Tuesday, September 27, 2011


CougarCast: BYU 24, UCF 17

Another podcast, this one with Dallin Turner.

To preview Utah State, it looks like I'm going to be talking with a sports editor from USU's student newspaper, The Utah Statesman. Should be interesting.

Reviewing "The Student Review," Part Deux

My earlier post about the Student Review was used today as The Daily Universe's response to the alternative paper's debut.

Viewpoint: Student reviews Student Review

It's basically what I blogged earlier, just shorter.

Friday, September 23, 2011


So, right now BYU is playing UCF, but instead I'm in the library to blog my continuing LSAT practice tests. I had to take the practice test tonight instead of tomorrow, because I'm going on a field trip tomorrow to Cedar City. I wish I didn't have to miss the game, but tonight was the best time to practice. If only I could do everything...

Well, today went a lot better than last week. I got 158. It's still not close to my goal, and the real LSAT is only a week away. I'm going to try and study and practice all week next week. I'm coming to realize that I would probably do better if I weren't preparing for the LSAT while at the same time taking 14 credits at BYU. But I don't want to wait a year before trying to get into law school, I'd rather go as soon as I can. Which I guess means accepting an LSAT score lower than what my pure, absolute, no-other-influencing-factors best would be.

Here are some new charts. I did these a little differently: they show my average score, and instead of doing an individual chart for each section of the test I merged them into one test.


It's another CougarCast. This one is a class in "UCF 101."

CougarCast: BYU vs. UCF

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

LSAT practice - Sept. 17

I haven't blogged yet about how my practice LSAT went last Saturday. Part of the reason is because it didn't go very well. I can't think of any other explanation other than that the test was hard. But, I dropped to 153 from 159 the week before. It was especially frustrating after spending a week practicing the analytical reasoning (logic games).

I know it's just practice, so I shouldn't take it too seriously. Thanks to those of you who have given me your encouragement!

I won't be taking the LSAT practice this Saturday morning, because I'll be leaving for a field trip for my Shakespeare class. So I'll probably take one Friday night instead. Wish me luck!

My progress, in nerdy chart form:

Monday, September 19, 2011

CougarCast: Utah 54, BYU 10

It was a sad, sad game...but we did a podcast anyway.

CougarCast: Utah 54, BYU 10

Reviewing 'The Student Review'

Today was the debut for the first edition of The Student Review, an alternative student newspaper for BYU. Of course, as a longtime employee of The Daily Universe, I had some personal interest in what type of publication the Student Review would turn out to be.

Because it is an official part of the campus curriculum, The Daily Universe does have some limitations, and sometimes those limitations do get annoying. There is still some confusion between the Brimhall Building and the Smoot Building as to the primary purpose of The Daily Universe. And there have been moments when I've felt riled up. But I've calmed down and learned that I don't need to be an activist all the time.

For the most part, we write stories that would be published with or without administrative approval. After all, we do like BYU. We wouldn't go out of our way to try and make BYU look bad. And the Universe has published plenty of deep, serious, investigative articles, even some that could spark some controversial discussion (two examples from me: Some missions causing RMs to change political beliefs, Cougar sports by the numbers). It's not just the Police Beat. Of course, the journalistic environment is unique here. But part of that uniqueness is what makes the Universe an award-winning newspaper. Having a foundation built on competent professionals, instead of a group of students who have a bone to pick with their university or any other authority figure, means the Universe has something to offer that other campus newspapers across the country do not have.

True, I've never personally been the target of a BYU inquisition, and if I were maybe I would still hold a grudge. And maybe now that I'm preparing for law school and not preparing to be the next Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, I've lost the journalistic fire in the belly. Maybe I just want to please people. But I still believe strongly in freedom of speech and the First Amendment. And even at BYU, I don't have to be a martyr to stand up for those rights.

So, when I heard that an alternative newspaper was trying its luck, I was worried that it would have an agenda and rally others to its cause. I was concerned that it would be simply an extension of our opinion page and just be filled with complaints. Basically, I wondered if it would become the newspaper that sometimes the administration perceives The Daily Universe to be. I thought it might try so hard to stand on a soapbox and stick it to the man that it might compromise good journalism standards. A newspaper article can stir up conversation without stirring up trouble.

This morning, I picked up the inaugural issue and read it from cover to cover. And I was very impressed.

The Student Review is ambitious yet simple, professional yet informal. It included stories that would be difficult to compile into one edition of The Daily Universe. From campus clubs to Arizona politics to sex therapy to the Freemasons, there's a lot of great information for anyone interested in the world around them (which I hope would be anyone at BYU). And in general, the stories are written as well as any BYU communications major would write them.

In fact, what struck me was that there isn't much that would keep these stories from being included in The Daily Universe. Some of them would not be published, but not because they are inappropriate or seditious, but simply because they are more suited to a magazine than to a newspaper. There's no false doctrine in the Q&A with the Provo sex therapist, there was nothing I didn't hear in my premarital class at the Student Health Center or my marriage enhancement class in the JKB. And I don't think the subject is completely untouchable by The Daily Universe. It would just be handled with more of a newspaper style than a magazine style. And there is certainly need for both styles to be in circulation.

I'll point out some other differences that I found between The Student Review and The Daily Universe:

- "Student's bladder explodes while waiting for parking spot" is undoubtedly funny and well-done. But, since The Daily Universe is not BYU's "The Onion," it's not likely a fictitious, humorous story would find its way into the newspaper.

- The story about the USGA club might be, in the Student Review writers' minds, the epitome of a story that wouldn't see the light of day at The Daily Universe. But actually, I think all it would need is a little more doctrinal context, even if it's just a general authority quote from a recent conference.

- The conversation about Men's Services with the BYU operator was funny and poignant. But again, The Daily Universe doesn't give space for dialogues. The "Overheard at BYU" Facebook group would be a better fit.

- I couldn't tell what side of the issue "GQ magazine slams Provo for lack of fashion know-how" was on. Was Rebecca Ricks making fun of Provo too? Or defending it? I'm not saying that it's completely missing the mark, just that it would need a tweak or two before showing up as a viewpoint on the opinion page. As one of our lab editors says, when it comes to editorials, "Take a side."

- Even though "Fresh off the boat with Eden Wen" was written by an Asian, I'm sure it will be easily misunderstood. Could you imagine the response that would come if that letter were on The Daily Universe's opinion page? I don't think Eden Wen meant anything racist, but I'm sure others would. I'm not saying her article was out of line, just potentially problematic.

- Besides being more Seventeen than New York Times, the other obstacle for publishing "Romney & Huntsman: Who's hotter?" or an article like it in The Daily Universe is the reference to family jewels. Not only is it an innuendo that most newspapers would edit out, it's also just not that funny to me.

- Nowhere in "Two different pictures of BYU" did the article happen to mention that the Church is actually, to a certain extent, pro-evolution. It didn't say the Church was anti-evolution either, but it leads the reader to believe that it is. Even around 1911, the year referenced in Alex Christman's article, the First Presidency issued a statement on the relationship between religion and the theory of evolution. The three BYU professors dismissed must have believed in evolution to the point of not believing in the restored gospel. But a reader who only has a superficial knowledge of any of these topics would not understand that topic, and think only that a research institution like BYU is against science.

-  The thing that probably bothered me most of all was the introduction's implying that The Daily Universe excludes articles written by anyone other than communications students. Even though the Universe is a lab newspaper and is part of the curriculum, we don't turn away articles just because they didn't originate in "our little club." Anyone can write a letter to the editor, and anyone can submit an article as a "cub reporter." True, there might be better channels for those letters and articles than The Daily Universe. But if the word on the street is that we're keeping students on the outside, I hope that misunderstanding is cleared up soon.

I don't want this list to be interpreted as railing against The Student Review. This isn't a collection of flaws, just differences. There is certainly a place for almost all of The Student Review's material, and just because that place isn't The Daily Universe doesn't mean that material is worthless. There's a place in the world of journalism for both magazines and newspapers.

There is a lot to be praised in The Student Review. I liked "Mormons & Masons," I thought it was great that Jeffrey Stott interviewed Valerie Hudson for his article, the calendar is very useful to anyone in Provo looking for something to do (by the way, I liked that The Student Review's attitude is that Provo is a great town with lots to do), the "This I believe" story was very interesting and thought-provoking, "Entering a brave new world" was a great way to catch up for a casual fan who hasn't been following the changes in BYU sports, and there needs to be more points of view like Shereen Emara Salah spread around the world. And, generally speaking, it's always good to have more content available.

I wish the founders of The Student Review only the best of luck.

Friday, September 16, 2011

CougarCast: BYU vs. Utah

The latest and greatest podcast, with my good friend David "Sparky" Mortimer!

CougarCast: BYU vs. Utah

The sound wasn't too great on this one, because I was using different equipment to record Sparky on the phone, which meant using a different sound booth and different microphone. But, I think I'm still comprehendible.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We've got ourselves a Bill Shakespeare over here!

This semester I'm taking ENGL 232, which is all about Shakespeare. One of our assignments is to start a personal Shakespeare blog. It's been a lot of fun so far, more than I thought it would be.

If you want to check it out, and follow it, go here:


(If you don't know where the 'Refudiatin'' title comes from, click here.)

CougarCast: Texas 17, BYU 16

Here's another podcast, all about the sad, sad weekend:

CougarCast: Texas 17, BYU 16

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Prep Rally

Today was my first day of my BYU LSAT prep class. I already think it's going to be super helpful. They gave me a ton of practice material: three binders of old LSAT tests, two notebooks of practice problems, and not just one LSAT prep manual but three. It's a whole library full.

All we did in today's class was take a practice test. I got a 159! And that's not after taking out the questions I skipped, like I've done with my other practice tests. So, I guess I'm making progress.

I think having the obligation of a class that I signed up for and paid for will really help me get the practice I need. I really want to practice, and I even enjoy it (hence all the dorky charts and blog posts about it). But, when I'm also taking 14 credits, working 20+ hours at The Daily Universe, raising a one-year-old and helping my wife so that she can get her homework done...it's hard to find the free time to escape to the library.

Speaking of dorky charts:

Friday, September 9, 2011

CougarCast: BYU vs. Texas

Three podcasts in two weeks!

CougarCast: BYU vs. Texas

Preview podcasts are tough, because everything we talk about is intangible and imaginary. It's a lot easier to have an actual game to talk about! But, here it is anyway.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Podcast Numero Dos

I did another BYU football podcast, this time with copy editor Dallin Turner. This one was a lot faster to put together! For one thing, we didn't talk for more than 30 minutes like we did last time. I didn't have to fit in quotes from coach Mendenhall and the players like I did for last week's.

So, here it is!

CougarCast: BYU 14, Ole Miss 13

Saturday, September 3, 2011

More LSAT practice, plus charts!

This morning, while Utah State was playing Auburn, I went to the library to take another practice LSAT test. It had been a while since my last one, and right now I'm less than a month away from the real LSAT (October 1).

In general, I did better. I didn't leave quite so many questions blank when time ran out on the analytical reasoning section, like I did last time. Last time, I only answered 56.3% of the questions, this time it was 73.9% of the questions. But, as far as the questions I actually answered correctly, out of all the questions, it was only a little improvement: 43.4% correct as opposed to 41.7%. And when you take out the questions I left blank, then I did much worse: 58.8% correct as opposed to 74.1% correct before. So, overall, leaving fewer questions blank is helping me. But maybe picking up the speed means more errors.

The reading comprehension and logical reasoning questions seemed a lot harder this time! Even with that, I did better in some places and worse in others. Last time I averaged 78.5% correct on the logical reasoning sections, today I averaged 82%. I got 77.8% correct in the reading comprehension section, and last time I had 82.8%.

Even though I did worse in many ways, the bottom line is my score today was approximately 156, and when I practiced in July it was approximately 151. So that's an improvement. But, if you take away the questions I left blank for both tests, I got 160 in July and 159 today. Interesting. The fewer questions I skip, the better I will do. But my accuracy is going down.

Anyway, here are some charts that might explain these numbers better:




So, in other words ... I have a long way to go.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The podcast is up!

Here it is, my very first podcast ever:

CougarCast: Ole Miss and the 2011 Season

Hope you enjoy it!

A Happy Ending

I'll give you an update of my first week at work, but first:

A happy ending - Honor and forgiveness go together

I wrote an editorial about my thoughts on Brandon Davies returning to BYU after his famous Honor Code suspension in March. My immediate reaction to the news was that I hope people notice that even though BYU and the LDS Church might hold people accountable for breaking rules that aren't recognized by the rest of the world, we can still give second chances.

Courtesy of The Daily Universe
One thing that was unique about the writing process on this was that the current opinion editor, Allie McCoy, actually wanted me to make it longer! That doesn't happen to me very often.

The rest of my week has been filled with running the website. Since Sunday night, a lot of the stories you see and the photos that go with them were put on the website by me! It's been busy, but pretty easy and fun.

One of the coolest things I got to do was a Cougar football podcast. I'm finishing up with editing that, and we'll post it on The Daily Universe website soon.
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