I wish all Mizzou alums were as sensible...

as the News-Leader's Robert Leger when it comes to the SMSU to Missouri State name change. His editorial today is titled "Name change not a threat to Mizzou." An excerpt:

Perhaps I am biased because I earned my degree there, but you cannot walk the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia without feeling its history. Take a deep breath, especially on the older red campus, and you smell academia.

There is no spot on the Southwest Missouri State University campus where I get the same feeling. It is a fine university, but it cannot hold a candle — or a column — to MU.

This is why I am mystified by the intense opposition from many MU alumni to SMS' name change proposal. The desperation shown at a House hearing last week — MU journalism professor and former curator Jim Sterling repeating third-hand information he had not confirmed — was pathetic....

A Missouri State University cannot reduce the stature of the University of Missouri — certainly not to the degree that MU's backers have done with their unwarranted inferiority complex.

I'm proud of my alma mater. I know it will continue to shine — long after the fuss about a name change for Missouri State University has faded into history.

Go read the whole thing, as they say.


I will pay for good design.

Well, I'll pay a little extra for good design. I fell in love on sight with this Archer Farms bottled water at Target yesterday:

The simple line of the bottle, plus the simple black and green typefaces (with the red rooster accent) on a clear label make me want to buy and drink this water.

I love Target's "Design for All" campaign, and also the recent commercial with the "Have It All" tagline and the "you can have it all" song throughout. Target has done a fabulous job making good product design available at affordable prices. Wal-Mart's prices are slightly better, but I will pay an extra dollar (per case of 24) to carry around a beautifully designed bottle. I know not everyone feels that way, but I think life is too short to subject yourself to ugliness. I may never drive a Jaguar or live in a sleek downtown loft or a Craftsman Bungalow, but I can have cool bottles of water.

UPDATE: I was looking around Target's "Design for All" site and if you click on "Products" and scroll through, you can see a much better picture of my favorite water bottle!

UPDATE 2: The Archer Farms water is also in this week's Target circular. (I promise Target did not pay me to write any of this! Although I'm beginning to wonder if they implanted a chip in brain. But it's probably just a case of an early adopter--me--colliding with good marketing--Target--at exactly the right moment.)


My first blog-son!

My lifelong friend Tyler (you may remember him as the T from my post, A trans-Atlantic series of emails) has just started his own blog at tylerlovan.blogspot.com. He's currently living in Barcelona, Spain, working with Campus Crusade for Christ. I'm sure he will post all sorts of interesting things about Barcelona and Spain and ministry and life in general.

(Blog-son--or blog-daughter-- is the term for a blog that was started because of exposure to/encouragement by a particular blogger. It's yet another gross-sounding term spawned by the gross-sounding abbreviation of "weblog.")


More rambling about the name change...

Perhaps more interesting than the actual debate in the House Committee on the name change bill is the way the various Missouri press outlets report the story.

To the quote from Rep. Tim Flook from the AP story that I excerpted in the previous post, the Springfield News-Leader includes his additional comment: "... But what we've witnessed here is a lot of strong-arming on the part of Mizzou people." The SNL also includes more on MU Professor James Sterling's accusations of blackmailing from the the Blunt administration:

"The issue before us today is one of extreme importance to all Missourians," Jim Sterling, an MU journalism professor and name-change opponent, told the committee.

"It does not deserve the rough treatment it received in a system of political spoils and back-room maneuvering."

Sterling said he had heard from a third-party source that a Blunt aide threatened University of Missouri President Elson Floyd last week with the loss of $50 million to $100 million in state appropriations if he didn't agree to the pre-dawn compromise that ended the Senate's all-night debate.

"Get on board or risk millions," said Sterling, paraphrasing what his unnamed source had said.

Spokesmen for both Floyd and Blunt called the accusation untrue.

"That's a complete lie," Blunt spokesman Paul Sloca said. "And it's disturbing that a professor of journalism would testify before a committee on rumor rather than determining exactly what the facts are in this situation."

MU spokesman Joe Moore said, "That conversation did not occur."

It's ironic that Professor Sterling complains about "back-room maneuvering." I have heard, from a very reliable source (whose anonymity I will protect), firsthand accounts of the MU Alumni Association secretly pressuring Representatives when the bill came to a vote last year in the House, resulting in the surprise of the bill recieving fewer votes of support than it had co-sponsors.

The Kansas City Star reveals a bit more about Professor Sterling:

"Jim Sterling, an MU journalism professor, former member of the Board of Curators and a Republican, testified that one of Blunt's representatives threatened to cut MU's funding by $50 million to $100 million if University of Missouri system President Elson Floyd did not support the name-change bill.

Questioned later, Sterling said he did not hear such a threat but was told about it by a university supporter who had talked with Floyd."

I'm not certain why only the Star mentioned that Sterling is a Republican, but it demonstrates that this has been more of a "school spirit" debate than one which splits along party lines. (Although it does seem that Republicans have been more supportive of the name change-- probably because it makes sense. Republicans are more likely to see that the name change would benefit the entire state, rather than be controlled by blind dedication to an alma mater.)

The SNL story also didn't mention the testimony of MU student Greg Chase. The AP reports:

"...the mood among lawmakers soured after Greg Chase, a student who said he was representing the University of Missouri Alumni Association, raised questions about whether the state can afford to fund another university with a statewide designation.

He asked committee members if they knew how Missouri ranked nationally for higher education funding and how it compares with other states.

"If you don't know the answer to those questions, you have no business in voting this bill out of committee," Chase said.

That comment angered Rep. Scott Rupp, a University of Missouri-Columbia alum.

"If you're going to make a point, fine, but don't (upset) the people on the committee you're trying to convince," said Rupp, R-Wentzville."

The St. Joseph News-Press more accurately reports Rep. Rupp's response, "...don't piss off the people on the committee you're trying to convince."

While I think all the versions of this story in different publications do a good job of relating the basic events, I think the St. Joe paper best captured the mood of the hearing by including the not-quite-a-bad-word-but-not-good-either phrase "piss off." I wish I could see a video of that hearing. Why isn't there a C-SPAN for the Missouri legislature? (Probably because crazy people like me would never get any work done at all. We'd just sit and watch the government work all day long.)

On that note, I need to get to class. If you want to read the actual name change bill, it's at http://house.state.mo.us/bills051/bills/SB098.HTM.

The MO Senate Committee on Higher Education agrees...

Representatives of MU's Alumni Association have indeed been acting like big babies. This AP story reveals how the MU spokespeople shot themselves in their collective foot by being childish while testifying before the Committee. The end of the story reveals the most:

During the hearing, University of Missouri-Columbia journalism professor James Sterling accused Gov. Matt Blunt of threatening to withhold millions of dollars from the University of Missouri unless Floyd signed off on the bill during an all-night Senate debate. He added that lawmakers were allowing themselves to be pressured by the governor's office.

"Why would you let the governor's office come over in the middle of the night and tell you what to do?" Sterling said during committee testimony.

Rep. Carl Bearden, R-St. Charles, called Sterling's claim a "wild accusation" and told him he had lost all credibility as a witness.

Blunt Spokesman Spence Jackson said Sterling's accusation is false.

"That is absolutely untrue and it's disturbing that a professor would make such a baseless accusation before a distinguished House committee," Jackson said.

Rep. Tim Flook, R-Liberty, said he had entered committee meeting unsure how he would vote on the bill. But he said the aggressive and antagonistic approach of the University of Missouri's supporters turned him off. He voted for the bill.

"I've been severely disappointed by the way this has transpired," Flook said during the meeting. "It seems to me this has dwindled down to simple bragging rights."

(yet again, via JohnCombest.com)


Missouri State: one step closer to reality...

Today, the Missouri House Committee on Higher Education released the bill that would change the name of Southwest Missouri State University to Missouri State University for debate on the House floor. As this Springfield News-Leader article says, the debate could begin as soon as next week. If you haven't been following this story, SMSU has been fighting for this name change for almost 20 years, and while I am a big Mizzou fan (considering both my parents are alums), MU has been acting like a big baby fighting it. This year has brought the most favorable set of circumstances for the name change to happen (mainly Springfield-native Gov. Matt Blunt and the centennial of SMSU).

There are many reasons why Missouri State would be a more accurate name than SMSU. It is the second biggest school in the state, and the largest school in the nation with two directions in its name. SMSU has students from every county in Missouri, 49 states, and 82 foreign countries. It's not just a little regional school, as the present name would suggest. The University of Missouri (particularly the Alumni Association) has argued that Missouri State University was the name of MU for many years, and therefore still belongs to them. I haven't heard that sort of argument since I was probably 5 or 6 and I was finished playing with a particular Barbie, but still refused to let my sister play with it, simply because "it's mine!" The truly ridiculous part is that their true concern is that Missouri State University would recieve a larger chunk of state funding than it already is, thereby depriving MU. If they're that hard-up for funds, maybe they could just sell Paige-- er, Mizzou-- Arena and go back to playing basketball in the ramshackle Hearnes Center.

Anyway, the bill was finally passed by the Senate a couple weeks ago after an overnight "debate." It only ended after MU President Elson Floyd emailed Sen. Chuck Graham in the very early morning to tell him to stand down and stop the filibuster after an amendment was added restricting Missouri State from duplicating MU's professional schools (medical, veterinary, etc.) and guaranteeing that MSU wouldn't receive any additional funding simply because of the name change. Now that it's that closer to being passed by the House also, I'm letting myself get a little excited about it. It would be nice to have a degree from Missouri State University.

This letter to the editor in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch is a pretty good summary of the controversy:

Game of the name

In a letter on Monday, Dr. Gordon Christensen decried the theft of a name that the University of Missouri at Columbia has not used in many years. As a former student of the University of Missouri at St. Louis and now a resident of Columbia, it is my opinion that Mizzou would starve every other college and university in this state into extinction to protect its name and finances.

Mizzou has been nothing but an embarrassment to this state in the past 18 months (Ricky Clemons, Carmento Floyd, Quin Snyder, Paige Laurie, etc.) while the rest of the schools in the University of Missouri system are treated as red-headed stepchildren and forced to beg for crumbs left over from Mizzou. I'm sure state Sen. Chuck Graham and University of Missouri President Elson Floyd would say, "Let them eat cake," if they thought they could get away with such behavior.

Bill Stephens
Columbia, Mo.

(via JohnCombest.com)


I'm back!

I've been pretty busy with school lately, and I've been out of town for the past couple of weekends, so I haven't taken the time to update. Here are the highlights of the last few weeks:

- Two weekends ago my first cousins Emily & Erin, along with my second cousin Tommy came to stay Friday night with me and my sister and then on Saturday, we drove to Arkansas to watch my other second cousin Ryan play basketball. It's his senior year of college, so we thought we'd go see him play at least once in our lives! It was a lot of fun hanging out with everyone- we stayed with Ryan's parents (my mom's first cousin and his wife), who have a really cool big new house. It was a long and tiring weekend, but so much fun to see some family that we don't get to see that often! Here are a few pics (I hope no one minds... I don't think any of my family members are in the witness protection program or anything!):

Ryan on the bench (he's the gigantic white guy).

Playing spoons - clockwise from the curly ponytail: Dani, Blake, Kyle, Emily's feet in the chair, Ryan, Ryan's girlfriend Sam, Sam's friend Erica, and the back of Erin's head.

Me (looking bedraggled), Erin, Blake, Tommy (sportin' the Napoleon D. 'do)

Somehow we forgot to take a group picture of all of us, so I don't think I have a picture with everyone in it. Sorry to disappoint those of you who would care. (Hi Kim!)

- Last weekend I went back to P-town to my parent's house. They're remodeling the entire house, so I wanted to see the beginning stages, plus I hadn't been home for a month or so. The house is going to look completely different, but it's going to be so cool! All tile floors in the basement, hardwood upstairs, new paint everywhere, and new countertops and applicances in the kitchen. Perhaps I'll have some photos of that to post later. While I was there, I did the bulk of the work for a project I had to do for my 3D Design class. We were supposed to build a bridge-like structure that would span 30 inches, hold up an 8.5 lb brick, and build the whole thing out of popsicle sticks, string, and wood glue. Here's my Frank Lloyd Wright/Craftsman-inspired solution to the problem:

I was happy with the result. It took forever to build, but it held the brick and my classmates seemed to liked the design. My professor kept it for the end-of-semester student exhibition, so I guess she liked it, too!

- The Missouri Lincoln Days were this weekend, here in Springfield. (Lincoln Days is a gathering of Republicans, where we take over a hotel and have banquets and meetings and then stay up late hanging out in hospitality suites hosted by various Republican groups and officials.) The officers of my Young Republicans group all went last night and for a while today, and we had a good time. We sold t-shirts as a fundraiser, which was pretty sucessful. The most exciting part happened this morning at the Missouri Federation of Young Republicans meeting, where the state chairman gave out awards, which were the result of nominations from YR clubs across the state. The Greater Ozarks Young Republicans' website won Website of the Year! Since I designed it, and have chosen web design as my future profession, it was cool to receive a bit of validation for what I've done, even though it isn't much at all compared to what I have in my head that I could be doing. Go check it out at www.GreaterOzarksYR.com! (You can also see the t-shirt we sold there-- which I also designed. Let me know if you'd like one; we still have a few to sell!)

I guess that's all I have right now. I'll try to be better about updating more frequently! Also, what do you, my cherished loyal readers, think of the new look?


The State of the State of the Union

Random observation and comments during the State of the Union address:

- John Kerry. Heh heh heh. Yes, just sit there and clap politely.

- I like how the Joint Chiefs of staff don't clap. Shows a lack of politics, obviously, which is good.

- Health care reform: as a jr. high girl would say, Doctorz Rule, Lawyerz Drool.

- I love how the Democrats are forced to clap after some things they really don't want to clap for. They just golf clap, b/c you can't not clap for something like "We need fewer law suits so health care will be less expensive." They golf clap, but you know they're thinking "I hope the lawyers who gave me big contributions aren't watching."

- Ooh everyone stood up for reforming the tax code.

- Immigration amnesty: eh. Tighter borders: better.

- Social Security reform: yes, please!

(According to my political science professor, you only get a 1% return on what you put into Social Security! You would make more money just by putting it into a standard savings account.)

How can those Democrats not clap for saving Social Security?? That's the same thing as clapping for the fact that when I retire, I won't have any Social Security benefits!

"Our children's retirement security is more important that partisan politics." AMEN!

The fact that Democrats are not standing after "the government can never take it away" (referring to the money in personal retirement savings accounts) tells you SOOO much about the Democrats.

- Laura Bush looks great, as usual, although her suit looks a tad old woman-ish.

- Expanded use of DNA evidence? That’s good, I guess, but it sort of came out of left field after the bit about AIDS research funding.

- W’s tie is almost the exact same color as the red in the flag behind him.

- Well, I’m glad the Dems managed to lift themselves from their chairs to clap for fighting terrorists.

- Spread of democracy = Spread of peace. It's true, y'all.

- Condi also looks fabulous. Her hair, while still hat-like, is very shiny tonight. Yikes, she's going to Israel/Palestine. Pray for her safety.

- Hey Syria, shape up or ship out.

- Hey citizens of Iran, if you wanna revolt against your wacked-out rulers, we've got your back.

- Nice. Uplifted blue ink-stained fingers from Republicans at mention of Iraq election.

- Cool. The military guys stood and clapped in honor of Iraqi voters (and again later in honor of military casualties).

- I'm gonna cry again. Yes, I'm crying at the words and following smile of the Iraqi woman who lost her father to Saddam and is now waving her ink-stained finger and flashing the peace/victory sign to the President and members of Congress.

- I'm glad President Bush doesn't have a round face and wear glasses, or else him standing between VP Cheney and Speaker Hastert would make it look like all high-ranking American officials look like that.

- Crying like a baby at the Iraqi woman hugging the mom of the fallen Marine, Sgt. Byron Norwood. Amazing.

Post-speech stuff:

- Aw. As the president walked out, a hug and a kiss (?) for Senator Lieberman, one of the sane Democrats.

- Ew. Harry Reid is creepy. And Nancy Pelosi is scary (because she's crazy).

- Tom DeLay said the speech was a "home run," one of the best he's heard in 20 years. He also said he teared up, too, so I'm not just an overly sensitive weepy girl.

OK, so I'm done being random. I probably made no sense, especially if you didn't watch the speech. But I had fun, anyway. These are two pictures I like and want you to see:

(all images from the AP)

President Tearjerker

Why does President Bush make me cry? I cried when I saw him in person at the Labor Day Rally. I cried during his speech on the day after the election. I cried during his inaugural speech. And now I find myself getting all teary-eyed at the start of the State of the Union address.

I love him. Probably too much, because he's not perfect. He spends too much money and I'm not crazy about his immigration policies, but I still love him.

I guess one thing is for sure: He inspires strong deep, emotion, whether it's hate or love.