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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Morning News and Views Part I

Note: Com students may wish to look at this and previous Sunday Morning News and Views (use search feature in right hand column) for speech topic ideas.

Being Twenty Something. Psychologist Meg Jay says the twenty-something years may be the most important decade of a young adults life. Her new book is titled "The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now." Attitudes about finances, politics, physical health, life changing (or guiding) decisions, expendable income (if you are lucky enough to have it), a focus on enjoying life and the formation of often life time friendships are just a few of the key highlights of being in your 20's. Changes in the economy have also been said to put the same importance of  Baby Boomers thirty-somethings a decade earlier onto those currently in their twenties.

Jay also says that too many Americans in their 20's are not looking forward or paying attention to current events and the world around them. Key decisions are postponed, put off, or ignored,leaving the prospect of a dark and overwhelming world once they turn 30. 

Many 20 somethings do not have a solid plan for their future, despite being in school or having entered the work force. Student loan debts will be at an all time high per student, with very few job prospects large enough to hope to repay them. Those who have not gone to school face decreased income against increased costs, while not losing the desire to own things and impress people as have the last several generation of people in their 20's.

"Present bias" is a real trend for those in their 20's, without learning from the past or really looking toward the future in a realistic way. They are less likely to understand the history, feelings and actions of those even ten years older then them, much less those who are in places of power in poltiics, business and social institutions..

80% of life's defining moments happen by age 35. Half of Americans are living with or dating their future partner by age 30. The brain grows in spurts while people are in their 20's before settling into its perminant status (still a theory under debate). Most Americans transcend their childhoods while in their 20's, however up to one in five enter their twenties full mature and having dealt with the stresses of adult life.

Sociologist, psychologist, social anthropologists study generations, trends and attitudes.Obviously everone is different and unuique in their own way.

Faceing Facebook. Facebook may have created increased stress and tension, allowing people to commiserate and send time complaining rather than working on solutions or physically socializing. The current issue of the Atlantic looks at the positive and negative sides of Facebook and its impact on us as individuals, on groups and on society.

Tiki on the beach. This weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, thousands will gather for the  Hukilau--the annual gathering of people devoted to all things Tiki. That includes Polynesian music, food and drinks, though most of it really isn't authentically Polynesian.  Hakilau is an annual homage to the kitschy culture pioneered by Trader Vic's Restaurants, and carried on in Ft. Lauderdale by the Mai-Kai restaurant, where events will be held.  

A celebration of the Record Store. Yesterday was "record store day", launches a few years back to draw customers back from the Internet to mostly privately owned small record shops. The increased interest in "retro" vinyl has helped, along with used CD's that can be loaded into MPEG and Apple music players, often upgraded free of charge by various music services. The annual event is second only to Christmas in generating much needed revenue for the often mom and pop operations.

Extreme Rodeo for Youth. A lot of kids play soccer, others play chess, and some kids do handstands on the backs of galloping horses. It's a risky pastime, but lately the sport of horse vaulting is finding a foothold with children in the western U-S. Parents say it teaches concentration and is a lot less expensive than other equestrian sports. It carries the full thrill of rodeo and adds the extreme sports element that youth seems to be drawn to. Supporters say that kids with low self esteem, who are socially isolated or overweight can master, gaining both self esteem and a position in the youth community.

Hatch survives his first hoop. Longtime Utah senator Orrin Hatch faced a contentious and much-watched state convention yesterday, two years after fellow Republican Bob Bennett was ousted from office at the same event for not being conservative enough. Hatch survived attacks as an insider, as too far toward the middle (or too "liberal", which he is not) for Utah Republicans and as "tax and spend." He spent over six million dollars on his reelection as the Republican Candidate, which in Utah is determined not by a state wide election, but at the party convention. That said, Hatch did not get enough votes to avoid a primary in June, which may coast as much as 14 million campaign dollars.Observers say the convention was far more moderate than the heavy Tea Party extreme right wing, with the far right falling below twenty percent. The Mormon church issued a non-patrician appeal for church members to become active in politics. Statistically a sizable majority of Mormons are conservative, Republican and support Mitt Romney for president. Hatch goes into the June primary with the endorsement of presumed Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney. Whoever gets the Republican nomination is almost guaranteed election in the fall.

The Tea Party is shrinking, in conservative circles and overall. Now that the Republican Party has let them in and they have become a part of the process, many have moderated or are less activist than they were two years ago. They have changed the conversation to debt reduction, reduction of social services, lowering of taxes and toward term limits. Freedom Works, one of the largest Political Action Committees, which fed the Tea Party and in many ways created it, is not endorsing Mitt Romney, having put out a list of 29 reasons not to support Romney. The recession and a graying America have fed the Tea Party, and will until that generation is gone and a fading memory of a perception of America of the past fades from the forefront of the Ameircan scene.

Immigration in the Supreme Court Cross-hairs. The Supreme Court takes up parts of Arizona's tough immigration law this coming week.  Many legal immigrant families left the state after the law passed, while others chose to stay and work to change the anti-illegal immigrant climate there. While Arizona's politicians talk about how crime is down and literacy is up, they ignore that the same trend is occurring in neighboring states, in part because of shifts in the job and financial marketplace.

Watergate's Redemption. Charles "Chuck" Colson, a key figure in the Richard Nixon White House, has died. Colson was the president's special counsel and went to prison for his role in the Watergate scandal. While behind bars, he embraced Christianity. He went on to become an central evangelical leader after his release. He decided to speak for the inmates he served with, forming a group to minister to inmates and his families. While this was taken as more Nixon era public relations, over the rest of his life he walked the walk, helped people and had a positive influence on the world. He passed away of complications from a brain anarism at the age of 81.

It's about the economy. In France, residents go to the polls today in the first round of a two-part presidential election.  The top two vote getters from today's balloting go to a runoff on May 6. Incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy is trailing Socialist candidate Francois Hollande. The election is centering around a single issue...the economy. The French know why there has been no improvement, but still think the socialist, who would also protect their social programs and "entitlements" may be able to turn things around if given a chance.

Let them eat Formula One! International media have their eye son this weekend's protests against the "F1" race in Bahrain, where protesters have died and tensions are running high. The opulence of Formula One Racing set against a country that is having a social and political earthquake, and under extreme criticism and scrutiny by the US and the United Nations, shines a light on the dichotomy of the social world of many middle eastern countries.

Nationalizing oil. This week, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner ordered the expropriation of Spanish oil firm Repsol's assets in Argentina. The move delighted the left in her country, angered the Europeans and prompted the U.S. State Department to express that it was very concern. It also demonstrated what could be the emergence of a new, more radicalized left in the region. Latin and South America faces rapid change over the next decade as dictators, political leaders and economics shift rapidly or fade away into memory. The age of leadership causes concern for the dominant centrist right an centrist left governments, as their more extreme neighbors see changes in leadership and position in the International landscape.

Ms. Vice President. Julia Louis-Dreyfus of "Seinfeld" has a new HBO series, "Veep." The TV sitcom follows the trials and tribulations of fictional Vice President Selina Meyer. It was conceived as a story about a depressed Vice President who is stuck in one of the least powerful jobs in Washington (aside from chairing the Senate, that is). The show will not reveal political parties or show who is president. It will focus on the drama and comedy of being the first woman placed in this largely ceremonial position.

Sources: NPR, BBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Las Vegas Review Journal, CBS, NBC

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