or two live there.  Many are afraid to take the census because they fear deportation.  A simple drive through Grand Island will probably indicate more than 26.7 percent of the population is Hispanic.  Grand Island was 1480 shy of the goal because many of its citizens were too shy to take part in the count.

 Grand Island can follow Omaha by either challenging the results of the census or begin the annexation of surrounding lands. It will be 50,000 or more people if subdivisions south of town such as Alda are added by annexation.  50,000 people within the municipal limits of Grand Island would qualify the community for grants automatically, without having to apply and compete with other communities.  Grand Island would be eligible for more than $55 million in federal funding for infrastructure such as roads, bridges and wastewater treatment plants, as well as services in hospitals, job training centers, schools, senior centers, housing and fire and rescue.  My friend always says the Olive Garden won’t build a restaurant unless Grand Island hits 50,000, meaning many new businesses are just waiting on the last 1480 citizens to show up in Grand Island.

Both Omaha and Grand Island felt punched in the stomach by the results of the 2010 census.  The cities need to file a challenge after June 1st, after they gather all the numbers, to gain the residents and money they deserve.  After the results are then hopefully awarded, both Grand Island and Omaha need to be more aggressive in annexation to help boost the cities’ population wise and economically.

Posted by: jeffbabl | April 16, 2011

Favorite Video Commentary

Dr. H showed my favorite video commentary to the class Thursday.  Here are two more from ESPN writer/anchor John Buccigross.  I love this blog because it is specifically about hockey, one of my favorite sports. “Bucci” is very passionate about the sport which makes his commentaries even better.

Posted by: jeffbabl | April 15, 2011

Presidential Platform – Part 7

Police and Parking Services

Both elected officials tend to agree with Dr. Hanson that parking on campus isn’t a huge problem at all, but they do believe some aspects need changed.  Residential parking seems to them to be adequate but commuter parking of late has become strained.    The pair has already hosted meetings with the Police and Parking Services and the Chancellor to find way to add more parking spaces for commuting students.  Specific areas of parking development are Lot 32 (south of Randall and Mantor Halls) and west of 9th Avenue (east of Martin, Nester, and Founders Hall).  In addition to fixing parking, there is a need to repave 28th street (south of the towers and north of the union) to fix the numerous potholes.  Also the issuing of parking tickets will be lowered from its current time on Fridays to noon because many students and staff are off campus by that time on weekends.  Finally, last year parking ticket fines were increased by university officials without input from student government.  Gonzales and Mena-Werth will oppose any possible increase in fines and parking permits.

I tend to agree with Dr. H and Gonzales that parking on this campus is not a major concern compared to others.  I do like extending commuter parking because of construction on campus the main commuter lot has lost a number of spaces.  The repaving of 28th is also something to be addressed because that road is full of potholes that can damage cars.  Lowering the 5:00 cap for parking tickets is perfect for this campus as many people leave on weekends.  In addition, I would like to see this lowered on weekdays because many commuters and faculty are off campus by late afternoon.  Lowering permit prices seems un-logical but keeping the price the same is essential for Police and Parking Services to remain afloat without nickel and diming students.  Opposing ticket fines is very important because UNK officers are doing nothing more than a witch-hunt trying to fine students.

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