My Blog List

Monday, December 14, 2015

The only thing to fear is fear itself

What I am about to write is very controversial. You may disagree with most of what I say, or maybe just some of it.

     Due to the recent events in the world (such as what happened in Paris and San Bernardino), the fear of Muslims has never been so high in America. Although very few Muslims are terrorist and thus are no good, very bad, people, most Muslims are no different than me and you. Yet, Americans are conforming to believing the stereotype that all Muslims are extremist. This leads to fear and hate crimes. Advocacy groups believe these hate crimes are fueled by not only mass shootings, but, "The inflammatory rhetoric of Donald Trump and other Republican presidential Candidates." Because Americans are listening these ignorant Presidential Candidates such as Jeb Bush, who said only Christians should be let in, and Donald Trump, who called for a ban not allowing Muslims to be allowed in to this country, people are conforming to these un-American beliefs. Persecuting against a certain religion goes against the principals on which the country was founded on, one of which was, "all men are created equal". Yet, Presidential candidate Rick Santorum question if the US constitution protected Islam. If American citizens believe this rubbish and conform to believing the stereotype that all Muslims want to do harm to America, then our society will become un-American. Innocent Muslims, who could be a great service to this country, will be left out this country and have to deal with the emigration factors that made them want to leave.
     The rhetoric of various Presidential candidates has already started to work. A spokesman for the American-Islamic council commented, "I have never seen such a fear and apprehension in the Muslim community, even after 9/11." This is bad, because if Americans fear innocent Muslims, and commit hate crimes such as vandalizing, threatening, and even leaving a severed pig outside of Islamic houses of worships, then we are conforming to the values of the KKK. The fear and the KKK like atmosphere that has been created could led Americans to committing even worse actions. These actions could be worse than America's worst mistake, which was creating Japanese interment camps during WWII. Even though FDR made this atrocious mistake, he also said "The only thing to fear is fear itself." So either way, we are going follow FDR's footsteps. We are either going to make the same mistake FDR made, or we are going to follow his advice and start fearing fear, not Muslims.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Bowl Games

On the first day of winter break, every football fan at New Trier will have their eyes glued to the tv to watch the thrilling Air Forces Reserve Celebration Bowl at 11am.  WHAT??? YOU AREN'T GOING TO WATCH IT? Ok, nobody is going to watch it because it is going to feature two teams  that nobody has heard of. Most bowl games now are either a matchup of two teams that have or are close to a .500 record or are between teams you have never heard of. You would think that nobody will tune into ESPN to watch these meaningless games, but that isn't the case. In fact, the number of bowl games are increasing. There are currently 41 games. I don't know why people tune into lesser known bowl games like the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. But when ESPN gets good ratings, then advertisers flock to ESPN and the NCAA to have their own bowl game. This becomes a problem. There are so many observe bowl games that there aren't enough teams bowl eligible to play in. To be bowl eligible means that you have 6 wins and thus 6 losses. I personally believe that .500 teams shouldn't be playing postseason football, but am irate when the quantity of bowl games and the lack of bowl eligible teams means that teams with more losses than wins will be in some bowl games. My dad tells me of the times when there were less than a dozen of bowl games, and to be in one would mean everything to the school and their fans. Now, being in the Quick Lane Bowl means nothing to a school and their fans. ESPN has taken the excitement of every bowl game and they have saturated the bowl game thrill with boring, poor quality games. Thanks ESPN, but I am not interested in the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, thanks for trying.
ps. this is from 2012. Imagine 7 more logos in this picture. 






Sunday, November 29, 2015

Black Friday shouldn't be on Thursday

We are all familiar with Black Friday. It now goes hand and hand with Thanksgiving itself. However, Black Friday is becoming more ridiculous. It is now stretching to Thanksgiving in most instances, and in extreme cases, it covers many days after Friday. I am fine with having Black Fridays sales on and after Friday, but having them on Thanksgiving is simply unconstitutional. Ok, I am exaggerating a lot, but let me explain.
Having Black Friday on Thanksgiving is a violation of our 8th amendment right, which protects us from cruel and unusual punishment. Have a sale on Thursday takes employees away from their family's Thanksgiving meal and forces them to work minimum wage while getting trampled from all the shoppers who are rushing to get what they"need". These employees are being punish in an cruel and rather unusual way because they are forced to work in harsh conditions against their will while earning not nearly enough to make up for all the work they have to do, not to mention they are missing a major America holiday. CEOs of major department stories must realize how inhumane it is to extend Black Friday to Thanksgiving. If not, then they must be impeached from their positions. Ok, that doesn't make any sense, but my point is Black Thursday doesn't make any sense.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Grades

The way students and teachers handle grades (myself included) bothers me. It is natural to have grades on your mind and your mind on your grades. However, the ways students and teachers, including myself, go about their grade not ok. Here is a list why:

1. As finals are approaching and students are chewing their fingernails over the 89% they have in math class, it is worth reminding yourself that your grade is just a letter. An A vs a B isn't going to be the determining factor in rather a particular college accepts or denies you. There is plenty of other material colleges look at in your application.  And once you are in college, you high school grade doesn't mean anything.

2. I can't tell you how my times a teacher has handed back a graded assignment and I've heard some ask someone else what they got. First of all, grades are personal. If a teacher leaked out everyone's grade, they would be fired. Second of all, why would someone care how much material their friend understood about a subject? Does it really matter? Just asking makes it seem like grades are a
competition.

3. Here is the O'Connor theorem: Grade is just a number. A grade is just a way a crude summarizing a student's intelligence. However, one's intelligence is hopefully more complicated than one number. Judging a student by their grade is like judging how fit someone is by their weight. It is simply unfair to do both. I saw a Near True News article about all students students wear shirt with their GPA on it. This would never happen. But if we think about it, aren't all of us wearing this invisible shirt everyday?

4. We all have encountered the math department policy when we get our final back. We can't see our final, but rather just see our final score. If we want to see our test, we have to meet our teacher outside of class, which is a pain especially 2nd semester. I understand it is there to prevent academic integrity. However, this policy, in my opinion, defeats the point of learning. What is the point of taking a test if you can't learn from your mistakes?  Thus, the math department is focus on getting the grade to their student rather than truly teaching them.

So here is my challenge to the three people left who are reading this, don't be attached to grades. To students, we go to high school to learn, not to get good grades. An A in junior year english doesn't mean anything if you don't remember what you learn. To teachers, find ways to minimize the importance of grades. Take to O'Connor route is you want to be extreme. The middle would be having half the grade on assignments, half on participation, improvement, and other factors you don't see in grades.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Why not getting into your first choice isn't a bad thing (guest blog)


 I did not get into my first choice of colleges, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Let me explain why.
 
            I ended up going to a different college. During the first day of orientation, I heard an Israeli guy walking down the hallway of my dorm humming an obscure song I liked. I introduced myself, and Eran and I became friends. More than 40 years later, we still are. A few years after we met, Eran introduced me to his friend Danny, who is also still my friend. And Danny introduced me to his friend Laurie, who became my best friend of all, my wife, and the mother of my wonderful three sons. I consider myself to be very fortunate, and none of this would have happened if I had been admitted to my top college choice.
 
            As New Trier juniors and their parents prepare to seek the college of their dreams, I hope they will remember that enjoying and learning from the journey is what matters, not the intended destination. As John Lennon once said, life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.
 
Jon Marshall (Andrew’s dad)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

College Football playoff chaos

The college football playoff picture got shaken up after Saturday's games. For those who aren't aware, the four best college football teams, as selected by a committee, will compete in a playoff featuring two semifinal games and a championship game. Entering this week, the four best teams were, in order, Clemson, LSU, Ohio State, Alabama. The next two were Baylor and Notre Dame. After a chaotic week where LSU lost to Alabama, Michigan State lost their first game, and undefeated Oklahoma State beat undefeated TCU, the playoff picture will surely change. While it is difficult to predict the top 4 week to week, here is my long term top four, in no paticular order.

1. An undefeated Clemson. (A one loss Clemson may get in, but will need a lot of help)
2. A one loss SEC champion (either Alabama, Florida, or LSU. If the SEC champ has two losses, then I think there will be no SEC team in the playoff)
3. A undefeated Big Ten champion (either Ohio Sate or Iowa. Both teams and Michigan Sate will have difficulty getting in with one loss.)
4. An undefeated Big 12 team (either Baylor or Oklahoma State. If there is no undefeated Big 12 team, then a one loss team may sneak in, either Baylor, Oklahoma State, TCU or Oklahoma. With Baylor playing Oklahoma State in a few weeks, there can't be multiple undefeated teams.)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. If one of the following doesn't happen (i.e. Clemson loses a game), then the winner of the Notre Dame/ Stanford game will be in the playoff (assuming the winning team wins the rest of their games).

6. If two of the above don't happen, then chaos! Maybe a one loss Big 12 team, a one loss Big ten team/ champion, or a one loss Clemson. Maybe an undefeated Houston gets in. Maybe a one loss LSU gets in even though they don't play in the SEC championship. Maybe even a one loss Utah gets in.

All in all, there are plentiful number of games left with big playoff implications. It looks like the SEC and Big Ten championship games may be de facto quarterfinal games. Using my model above, here is my prediction for the end of season top four.

1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Ohio Sate
4. Oklahoma Sate
--------------------------
5. Stanford
6. LSU


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cubs season in review

It has been two weeks since the Cubs' season came to an abrupt ending. Yes the Cubs weren't suppose to be in the playoffs, not even the NLCS, but the sudden ending shocked many people, myself included. After giving myself time to collect my thoughts and feelings, here is my season in review. 

April-June: There were many debuts, most notably Kris Bryant and Addison Russell.  The Cubs had ups and downs, they swept the Mets in a 4 game series in May, and got swept in late June by the Cardinals. They were a .500 team, with tons of potential. They are in the mix for a wild card spot.
 
July: There were some highlight moments, and lowlight games. Kyle Schwarber broke out in Cincinnati with a homerun to tie a game in the 9th, and a homerun to win it in extra innings. The lowlight of the season came when the Cubs got no-hit and swept by the worst team in baseball, the Phillies. After that series, the Cubs were trailing the Rockies after the Cubs blew a three run lead in the 9th. Had the Cubs lost that game, it would be their 5th straight loss, and they would fall the 4 game out of the playoffs. However, Kris Bryant had the moment that changed the season, when he hit a walk off home run. That win was the catalyst to Cubs' successful season, and it set up a memorable August.     

August-end of the season: The Cubs played like they were the best team in baseball. In a four game series vs the Giants, who had a half game lead in the second wild card spot, the Cubs had a unforgettable sweep. The Cubs walk out of Wrigley with a 3.5 game cushion, and they never looked back. Rizzo made great catch on the tarp. Miggy and Bryant had walk off home runs, and the Cubs won 9 straight games. The Cubs swept the Brewers, and the Braves. Oh, how could I forget Arrieta's no-hitter? In the finally of a tough west coast trip, Arrieta pitch the game of his life, at the time. By the end of the month, the Cubs extended a 3.5 game lead to a 6.5 game lead. It was more of the same in September. The Cubs dominated the Diamondbacks and Cardinals. Jake Arrieta's  historic second half put him in Cy young contention. The young bats were as hot as Arrieta's arm. On September the 25th, the Cubs clinched a playoff spot after a late night Giants loss. 

Playoffs: On October 7th, Jake Arrieta silenced the PNC crowd in the wild card game. Schwarber and Fowler both hit homeruns, and the Cubs had a date with the Cardinals. After a tough game 1 loss, the Cubs were able to take a draw in St. Louis thanks to their small ball and long ball. In game 3, the Cubs hit six home runs, and it set up a clinching possiblity the next day. In game 4, a game I was at, Baez sparked the crowd, and the Cubs never looked back. Schwarber hit one on the scoreboard, and Rondon closed the door. There was something special about the first series clinch at Wrigley. Nobody wanted to leave, myself included. This was a rare event, and I wanted to soak it in for as long as possible. 

Recap: In the beginning, the Cubs weren't expected to be in the playoffs. However, the Cubs young core passed expectations, and the Cubs had a season to remember. Even though it ended the way it did,  and they didn't reach the top, I call it a successful season. In the offseason, the Cubs need a top of the rotation arm to solidify the Cubs as a World Series contender.        

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The take out slide

As Cubs fans like myself were rejoicing last night after a huge win, Mets fans were yelling at their TV. This was because of a controversial take out slide in the 7th inning. If you haven't seen it, or just want to watch it again, click here.  The result of the play caused a momentum change in the game, and maybe even in the series.
Here is what I think of the play. I have two problems with the play. The slide was clearly late. He slid past the base and he made contact with Tejada before he hit the ground.  There is no way anybody could make the argument he was going for the base. Even Utley admitted after the game he wasn't going for the base.  Therefore, I think it was a dirty play because he went for the player, not the base. The second problem I have with the play was the review. Although Tejada never touch second base, Utley never touch second base either. Utley even jogged off the field after the play because he knew he never touched the base. I think it is common sense that Utley shouldn't be rewarded with second base. Baseball writed for CBS Jon Heyman had a well-worded take on this, "Whatever the rules are, something's not right when a player is rewarded with the bag when he wasn't even trying for the bag".
All in all, Utley clearly wasn't trying to injury anyone. He was just trying to break up the double play, but he did it in a dirty way.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The 2nd amendment

The shootings keep on happening.  Americans constantly praying for the victims and their families. Congress wants to do something, but they look defeated. Is there a way to stop all theses shootings? People have suggested stingier background checks and limiting the power of these weapons on the street will prevent these crimes. While doing one or both would be great, I don't think this would be enough to prevent these horrific shootings. I think goverment must abolish the 2nd amendment, and here is why.

The second amendment was added to the constitution out of fear of the British attacking Americans. Now that threat is long gone, the amendment isn't serving its purpose. My opponents would say although the British aren't of concern, terrorism is still a threat, and we should still have guns to protect us from it. However, after the Oregon Community College shootings this week, President Obama challenged the media to compare the number of American deaths from terrorism to the number of deaths due to homicide in the US since 2001. The numbers were staggering. The number of deaths due to terrorism ranged from 2,689 (2001) to 9 (2009).  Meanwhile, the number of homicide deaths has ranged from 12,791 (2006) to 11,078 (2010). Clearly, there are way more preventable deaths than unpreventable deaths. Terrorism isn't the issue, homicides are. By taking away guns, the number of preventable deaths will go down, and more life will be saved. Terrorism will always exist, but homicide numbers this high are unacceptable. My opponents will say that eliminate guns wouldn't help, because guns don't kill people, people kill people.  My response to that is do toasters not toast toast, but toast toasts toast.
I highly doubt the second amendment will be abolished, but that doesn't mean government isn't capable of acting on these shootings. Is tougher background checks too much to ask for in this day and age?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Who should win the NL CY Young

Last night, those who were watching the nationally televised game between the Pirates and the Cubs were awestruck by Jake Arrieta's performance. Not only did he hit a home run (actually he almost almost hit two), he also took a perfect game to the 7th inning. By the end of his day, he pitched 7 innings, giving up 1 hit, 1 hit by pitch, and no earned runs. To say that Arrieta should win the Cy Young award in the NL (for best pitcher in the league), is not a crazy statement. His main competition for the award is Zach Greinke, who is on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Before the All Star break in July, Arrieta was having a decent year, his ERA (earned run average) was around 2.80, which is great, but not in Cy Young contention. In the games the All Star break, his ERA is .80, which is insane. This would be the lowest ERA after the All Star break in MLB history! Right now, Zach Greinke has a slightly lower ERA than Arrieta, but that doesn't make me feel that Greinke deserves it more than Arrieta. With a majority of stats and sabermetrics, Arrieta and Greinke are neck and neck. What I think will be the difference in this race is the old-fashoned eye test. With Arrieta's post All Star break momentum (no hitter included), I think this will swing the voters in Arrieta's favor.

Related stat: Since July, Arrieta has only given up two home runs. During that span, Arrieta has hit two home runs. 
For visual evidence, click here.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Is the Cardinals' way the right way?

        There were tempers flaring at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon. The argument was over the unwritten rules of baseball. If you didn't catch what happened, the Cubs hit Matt Holliday in the head, clearly on accident. The star outfielder was taken out of the game, and everybody knew the old-school Cardinals would seek revenge against their arch rivals. Revenge came in the 7th inning, when Cardinals pitcher Matt Belisle hit Cubs star Anthony Rizzo in the leg. As this video shows, the pitch was nearly behind him. When a pitch is behind a batter, it is almost always on propose. If the pitcher was that wild, then he shouldn't be in the Major Leagues. The idea of retaliating because the other team hit your star is not new to the Cardinals, and Cubs' manager Joe Maddon was aware of this. After the game, Maddon declared, "I never read this book that the Cardinals had written regarding how to play baseball." Clearly, Joe didn't like the retaliatory move the Cardinals made. I agree with Joe Maddon's view.
        I didn't like the idea of having to protect your stars. The Cardinals believe that by hitting Rizzo, teams will not want to hit the Cardinals because they will be hit back. However, by responding, you are increasing your chances of getting into a brawl, or if not that, the other team hitting you again. This outdated concept leads to more injuries in baseball, and is therefore bad for the game. Accident will always happen on and off the baseball diamond, but when you are playing the Cardinals, accidents will not be tolerated. Just the idea of getting revenge for an accident is morally wrong, but the old-school Cardinals don't understand this.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What was Joe's moral reasoning?

        In "The Round House", Joe was a believer in consequential moral reasoning because he located the morality of retaliation when deciding if he would commit such an act. Joe believed that Lark should pay for attacking his mom, so this is why he retaliated. When Joe is talking to his mother who is in bed, out of the blue he asks, "Mom, listen"(89). Joe is very focused on fighting back, because he he tells his own mom to "listen". By telling her to listen, mom knows that Joe will respond if he gets any information. Normally, it is the mom who tells the son to listen, but Joe is calling the shots, and his mom is slowing him down. If Joe is willing to go against the norm just to give Lark a taste of his own medicine, then that tells us that Joe is a believer in consequential moral reasoning.

       In my opinion, there is no way to justify an act of violence in most situations. Yet, the best way to go about an act of violence when you or someone you are close to are the victim(s) is to forgive them and let the legal system do or not do its job. This would make me a believer in categorical moral reasoning, which means I find morality in certain acts, such as forgiveness. As a believer in categoricalism, I think the toughest thing to do when an act of violence is committed against you is to forgive. Many people take weeks, months, years to forgive, but other never forgive. For those who don't having an open mind to forgiveness, they can commit retaliatory acts. Rather than forgiving and having less violence in society, retaliating causes more violence in society. This is what I believe is the major flaw in Joe's justification in killing Lark. Joe could have cut the number of violence attacks in the novel in half, but he is a consequentialist. My mom taught me that two wrongs don't make a right, but Joe never learned that.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Who should be the Cubs Wild Card starter?

For my first blog post, I would like to bring to attention something near and dear to my heart: The Chicago Cubs. More specifically, the dilemma that they are staring at. For those who aren’t familiar with baseball’s playoff system, it works as follows;
There are 30 teams, divided into two even leagues. Each league is divided into three even divisions. There are 5 teams that qualify for the playoffs in each league. The three division winners advance with the two best non-division winners. These two “wild cards” play in a one game win or go home playoff to see who advances. The winner of the playoff game plays the best division winner in a series, while two second and third best division winners play each other in a series. Four teams soon becomes two, and then one. The one teams left in each league plays each other for all the marbles.
With less than 30 games left in a 162 game season, the Cubs are playing for the 5th and final playoff spot. The Cubs have a comfortable 7 game lead over the Nationals and Giants at the start of today. If the rest of the season goes smoothly (which is anything but given) the Cubs would have to sacrifice their season in one game playoff vs the Pittsburgh Pirates. If having to to play in a wild card game is bad, than having to play it in front of the Pirates fans is even worse. Two seasons ago, the Pirates’ fans got under Johnny Cueto’s skin (the Reds’ ace) in the wild card game. While the fans were serenading Cueto, he famously dropped the baseball, and then gave up a homerun in the same at-bat. The Pittsburgh fans helped propel the Pirates to a win that night, eliminating the Reds. While every Cubs fan wants to avoid going on the road in a wild card game, the Cubs would have to win two more games than the Pirates. The is very possible, but it most likely will not happen. If the Cubs are going to win that wild card game in Pittsburgh, they need to put their true ace on the bump to silence the crowd. Fortunately, the Cubs have two aces to choose from: Jon Lester, and Jake Arrieta.
Jon Lester is much more experienced. He has been in the league for 10 years, been on the all star team three times, been in the playoffs five times, and has won the World Series twice. However, Lester’s Achilles’ heel is pickoff move. When a runner reaches base, Lester has no move to keep him on first, thus, a single becomes a double. This has been a problem for Lester, but he doesn’t allow many baserunners. If Lester doesn’t let anyone reach 1st, then he doesn’t need a pick off move. However, against a very strong hitting team like the Pirates, Lester’s nonexistent pickoff move could cost the Cubs their season if Lester does start the wild card game.
The other option is Jake Arrieta. He is less experienced than Lester, with only six years under his belt. Also, he has never been in an all star game, nor has he played in the playoffs. Before Arrieta was a Cub, he was with Baltimore, where he struggled with commanding the baseball. The Orioles couldn’t fix him, so they traded him in 2013 along with a solid middle reliever, for a 5th starter who Baltimore kept for half a season, and a back up catcher. This trade was one of the best trades in Cubs history. Once Arrieta put on the Cubs uniform, he no longer had issues with command, and he became an ace. This year, he has put himself in contention for the best pitcher in the league award (Cy Young Award). He has done this by throwing a no-hitter in a nationally televised game against the division leading Dodgers in Dodger Stadium. He also has pitch 24 games where he has gone six innings or more while giving up three earned runs or less (quality start). This is second in his league. Arrieta has a 2.03 ERA, which is also second in his league. Both pitchers have nasty stuff, which is the politically correct term believe it or not. But according to my eyes, the stats, and also the sabermetrics (advanced stats [it is complicated and will not get into]), Arrieta is having the better season.      
However, it isn’t up to me to decide who gets the ball in the wild card game. It is up to Cubs manager Joe Maddon. He, of course, isn’t going to say who he is going to start if/when the Cubs play in the wild card game until a few days before. Instead of quoting Maddon, I’ll quote the other old man in the Cubs’ clubhouse, backup catcher David Ross. During Arrieta’s last start on Saturday, Ross was calling the pitches. The catcher calling good pitches is just as important as executing these pitches. Postgame, he commented, “It's hard for me to fathom that somebody is better than Jake Arrieta... I'll take that guy on the mound any day of the week." By using of fathom, Ross is going beyond saying that he can’t imagine. He is saying that he doesn’t believe that is is possible to be better than Jake Arrieta. “I can’t even fathom” is much strong phrase to use than I don’t believe that or I can’t think of. Nobody knows the pitcher better than the catcher, and by having Arrieta’s catch complement him in such an affirmative way, it gives me confidence that Arrieta is the right pitcher for a potential wild card game.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015