Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Raw" Politics

Here's today's J Squared column:

Body slam at the Capitol

I was proud of this one. It was pretty straight-forward, nothing too fancy. But I liked it because I felt like it was an original idea. Instead of just taking an issue and giving my opinion of it, I had the idea of comparing all the pro wrestlers who have gone on to the political scene. I don't know if it really ended up that way, because I spend most of the article on only Linda McMahon. But I thought it would be cool to take Jesse Ventura, McMahon and maybe even Arnold Schwarzenegger and measure them up against each other. Anyway, I thought this was a unique thing to write about.

Also, I wrote a house editorial about Harvey Unga:

More important things

My boss Rich found an article written by John Walters at that praised BYU and Harvey Unga for its consistency and responsibility in handling Unga's situation. If Unga were another person and if BYU were another school, Unga probably in the first place would have kept whatever problems he had covered up. And if some problems were discovered, BYU would have given a light slap on the wrist and kept its star athlete around because of his potential to draw in ticketholders. But, both Unga and BYU did the more noble thing. Unga will definitely be missed this fall, but instead of complaining and condemning him, we should be understanding and forgiving.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Do Not Pass Go

Today's cartoon for the Issues & Ideas page. This was my way to draw the recent passing of financial reform legislation.

I really liked the way this turned out. I looked up what an actual "Go directly to jail" card from Monopoly looks like, and tried to copy it exactly (except of course to make the policeman be President Barack Obama). I liked recreating the big swoopy lines and simplicity of the old-time cartoons in magazine ads, etc.

Insert Text Here

Hey there, J Squared fans.

Today's column is about the Texas Board of Education's recent overhaul of their history and social sciences curricula. The majority of the board has felt the need to have more conservative textbooks in the classroom, and last week the board voted and passed some of the proposed changes.

Insert text here

(If you go to the website you won't see my brilliant headline, just the subheadline. But if you see today's paper or look up the PDF file on the Daily Universe website, you'll see it there.)

I cycled through a few non-argumentative columns the past couple weeks. Time to bring on the controversy again, haha. Actually, the way I wrote the article you can tell I'm definitely on a certain side but I'm not passionately adamant, and I acknowledge the parts of resisting "progression" that I agree with.

In my "sign-off" line at the end of the article, I give a shout out to my father-in-law Carl. I hope he likes that.

When I came into work today, my boss Rich brought to my attention that I didn't mention anything about textbooks and textbook writers who do stick to the middle of the road. Of course, many textbooks, historians and professors do keep it moderate and show both sides of history. I didn't include that in my article. Rich said it wasn't necessary to address that in the paper, but I figured I might as well do that here. For the record, I don't think all historians or textbooks are extreme, in either direction. I'm glad to have multiple points of view on historical events, and to then be able to draw my own conclusions. Isn't that what real education should be?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Athletic Career of Senator Arlen Specter

First, Republican Senator Arlen Specter fears losing votes from a state becoming more and more liberal, so he switches to the Democratic Party.

Then, leading up to this year's Democratic primary elections in Pennsylvania, Specter fears losing to Joe Sestak.

Finally, Specter loses. I guess his master plan backfired...

Oh, and I promised to identify the senators in last week's cartoon (for anyone who was wondering).

Magician with top hat and rabbit: Senator Harry Reid
Juggling clown: Senator Patrick Leahy
On the high wire: Senator Orrin Hatch

Hot Off the Press

I got on my soapbox again for today's edition of J Squared.

Honoring a martyr - Fighting for press freedom

President Obama signed into law the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act this week. The law puts emphasis on paying attention to other country's attitudes on freedom of the press when those countries are evaluated for human rights conditions by the Department of State.

I took this event as an opportunity to preach about the noble profession of journalism. For any of you who remember me from before 2008, you'll remember my one and only career goal was to be a Disney animator. Well, after two rejections from BYU animation I had to find a plan B. But maybe this was supposed to be plan A all along. I've always liked the idea of being a journalist, and I love to write (and I'd like to think I'm pretty good at it). I cheer for and revere journalism, and it was fun to take the opportunity to do it in this column.

(For any of you who were around The Daily Universe last semester ... you might pick up a slight trace of rebellion and stickittothemaneosis.)

Other possible topics I could have written about today:

Politicians who bolt for the other party (read: Arlen Specter)
Recent primary elections for the 2010 midterms
Where is the Great Mormon Novel?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Travel Lightly

Here's today's column:

Travel lightly

Last Friday, I was browsing around looking for something to discuss in today's J Squared. Soon before clock out time, I found it.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi To House Members: Fly Coach

It sounded interesting to me, and it reminded me of something I saw on Anderson Cooper 360° a few weeks ago. Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, who just began his first term last year, opted to not buy a place in Washington, D.C. and instead spends weeknights in his office. He would rather save the taxpayer's money and sleep on a cot. So I connected Pelosi's new rules and Chaffetz's sleeping habits into one column.

From the little I know about Chaffetz, he seems to me to be a typical "party of no" Republican. But I did admire this about him. Maybe it's just a political stunt, but I'm falling for it.

There was something else about Chaffetz I thought was interesting but couldn't fit into my article anywhere:

"The only good place for a sage grouse to be listed is on the menu of a French bistro."

And here are the other sites I used to research for my article on Chaffetz:

Freshman Congressman Sleeps on Cot
A politician hits the cot?
A fitful night's sleep on a cot in the Capitol
Congressman sleeps on cot to save cash

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Who is Elena Kagan?

Today's J Squared column:

The honorable judge?

I did something a little bit different in this column. I presented a list of facts without passing any judgment or taking any side. Honestly, I don't want to rally around Elena Kagan simply because President Obama picked her. So I'm in the process of deciding one way or the other about Kagan, and I wrote my article that way. (I think I also wanted a break from argumentative responses to my articles.)

Here's a cartoon to go with it:

Can you guess who's in the circus? Kudos to anyone who can name the three Senators in the ring. (Hint: two are Democrats, and two are on the Senate Judiciary Committee.) If no one has any guesses (or if nobody reads my blog), I'll post the answers next week.

And, does Kagan remind you of anyone? Or is it just me?

Doesn't Kagan look like the kid from Two and a Half Men?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Winner of the First Daily Universe Caption Contest of Spring

Here's the winner for the first Daily Universe Caption Contest of the new semester:

Alligator: "But my ancestors outlived the dinosaurs."
Pelican: "Bet Darwin never considered this kind of unnatural selection. Sure glad I evolved wings." - Jeremiah Chai, Sapulpa, Okla.

And, it was the only entry that came in. At least it was a good one!

We might be putting the caption contest on hiatus for a while. Since there was only one response, it might be a good idea to wait until the fall before starting it up again.

"I'm Not Afraid to Get All Mavericky in There"

Today's J Squared column brings to light a graduate thesis I found via The Huffington Post. A graduate student at Princeton created a way to mathematically measure a politician's "maverickness." Pretty interesting.

Here's the link to my story:

McCain Falling Short

I actually had a different headline, plus a cartoon that went with this story. After I clocked out last evening, the cartoon was taken out to make space and the headline was changed because I guess I'm supposed to have a headline plus a subheadline. So, those original components are missing from the paper, but all you loyal blog readers get to see them anyway!

My brilliant headline was " 'I'm not afraid to get all mavericky in there' ." Any guesses on where I got that from? I liked it better than what the headline ended up being...the new headline sort of makes me sound more accusatory, jaded and bitter. I didn't really mean that at all. (And I hope people who actually read the article will know I don't mean it.)

And here's the quick little cartoon I did:

Nothing fancy, just a funny little graphic to go with the article.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Be Prepared ... to Save Princess Zelda

Today's J Squared column is about the new Cub Scouts belt loop/pin for Video Games.

The requirements and program the Boy Scouts of America has set up is actually pretty good. It definitely promotes responsibility when it comes to video games. And I'm for that.

It's just more fun to write about things that are ridiculous.

On My Honor, I Will Do My Best to Play 'Call of Duty'

And, don't forget about the latest caption contest!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The first 16 minutes and 30 seconds are President Barack Obama showing his funny side. He jokes about Scott Brown, Eric Massa and even Jay Leno (who speaks after him at the dinner). I haven't watched Jay Leno's speech, but you should be pretty entertained with just the President.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Update on Arizona Senate Bill 1070

Well, I suppose I was asking for trouble when I chose immigration reform as the topic for my first column.

I joked about receiving hate mail, thinking it would be fun to push some buttons. But after a brief calm before the storm, I got responses from some Arizonans who I've never even met (one of them decided to keep his/her anonymity intact and commented on this very blog).

I don't want to make any rebuttal or argument, because I could either stay with what I already said, or argue forever about immigration. So even though I was frustrated by a random acquaintance who called my essay "retarted" on Facebook, I decided not to retaliate.

But, one letter to The Daily Universe brought to my attention that I inadvertently misquoted Senate Bill 1070. I took a quote from a news website instead of looking up the bill itself. Being mature enough to own up to my rookie mistake, I included the letter in today's page and did write a few more words concerning the issue.

Here's my note:

Editor’s Note:
The exact quote from Arizona Senate Bill 1070 is: “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official … where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person. … A law enforcement official or agency … may not solely consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection…”
On Thursday, in response to protests against the controversial wording of SB 1070, the Arizona House of Representatives proposed revisions to the bill. The change in House Bill 2162, approved by both the House and the Senate, now modifies the Senate bill to say “stop, detention or arrest” instead of “lawful contact” and takes out the word “solely.”
So, I was able to make corrections without discrediting my own argument. It worked out nicely.

I apologize to anyone who thought I was attacking Arizona and its residents. I never meant to insult Arizonans in general. I just disagree with this law. That's all.

The First Daily Universe Caption Contest of Spring!

The Daily Universe Caption Contest is back!

I don't think we'll be doing the contest every other week, maybe just once a month. But, it's been a success and I definitely want to keep it going.

Here's this week's cartoon:
If you have any ideas for what the pelican and 'gator may be talking about, send them to or comment on the blog by Sunday.

Here's Your Host ... Conan O'Brien!

Today's J Squared column is an update on the status and whereabouts of Conan O'Brien. I've always been a big fan, even back when he had a show opposite Craig Kilborn. I was excited to hear the news he would replace Jay Leno at "The Tonight Show" in 2009. I remember calculating that I would be home from my mission in time to see Conan take the reins.

Of course, everyone knows how long that lasted. NBC declared the "Tonight Show" a state of emergency before a single raindrop fell. Conan, who was always more cult than mainstream, wasn't conventional enough for a network unwilling to experiment.

And, in true Conan fashion, that didn't get the Fighting Irishman down. He hit the road and performed for his adoring fans, made it to the Time 100 list and has a show on TBS starting in November.

I wrote this column based on Conan's interview with 60 Minutes. It's a must-see for any member of Team Coco. You can watch it here:

60 Minutes - 5/2/2010

And you can read my column here:

The Host with the Most
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