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Archive for October, 2009

On Oct. 27, Blake Mycoskie, a Texas native, spoke at Jesse Auditorium about how he created his humanitarian business, TOMS Shoes.

Contrary to the assumptions of many, there was no one named Tom involved at the beginning of the business. Mycoskie said TOMS stands for tomorrow; the company operates on the idea that people buy a pair today, give one away tomorrow. The one-for-one movement means that every time a pair of shoes is purchased, a pair is given away to a child in need.

Before Mycoskie’s presentation, a video introduced TOMS Shoes; this can be viewed here. Once Mycoskie stepped on stage, in a pair of TOMS Shoes of course, he spent most of the time explaining how the business started.

He said that the whole idea came about when he decided to take a month-long vacation to Argentina. At that time, he was working in Los Angeles with a couple of business partners to try to persuade California to adopt an online driver’s education course, instead of conducting the course in classrooms. After working on the project, Mycoskie felt the need for a vacation. He went to Argentina because he and his sister had visited there during their time “The Amazing Race,” a reality game show.

After 3 weeks in Argentina, Mycoskie met a small group of English-speakers who were working on a service project collecting shoes from wealthy families in the area and distributing them among less fortunate children. This act of kindness sparked Mycoskie’s interest (his eyes lit up on stage even talking about it) and he decided to take the idea and apply a business model to it.

Before he returned from Argentina, he had 250 pairs of shoes made there. As soon as he returned, he constructed a website and began to go to local Los Angeles stores trying to sell his shoes. Once a store finally agreed to buy 80 pairs of his shoes to sell, the business began to take off.

Now, TOMS Shoes are easily found in department and shoe stores. Mycoskie has given away over 150,000 pairs of shoes and has a goal to give away at least 300,000 pairs of shoes by the end of 2009.

Once done with his story, Mycoskie answered questions from the audience. Here, he said that though he designed the shoes at the beginning, he now has hired designers. He also instructed the audience to text “SHOES” to a phone number for a chance to win a free pair of TOMS and also nine other pairs for nine friends.

If you are interested in designing and decorating your own pair of TOMS, join MU’s One-For-One campus club at 2 p.m. Nov. 19 at Memorial Union.

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MU students no longer have get their hands covered in ink if they want to browse the latest USA Today, which recently set up a trial program to provide a digital edition of the paper at no cost to college and university students.

MU students can access the edition from the university’s server or subscribe using their MU e-mail addresses, having it delivered to their inboxes. Available daily as early as 4:30 a.m., students can then read it online or download a copy to take with them. The digital version will look the same as the printed newspaper but will feature more interactive options such as videos and games. Students can also have the electronic USA Today read to them using an audio feature.

In addition to MU, there are three other universities participating in the trial program: Penn State, Georgia Tech and the University of Indiana.

This initiative is part of USA Today’s Collegiate Readership Program; Student Life Director Mark Lucas said the university was chosen to participate in the trial because of the readership program’s success.

“We’re in the top five schools in the country in terms of the success of the readership program,” said Lucas.

Lucas said a goal of the trial program is to determine how this online edition will affect this program that already provides various newspapers free of charge to students.

MU sophomore Lauren Daugherty said she would consider reading the electronic version of the paper.

“I would probably use the online edition way more than I would use the hard copy because it’s convenient since I am always online anyway, and I usually get my news from the Internet,” she said.

MU junior Scott Kubik, however, disagrees.

“I like the idea but I would still prefer to read a paper copy of the newspaper,” he said. “Usually when I read the paper is between classes when I’m killing time on campus so it’s easier to read the paper copy of the newspaper than find an open computer in the library.”

In addition to the web and print edition USA Today already distributes, MU students will help determine the future of yet another version of the paper, one that combines the convenience, and clean hands, of an electronic publication and the complete, browse-able nature of the printed one.

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Liability issues, worries over sportsmanship cancel “Burn-A-Bear” [The New Hampshire, University of New Hampshire]

Thursday Night Lights [The Daily Tar Heel, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]

Commission approves neighborhood plan [The Brown Daily Herald, Brown University]

Home on the range [The Cavalier Daily, University of Virginia]

What’s next for Jones? [The Daily Mississippian, The University of Mississippi]

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rap battle

“I’ve never battle rapped before but I can do an assortment of things, too bad I’m battling a six foot Frodo from Lord of the Rings.”  The circle of people surrounding Marc Goone explode into laughter, while Goone’s opponent, Pete, could only shake his head and laugh with the rest of the crowd.

It’s Friday, Oct. 23, and while the rest of MU’s campus is relatively quiet as students head home from their classes, Speakers Circle is abuzz as 16 local emcees are scheduled to partake in a rap battle.  There is no music and there are no beats, just two rappers standing face to face, each trying to embarrass the other with their lyrics. For three rounds each rapper gets 60 seconds to recite their rhymes, and at the end three judges pick the winner.  There is no prize for the victor, just the recognition that he or she is more lyrically skilled while the defeated emcee sulks away in embarrassment.

Over 50 people huddled in a large circle surrounding each rapper, and the crowd’s reaction was a large factor in determining who the winner of each battle was. Goone, a senior at MU, was entering his first battle, yet his wordplay over the shortened two round battle that he took part in got the largest reaction from the crowd all night.

“I still try to have like, a really complex rhyme structure, with like five or six syllable multis, but still get the crowd going at the same time, so not only does it sound good but the crowd gets into it as well,” Goone said. He added that when the crowd is really into it and reacting to his rhymes that, “It just kind of like, fuels me.”

The battle, organized by MU student William “Macy” Pruitt, gave each contestant three weeks to prepare their rhymes, and every contestant knew who their opponent was going to be.

“It’s a prepared format so you don’t have guys stumbling with the freestyles,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt, whose radio show, “Spit Fresh Midwest” on KCOU/88.1 FM, showcases local rappers every Wednesday night, said the battle format is important for local rappers who are trying to get their names out there.

“The cool thing about (the battle format) is it gives anyone that raps in the area an opportunity to exhibit their skill.  I mean obviously this doesn’t say that they are like, an insightful artist or anything, but it shows that they can rhyme, they have presence and rhythm, and it’s all filmed, so it’s exposure for every rapper that raps,” Pruitt said.

Battle rapping is quite a different experience for an emcee than just going to a studio and recording a song.  The crowd is only feet away from both contestants and judging every single line they say. During the battle Friday night, if the crowd was in agreement that a certain line from the emcee was not up to their standards, a silence would fall over the crowd, while scoffs and laughter were audible throughout the audience. The pressure at times was too much for certain contestants, especially for Los Cauz, who continually stumbled over his lines and at one point completely forgot what he was going to say next.

As the crowd began to disperse at the end of the competition, an impromptu battle broke out between Pruitt and an observer who had been challenging him from afar. The circle of people reformed and the battle started up again. Pruitt was well-prepared and the crowd booed the challenger out of Speakers Circle, just reinforcing the notion that if an emcee isn’t ready for a battle, embarrassment will follow.

You can watch select battles from Friday’s competition here.

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Worried about missing that last lecture? This may no longer be a worry thanks to “Lecture Capture,” a relatively new software that records media projected in the classroom such as PowerPoint presentations, notes for the class and even the voice of the professor speaking. The information is compiled and made available online for students to review via Blackboard, thanks to a program called “Tegrity.”

Several MU professors met at 3 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the new technology and its implementation at MU. Steve Keller, an associate professor of chemistry, said one of the ways he uses the software is by recording himself going over the answer keys to his exams and explaining why certain answers are correct.

Keller said before the software came along, some teachers were recording and digitizing their lectures themselves.

“Eight years ago, when we started this, I didn’t want anything to do with this idea because I thought no one would come to class,” he said. “When I discovered that the same percentage of students came to class with and without recording, I wanted to continue its use, but we just couldn’t support the way we were doing it. Tegrity makes it much easier and is more powerful than what we were doing eight years ago.”

Keller hasn’t noticed any decrease in attendance in his classes; actually, a survey of three chemistry classes that used the software found that 90 percent of the students said they were not more likely to miss class because they knew it would be recorded.

The survey also revealed that most students accessed the program an average of once a week and 70 percent said they find it to be “very useful.”

Court Montgomery, a graduate teaching assistant, has used Lecture Capture for teaching his online linguistics class. He said he liked using the program to make up for the lack of interaction between him and his students; it was a way for him to “humanize the class experience.”

The software also allows students to adjust the speed of the professor’s voice. Many times, students miss a crucial point because their professor is talking too fast, so this feature benefits students because they can go back and assure they have everything they need.

“The feedback I’ve gotten from students has been 100 percent positive,” Keller said.

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I had never been to a film shown during the Citizen Jane Film Festival until Sunday. I attended the screening of Georgina Lightning’s “Older Than America” at Ragtag Cinema. The film is based on actual incidents when Native American children were forced to attend boarding schools and often physically, sexually and emotionally abused.

Citizen Jane Film Festival, hosted by Stephens College, occurred last weekend. Festival events took place at both the campus at Stephens and Ragtag Cinema. As previously reported by the Missourian, this is the second year Stephens has hosted the festival.

The festival, which celebrates women in film, showcased animation, documentaries and feature-length movies. Most of the screenings were followed by a question and answer session; members of the audience discussed the film with someone involved with the making of the movie, usually the director, producer or writer.

For “Older Than America,” the theater was completely full; several moviegoers sat on the floor or stood to see the movie. I thought it was excellent and highly recommend others see it. During the question and answer portion, I saw that many people were also deeply moved by the film. Lightning discussed making her way into Hollywood and developing the idea for the movie as well as the problems of racism in Los Angeles and throughout the world. Many audience members shared their feelings about the issue and thanked Lightning for coming to show the film.

Leaving the theater, I saw a long line of people waiting for the next screening that nearly flowed onto the sidewalk outside.

It was a great experience, and I was glad to see so many people taking advantage of the film festival.

Submissions for this year’s festival grew by 2 percent, according to the Missourian article.

I hope the festival continues to attract more submissions and attendees.

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Univ. rolls out new hybrid buses [The Stanford Daily]

Strategic research funding draws mixed reactions [The Vermont Cynic, The University of Vermont]

Housing finds room for change with Web process [The Daily Targum, Rutgers: The State University of New Jersey]

Mobile lab aids pollution study [The State News, Michigan State University]

Johnson officially named registrar [The Kaimin, The University of Montana]

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