Recent years have been full of violence, with the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Tucson, the Aurora theater shooting, the Newtown massacre, and now the Boston Marathon bombings.
The Boston Marathon, held every year on Patriots’ Day, suffered its soul-crushing tragedy on April 15.
When two explosions erupted near the finish line, instant panic pierced the streets. Runners and bystanders scrambled to make sense of the chaos.
The scene was described as a “combat zone,” with debris scattered alongside severed limbs and pools of blood. The bombings killed three people and injured 260. The injuries ranged from shrapnel wounds to dismemberment.
As the week unfolded and the nation searched for answers, two suspects emerged from the wreckage.
Brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, were both ethnic Chechens, immigrants from Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan. They were naturalized citizens who had lived in the United States for a decade.
On the surface, both brothers seemed like average Americans. Tamerlan loved to box, married an American woman, and had a daughter with her. Dzhokhar was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Most of know the storyline that followed:
The brothers were quickly identified after the FBI released photos of the suspects. A massive manhunt began, and authorities closed in on the brothers after they fatally ambushed a police officer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The older brother was killed by police during an ensuing firefight, but Dzhokhar escaped.
Dzhokhar surrendered to police the next morning after he was found hiding in a boat. He was transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with serious injuries.
Invoking the public safety exception, authorities did not initially read Dzhokhar his Miranda rights. Some U.S. senators urged that he be tried as an enemy combatant.
Dzhokhar was later transferred to a federal medical prison. Though Massachusetts does not have capital punishment, prosecutors could seek the death penalty in federal court.
Due to a throat injury, Dzhokhar was unable to speak but communicated through writing and nodding.
He told authorities that the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were his motivation for the bombings.
What are we to do in response to all this violence?
Will we continue meddling in war-torn regions of the world that don’t want to change?
Are we to seek retribution by targeting Middle Easterners? A Palestinian woman was attacked in Boston just before the suspects were identified.
Will we heed calls to tighten immigration by closing our doors to people who conspire against us?
Whether they’re Middle Eastern terrorists, deranged college students or Eastern European immigrants, we can’t seem to figure out who is with us and who is against us.
Shall we be overly cautious and brand all those who practice Islam as terrorists?
Should we label all loners as psychopaths?
Here’s the reality: You can have all the security in the world and still be at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
The Boston Marathon conducted bomb sweeps before the race began. All seemed well.
Whether it be a combat zone, grocery store, movie theater, elementary school or marathon, we live in a world where atrocities can occur at any time or place.
So what to do?
We should be vigilant and ever watchful of suspicious behavior, and report it when we see it.
Once violence occurs, all we can control is our response. The fear can either consume us or teach us.
We can take from these atrocities an appreciation for the time we do have. We can act as if every moment is our last — because it just may be.
Be all the more mindful and grateful for what we do have — the moment.
Part 1 of a two-part series
By SIERRA J. RUSSELL
In 1990, the Aztec Press published a special edition dedicated solely to Earth Day activities.
The edition included charts, graphs and surveys to help readers gain a better understanding of threats to the environment.
It also offered suggestions for what could be done on a daily and personal level to help.
Most students interviewed voiced a willingness to be a part of the effort to reduce environmental threats. However, many also expressed feelings of helplessness.
Many said they believed the quality of the environment had deteriorated within the past century and was on a steady decline.
The edition outlined simple changes that can make a deep impact, such as water conservation, reduced fuel consumption and proper disposal of waste.
At the time, recycling bins had recently been put in place on Pima Community College campuses.
The student government worked with PCC’s food service company, the Marriott Corporation, to provide bins for aluminum cans. A pending project focused on recycling scrap paper but hadn’t yet been implemented.
One article explained how to create a backyard compost heap to produce garden fertilizer.
Another listed trees that grow well in the Southwest, including Desert Willow, Mesquite, Blue Palo Verde, Texas Ebony, Eucalyptus, Acacia and the Feather Tree.
Clayton May, a PCC chemistry laboratory technician and a consultant for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species division, told about discovering endangered Tumanoc Globe Berry plants growing near West Campus in 1985.
“The Tumanoc Globe Berry is a tuber,” May explained. “It emerges from the ground approximately two to three weeks before the summer rains.”
He located eight plants, but two of the plants were later lost. One was accidentally demolished during a construction project and the other was carefully unearthed and taken at night.
May said one way to ensure the safety of endangered species was to support legislation that protects large areas of natural habitat.
Michael Flores, a member of the Tohono O’odham nation, was interviewed.
“It is good that people are beginning, although a little too late, to realize the consequences of these acts of cruelty toward Mother Earth,” Flores said.
He noted that many people he spoke with during an Earth Day celebration seemed to be economically motivated. He said that was better than no motivation.
“Spirituality should be the motivator,” Flores said. “We all have it within us; some don’t use it as much as others; some don’t use it at all.”
Many European settlers fled their homeland because of political persecution and lacked a strong bond with the new land, Flores said.
He urged people to establish a way to commune with nature, to strengthen both the environment and humankind’s mental and physical health.
“We all have a responsibility to do something,” Flores said. “Anything anybody can do to protect Mother Earth will help future generations.”
All things are interconnected…
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the people of earth.
Man did not weave the web of life;
he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
he does to himself.
-Chief Seathl (Seattle)
Next issue: Backyard gardening and water conservation.
By COLE POTWARDOWSKI
The need to avert gun violence in schools has risen since the Newtown, Conn., massacre last year, but Arizona lawmakers are stumped trying to find solutions.
On Dec. 26, 2012, shortly after Connecticut’s Sandy Hook shootings, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne issued his ideas to avert another massacre.
His ideal solution was having an armed police officer in every public Arizona school, as suggested by the National Rifle Association, but budget costs constrained that notion.
“The next best solution is to have one person in the school trained to handle firearms, to handle emergency situations, and possessing a firearm in a secure location,” Horne said.
Horne’s proposal was drafted as House Bill 2656 by Rep. David Stevens, R-Dist. 14. One appointee per public school would have 24 hours of gun handling training under the instruction of Arizona’s police force.
After training, the designee would stow the gun in a lockbox and have sole access.
Horne’s proposal received criticism from educators and parents. Some instructors cited discomfort at having a gun in school while parents shared uncertainty over the proposal.
The proposal suffers from too many “what if?” scenarios. Horne’s intentions to prevent gun violence could inadvertently become a trigger for more.
FIREARMS ON CAMPUS
Arizona Education Association President Andrew Morrill said, “You don’t reduce the violence on Arizona campuses or anywhere by increasing the number of firearms on campus.”
History supports this.
Consider the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, where Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students.
Jefferson County deputy sheriff Neil Gardner, armed with a .45 semiautomatic pistol, was patrolling the school’s northwest parking lot when the shooting started.
His presence did not prevent the mass shooting or the shooters from taking their own lives, though he thought he played a small role.
“I think with exchanging fire it did allow some people that were fleeing the scene to get out of the building,” Gardner said in a 1999 Dateline NBC interview.
A 2012 shooting near the Empire State Building offers another perspective. A shootout between two men at the tower’s base led to immediate response from the New York Police Department.
When the NYPD fatally shot the assailant, nine bystanders were injured in the crossfire. The NYPD now faces a lawsuit.
The Empire State Building is not an educational facility, but it is a location where law enforcement officers were readily prepared.
By comparison, Horne’s proposal of having a gun readily prepared in a lockbox implies unthinkable repercussions.
What other Arizona proposals might see the light?
Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Dist. 14, suggested increasing school resource officers, tightening state gun laws and improving treatment for the mentally ill.
His versatile approach would cost $160 million and take $58 million out of this year’s state budget, according to news reports.
Campbell’s proposal would also require re-establishing gun laws in a state where Gov. Jan Brewer allowed concealed weapons for individuals 21 and older without a permit.
Brewer faced scrutiny from Mark Kelly, husband of former Tucson congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords.
“We have a political class that is afraid to do something as simple as have a meaningful debate about our gun laws and how they are being enforced,” Kelly said. “After Columbine; after Virginia Tech; after Tucson and after Aurora we have done nothing.”
Kelly made those comments on Nov. 8, 2012. Now, he can add Sandy Hook to the list as he and Giffords continue their fight to reform gun laws.
If putting guns into school lockboxes or tightening gun legislation yields no results, will understanding the minds of the killers prevent further violence?
Angela Robinson, president of Arizona School Counselors Association, calls counselors the pulse of the school. “Your school counselor knows every student in the school.”
She could be right, but few people had ever heard of Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Jared Lee Loughner, Adam Lanza, James Holmes or Charles Whitman until after they made headlines.
Will placing guns in schools prevent further gun violence?
Russian playwright Anton Chekhov didn’t seem to think so.
“One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it,” Chekhov wrote in 1889.
Horne’s proposal sets up Chekhov’s gun. If you’re squeamish, don’t wait around for Act Three.
By ANDREW PAXTON
Many question the legality and morality of the government’s surveillance and targeted assassination programs.
Thousands across the globe have been killed, and countless more have been negatively affected by America’s drone program.
Voices criticizing the program range from Amnesty International and Code Pink to the United Nations and some U.S. senators.
Most questions stem from the release of a so-called “white paper” that details the government’s position on drone strikes, and from the confirmation hearings of John Brennan, the “architect” of the drone program and Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA.
Members of Congress asked Brennan under what conditions the government believes it may kill American citizens without a trial or conviction.
The possibility of “secret courts” being created to hear evidence and determine who can be targeted was also raised. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, argued for a new court, saying the president should not be “prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner.”
Detractors argued that such courts would be unfeasible operationally and constitutionally, diluting the powers of the commander in chief. Some argue that courts have no business deciding matters of military operations or national intelligence.
A TUCSON CONNECTION
Talk of drones and executions may seem far away from Arizona, but a closer look reveals many elements of the debate center around the Desert Southwest.
Raytheon, Tucson’s largest private employer, provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to the economy. The company creates weapon technology, including a missile that may someday be used on drones.
During Brennan’s confirmation hearing, protestors with Code Pink interrupted proceedings and held a banner that read, “Raytheon’s drones create enemies.”
Also, with demand for border security being tied to immigration reform, expect increased surveillance along the Mexican-American frontier. This will undoubtedly mean drones buzzing over Nogales, Douglas and perhaps all the way to Tucson.
The Federal Aviation Administration has set a 2015 deadline for guidelines to permit up to 10,000 drones over American skies. Their sound will become as familiar to Americans as it is to people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen.
Drones are already being used over American skies. During a recent hostage situation in Alabama, UAVs provided 24-hour coverage. Los Angeles police claimed using drones would have greatly assisted in their recent manhunt for an accused cop-killer.
Homeland Security is exploring the use of drones to track drug smugglers and human traffickers. The agency already owns several, including Hellfire missile-equipped Predators.
CROSSING A LINE
Drones can clearly be used for hunting criminals or fighting fires. But when is the Orwellian line crossed? When does all-seeing Big Brother infringe upon John Q. Public?
As technology grows, advances bring new questions.
Do aircraft armed with giga-pixel cameras capable of viewing an entire city make the population safer, or rob the public of privacy?
A shroud of secrecy surrounds even basic elements.
How can the public debate an issue as important as extrajudicial executions if the details aren’t known? This is not the way America is supposed to work.
The government refused to even acknowledge the existence of its targeted assassination program until last year, and details remain scant.
With their secret out, the Obama administration, which once prided itself on openness and culpability, has said it will not release any more details about the secret assassination program.
Government watchdogs believe the criteria for killing Americans must be publicized.
KILLING U.S. CITIZENS
The targeting of American citizens should not be taken lightly.
Even in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, an accused terrorist mastermind, the facts are not clear. He supposedly directed the failed Christmas Day bombing in Detroit, as well as the Fort Hood shooting and other attacks.
While al-Awlaki was accused of formulating and directing numerous plots against America, he was never charged with any crime, let alone convicted in a court of law. He was executed in Yemen in the fall of 2011, along with his 16-year-old son, also an American.
Why not charge and convict him, in absentia if necessary? That way, the evidence would be heard in court, and a judge could decide his fate. Novel idea, isn’t it? Sounds like the way America used to work.
A recent survey by Farleigh Dickinson University indicates that a majority of Americans do not approve of the use of drones on American citizens. However, most approve of strikes against “terrorists” because they are told it makes them safer.
The CIA drops missiles on people who may or may not be terrorists without ever presenting evidence of their alleged crimes. They ask few questions. When questions are asked, answers are hard to come by, due to the clandestine nature of the strikes.
Opponents believe that targeted assassinations rally extremists, and often turn those who once supported America toward the militants. Many leaders in Pakistan and other countries express doubt regarding their effectiveness.
With Brennan virtually guaranteed confirmation, expect the number of drone strikes to increase, despite mounting criticism and protests. Although he denounced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, he has little problem with executing Americans without trial.
Questions regarding extrajudicial assassinations and 24-hour surveillance need to be answered, before our skies are filled with killer robots constantly watching us.
By MYLO ERICKSON
One of the things in my life that I care very little about is, well … me. I don’t take myself too seriously.
I’m not in denial about my weight or looks. I do own a mirror, which I must replace every time I take a look.
However, during high school and for a few years following, I really hated myself. I found ways to punish myself for being me.
I used box cutters to cut my arms, or even carve words. I jumped off ladders and roofs.
I even participated in a boxing match, despite having no idea how to box. I still have no clue, by the way.
The list could go on, but I’m not saying this to impress anyone. In fact, I look back on those days and can’t believe what an idiot I was.
You’re probably thinking that doing these things was a cry for attention, and you would be 100 percent right. I felt that I needed people’s approval to be happy.
I know now that the more attention you get, the more you want. Or people just find your antics sad and pathetic. Of course, some people enjoy stupidity. That’s why “Twilight” exists.
I’ve also learned that you must be happy with yourself, or at least comfortable, before anyone else will feel at ease around you.
When I finally became content with who I am, my outlook changed and life got better. I met my wife, who happily keeps my balls in a mason jar on her dresser. We haven’t yet sprung for a nice wooden box.
Life isn’t perfect. Problems still arise, but I deal with them as they show up. I don’t stress. Things eventually work out.
This column is a bit different from the others I’ve written. It is also my last, as I am moving on to the University of Arizona.
I have enjoyed the time I’ve spent at the Aztec Press. Working with adviser Cynthia Lancaster was an honor and I will always be grateful for what she taught me and tried to teach me. Let’s face it, I’m a bit stubborn when it comes to learning new tricks.
I am also grateful for my friendships with my fellow journalism students. For some reason, they encouraged me and continue to do so. Thank you.
Now, I know that not many, if any, people will read this. However, I don’t need vindication from someone reading my stuff. That’s not why I do it.
I do it because I like to.
I’ll now hand over my soap box to the next person who wants to rant and rave about what makes them upset, happy or whatever.
Or maybe no one will. Either way, I don’t give a shit.
By MIKI JENNINGS
I’ve spent four semesters on staff at the Aztec Press, working in different capacities: as a reporter, covering our social media posts for a semester and overseeing the Arts and Entertainment section for the last two semesters.
I’ve helped newbie reporters get started and find their footing, and I feel confident about what I do. I was starting to really feel like I had succeeded at carving out a name for myself at this school, or at least the school’s newspaper.
It’s time for me to move on and finally finish up my degree at the University of Arizona. Unfortunately, there’s not enough time in my schedule to be a student at both schools, as much as I would love to juggle UA classes and staying on staff.
Really, I just don’t want to leave. I’m going to miss it a lot. It’s difficult for me to quantify the skills and experience I’ve gained in the two years spent here. I know that I’ll find a place wherever I go, but I’m just not eager to go.
I’ve worked with many talented and motivated aspiring journalists and I’m really sad about leaving our small-but-mighty staff behind. The support and helpful, constructive critiques here are unmatched by any other journalistic ventures.
And no other publication could possibly be as fun, right?
Well, possibly not. But I still have to move on. It’s time to go somewhere new and see what a different publication has to offer: perhaps daily stresses versus weekly ones, new events to cover, maybe even with pay … if I’m lucky.
It’s important to keep an open mind when you’re heading in a strange direction. Otherwise, how else will you glean wisdom from the new situation? That’s even harder to remember when you didn’t want to head in that direction in the first place.
Really, I would stay on staff here forever if it wouldn’t make me look like a creepy college graduate who just couldn’t move on.
But new opportunities aside, I’m really going to miss it.
Jennings, 22, is a journalism major. She plans to hide out in the Aztec Press newsroom during all of her spare time.
By APRIL GEORGE
I don’t like to talk about my illnesses. It makes me feel like I’m whining, despite countless people telling me I should talk about it more.
Unfortunately, my anxiety kicks in and I start wondering if they’re only telling me that to make me feel better. It’s an awful, endless cycle.
I want to walk you through a typical day. We’ll do Monday, because those are the hardest.
My alarm starts going off at 6 a.m. If I’m lucky, I hit snooze a few times and get up at 7. If I’m not lucky, and I’m usually not, I lay in bed after I’ve hit snooze a couple of times, in too much pain to even contemplate getting up.
Then, I start feeling useless because I can’t even get out of bed. That’s when the anxiety hits, screaming at me that I’ll fail my classes and get thrown out of school.
So I drag myself out of bed and into the shower, which takes far more energy than it should. By the time I’m showered and dressed, I’m exhausted. Remember, all of this is before I’ve even left for class.
When my day finally ends at 7 p.m., all I want to do is curl up on the floor and sob. Of course, I’ve got three more days of classes to survive.
It takes a tremendous amount of stamina to get through the day. My pain triggers my depression, which in turn triggers my anxiety, which makes my pain flare up more. It’s a never-ending cycle.
The pain causes memory loss, which my doctor calls “pain fog.” She says it’s normal, but when I start losing time, my anxiety goes into overdrive and my depression spikes. Within minutes, I’m in the fetal position on the floor in tears because I feel so useless.
My anxiety sparks when I’m confronted by my phobias. I’m terrified of needles, which makes medical procedures a nightmare. My poor physical therapist learned that the hard way when I had a panic attack on him.
I’m also deathly afraid of clowns. I had an opportunity this past October to perform at the Slaughterhouse Haunt, which features clowns prominently. I was not warned beforehand that they’d be wandering all over the place. Guess what? Panic attack.
Recently, my anxiety hit an all-time low. I finally got my pain under enough control that I felt comfortable going out to karaoke with a couple of friends.
The University of Arizona versus Arizona State University football game was on TV, and the bar was packed. Normally I can deal with noise, but before long the screaming fans got to me.
I am constantly hearing screaming in my head, which is loud, discordant and awful. When I hear it anywhere else, it hits me hard.
That was all I could hear at the bar. I felt horrible because my friends were so excited to be out, but I had to leave before I had a panic attack.
I will be taking next semester off to get everything under control, and I’m already starting to worry about that decision. Will people understand? Will they think I couldn’t take it and dropped out?
Just imagine what trying to find a job is going to do to me.
My life used to be a lot easier. I feel awful for all the things I took for granted that I can’t do anymore, and wish I could tell my younger self to cherish everything.
Because of my illnesses, I treasure anything and everything I can find the strength to do.
By THOMAS F. JOHNSON
I’ve dealt with Asperger’s syndrome for all my life, unable to find a proper medication until the end of high school.
For years, I struggled with fits. I still have problems interacting with others on a daily basis.
The educational help I received served only to keep me in school, not to deal with my disability-related issues.
Both “life skills” classes I was assigned to in high school eventually devolved into study periods — a testament to the incompetence of TUSD special education.
I woefully wonder if I am ever going to have a relationship or even a one-night stand. It’s hard enough for seemingly normal guys to get dates. My various blathering and rudeness-based infractions are as lady-repellent as Axe Body spray or truck nuts.
Beyond fearing that I’ll fail to achieve my dream job as a writer, I worry that I’ll find any job at all unless I sell my orifices to strangers to buy food.
I’ve never had a paying job, and am afraid my behavioral problems may get me fired from any work I do obtain.
That possibility is hammered into me repeatedly by my stepmother over the basic social and cleanliness-related faux pas I commit at home on a nigh hourly basis.
The fear is even more warranted since I was kicked out of my volunteer position with the Humane Society for requiring “too much supervision.” I’ve come close to alienating another organization, too, which I will not name because I don’t want to create drama.
It winds me like a watch when other people, both in and out of the autism spectrum, say that Asperger’s syndrome is a gift. There is a phrase for empathizing with a tormentor like this. It happens to be known as Stockholm syndrome.
It’s true that I’m more high-functioning than some autistics. Those souls are the only ones free to call me a lucky schmuck.
Science has proven that autistic individuals are just as intelligent as most people, but can’t vocalize their thoughts. They are forced into insane, repetitive behavioral patterns because of their disability.
Are these mental shackles a gift?
This is why I find the concept of neurodiversity laughable. Only people without disabilities formulate hippy-dippy ideas such as keeping the genes that cause children to be born with stunted flipper-limbs in the gene pool to preserve diversity.
All forms of autism sap a person’s self-identity like a tick.
I have no idea about how much of me is truly me and how much is the disorder talking. Feeling that my free will isn’t truly free is the most existentially terrifying aspect of my life.
I try, God knows I try, but I feel a crippling doubt when I fail. Am I really the master of my own fate, or am I a puppet of neurological cross-wiring?
If there ever is a cure developed for Asperger’s, I’d be afraid to take it. I simply don’t know what would remain after the disease is stripped away.
It might take my one notable skill (writing) away, leaving only a pink, quivering lump of worthlessness on the ground, my true self naked to the world.
But, despite all my griping, things have gotten better. My chances of accomplishing my dreams have gone from impossible to merely infinitesimal, and I do try to improve every day.
All I ask is that you try to understand my problem. It’s not something invented by the Internet as a cheap ploy to get sympathy, nor can it be instantly wiped away in an ‘80s-style movie montage.
I don’t need your pity, just your help.
By ERIC KLUMP
To those unfamiliar with it, Tucson may appear to be a typical Southwestern city. It seems like a land of strip malls, prefabricated homes and chain restaurants with little or no unique food identity.
However, those people are greatly mistaken. It is their loss if they skip a visit for that reason alone. It’s a terrible loss at that, because they are missing out on my Tucson — a city of compelling cuisine.
My earliest memories of Tucson all involve food. Driving up from Rio Rico to shop, my family would go somewhere good to eat when we got hungry.
My mom always wanted Mexican food and my dad only liked steakhouse and breakfast joints.
These trips gave birth to a small culinary mental map of Tucson areas I frequented with family.
To this day, I’ll pass places like the Hungry Fox on Broadway and get a little nostalgic for their hamburger plate with Lays potato chips.
I’ll drive by the hole-in-the-wall on Oracle Road where Don’s used to be, and remember the badly lit dining room and old plates where I had the best omelet and hash browns of my life.
Most sadly, I’ll drive by the now dead and vandalized Broadway Café and get all misty-eyed as I think back to some amazing meals.
When I got my first car, this culinary map of Tucson exploded in size as I explored for myself. I created more memories and experienced more of what this tasty city has to offer.
I took friends to many places, developed new tastes and tried new things — from Pat’s on Grande to Caruso’s on Fourth to Biscuit’s on Kolb.
After my girlfriend and I began dating, my need to take her to restaurants that were both good and different led me to venues in the far reaches of the city, such as Saffron and Sky.
Perhaps the best thing about this city, compared to many others I’ve visited, is that the food landscape never stagnates. Much like slow-cooking meat, Tucson constantly develops new flavors.
There is always a new burger, curry, udon or fajita to try. Each experiment helps create a new memory, a new bite to my Tucson.
By DAVID MENDEZ
It has come to my attention that there’s a whole town for sale in southern Wyoming.
According to an Associated Press report, the town of Buford will be auctioned by the town’s mayor and only resident, Don Sammons. His asking price? A low, low $100,000.
For that cool hundred grand, buyers get themselves a house, gas station, garage, convenience store, school house, cabin and 10 acres of land.
Sammons plans to move out, so the new owner gets a personal ZIP code and full control of the town’s civic government.
Which begs the question: What one man (or woman) could hold all that power? I mean, 10 acres smack on the edge of southern Wyoming, populated by you and only you?
That brings to mind something straight out of “I Am Legend.” Or, given the rural setting, “The Walking Dead” without the mutants, zombies or products of failed genetic experiments.
Sure, as an only child and latchkey kid, running a town all by my lonesome probably wouldn’t be much different from the way I spent my childhood.
But how could a place like that be financially viable? How do you market “The Nation’s Smallest Town” into something worth owning?
One word: paintball.
Seriously, think about it. You’ve got six buildings on 10 acres of land, in the complete middle of nowhere.
You could stick with the “gas station and gift shop” route, or you could turn the town into a literal “Paintball, USA” and fulfill the dreams of high school kids too young to own guns and convicted felons who can’t buy them.
Hell, keep the gas station and gift shop open. Make them part of the live-fire area. Slow people would be moving cover for players.
Of course, my knowledge of paintball is limited to the three paintball-centric episodes of “Community” on NBC (shameless unpaid promotion: Watch it on Thursday nights at 8 p.m.) and the two or three professional paintball games I’ve seen on ESPN2.
But c’mon: What self-respecting mayor wouldn’t want to (literally) paint his own town red?
By DAVID MENDEZ
I’ve got a confession: I don’t look good with a beard.
There. I’m out. I’ve said it.
See, with my face shape (which I’ll describe as “round-y” only because “adorable yet rugged” isn’t actually a shape), I tend to look like a furry oval. It doesn’t help that, at 24, I’m still somewhat patchy, which is a source of shame for me.
I can get two-thirds of the way there, but after that my face starts to resemble something like Chernobyl. Certain spots flourish, while others appear as if the earth has been salted and nothing will ever grow there again.
I’m not a mustache kind of guy either. The ideal mustache hair, of course, is something between the Kentucky Fried Chicken colonel and Burt Reynolds. For me, that spot doesn’t get bushy and manly. Instead, it becomes wispy and long — kind of like low-hanging moss.
I can’t do mutton chops (but who would?), soul patches (again with the moss), circle beards (the sides don’t connect) or anything beyond two days worth of scruff without looking creepy.
Were it not for my trademark chin-blanket goatee , I’d be completely clean-shaven. The goatee exists mostly because I’ve had it since high school and I’m almost certain that the skin under it is now milk-white.
Being clean-shaven would, for the most part, make me unusual among my peers.
Apparently, the resurgence of hipster fashion and the popularity of “no-shave November” has lead to a follicular frenzy among college-age males, and the occasional female with an unfortunate combination of genetics.
I suppose something about the idea of caveman solidarity kicked off these brotherhoods of beards and societies of ‘staches. However, I just don’t see the appeal in making yourself look as if you can’t afford to buy a razor or a sharpened piece of glass.
Sure, I see the benefit of bringing attention to causes such as prostate cancer awareness, which is championed by many advocates of no-shave November.
The idea of people liking me for something other than my raw ruggedness and attention to alliteration is also appealing.
But it doesn’t seem worth the itchiness, the jokes from my family or triggering my girlfriend’s childhood fears of Bigfoot.
Mendez is co-editor in chief of the Aztec Press. He is in desperate need of a new reason.
By DAVID MENDEZ
Arizona’s assault on education just keeps on coming.
Less than a week after Gov. Jan Brewer did her best to plug sales of her book by shaking a finger in the face of our president, embarrassing Arizona in the process, a state legislator introduced another law to “fix” Arizona’s educational system.
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, introduced HB 2675. The legislation would force full-time students at Arizona’s universities to pay $2,000 per year toward tuition unless they receive full-ride merit or athletic scholarships.
If the bill passes, it means you would pay $2,000 of your own money toward tuition if you attend an Arizona university next year. Scholarships given through the university or university-affiliated organizations wouldn’t count, though private scholarships would.
That $2,000 is the minimum. Every following school year would see the amount adjusted by any tuition increases.
The legislation doesn’t affect community college students, but it would affect transfer students.
On its face, the bill isn’t too awful. At least it makes an effort to lower state liability toward education, thereby saving Arizona money.
But at a time when every university has raised tuition, most Arizona students would have to take out even larger loans to reach their goal of a four-year degree. That will increase student debt.
Furthermore, university degrees no longer guarantee high-paying jobs. That makes the proposal even more of a grind.
Section 6 of the Arizona Constitution reads in part: “The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible.”
In these times, when dictionaries seem to be in gravely scant supply, some may claim this to be a socialist concept.
Those folks don’t understand that the concept is fundamental to building a community that is learned enough to find solutions to future problems. Those problems may be solved by engineers, mathematicians or (crossing my fingers here) journalists.
At the very least, we could educate a few historians. Maybe they’d be able to remind future citizens of the mess caused by voting Republican.
Mendez is co-editor in chief of the Aztec Press.
By TRACY NGUYEN
We all know America’s economy is at risk. Everywhere we look, we see jobless people.
The U.S. government is working hard to help the economy recover. How can we as individuals do something about it?
The answer is to buy products made in America. We have the power in our hands. Isn’t it natural for Americans to support America?
Purchasing products stamped “made in USA” helps American businesses employ U.S. workers. You, your relatives or your neighbors might hold these jobs.
Buying American-made goods also provides safer and higher-quality products.
In “Building by Buying American,” Roger Simmermaker writes, “…More American manufacturing jobs not only reduce the unemployment rate, but also expand the tax base to pay for benefits … in doing so, we’ll reduce our trade deficit, support a higher tax base and achieve greater economic growth.”
Products made in the USA are not always easy to find. Many are made somewhere else, especially China.
When I wanted to buy a crib for my baby, I looked at Target, Wal-Mart, Babies ‘R Us and other stores around town. Not one crib was made in the USA. They were all made in China.
I did find baby bottles with a big “Made in the USA” sticker on the box. I checked the cost, and was surprised to see a price similar to bottles made in China.
Wouldn’t it be nice if stores had a “Made in the USA” section?
Of course, it is difficult to exclusively purchase goods made in America.
Based on the present market, there would not be many chairs or tables around the house. Many toys and most electronics would be gone. We would have to say farewell to Apple products. Kiss your diamonds goodbye as well.
Of course, it is up to each individual to make the decision on which products to purchase. Everyone has the right to buy the cheapest goods. The question is, does cheapest occasionally mean inferior?
My point is: If you see two products with equivalent prices, with one labeled “Made in the USA,” consider buying the American-made option.
By DAVID MENDEZ
Pima Community College’s governing board doesn’t want it. Administrators of Arizona universities and colleges don’t want it. The police departments charged with protecting those institutions don’t want it.
So why on earth do Arizona legislators keep pushing to allow guns on campuses?
For the second straight year, Rep. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, and Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, have introduced legislation that would allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on school property, so long as they hold valid CCW permits.
In comparison to last year’s version, which would allow all gun owners to carry on school property, this new version seems a bit more reasonable.
After all, I’d feel slightly more comfortable knowing that the dude sitting next to me in trigonometry had spent at least one day training in gun safety.
But this legislation, while championing Second Amendment rights, infringes upon not only the will of those most affected by this law, but on common sense.
Over the past years, there has been nothing but opposition from those in charge of our education.
Spokesman C.J. Karamargin said Pima’s stance on the proposed legislation is exactly the same as it was last year: that guns on campus will not make PCC campuses safer.
In fact, Karamargin, said, the college has concerns that guns on campus might have the opposite effect.
PCC’s view is that lawmakers “should listen to the experts,” Karamargin said, referring to the university and college police chiefs who have expressed opposition.
For once, I agree wholeheartedly with the PCC administration.
Lawmakers seem entranced by the wholly American, “Die Hard”-esque fantasy that one average person with a pistol can stop rampaging gunmen.
Gould, in an interview with Phoenix’s ABC-15, claimed the crime rate in Arizona has dropped since adoption of the concealed carry law. He said criminals have been intimidated out of fear of getting shot by bystanders.
That’s all well and good, but many of those involved in campus shootings have turned the gun on themselves once they believed their spree finished. That doesn’t fit the behavior of someone who would be intimidated out of opening fire on innocent people.
Were there to be a shooting on a PCC campus, my fear is that students attempting to defend themselves would only add to the confusion.
Worse, given the stress of the situation and the likely lack of comprehensive training, they might add to the body count with wild firing.
Lawmakers can claim this to be a matter of Constitutional rights, but I view it as one more attempt to force an ideology onto a resisting public.
Mendez is co-editor in chief for Aztec Press. He is not Chelo Grubb’s brother.