Ten thousand years ago, our ancestors would have never dreamed of paying for dinner with little pieces of paper. A hundred years ago, our great grandparents never thought about purchasing concert tickets with plastic cards. Twenty years ago, our parents couldn't have guessed they'd be buying movies from eBay using Internet-based accounts to settle the debt with an overseas supplier. And now, I can't believe where ecommerce has gone. PayPal now has an iPhone application, Twitter users can acquire funds from friends and co-workers through Twitpay and online banking has made handling digital money all too easy. The Internet is home to millions of vendors and companies selling anything and everything. The problem with the Internet is trust. I don't trust a single site or user of eBay with my credit card information, which is where PayPal comes in. PayPal is "the safer, easier way to pay" as the site claims, and allows users to pay for goods through the site keeping their banking and credit card information safe. The downfall and dangers to this site, along with all ecommerce, is the ease of use. When you have your credit card linked up to your PayPal account, its easy to get carried away, it's easy to believe you have more money available than you actually do and its very easy to get behind on your bills. Shopping online requires only a few clicks, a password and sometimes a confirmation e-mail. It never actually feels like money is being spent. The balance from one account gets lower, another account gets larger and a few days later a new video game arrives in the mail. Without the feel of money, the handling of cash, I think it's much easier to get into to debt. Whenever I have cash, I'm much more careful with how I spend it, I can watch as a 10 or 20-dollar bill leaves my pocket, and how much change comes back. With a credit card, it doesn't matter the cost of something, just swipe – or enter the numbers – and it's yours. During my first job back in the early 2000s, I would actually receive a paycheck. I'd have to take it to the bank, cash it and then have currency to prove I washed dishes for 20 hours. Now, with both of my jobs I have direct deposit, and can't remember the last time I've visited a bank – or had lots of cash around. Direct deposit has made it so money holds almost no value to me, and with online banking, I can manage those digital dollars whenever and wherever I find it convenient. I hardly ever handle mass amounts of cash, it's been years since I cut a check and even longer since I sent a bill through the mail – a great advantage to online payments and Internet banking. Just imagine how many tons of paper we would save if everyone switched to e-payments. I've switched every one of my credit card bills, car insurance and all banking statements to e-mail only. It's a small part to help the environment, but it makes a difference not receiving five bills every month. We've come a long way since trading sea shells and cows for goods, but with the advancements in all the technology, banking has become simple as has purchasing, but just be careful how you spend, before you know it, you'll wish we were still trading farm animals. E-mail: email@example.com
After a meeting with all the Student Association candidates, asking them the tough questions on what is best for students, The Spectrum's editorial board voted by paper ballot to endorse the Student Alliance party for the positions of president, vice president and treasurer for this week's upcoming Student Association elections. Leading the ticket for the Student Alliance party are Nischal Vasant for president and Shervin Stoney for vice president, as well as treasurer Antonio Roman. As for the SUNY delegate positions, Amanda Horn from the Student Alliance party joins ONE Party candidates Jennifer Harb, Amanda Jonas and Yazan Alsaadeh. However, Yanco Escano, an independent SUNY delegate candidate, was tied with Alsaadeh for the fourth and final delegate post. The tie was broken after a runoff vote by the editorial board. ONE Party delegate hopeful Amanda Jonas was the only candidate to win unanimous support of the paper's editorial board. As a SUNY delegate this year, Jonas brings a tremendous amount of seniority and experience to SUNY's ever-changing relationship with the state government of New York. Vasant and Stoney represent not only the experience necessary to close the gap between SA and the student body, but also innovative and creative ideas to make campus a better place. As stated in their platform, they seek to continue the transparency of SA to the student body and make themselves more available to the student body as well. They will accomplish this by allowing greater access to SA's operating budget, along with greater detail so students understand exactly where their mandatory student activity fee is going. The Student Alliance party will also mandate SA clubs to have more table hours in the Student Union and provide incentives for clubs to reach out to the student population on South Campus. Both Vasant and Stoney plan to practice what they preach in having their own tabling hours in the Student Union. Furthermore, they wish to create a new fundraising and community service database for all SA clubs to use. The pair also supports the UBreathe Free policy to designate smoking areas on campus. As for making UB more green, they plan to reuse the printing cover sheets for SA and club printing. Potential treasurer Antonio Roman of the Student Alliance party hopes to seek even greater financial transparency of SA if elected. For next year's budget, Roman would like to include greater descriptive lines in the budget. Roman also intends to inspect the current SA budget for unneeded spending, so students' funds will be used rather than going to waste. In addition, he is already in talks with campus officials to allow credit card and debit card use on campus. As for the SA delegates, Jonas, Harb, Horn and Alsaadeh are competent, diverse and incredibly enthusiastic about their respective causes. Harb seeks to solve parking and transportation issues here on campus. Jonas plans to continue advocating against SUNY budget cuts by New York as well as increases of tuition. Alsaadeh is promoting greater involvement of international students within the SUNY system. Horn, the only Student Alliance delegate, will champion environmental issues facing all of SUNY. Horn plans to encourage other campuses within the SUNY system to adopt UB's climate neutral plan. All these delegates must prepare themselves and work together to take on New York State legislators. Effective change can only come through hard work and dedication. There is no doubt about how far SA has come in a year. All these candidates seek to continue the current trend of repairing the relationship with the student body. Each party has big, ambitious plans. But only the end results matter. Regardless of personal preference for the candidates, all of them seek to better UB at every level. The only difference is their vision of how to accomplish this. These endorsements are only recommendations to the student body. In spite of of personal preference, the key is to join the process and go vote.
You may not have noticed, but there has been something popping up on campus. The giant snow phallus of the University at Buffalo, or Sir Richard Johnson III, Esq. as the Facebook group tells me, has been the largest thing to hit campus since a fake gunman or a girl who replied to the entire financial aid listserv. Now, there are skeptics out there who don't understand why a giant snow penis is so important. Sure, it was funny for a day or two, but college students are surely above childish things like a snow penis, right? I could have possibly believed that explanation – before the second one was erected. Snow phalluses, penis drawings in bathroom stalls, punching people in the testicles – each bring out a certain amount of uneasy humor. Is it just human nature to laugh when we see penis humor in socially unacceptable places? One day I decided I would pay Sir Richard Johnson a visit to find an answer. I knelt in front of him, gave a small offering and waited for a little divine inspiration. I would not sleep until I realized the truth. Why is the snow phallus so … awesome? The first step I took involved me throwing my heterosexuality to the wind and Google searching penises. To my shock, I learned that there is an art behind the madness of the snow phallus. The ancient Egyptians actually told a legend of a godly penis. The story goes that Osiris was once dismembered into 14 parts. 13 of the parts were able to be recovered. The missing piece … well, you could probably guess what part that was. Unfortunately for Osiris, his phallus was eaten by the god Set. Thankfully, another god named Isis crafted him a new soldier, but the legend of the phallus was growing (no pun intended). So, is the snow phallus awesome because it's godly? In Rome, people would wear phallus amulets because it defended them from the evil eye. Romans believed that these kinds of amulets, called "fascinums," would keep them safe. Awkward penis humor has been scaring people for millennia. The English word "fascinating" is based on the Latin word "fascinum." I want to know who the guy is in history that made that decision. He must have been fascinated by phalluses. So is the snow phallus awesome just because it scares away evil people? By the time this will be printed, Sir Richard Johnson III, Esq. will be long gone. Western New York is warm for a change, so the snow penis will definitely be having a hard time avoiding shrinkage. However, that doesn't mean that we need to forget all the great memories that a big penis in the middle of a field caused us to experience. I believe that the snow phallus was awesome because it was universally enjoyed (even by straight guys). Some people like to say that music is the universal language, but giant snow penises must be a close second. No matter what language people speak, everybody knows what's up when there's a penis around. So to the anonymous creators of the snow phallus, I applaud you. You are the reason that UB is awesome, and if you had a snow offering area like Sir Richard Johnson III, Esq., I would tithe for you. Thank you. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's that time of year again. Well, for some. After selection Sunday, 65 colleges around the nation were buzzing about the Big Dance as beloved basketball teams throughout the country began making preparations to push towards an NCAA Championship. As the harsh winter fades here in Buffalo, students were left to get drunk on St. Patrick's Day, trying to forget about the Bulls' abysmal MAC Tournament performance. Tournament games started Thursday and instead of cheering on the Bulls, UB basketball fans were left following out-of-conference games that hold little significance to us. But some have "made it interesting." Brackets can be found all around colleges and universities, throughout professional offices across the country and are easily accessible on the Internet via Yahoo!, ESPN or CBS – just to name a few. Since Selection Sunday, I was invited to partake in five different bracket pools, not including the competition found in Wednesday's issue of The Spectrum or the numerous challenges that I received on Facebook. I wouldn't, however, consider these pools gambling. Much like buying squares on Super Bowl Sunday, filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket is more like a crapshoot. Spending $5, $10, or even $20 to make the six rounds of March Madness more interesting – especially to UB fans who have no real stake in the tourney – is perfectly understandable. But there are students who can't fight the temptation of placing bets throughout the year. Today, college kids are only a few clicks away from choosing a parlay that could be the difference between eating the following week or filling up their car with gas in order to get to class. ESPN airs sports show after sports show with countless analysts and experts spitting out interesting statistics that can help decide which team is a better pick that night. The Internet also helps keep us intimately connected to professional athletes. We're up to date on player injuries, off the field conduct, and conflicts within the locker room. With all of the information so readily available, some savvy college sports fans have found an easy way to make a quick buck. For some, it's almost too easy. They're able to take their love of sports and use knowledge and intuition to make educated predictions. With money on the line, watching out of town games becomes fun, but is it worth the risk? I'm not talking about the chance of picking the wrong team – which can easily happen if you watched Ohio top Georgetown – and losing $40. In fact, I'm more concerned with the contrary – the risk of winning. Once you've won that first bet, it's hard not to think about the next game you can wager on with the extra money you've just "earned". Before you know it, you're checking the spreads of every major game and doing research on athletes whom you've never even heard of. Instead of innocently following sports like you did when you were a kid, you're now staring at the television anxiously tapping your foot on the floor because the game that was supposed to be a blowout is unfavorably unfolding (cough Northern Iowa v. Kansas). The money Mom and Dad sent for groceries was riding on the outcome of yesterday's Syracuse Gonzaga game. Do college kids participate in Fantasy leagues because they want to know what it feels like to manage a professional team or is it an excuse to stay on top of the ever-changing statistics? Whether you're winning or losing, sports betting can become a nasty habit. If you make a few good picks and win some easy money, it can become difficult to stop gambling. Once you're down, you find yourself trying to get out of the hole by finding the next big winner. And as we're stuck watching the national tournament with no team to support, it's easy to try to find a cheap thrill to make the games more interesting. Unfortunately, that cheap thrill can turn into an expensive debt. E-mail: email@example.com
Saturday night was going just fine, until my fiancé came home from work and told me about the stressful incident she had just endured. My fiancé is the store manager at a local Blockbuster. A customer came storming into the store toward the end of her shift to complain about – yes, you guessed it – a $4 movie rental. Now, to offer up a little background, I worked at a Blockbuster for three years and in fact met my future wife during my time there. I have experienced every type of customer interaction you can think of, and she has as well. We oftentimes wonder what possesses people to scream at the top of their lungs about a movie not playing, late fees or whatever small little, insignificant detail in their Blockbuster experience that "ruined their night." I should clear something up off the bat: I understand how annoying some things can be when renting a movie. Some people genuinely try every single trick in the book to get that stupid disc to play and to have it continue to not cooperate is beyond frustrating. But the employee didn't sabotage your DVD. In this day and age, stress is running rampant through society and everywhere you turn, people are blowing up about everything from a burnt piece of toast to being overcharged a dollar at Target. Calm down. The first issue here is that these people are taking their anger out on someone who is rarely, if ever, responsible for the customer's problem. In my three years at Blockbuster, I never once scratched a disc on purpose or gave a second thought to trying to make a customer's life more difficult. Stop taking out your frustrations on customer service people who are only there because they are either in school or don't have any other avenue to make money. The really sad part about all this is that, for the most part, employees of these companies are usually really nice and try to do everything they can to help a customer out. I know that my fiancé and I have bent the rules on more than one occasion to help out a nice person. On a separate note to all Blockbuster customers, stop telling everyone, "I'm going to Netflix." First of all, the kid sitting behind the counter could care less and probably is ecstatic at the thought of you never screaming at him or her again anyway. Not only will the employees rejoice at your absence, but also the loss of your business will not solely destroy Blockbuster. I just think that it's important to remind everyone that as corny as it may sound, we are all in this together in the end. Does the mother of four kids realize that in 10 years, her kids could be in the same position as the girl behind the counter that she's screaming at? Step back and think about the way that you treat people in all walks of life and ask yourself if you'd appreciate the same treatment if the roles were reversed. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For years, Generation Magazine was a well-established student publication. But the periodical had also been on a drastic decline to the point where half the reason people read it was for a section that wasn't even written by the magazine. This is what ultimately led for Sub-Board I, Inc. to revoke Generation's charter. In a way, this was a blessing and a curse. On one hand, a major cornerstone in the UB community had been taken away, but on the other, it had to be done before the magazine was driven straight into the ground. But as fate would have it, someone decided to turn the once coveted publication into a cesspool for pompous indie hipsters that write about inside jokes among the staff. Ever since the Generation was brought back into production, it has only had a handful of issues. It's alright if you did not even know that the Generation was back in print; to this day, I still mistake it for Artvoice. There is almost no difference between the two publications. But at least with the Generation's reinstatement, the campus will get UB's favorite anonymous message board, the personals, back. Oh, wait – they're nowhere to be found, leaving the students of UB very little reason to pick up the Generation. Even the "He Says, She Says" section of the magazine – formerly "I'm Right, You're Wrong" – is just a waste of space. A pretentious Canadian and his girlfriend decide to help out the masses by giving advice – except, a kid that ate a gallon of lead paint could give out more helpful advice. The worse part about the Generation is that it's wasting our money. There is nothing I love more than taken some bills and just flushing them down the toilet. Doesn't this school have something better to spend money on? I mean, how about the money the school saves on not keeping the Generation? Maybe it can work on bringing some bigger acts for Springfest, which SA still has yet to announce. Something that I am still trying to figure out is how often the Generation gets printed. It seems they just make an issue whenever the Generation staff wants to, which happens to be about once a month. That's what I like to hear: people taking my money and giving it to others so they can sit around and rip off other publications once a month. That sounds like some Grade-A journalism. The staff of Generation doesn't seem to actually care about their publication. It seems that everyone over at the Generation is just trying to fluff up their resumes – which is all fine and dandy, but just don't do it on my dime. Unoriginal content and a very unoriginal look are continuing to kill what fond memories the student body had of the Generation, and the staff doesn't seem to even care. So thank you, Ren LaForme, for taking a great memory I had from UB and smashing it into a jelly. E-mail: email@example.com
Six years ago I was dropped into the world of punk rock, landed on my head, and loved it. The culprit? Green Day's American Idiot. Since then I've wandered down the dark allies of hardcore and lingered under the flashing lights of pop punk only to find myself a little older, a little deafer, but once again staring at that hand grenade heart. Why, you wonder? It's because American Idiot has once more blown its way into the public conscience, this time as a Broadway musical. From the groans and complaints that have echoed from some Green Day fans you would think that Billie Joe had put on a tutu and announced he was going to sing country. There was something more to that album, and you can cling to Dookie and Nimrod all you want, but sometimes evolution is inevitable. Call it selling out, call it what you will, but for an album that was hailed as a rock opera and a magnus opus, its natural to expect that more could come out of such a work. Paired with the creative talent of Tony Award wining director Michael Mayer and the youthful energy of former Spring Awakening star and Tony award winner John Gallagher Jr., the time is right for the loose plot behind the album to be filled in. With a sold-out run in Berkley, the high-energy production is obviously doing something right. Why sit around and speculate that the show will be no good and that Green Day has gone around the U-bend? So they put their black eyeliner aside for a moment. Don't write off the obvious time, effort, and talent that went into this production just because it doesn't follow your preconceived notions of what punk music is. Following the path that was cut by Rent and Spring Awakening, American Idiot holds the chance to pull in people who would never give that Broadway sign a second glance. The rock musical genre is becoming a norm on Broadway and viewers should embrace it as a new and legitimate form. American Idiot was written as a concept album. It was threaded together by the characters of Jesus of Suburbia, St. Jimmy, and Whatsername, looking for meaning in a world that wont believe in them. It deserves the chance to have all the ideas behind it, the ideas that went rather ignored by many listeners, to be showcased. So head to New York City this summer, buy yourself the least expensive back row ticket you can find and give it a chance. The worst that happens is you'll be guilty of getting a little culture. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The world's oldest conflict has taken another detour this past week. In hopes of breathing new life into the Middle East peace process, the United States sent Vice President Joe Biden to Israel to hold talks with the Israeli government. All seemed to be going according to plan until the Israeli Lands Authority and Ministry of Housing and Construction announced an additional 1,600 new housing units to be built in East Jerusalem. This took many in the international community by surprise, even the United States and Palestine. The United States and Israel have been on rocky footing since the Obama administration came into office. The current US administration has condemned the proposed housing project. President Barack Obama had asked the Israelis to place a firm ban on all new housing settlements as a good faith gesture to come back to the negotiating table. In return, other Arab nations would engage in confidence building measures. Such measures usually mean an exchange of information, generally about military forces and armaments. The intention of such measures is to build trust between two conflicting parties. The current model of the peace plan would have two separate states, one being a Jewish state, the other being a Palestinian state. One of the main reasons the peace process has been bogged down is because of the disputed claims over Jerusalem. West Jerusalem would be part of the Jewish state, while East Jerusalem would be incorporated into the new Palestinian homeland. Washington officials have grown weary of the missteps taken by both sides. Many called for the United States to reexamine its aid to Israel. The United States total aid to Israel is reaching $114 billion, according to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a not-for-profit foundation. Officials from both governments have made assurances that this disagreement is just that and its strong ties have not been severed. Many within Israeli politics believe that this is just another step to make Jerusalem undividable as part of the two-state solution. The reaction from the Palestinians has been one of demonstrations against Israel. Clashes between Israeli police and Arab youths were reported throughout Israel on Tuesday. The situation will quickly fall apart if no steps are taken to rectify the situation. The continuation of building is a major roadblock on the avenue to peace. It almost seems that the Israeli government doesn't want peace, or if it does, that it only wants it to be on their terms. The trouble with this particular negotiation is that there is such a blood-soaked history that neither side will be willing to give up more. For Obama, engagement has only gotten the process this far. Seven American presidents have tried to broker deals in the Middle East and all have failed. Nobody thought it would be easy to accomplish. Many members of the Democratic Party have even lambasted President Obama's actions, calling them a "temper tantrum." For the rest of the world, it becomes a game of watching, waiting and hoping for the best.
While I sat in my apartment doing work Wednesday night, countless college students went out to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, and I could have been one of them. I envied them all, at first. I could have put on my cutest green top, skinny jeans, a pair of heels and some mascara. I could have hit up Mojo's or The Steer with my friends. I could have shrugged off this column, my promotional writing assignment, and the fact that I have work at 8 a.m. on Thursdays, all for the sake of going out and getting wasted because it's St. Patrick's Day. But I didn't. And that was okay with me. I know that it's easy for many people I know to push work aside in favor of a little fun. I've been guilty of it before too, but not very often these days. After a six-hour shift and a three-hour lecture, I was almost ready to shirk all of my responsibilities so that I could have some fun. Almost. My roommate wanted me to finish my column as quickly as possible so that we could go out. The only problem was that even if I finished it, I still had work early the next morning. She suggested I call in sick, but I didn't want to leave my coworkers short-handed. I couldn't do that with a clear conscience. It's not my style. Besides, when you think about it, I'm really not missing out on much. Sure, a cute guy might offer to buy me a drink. We might talk for a while, possibly exchange numbers and then part ways on the promise that he will call or text me later. The thing is, I could care less whether or not the guy follows through. In fact, I'd prefer if he didn't bother. Why? It's a waste of both of our time. In general, I think the whole "college scene" has gotten old. I don't expect to, nor do I want to, meet someone after getting into the spirit of things with one too many Irish car bombs. Still, some find any and every reason to do just that. "Oh, it's [Labor Day, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Martin Luther King Day, etc.]. We don't have classes, let's get trashed!" "I don't feel like writing my paper now. Do you want to drink with me?" I cannot tell you how many times I've heard statements like these ones and shaken my head at them. I don't see the point of drinking excessively on a regular basis just because we're in college and because it's thought that this is our last chance to live it up before entering the real world. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying people can't let loose every once in a while, especially on St. Patrick's Day, a holiday that many often associate with drinking. Go ahead, raise a glass to the Irish. Make a few new friends for the night. I just wouldn't advise making a habit of it because everything you tried to put off will still be there the next morning – only now you'll probably have a headache as well. Why not save the money, time and energy? Maybe most people won't agree with me, or they won't care, or both. Maybe I'm alone in this stance, but after four years of the same old-same old, I'm ready for a new scene. I'm ready for the real world. E-mail: email@example.com
With the state's finances at a crisis point, it is time for bold ideas that will not only get us through these difficult times, but return New York to greatness.The Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act is an idea of that magnitude.This landmark legislation shields our students and our campuses from the worst effects of the fiscal crisis while maximizing our potential as a driver of economic recovery.The legislation removes tuition from the state budget and political process, allowing SUNY to expand enrollment and increase access to excellent educational opportunities.Historically, when tuition has increased to offset budget cuts and to maintain academic quality, the state has swept the increase into the treasury to close budget gaps elsewhere.
America is pill obsessed. Its citizens take pills for everything. Pills help millions with everything from getting erections to relieving depression.Many citizens in the United States believe that the most dangerous drugs threatening the country are illicit narcotics like marijuana and cocaine.