Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not my best work

Lately I feel like my school assignments across the board have been very subpar.

I had a Spanish phonetics presentation this morning that could have used a little more preparation. I did some research earlier this week, but my two partners did most of theirs the night before. I'm not complaining about them, they still got it done on time and I've certainly been guilty in the past. But our presentation did feel like it was thrown together, and unfortunately it was obvious enough that our professor told us after class that he noticed that. I also knew that our research was inconsistent, and that we were missing things ... unfortunately, the examples the professor pointed out happened to be on my end.

Also in Spanish, I got a graded exam back that was way lower than usual. Usually I don't have to work so hard in studying for a Spanish exam. I catch on quickly and memorize phonetic and grammatical rules easily. But I guess an effortless memorization couldn't contain all of the data I was supposed to know for this exam.

The class that has been the most frustrating is my political science class. It's a media and politics class, which I've had more than once in the communications department. So, it should be a cinch, right? And I usually feel like it is, until a graded assignment or exam comes back to me. Every assignment but one has come back with a lower grade than I expected. Everything I've turned it just isn't good enough.

I guess I shouldn't complain about high expectations. But I feel like I'm giving a false impression of myself as a student, like the professor thinks I'm a certain kind of student that I'm truly not.

I wrote a 20-page paper that meant I got probably six hours of sleep in a 72-hour time period, and I know it wasn't my best essay ever but I still got a lower grade than I would have predicted. The professor is offering a chance to edit and rewrite, and I'll certainly add some of those improvements, but a lot of what he's asking I just don't feel like doing. Not out of rebellion or animosity, just out of surrender and burnout.

In my world religions class, I had an exam a little while ago that I didn't do too great on. No real explanation other than that I should have studied more. But there's an easy opportunity for extra credit, which will help me out a lot.

Where I've really fallen behind is my Shakespeare class. I'm supposed to blog twice a week, but in four weeks I've blogged twice. I thought of a plan to live tweet reading King Lear that I still need to get around to. And our class has an ambitious final project that I did nothing about for a long time. But I did make some progress yesterday, so I'm feeling better about it.

Not everything is doom-and-gloom. A great burden was taken from my shoulders right before Thanksgiving when I completed an independent study course finally. Finishing that class means I have completed my political science minor!

And my media law class has been going really well. We did a fun project right before Thanksgiving were we reenacted a Supreme Court case and videotaped it. Then we are all doing a project with that video based on our majors (print journalism, broadcast journalism, public relations, advertising and communications studies) to answer the question "What would happen if TV cameras were allowed in the Supreme Court?" I got to play Chief Justice John Roberts. And I'm writing an article about our class project that could go in The Daily Universe next semester. So I guess that's pretty cool.

I don't really know why I'm not bringing my A game like usual. I know I'm married with a baby, and preparing for law school and another LSAT. Life is always stressful in one way or another. But I don't really feel overwhelmed or distracted.

Maybe what this means is that it's time to graduate.

From someecards (It's a hilarious site, but also pretty vulgar, watch out)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgivin' LSATin'

During the very needed and welcomed break from school, I still made time to do another LSAT practice.

I did awesome on the practice ... except that I had to skip like half the logic games section. It was frustrating, because I'm a lot better at those than I used to be. But, also, I did the exam in the middle of my family's dining room, while Allisyn was watching "Care Bears" and "Tangled" and running around, and my siblings were going about their day. (If I can take an LSAT while stuff is going on around me, then taking it in a controlled environment should be a cinch.) So maybe that was a factor.

Anyway, I got a 163.

More charts!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Letter Aftermath

A former sports reporter and co-editor of mine wrote a good article for the Deseret News that follows up on last week's controversy:

BYU paper pulls letter to editor on gay adoption, but student defends it

Way to go, Sarah, in talking to Taylor Petty himself. It's hard to believe that he's so unapologetic, but I suppose he's entitled to his opinion.

And, Taylor, both sides are represented:

For gay parents adopting

Against gay parents adopting

Your letter was taken down not because of sides or bias, but because of your overdrawn and hurtful rant.


What got me the most mad last Friday was how much hate was expressed for The Daily Universe.

It's understandable to some extent. And we all regret publishing Taylor's letter. But according to the fliers that were passed around and some people on the "Shame On You DU" Facebook group, it was as if the DU was advancing an anti-gay rights agenda. I saw way too many people who confused a letter to the editor with an article, which maybe doesn't seem like a big difference, but it is for those who understand journalism.

It was also frustrating to see so many people praise The Student Review to the detriment of the DU. Don't get me wrong, The Student Review is great and Hunter Schwarz's viewpoint was a good reassurance that not every BYU student or every Mormon believes the same way Taylor does. But, to people like Hanna Hiatt, journalism on BYU campus is not in as dire of straits as you think it is. The DU isn't worthless, even after this mistake.

(Of course, I'm biased since I've worked here almost two years and am proud of it. So take my opinion for what it's worth.)


One thing I am grateful for is that "Shame On You DU" is making a big effort to change its name. The people who created the group seemed to realize that their purpose wasn't to tear down the DU, but to promote more tolerance and understanding at BYU. Ironically, in order to change the name they have to drop their Facebook fans to below 100, so they're actually asking people to leave the group and then come back after the name change. It's a lot of hassle, but they want to do it anyway. And I really appreciate that.

What's funny though is that their fans have actually gone up. So, if anyone from the Facebook group is reading this blog: please listen to the suggestion from the leaders of the group and let the name be changed. It will help the group's name reflect the group's mission more accurately.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Last of the LSAT prep class

I took my last practice exam in my LSAT prep class last week, and got 165.

The exam was a little weird, because the way these practice exams work is that they assign you an old LSAT plus a section from another old LSAT. When I sat down to take the test last Saturday, I had already done one of the sections. I guess maybe I did the wrong section in a previous exam. So I sort of had to create the exam as I went.

For anyone curious, I thought the BYU LSAT prep class was pretty good. I recommend it, but with some reservations. It's the cheapest out of the other options. The teachers are great and very helpful. The textbooks are perfect. It's great if you know that you won't devote that much time to LSAT studying on your own. For me, by paying for a class I felt obligated to go, and therefore spent at least six hours a week on LSAT studying. Without the class, I probably would have spent that time doing other homework ... or watching TV. :P

The cons of the class were that there would be lack of communication every once in a while. Sometimes our assigned room was assigned to someone else, so we had to find an empty classroom. One time, our teacher never showed up (but it did mean we got free pizza and donuts the next time as an apology). The last class was this Saturday morning, but it wasn't a practice exam like the usual Saturday, it was a review session. I wasn't sure what that meant and so it turned out I didn't bring any textbooks or practice books.

Probably the biggest problem was that midway through we had a new logic games teacher. The teacher taught us as if we were just starting out, even though we had already been in the class a month. He wasn't a bad teacher at all, but because we were used to the first teacher, it felt like we weren't making progress. Also, with two teachers and the textbooks, sometimes we had three different ways of doing things, which was confusing sometimes.

Overall though, it was worth it. I would say, if you're worried about the teachers or the late nights in the middle of the week, you could probably get almost as much out of your studying if you invest in those books.

The latest charts:


Now that my class is done, and the next LSAT is less than two weeks away, I'm going to do a lot of practice exams on my own. I'm kinda busy with school (I have half an independent study class that's due by Tuesday). But I'll do two or three practices over Thanksgiving break, and I'll have another Practice Week leading up to the LSAT (except I might not do one the Friday before, I've heard a lot of advice telling me to just relax on Friday).

I also need to turn in some more applications! I still only have applications in for Texas and North Carolina. Maybe during the break I can wrap up some more personal statements and get more sent in.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Good, better, best

Here are some thoughts on the latest Daily Universe opinion page controversy:

It all started with a letter to the editor written by Alex Hairston, one of my old sports reporters and fellow sports editors. He wrote about a conversation he had with a friend about the TV show "Modern Family." One of the families on the show is a same-sex couple with an adopted little girl.

Alex and his friend were sharing their opinions on whether we should support same-sex couples who want to adopt and raise children. His friend said he would rather his taxes go to build orphanages and prevent children from going to same-sex couples. Alex said he wasn't so sure.

But I thought Alex's letter was great, because it was totally benign and simply curious. He honestly was just wondering what people thought of the issue.

"I’m not sure the LDS Church has ever commented on this particular situation, although the proclamation to the world calls clearly for a mother and father in the home, if possible."

"Personally, I can’t say I’m opposed to a situation where a gay couple raises a child, but that could change if the Prophet marked it as a practice that should be avoided."

Certainly no rebellion or false doctrine. Alex was just being inquisitive.

Here's his letter:

Ways to raise

Of course, Alex's letter sparked a lot of responses. Of two that were published in the paper, one was supportive of same-sex couples adopting, one wasn't. But both of them were mostly thoughtful, and added to the conversation without resorting to insults or pettiness.

"Modern" immorality


But then, a letter was published by someone named Taylor Petty (ironic enough). He sounded like someone who has never met a gay person in his life. He was very adamant, harsh, very zero-tolerance and downright heartless.

(I'll just interject myself here to remind all of you that just because a letter is published in the paper doesn't mean any of us in the newsroom or the university or the Church agree with it. And a letter is different from an article. An article would be the voice of the newspaper, a letter is the voice of some random guy.)

His letter is no longer available online, so I have to paraphrase, but the most striking point he made was something like "Would we let a baby be raised by a mother who was a prostitute or a father who was a serial killer?" (If you happen to have a Daily Universe paper from yesterday, you can find it there on page three.)

The letter was published in the paper and online, but was taken down last night. Here's the explanation by our managing editor Joel Campbell:

Letter removed

I thought Professor Campbell's statement was perfect and I totally agree with what he said. The letter did not reflect the opinion of The Daily Universe, BYU or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All three institutions (and myself) oppose same-sex marriage and oppose complete acceptance of homosexuality as merely an alternative lifestyle. At the same time, homosexual couples are not evil monsters. The Church has supported pretty much every right that homosexuals fight for except for marriage. (Here's an example.)

To anyone who cries censorship and says this is a violation of the First Amendment to take it down, I'll refer you to the U.S. Supreme Court case Miami Herald v. Tornillo. Basically, someone who writes a letter to the editor does have a right to speech, but a newspaper editor also has a right not to speak. If we don't want to publish something that's hateful and against the doctrine of our sponsoring organization (the Church), then we don't have to. (If you want to go somewhere that does publish things that might be newsworthy but against the doctrine of the Church, go here instead.)

The Daily Universe had a similar case last year, with a letter that I think was the opposite view of Taylor Petty's letter. I say "I think," because the letter was not clear whether it was rebelling against the Church and the prophet or wasn't. It was ambiguous to me, which is why I supported its removal last September.

Taylor Petty has every right to say what he wants to say. He even has the right to say that homosexuality is as bad as prostitution or murder. But he doesn't have the right to say so in The Daily Universe. If he demands his letter be republished or reposted online, or demands that other letters are taken down, then he is infringing on our First Amendment rights.


For the record, I haven't totally decided my stance on this issue. But I lean toward what Alex and Katie Peacock said.

I remember one time having a conversation with a mission companion of mine while I was a missionary in Argentina. I don't remember how the subject came up, but we were talking about same-sex parents. I said this partly to annoy him, haha, but I also believed it, "I would rather live in a home with two dads or two moms who loved each other than a home with a mom and a dad who hated each other." I think same-sex parents are definitely better than abusive parents. And I think same-sex parents are better than no parents at all.

Any home without both a mother and a father is not what God would hope for His children. But, of course, many of us have been raised in other types of families, whether it was by a single parent, a grandparent, another relative, or two moms or two dads. I think someone raised in another type of family has just as much of an opportunity to be an upright citizen and a righteous child of God.


And, by the way, I happen to love "Modern Family."


UPDATE: This KTVX article gets some things wrong.

1) I don't know why this "Josh" kid thinks he would be expelled. I wonder where he got that idea.

2) The letter to the editor didn't actually criticize "Modern Family." Hey, ABC 4, if you want to actually do some research, read the original letter by clicking here. (Maybe you were thinking of this letter, but this isn't the one that started it all.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sad News from Happy Valley

I wrote some thoughts about the Penn State sexual abuse scandal for today's Daily Universe:

Individuality vs. unity

Other than expressing some outright disgust over the events that have gone on, I talked about the student protests. What these Penn State students don't seem to get is that you can't just punish those who are directly responsible. They think firing Joe Paterno is an outrage. But we are meant to live in a society of mutual dependence, which means sometimes we suffer for the actions of others. We can't just think of ourselves, or blame others for everything. Becoming connected with people can be risky, but it's rewarding and, I think, one of the purposes of life.

I thought Saturday Night Live handled this scandal perfectly:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Podcast Catch-up

I've done a ton of podcast that haven't found their way onto the blog! And I just realized that my last blog post about the CougarCast told you to "stay tuned" to find out who the special guest was for the next podcast. That was on October 11! I've been leaving you hanging for more than a month!

Anyway, here's what you missed:

CougarCast: BYU vs. Oregon State - The special guest was Kandis, my sister who goes to Oregon State!

CougarCast: BYU 38, Oregon State 28

CougarCast: BYU vs. Idaho State - With my pal from New York City and expert on all things Idaho, Briana Carr.

CougarCast: BYU 56, Idaho State 3

CougarCast: BYU vs. TCU

CougarCast: TCU 38, BYU 28 - Whoa, I just realized this is the exact same score as the Oregon State game. I don't know if I noticed that before.

CougarCast: BYU vs. Idaho - once again with Briana.

And as for the "CougarCast: BYU 42, Idaho 7" podcast, I'm in the middle of editing that now. I would have had it done last night, but The Daily Universe's website crashed. Fortunately, everything has been restored and nothing was lost. But it does slow me down.

Stay tuned! And this time I mean it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Slow and steady

Another cartoon in The Daily Universe:

Herman Cain, the latest flavor of the month, isn't looking too good right now. When the sexual harassment allegations first started coming out, I did actually believe that Cain wasn't guilty of anything serious. But as he has fumbled his response, and as more women have come forward, he's looking more like the Tiger Woods of two years ago.

Meanwhile, boring ol' Mitt Romney is still there, and still reliable as a presidential candidate.

I liked a joke on NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" about how if Mitt Romney came out to the public and confessed some indiscretions, no one would believe him. You can listen to the funny conversation here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Preparing for Round 2

I haven't posted any LSAT updates in a couple weeks, so this is my attempt at catching up.

For the past two weeks in our LSAT prep class, the tests have been extended to five sections, just like the real test. And, just like the real test, one of the sections isn't graded. That means that my practice test on October 29 and on November 5 each have three possible scores, depending on which one doesn't count.

And, on October 29, it just so happened that the practice test on the schedule was one I did on my own in September. I had been trying to avoid practicing with tests that were going to come up later in my class, but I guess I let one slip past. So, of course, I did pretty amazing on that test since I had done it before and remembered most of the questions I got wrong and why.

Anyway, here's what I got:

October 29: 167 or 165 or 164
November 5: 165 or 163 or 162

I'm feeling pretty good about it. And, my average score since the October LSAT is 163.4. If I can get a 164 or 165 for the December LSAT, that will work out pretty well for me.



In other news, I have officially completed a couple of applications! My applications to Texas and North Carolina are submitted. (Thanks to all of you who helped me with my personal statements.) I think all my other applications just need a personal statement and they're done, so I'll probably send in the rest of mine soon.

Oh, and there have been some changes to the "official" list. Erin and I decided to add Ohio State. And we also figured, hey, might as well replace Willamette and Gonzaga with one Pacific Northwest school that I have a fee waiver for and is ranked higher: Oregon.

So, here's my list as of now:

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