Category Archives: Columns

T-Bird’s Tidbits 58-14

How do we regulate the ever soaring costs of an education, so Michigan residents can get the education they need without paying for it into their retirement years?

According to the Michigan League for Human Service article “Importance of Postsecondary Education,” secondary education is vital as Michigan is shifting from a skills-based to a knowledge-based economy.

The article said that tuition at Michigan four-year colleges increased 20 percent between 2005 and 2008. Tuition at Michigan’s four-year colleges and universities continues to be higher than the national average.

At a lesser rate, the same can be said for two year colleges in Michigan. St. Clair County Community College is among those colleges in our state raising tuition for the coming school year. Despite this increase, tuition at SC4 still remains lower than the national average.

Economic situations in Michigan make even these lower rates a struggle for many Michiganders wanting to return to school to better lives for themselves and their families.

The Michigan League for Human Services stated that Michigan’s poverty rate has risen for the second consecutive year. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that for children in our state, the poverty rate is at 19.4 percent. Explain that to the parents who cannot find a job because they don’t have the job skills necessary to get the job to earn income to feed their hungry children.

Those able to get into a college for education are at risk of defaulting on student loans. As tuition increased, family income did not.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Michigan has faced the following in 2009-2010:

  • Michigan’s annual unemployment rate in 2009 was 13.3 percent, more than double the rate of

5.3 percent in 2001. For African Americans, the Unemployment rate hit 21 percent—nearly double that of Caucasians at 12.2 percent.

  • Inflation-adjusted median household income ranked 35th in the country at $45,255 in 2009,

down from $54,054 in 2000 when Michigan ranked 18th.

Bankruptcies have risen since 2006 in our state. With Michigan’s history of unemployment, how will Michiganders pay back the loans for education? According to Michigan League for Human Services, defaulting of loans is on the rise.

CNNMoney.com stated that the overall, nationwide student loan rate on federal student loans climbed to 7 percent in 2008. According to CNNMoney.com, of the 3.4 million students slated to begin payments in 2008, over 238,000 defaulted by September 2009. CNN also explained that students attending for-profit colleges are at a greater risk of defaulting.

I am one of the students suffering from cuts made to the Pell Grants. Luckily for me, my editorial position came with a scholarship to cover only my tuition. Covering books and other supplies is an issue many of my fellow students can relate too.

It would seem much more should be done to take care of our own in our own backyards and neighborhoods.

Twana Pinskey

Editor-in-Chief

Cody’s Chaos Column 58-14

Prepare to catch Pac-Man Fever… again! “World’s Biggest Pac-Man” (www.worldsbiggestpacman.com) combines the familiar game play of Pac-Man with the creativity of the Sims, and the online multiplayer style of Farmville.

The site allows any Facebook user to login and create their very own “Pac-Man” map, complete with dots, ghosts, fruits, and power pellets. Each exit portal transports you to another user’s created map.

And the maps are not random each time either; they maintain a finite location. This will most certainly eat up whatever remaining free time the Internet has yet to deprive you of.

For anyone who has ever been victim of identity theft, Facebook phishing, or email spying, there is finally a fun tool to help you choose that most sacred of web phrases, your password.

“How Secure is My Password” (www.howsecureismypassword.com) is a simple and mildly entertaining webtool that estimates how long an average home PC would take to figure out your password. As you type in your password, each character renders an estimate in real-time.

The tool is not entirely accurate. It claims to operate on 50 percent mathematics and 51 percent witchcraft, but it does give you a rough idea how secure your key of choice is.

It informed me that my password would take roughly 10 years to break. My friend Jeremy’s however, would take 82 novemdecillion years. Another interesting feature is that short phrases, like certain dubious four letter words, fall into the category of “500 most common passwords”. Definitely ones to avoid.

I hope everyone has enjoyed the Chaos Column this year. I look forward to seeing what next year brings, with “Clay’s Chaos Column!”

Cody Kimball

Webmaster

Chaos Column 58-13

I’ll be the first to tell you how dissatisfied I am with the popular music of the last decade. I typically dismiss the auto-tuned, overplayed, and under-talented robot voices that have come to dominate the airwaves as of late. As a radio DJ for the last 6 years, I may know better than most my age.

Thanks to the Internet, even the most abysmal of musical styles can be turned into something enjoyable and genuinely interesting. In comes Eric Stanley, one of many Youtubers who can turn even the darkest coal into a shining gem.

19 year old Stanley, also known by his screen name “estan247” performs a plethora of popular music covers, often rap or hip hop on a rather unorthodox instrument for the style; a violin. Stumbling across his symphonic melodies as they turn the familiar sounds of such “artists” as Eminem or Usher into actual art was probably one of the most refreshing experiences I’ve had on the web in a long time.

He also has a very modern approach to the industry, with a Facebook and Twitter account that provide his music free of charge, with information about how to book him for live performances. I can only hope that the future yields more Eric Stanleys and less Rebecca Blacks.

Interestingly enough, he covers her as well and does the impossible by making “Friday” enjoyable.

Keep up the good work Mr. Stanley.

Cody Kimball

Webmaster

T-Bird’s Tidbits 58-12

The recent earth quake and resulting Tsunami have focused the entire world’s attention on the plight of Japan and her countrymen. The lack of medical supplies and the most basic of human needs such as water and food have made these necessities highly sought after, costly items. The depravity this country has been forced to endure has worsened by the ongoing nuclear situation.

According to worldnews.about.com, the 8.9 earthquake demolished entire towns, and resulted in damage to the nuclear power plant 150 miles south of Tokyo, at Fukushima.

Reuters.com showed that tremors from the quake resulted in an explosion and a radiation leak. Scary thought. Is this another Chernobyl in the making, or simply a freak accident?

According to Nuclear Information and Resource Services located in Maryland, 23 nuclear reactors are currently operating in the United States of America. The unsettling part is that every one of the plants uses the same General Electric Mark I design as the ones that failed at Fukushima.

Scared? Surprised? At least by now I hope what you are thinking about is not it could it happen here, but when will it happen here and what are we going to do about it?

According to “Atomic Economics” by author Hugh Jackson in www.thirdworldtraveler.com, the “Nuclear2010” program is an effort to subsidize development of new nuclear power plants by the end of this decade. According to the article, the U.S. administration requested 38.5 Million of our taxpayer dollars to support future growth.

As a taxpaying American, I have a problem with my tax dollars supporting any program that gives subsidies to nuclear plants, without holding them accountable and having policies making them responsible in event of a disaster.

Our growing population dictates we come up with alternative energy sources. I can buy that. I just want to know that those in charge, those responsible, will face stiff penalties for meltdowns and nuclear accidents that occur.

Remember, folks, this could be happening in our own backyard.

The citizens of Japan face years of rebuilding their lives. They don’t need to add nuclear fallout concerns to their list of worries.

Twana Pinskey

Editor-in-Chief

Cody’s Chaos Column 58-12

Surely all of us recall, at some point, arranging magnetic letters on the refrigerator door. As with most things, the Internet has found a way to reinvent that adolescent activity, all the while maintaining its childishness.

Lunchtimers” (www.lunchtimers.com) is a simple web application which simulates hundreds of plastic letter magnets that you can rearrange at will… if you can.

The twist is that you aren’t the only one who can move the letters. Any person on the page can drag them away as soon as you release them. So if you manage to spell a complete sentence, consider yourself lucky. Often you’re competing for the same letters as a dozen or so other users.

And of course, with this sort of tool, childishness can prevail, as foul language and shapes can be created without moderation. It is also available as an app for mobile devices so you can waste time on the wall anywhere you go!

Cody Kimball

Webmaster

Cody’s Chaos Column 58-10

“BallDroppings.” Surprisingly something that isn’t nearly as gross as the name suggests.

Quite the opposite really. The game (if you can call it that) at www.balldroppings.com is really more of an idle art form, brilliant in its subtlety.

Is is a musical tone generator that works similar to programs such as the popular “Line Rider.”

Balls drop from a point on the screen at a rate and tempo of your choosing.

The user simply has to draw lines to make a unique beat. The line’s length and angle will reflect the tone it produces when being struck by the falling balls.

It’s insanely simple to do, but you may find yourself wasting hours on this as you perfect your spherical symphony.

Cody Kimball

Webmaster

Cody’s Chaos Column 58-9

Evolution. It’s topic that can can bring as much chaos as it can progress, or in this case, inexplicable entertainment.

A web application called “BoxCar2D” has taken the fundamentals of the theory, and turned them into a “genetic algorithm,” which is then applied to a succession of 2-dimensional vehicles.

The vehicles are spawned and mutated at random (at a rate you can choose). Once they are “born” they try to move along a randomly generated path (the life metaphors abound) and the cars that can make it the furthest (or “survive” the longest) reproduce and create a new generation of hopefully better cars.

Of course the randomness of the universe is somewhat compensated for, as the cars can have a tendancy to be born “upside down”, or mutate in a manner that may not be beneficial, adding another level of realism. You can try it yourself at www.boxcar2d.com

Cody’s Chaos Column

Cody Kimball

Webmaster

Chaos Column 58-8 – QWOP

How do you spell “frustration?” I spell it “QWOP.”

“QWOP” is a free web game on foddy.net, and also available as a smart phone application that is as addicting as it is frustrating. You play as “Qwop,” an Olympic runner from some small unnamed country.

Attempt number 56 for Cody to play "QWOP" "Qwop" property of Foddy.net

The goal is simple: Run 100 meters. The bad news is that it’s nearly impossible to do. The “Q” and “W” keys on your keyboard control your player’s thighs, and the “O” and “P” keys control your calves – sort of.

You’ll sure find yourself crashing and flipping before you can expect yourself to be going anywhere.

I’ve never made it more than 4 meters. Which is roughly one step and a fall.

I watched as Ray Robinson, the ESG Managing Editor played, and managed to make it 48 meters by dragging the player’s knee. Then at 50 meters, there’s a hurdle. Good luck with that.

But the expectations are rather low for you, so don’t feel bad. Even if you get a negative distance, you will be congratulated for your courage. “Everyone is a winner”.

Cody Kimball

Webmaster

Cody’s Chaos Column 58-7

Do you enjoy anime but hate watching countless hours of filler? Well, an Internet trend has put an end to all that. It’s called “abridging,” and it has become quite popular in recent years.

The first “Abridged Series” was started by a Youtube user called “littlekuriboh” in 2006, and has been running ever since. What Littlekuriboh did was take the American episodes of the “Yu-Gi-Oh” cartoon, and condense episodes (often multiple episodes) into “abridged” episodes of less than 10 minutes. He also did voiceovers of all of the characters, providing a level of humor and new character to the show.

Other shows were quick to follow, including “Naruto,” “Pokemon,” “Dragonball Z,” “Sailor Moon,” and numerous others. The creators of these series have become regular attendees at anime conventions and even have unique merchandise for sale.

You can find (and subscribe) to your favorite shows on Youtube, and some on iTunes.

Cody Kimball

Webmaster

Cody’s Chaos Column 58-5

Cody Kimball

Webmaster

An advancement in artificial intelligence (and possibly the doom of us all, depending on what science fiction films you watch) has manifested itself in a web program called “Cleverbot.”

Currently the program has benevolent applications as a means of entertainment. Cleverbot, for all intensive purposes, is a computer that tries to hold a conversation with whoever types to it, through various learned responses. It is a variation of another program called “jabberwacky.” Both programs are designed to provide entertainment and “companionship.”

Be cautious how you interact with Cleverbot. Its responses can often be random and confusing, and possibly even offensive. Your “conversations” can be easily derailed. That could be why it is so entertaining.

The website possibly explains it best: “Cleverbot is an entertainment – not made to be logical, give advice, or be useful. Many people keep talking for hours, and say it’s too clever to be a bot – that it must be human. Yet it never is: it is a bot.”

The Cleverbot can even be downloaded as an application for 99 cents. That way when you’re on your phone, you can talk to someone. Oh, wait.