Blind Obedience in 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Kids Are Alright

A Merrimack College Hockey second-half preview

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After two seasons of unprecedented Division 1 success for the Merrimack College men’s hockey team, including a 2010-2011 campaign which saw the Warriors win a school record 25 games and earn a birth to their first ever NCAA Tournament, the team is off to a bit of a rocky start. Through the first half of the season, the team has managed only a 6-7-3 overall record, including an unimpressive 4-4-1 Hockey East record, good for only 6th place in the conference.

With a roster consisting of 16 underclassmen (including 7 freshmen) and only 4 seniors, consistency has been the biggest issue for Mark Dennehy’s squad. While many critics have written off the rest of this season for Merrimack hockey and praised the future of this young, deep squad, there may be more to look forward to in the second half than anyone outside the locker room believes. Here are my top 5 reasons to look for second-half success from Merrimack.

The Young and the Restless

Okay, technically I shouldn’t say “young” (no one on the team is younger than 20), but rather “inexperienced” as Dennehy likes to remind us.  Four freshmen (Christie, Hussar, Scotti, Gustafsson) and seven sophomores (Toomey, Jardine, Singleton, Myers, Kolomatis, Mansfield and Tirronen) play regularly, while 3 other freshmen (Bahe, Robertson, Cronin) have seen limited ice time as well. After 16 games and 3 months practicing together, Merrimack critics and supporters have high hopes of this team meshing together and finding its identity in the second half.

Dennehy seems to be confident they will. When asked about the inexperience of his roster, he nonchalantly replied, “when their number gets called and they’re in the lineup, they’re in the lineup. Freshman, sophomore, junior…I think most of our guys have a pretty good understanding of how we play.”

Home Sweet Home

Although Merrimack has only managed a 3-3-3 record at home this season, Lawler Arena is one of the toughest places for any opponent to play, and somewhere the Warriors typically dominate. The win/loss results haven’t been exactly what the doctor ordered, but after this weekend’s Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup to kick off the second half, Merrimack plays just as many home games as it does away. Better news? Five of those road games are against lackluster competition, with a weekend series at Maine, and games against Vermont, UMass, and Lowell.

Big Game in Big Games

One of the downfalls of an inexperienced team is “playing down” to opponents you should probably beat. This downfall turns into a perk, however, when playing a high-profile juggernaut. BC, anyone?

This Merrimack team absolutely plays up to its biggest opponents and enjoys making statements. The Warriors started this season by beating then-ranked #5 Union (now 13) on the road, later swept then #15 Northeastern in a home-and-home weekend series, lost a close battle to then #11 ranked BU (now #6), then went into the defending national champions’ house and took a 3-0 lead before eventually losing 4-3 to no. 1 ranked Boston College.

The Warriors will have plenty of chances to make statements in their final 20 games, as they take on #13 Union, #6 BU twice, #2 UNH three times, and #1 BC twice more at Lawler. In addition to their games against these ranked teams, they have 10 televised games on their slate (including 5 nationally televised broadcasts) and games against budding rival Providence and long-time school rival UMass Lowell.

Finally, after this weekend’s tournament in Vermont, every Merrimack game remaining is a Hockey East match-up and earns them points towards the postseason.

Are we really concerned about motivation for this team?

Goaltending, goaltending, goaltending

During the preseason, Dennehy decided nothing would be given to his team, including the title of “starting goaltender”. Therefore, he implemented a platoon between junior Sam Marotta and sophomore Rasmus Tirronen. When asked in early October about who would be the starter, Dennehy told us he wanted them both to “fight for the job” in order to “stay fresh and competitive.” I’ll be the first to admit I questioned his strategy, especially after watching Tirronen simply look over-matched in his first collegiate action against Northeastern on October 10th. However, after sticking religiously to his platoon, the strategy is not only working out, it’s one of the team’s biggest strengths.

Both goaltenders are sharp, rested and ready to play when called upon. They have nearly identical .914% (Tirronen) and .913% (Marotta) save percentages, and while neither have winning percentages above .500%, they’re both playing phenomenally. Think of Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez circa 2010 –  he won the Cy Young Award with just a 13-12 record on a losing team, but was clearly the most dominant pitcher out there. That’s the type of season Marotta and Tirronen are having for Merrimack, and as long as that play continues, good things will come.

Nothing for Granted

In what was described solely as a “team decision,” senior assistant captain Kyle Bigos was stripped of his A in early December. In a lackluster start to the season, Bigos leads the team in PIM, while coach Dennehy has noted at times he “needs to play smarter.” The move would seemingly be to light a fire under the team and remind them that nothing is given and everything is earned. Although Kyle is their banging, bruising, senior blue-liner, his sloppy play and decision making hasn’t been exemplary of an assistant captain and needed to be removed. On a team full of youth and inexperience, setting the tone is one of the most important things Dennehy can do to improve his team. Hopefully, this serves as a reminder: If Kyle can lose his A, you can lose your spot, too. Keep playing, and keep playing hard. That’s what Warrior Hockey is all about, right?

 

The Verdict: This will be a fun second-half for Merrimack.

Mark Dennehy liked the direction his team was headed after wrapping up their first half a few weeks ago.

“What I like about how we play? We’ve been attacking in the 3rd. We’re on the balls of our feet, we’re taking ice, we’re shrinking the rink…those are all positives for us. Goals are like results – you can’t control them, as much as we’d like to. But I like our effort and I like our attitude over the last 5 or 6 games.

Life is not instant gratification – you don’t just get rewarded for hard work right away and that’s what we have to know. You’ve got to put [our] efforts together on a consistent basis and then you’ll be rewarded.”

If the season ended today, they’d have to win two games against Boston University. However, They’re only in 6th place in Hockey East. Three points separate 4th through 7th place in the conference as well, so a home playoff series is definitely up for grabs and they could easily wind up with a favorable playoff matchup at home for the first round of the Hockey East Tournament.

If you’re a Merrimack fan, be sure to keep all extremities inside the vehicle at all times, and stay strapped in. We’re in for an exhilarating roller-coaster ride to March.

Why Kids Need TV

This is what happens when a 90s kid writes a paper at 3 am about the “dangers” of television

Oh, you think TV hurts kids? Please, tell me more about how wrong you are

Oh, you think TV hurts kids? Please, tell me more about how wrong you are

In a generation where technology reigns king and holds the human race hostage, you’d think one of the biggest technology mediums out there – television – would be perceived as a good thing. Apparently though, the mass

communication invention that changed family room blue prints forever is considered harmful for children. I have a 14-month-old cousin who knows how to use her mother’s iPhone better than I (an Android customer) do, and everyone considers her to be one of the smartest babies around. Why? Because she’s been exposed to technology and can do things at barely a year old that my grandfather, now 88, couldn’t figure out if his life depended on it. Sure, technology conceivably makes you lazy, but harmful? It just doesn’t make sense. What makes less sense, though, is what a life without TV would mean to kids today. During my freshman year of college, I met a friend who had grown up without TV. One night when parting ways after dinner, I said “TTFN! Ta ta for now!” and she looked at me like I had four heads and was speaking a foreign language. Maybe it’s just me, but if you didn’t know I was quoting Tigger there, well, you’re doing it wrong. And by “it” I mean “life.”

In his article On Media Violence, W. James Potter (1999) attempts to argue that television is, in fact, harmful to children. He cites several symptoms/outcomes/results of television exposure as the basis for his argument, mainly fear, desensitization, aggression, and identification. Well, Mr. Potter, you’re wrong. Here’s why:

This guy's just a deutsch

This guy’s just a deutsch

On aggression and desensitization, Potter writes “The more aggressive the person is, the more influence viewing of violence will have on that person’s subsequent aggressive behavior” (32) …does he see what he’s saying here? If you’re a naturally angry, aggressive person, watching something with anger or aggression is more likely to affect you. Someone please call NASA! It appears we have uncovered long lost truths of rocket science! Seriously, he’s contradicting himself here – it’s your personality that determines your aggressiveness, not what you watch on TV. Just because most women (and admittedly myself, too) will cry when they watch The Notebook every weekend on ABC Family because they’re (we’re?) hopelessly romantic, doesn’t mean that every disturbed little boy who watches Jersey Shore will grow up and punch Snooki in the face. Correlation does not imply causation, Mr. Potter.

A recent (2011) finding makes a similar argument to Potter’s, but instead aims to attack the cognitive harm television does to kids. In an experiment conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Lillard and Peterson found that watching just 9 minutes of the popular cartoon SpongeBob Squarepants caused “significant” strain on “the ability to think, plan, and focus”  in pre-schoolers so that “immediately afterwards, a child isn’t operating at full capacity.” This was also due in part to “too many oddities and unexpected twists” in the show.

This is why I have a problem with science – its narrow-mindedness blinds it from the truth. In their experiment, the other pre-schoolers that did not watch those 9 minutes of SpongeBob either colored for 9 minutes or watched a slower, quieter, more educational children’s cartoon, Caillou.

Now there’s no way these researchers could understand this, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but, SpongeBob is not harming the prefrontal cortex. Clearly they did not watch SpongeBob as a kid because anyone who did would know one thing: SpongeBob is and was totally freakin’ awesome.

Honestly, when you heard,

 “Are ya ready kids?”

“AYE AYE, CAPTAIN!”

“Ohhhhhh,”

Totally. Freakin. Awesome.

Totally. Freakin. Awesome.

you lost your flipping mind. It didn’t matter what you were doing – as soon as SpongeBob came on you stopped and watched. If you didn’t, you were that kid in school the next day who didn’t know what had happened. Watching SpongeBob wasn’t optional, and it was sometimes the best part of your day. The little yellow man who lives in a pineapple under the sea isn’t turning your kids into mush, it’s making them hyper. Try talking to a kid who just came back from recess or just finished watching their favorite TV show. It’s pointless. They’re kids who get overly excited over simple things. It doesn’t mean TV is bad, it means they’re kids. Can we move on?

Potter later discusses the issue of children developing fears from watching violent television programming. He argues that “exposure to violence in the media can lead to fear effects” which are “an emotional reaction [comprised] of anxiety and stress” (35). I can’t say I disagree with what Potter has to say here. Actually, I endorse it. When I was five, I begged my parents for months to let me watch Jurassic Park because I was obsessed with dinosaurs. For the majority of those months, they said no, knowing the movie would be a bit too old for me. Finally, after endless nagging, they gave in and allowed me to watch it. It scared the living hell out of me, so much so that I had terrible nightmares of being chased and eaten by dinosaurs. The next day, 5-year-old Pat gave the VHS back to my parents and asked them to hide it somewhere I would never find it so I couldn’t watch it anymore. I still have those nightmares to this day, fifteen years later. I also know that Velociraptors can open door handles and that if I ever encounter a wild Tyrannosaurus Rex I should stay still in hopes he can’t see me because running will just get me eaten. TV is harmful? More like life-saving.

W. James Potter is further concerned that “characters who are…perceived as similar to the viewer evoke viewer

True love

True love

empathy” so much so that when a character experiences pain or trauma, so too will the viewer. Once again, I agree with Potter’s assessment. When Cory and Topanga broke up, I felt the same agony that Cory did. I also realized at a young age that someday I was going to find a girl I absolutely could not live without and would love with all my heart and, when that day came, to never give up, never give in, and never, ever let her go. I identified with Cory Matthews as a kid and, now, at 20, want nothing more than to find the love of my life. Is that really that bad?

In The Dynamics of Mass Communication, Dominick explains that, simply, “all this means that under certain conditions TV will be an influential force in shaping what children think about certain topics”(434). Well, if I were a kid today, based on what I saw on TV over the last few months, I would assume that politicians are evil, liars, and solely out to make one another look bad and not help me. Guess what? I wouldn’t be wrong.

TV isn’t the enemy here.

Growing up, my absolute favorite TV show was Pokémon, a TV series based off the popular video game franchise. If you’ve never heard of Pokémon before, imagine going to the zoo while tripping acid, then trying to catch the zoo animals in a little ball, and finally forcing the animals to fight each other to the point of unconsciousness for money and fame, and you have Pokémon. Was it violent? Yes. Is my name Michael Vick? No. Do you see a problem here? Yeah, me neither.

 Saying television harms children is like saying wearing flip flops in the winter causes cancer. Is there research out there that supports the claim? Yup. Does it make the claim any less asinine? Not at all. Watching Pokemon and other programs on television didn’t mean I was going to grow up to be some psychotic serial killer, it meant I was a kid. If anyone can prove otherwise, I’ll be happy to listen.

But, until that point, TTFN: Ta ta for now.

Fight Club Fever Hits Merrimack

This article was originally published in the November 30th edition of The Beacon

fight club MC

 

An unusually high outbreak of fights on campus recently has people wondering if Merrimack students are taking the name “Warriors” a bit too seriously.

The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is you DO NOT talk about Fight Club. This, though, is something we have to talk about.

If anyone has gone out the last few weekends, especially the two before Thanksgiving, you know what I’m talking about:

Merrimack on the weekends, or Gotham prison break?

Merrimack on the weekends, or Gotham prison break?

Remember the scene from The Dark Knight Rises when all the prisoners are freed? That’s what the apartments looked like each night.

Merrimack Police Services officers were scattered throughout the campus, many looking as if they didn’t know what to do, or what they could do. Fights were breaking out around every corner, and the gathering students forming mobs of bystanders created perimeters of helplessness.

Those who “won” the fights before they were broken up were falsely identified as victors, while their fellow Merrimack student lay bleeding on the ground next to them.

I get it. This is college. Alcohol, hormones, and jealousy flow freely through the veins of most of the people out on a Saturday night. Inhibitions are lowered; feelings are more easily hurt. It doesn’t take much to have one of the best nights of your life, but it takes just as little to turn into one of the worst. Fights happen, sure, but not like this.

One night in particular saw five recorded fights, although many more occurred before anyone was able to respond. The combatants included athletes on the same team fighting one another, girl-on-girl fights, and guests on campus causing a ruckus. One of those fights involved a guest walking into a party with a foot-long knife.

A thought: When someone leaves your apartment with a foot long knife, you stop them. It doesn’t matter if it’s not your problem, not your guest or if you didn’t do it. If you didn’t stop it, you’re responsible for what happens.

And sorry, ladies, but if “your man” wants some other chick, punching her in the face isn’t going to do anything but hurt your hand.

Merrimack, what are we doing?

In a recent survey of Merrimack students, when asked where they currently go to college, 100 percent of them answered “Merrimack College” or “North Andover” – not “Gotham City” or “Arkham Asylum,” although maybe that’s where some of us belong.

We need a hero. Batman would be great actually; he’s the hero we need, not the one we deserve. Unfortunately though, as much as I’d love to see Batman outside J tower stopping the idiots ruining our Friday and Saturday nights, he’s not gliding onto campus anytime soon.

Batman can't save us, but we can save ourselves

Batman can’t save us, but we can save ourselves

The only heroes we have are ourselves. If we don’t stop this childish nonsense, no one will. And if it doesn’t change, the phenomenal weekend atmosphere we’ve grown to love at Merrimack will quickly disappear before we know what hit us.

This isn’t Fight Club and we don’t live in Gotham City, either. This is Merrimack College. That used to be something to be proud of.

 

It’s one thing to right a wrong, and even understandable to act passionately, without thinking, while intoxicated. However Scarecrow, Bane or the Joker are not who you’re fighting with. You’re swinging at your classmates, your teammates, your friends.

Remember that.