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The Vox Box

Archive for August 2008

It was a ‘Beautiful Day’…

For U2 fans, when 4 tracks from the band’s new album, No Line on the Horizon, were recorded and leaked onto YouTube.

Getty Images photo

The songs were leaked after Bono blasted them from his French villa and a passerby recognized Bono’s voice and recorded the songs on his cell phone, subsequently posting them to YouTube.

The songs are no longer up, after the band cited copyright infringement. The Spokesman-Review’s TXT blog’s take is here, and a New Zealand Herald story on the event is here.

Do you think it is copyright infringement if the music was being blasted loud enough for passerby to hear? Should Bono or the fan be blamed for the leak? Did anyone on here hear the songs before they got taken down?

McCain Taps Gov. Sarah Palin….

…as presidential running mate.

Sen. John McCain picked first-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate Friday, adding a little-known but reform-minded woman to his ticket. Introducing her today, he said she has “strong principles, a fighting spirit and deep compassion,” and praised her record of fighting corruption.

“She’s exactly what this country needs to help me fight…the same old Washington politics of me first and country second,” he told the raucous crowd at a rally in Dayton, Ohio.

The move is the most dramatic in a series of efforts to appeal to Hillary Clinton supporters still disappointed that she didn’t capture the Democratic nomination, and Gov. Palin made an overt appeal to them. She paid homage, first to Geraldine Ferraro, who ran on the Democratic ticket in 1984, and then to Sen. Clinton “who showed such determination and grace in her presidential campaign.”

Well played Mr. McCain. This seems, as the article pointed out, as little more than a very obvious attempt to pander to and collect the angry-and-stubborn-Clinton-supporter demographic who have decided so spitefully to drift over to Team McCain. Otherwise, what an insanely random choice.

How do you think this will effect the McCain campaign? The Obama campaign? Regardless of your political preference, are you happy or displeased with this choice?

Pink Hair Gets Girl Suspended From School

12 year old Amelia Robbins is a wonderful student and child. She also has pink hair. Well that pink hair got her suspended from her school in Mountain Grove, Missouri. Take a look:

Riches in Heaven?

Church officials accustomed to gathering dollar bills from their collection plates would be jealous of the True North Community Church, which just received a winning lottery ticket from one of its parishioners. The lucky churchgoer, whose ticket is worth approximately $3,000,000, specified only one condition with regard to his donation: that he remain anonymous. The congregation, which has outgrown its current church facilities, will use the money to purchase land and construct a new, larger building.

Video here, by the Associated Press.

Would you consider making a similar donation to your favorite organization? Do I remember correctly that the famous guy who was on Jeopardy a while ago donated his won millions to his church?

To Teach or Not to Teach?

The California Court of Appeals recently ruled that homeschooling parents in the state must be certified to teach their children. This motion was enstated to ensure that children, regardless of how they are educated, do not fall behind standards.

Agreeing with this ruling is Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers and a Los Angeles community college math teacher.

“All parents have a right to be involved in the education of their own children… Home-schoolers should be required to deliver quality instruction, and their efforts should not result in students falling behind. Parents who do decide to home-school their children take on a huge responsibility. We [the California Federation of Teachers] believe there should be standards for all teachers,” Hittelman said.

Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, disagrees with this ruling.

“The main reason states have moved toward home-school freedom is because research shows that home-schoolers on average score 20 to 30 percentile points above the national average on standardized achievement tests… These results have been achieved despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of these students are taught by parents who are not teacher certified,” Smith said.

The original article appeared in the Costco Connection. For more information, visit the Time, the American Home School Association, or the Wikipedia web sites.

Personally, I think there should be standards for home-schoolers, but I think it should be up to the parents as to whether or they are certified. Parents do know what’s best for their kids, but a little certification never hurt anyone.

Which side do you support? Should home-schoolers be required to take state-wide achievement tests? Who delivers the best education: certified or non-certified teachers? Should Washington follow in California’s footsteps?

Olympic-sized photo scandal…

(one of the few photo scandals having nothing to do with hollywood)

More Olympics controversy - this time it’s on the basketball court.

The Spanish men’s Olympic basketball team has stirred up some emotions based on a recent photo of the team “using their index fingers as if to slant their eyes.”

Many Asian rights groups have taken offence to the action, deeming it “disturbing” and “divisive.”

Jose Manuel Calderon, member of the Spanish basketball team and blogger on his official website said the incident was “something appropriate…and loving,” blaming the European media for the racial distortion of the picture.


Was it an ‘ok’ jesture to make when heading to Bejing? Do you think the location of the Olympics had anything to do with the severity of the situation?

Olympic Spirit, Anyone?

Photo via Getty Images

A Cuban athlete, Angel Matos, is facing the possibility of a lifetime ban from the Olympics after kicking a referee in the face. The athlete became angry after he was disqualified for taking too much injury time, despite being ahead 3-2 in his taekwondo match. According to this article by Pat Imig, “Matos angrily questioned the call, pushed a judge, then pushed and kicked referee Chakir Chelbat of Sweden. Matos then spat on the floor and was escorted out.” Matos’ coach may also be banned.

Kicking officials is obviously out of the question, but is it alright to demonstrate negative emotion at the Olympics if you think you’ve been cheated?

A Lower Drinking Age

You would think college presidents wouldn’t ever be for lowering the drinking age. However, multiple prestigious university presidents have asked lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age to 18, saying that the higher drinking age encourages binge drinking on their campuses.

ABC News Photo
The move has prompted Mothers Against Drunk Driving to question the colleges involved about their enforcement of the current law.

The full Washington Post story is here.

Do you think the drinking age should be lowered?

War on Women

Unlike some of my posts, this post is not meant to be clever, entertaining or even a debate starter. This post is meant to inform you of something that I feel should be more known. Call me ignorant but I had never before heard of this war until tonight when I first watched it on 60 Minutes. The video is below and I highly suggest that you watch it in full but it is 12 minutes long… For those of you too busy to sit for 12 mintues and watch, here is a very basic and unemotional break down of the story (skip it if you watch the video):

     Basically, there is currently a war taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is a war in which more people have      died than in Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur combined. However, it is not the deaths that makes this war so alarming. It is      instead the fact that women are usually the targets of this war and that the main way that these soldiers destroy the lives of      these women, their families and their communities is through rape.

Watch CBS Videos Online

I don’t have a question or conversation starter for this one. I just want to know what you all think.

He Did It!!

Michael Phelps achieved his goal of eight medals at one Olympics last night after the Americans won the 4x100m medley. Phelps also set an Olympic record for fastest butterfly split in the history of the 4x100m medley.

AP Photo
In the story by Alan Abrahamson on the NBCOlympics site, here, Phelps says about his goals for the 2008 Olympics “It all happened here this week”.

My questions for this aren’t great, I really just put it up because it’s a historical moment.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you look up to Phelps?

Spa Days Going to the Birds

Want to be on the cutting edge of beauty? Apparently, all it takes is a little bird poo. Yes, Shizuka Bernstein uses the waste products of our feathered friends in her “Geisha Facial.”

When I was 12 or 13 years old, she had told me that in 18th Century Japan, the Geisha, who were known for their beauty and their porcelain skin, needed something to remove all the heavy make-up they wore… the make-up contained lead, which was very damaging to their skin,” she continued. “So they tried everything to take it off and nothing worked. And then they tried the nightingale droppings and it not only worked, but it left their skin smooth.

Naturally, this is clean poo we’re dealing with, having been run through a similar UV process as many produce items.

See the rest of this incredibly bizzare story here.

So there you have it - the long-sought key to beauty is irradiated bird excrement. (On what other blog can you get such helpful information?)

Anyone up to trying this one? (Extra points if you also put in those big-eyed contacts from a previous post.)

Job Shadowing

Tomorrow, I’ll be job shadowing a Microsoft employee. It’s going to be a great opportunity. I have done a little bit of research on job shadowing, and there is lots about it online.

Students, recent graduates and even adults can job shadow. The Yahoo hotjobs website has a page about job shadowing, here.

Multiple places of employment offer job shadow programs for teens, including Valley Medical Center,and the Attorney General’s office.

Have you ever job shadowed? Would you consider it if it weren’t required for school? Who would you like to shadow? Do you think it would be beneficial to you?

It’s like that rhyme…

Spain’s Olympic basketball team team is in deep water today for a publicity stunt of them using thier fingers to make their eyes look more Chinese.

AP Photograph
According to the Boston Globe, in an AP story, found here, the stunt was pulled for Seur, the sponsor of the team.

Pau Gasol, the team’s center, says “It was something like supposed to be funny or something but never offensive in any way…I’m sorry if anybody thought or took it the wrong way and thought that it was offensive.”

Jose Calderon, the team point guard, says the action was meant to be an “affectionate gesture” and the team only did it at the request of a photographer.

The OCA, an organization representing Asian-Pacific Americans, said it found the photo disturbing. “It is unfortunate that this type of imagery would rear it’s head at a time that is supposed to be about world unity,” said George Wu, the group’s deputy director.

Do you think the photo was racist, or affectionate? What do you think should happen to the team? Should the Olympic Committe intervene?

Suspicions mount over chinese gymnasts’ ages

If you’ve been following the Olympics, you’ve probably heard all the controversy over whether or not the girls on China’s gymnastics team are under the minimum age of 16.

NYT Article:

BEIJING — The teeny-tiny women on China’s Olympic gymnastics team will don their teeny-tiny leotards Sunday to perform big gymnastics in the women’s qualification at the Beijing Games.

Bela Karolyi, the former coach of gymnastics stars like Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton, said their size should raise a red flag.

The smallest of the six competitors is Deng Linlin, 4 feet 6 inches and 68 pounds. The team’s average size is 4-9 and 77 pounds. That is 3 ½ shorter and nearly 30 pounds lighter than the average for the United States team. Shawn Johnson, a favorite in the all-around, is the only American gymnast both shorter than 5 feet (4-9) and lighter than 100 pounds (90).

The ages of the Chinese gymnasts have been a topic of conversation for months, but it has reached a fever pitch here. To compete in Beijing, the gymnasts must turn 16 in this Olympic year.

Recent reports, including one by The New York Times, said that three of the six members of the Chinese team might be younger than the minimum age of 16. Several Chinese sports registries showed that He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Yang Yilin did not meet that age requirement.

Chinese authorities have produced passports to prove those gymnasts are old enough to compete. The international gymnastics federation, known as the F.I.G., issued a statement Saturday, saying International Olympic Committee officials agreed.

Article. NYT Photo

Those of you who have watched them compete, what do you think - do the girls look underage? Is China blatantly lying to the IOC? Some people have said it’s a pointless issue, and that the minimum age should be abolished altogether - do you think so?

Thinking green for back to school?

As a part of J-camp’s adventure this week, they are creating a package of stories to be published in the S-R the 25th. This week’s theme is “Going back to school… Green.”

QUESTION: We need kids who are willing to be interviewed and talk about their school’s recycling programs, (or lack of recycling programs.) If you are willing, email Erin and we’ll go from there. (No Vox staffers, please!)

Olympic Singing Girl Was Lip-Synching

As I watched the opening ceremonies, I thought I saw the little girl lip-synching, but then dismissed it as being too cynical. Well, turns out my suspicions were correct.

From CNN:

Games organizers confirm that Lin Miaoke, who performed “Ode to the Motherland” as China’s flag was paraded Friday into Beijing’s National Stadium, was not singing at all.

Lin was lip-syncing to the sound of another girl, 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, who was heard but not seen, apparently because she was deemed not cute enough.

…The decision was made at the highest levels.

As big and powerful as China seems to be, does this show that it is insecure about its outward appearance?

Dear God… Fair Warning to all…

I just sent a small army of 6th graders into the city to complete an “On the Street” for our story package. I apologize in advance to any of you who are questioned. ;)

Voices reporter Lisa Leinberger gave them some tips.

“Any questions?” she asked.

Isaac: “Can I tell people I’m Steve Smith?”


The J-camp plan…

Ok, here is the story package: Going back to school—Green.

That is, we are all headed back to school soon. Our story package will be all about doing so while keeping that ol’ carbon footprint in mind.

QUESTION: Is this something you think about when preparing to head back to class? Do you ever think about how much energy/etc your school wastes?

AIDS Prevention…. Is Actually Working

The American AIDS epidemic is no longer on the rise; the number of new cases each year since 1998 has dwindled slightly on the CDC’s records, suggesting AIDS prevention is actually starting to work.

The lower number of cases means a person’s chances of transmitting the virus to someone else is significantly lower than a decade ago.

New evidence that AIDS prevention is affecting Americans with the disease is in the update on the American AIDS epidemic released August 2nd by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

David R. Holtgrave, an expert on AIDS prevention at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Josh Hopkins University says at the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, “Over 95 percent of people living with HIV are not transmitting to someone else in a given year… What that says is the transmission rate has been kept very low by prevention efforts.”

Watch EVERY Olympic Sport Live Online

Even been disappointed that certain Olympic sports are not televised? Well, has rolled out a live video system that allows you to watch events live. Just look on the left sidebar - any sport with a “Live” marking next to it can be viewed - just click the link and install the plugin when prompted. Now, I think I’ll go back to enjoying some hardcore badminton action.

Anime Contact Lenses - Creepy or Beautiful?

Beauty literally is in the eye of the beholden with new contacts meant to replicate wide-eyed anime characters.


Anyone who’s seen Japanese comics, cartoon videos or anime art is instantly struck by the common look of the girls - big eyes that, by making the rest of the face look small, add the cuteness and sex appeal prized by many Japanese men. Since no amount of cosmetic surgery will make actual human eyes larger, some girls are trying another way to up their cute quotient: extra-wide contact lenses!

These are no ordinary contacts - they’re not only tinted, but tinted prominently in the extra-wide outer ring. The result is the appearance of a bigger, wider iris.

Full story here.

So, do we like these or not?

Live Blogging: Chinese Olympics Opening Ceremonies

I knew this would be amazing, but the skill of the performers and the epic scale of everything is hard to imagine.

So far, 2008 drummers have introduced the proceedings, and dancers have painted a giant landscape with their bodies. Add to that the display of the country’s maritime history on one of the world’s largest LCD screens. Oh, and wave goodbye to half the world’s stockpile of fireworks. And we’re just getting started!

Big boy fired from Big Boy’s restaurant

Charles Compton stands in front of local Big Boys Restaurant. Photo courtesy of KPSP Local 2 News

At 349 pounds, Charles Compton knows that he is a big guy. He just never expected to be fired for it.

According to the story, Compton was given his uniform shortly after he was hired for the job. It included a hat and a 2x sized shirt.

Knowing that he wears an extra, extra, extra, extra, extra large shirt size, he told his manager that he didn’t think the shirt would fit.

“When I went in there and told them the shirt didn’t fit, they said we can’t employ you if the shirt doesn’t fit that’s the biggest we have,” says Compton.

Compton had even quit his previous job to take this one and is now unemployed. However, after the story aired in Lexington, Kentucky, the Big Boy’s did call Compton to offer him his job back. He declined.

Do you think that a business should be able to turn an employee away for being too large? What if it were for a different business that had more of a correlation with weight? Was Compton right in not reaccepting the job?

Report: Edwards Admits Affair

John Edwards, a former contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, admitted today that he was involved in an affair during his wife’s battle with cancer. Edwards denies having fathered the child of his would-be lover, 42-year old Rielle Hunter, but admitted to meeting Hunter in a hotel immediately following the child’s birth.

It was this meeting that provoked The National Enquirer to publish a second report declaring Edwards’ affair; the Enquirer first reported on the story in October of last year. Edwards’ admission today comes after months of public denial. According to David Bonoir, Edwards’ former 2008 campaign manager, Edwards has “betrayed” his supporters.

This story’s impact on Edwards’ political future is as-yet uncertain, but according to Bonoir, “You can’t lie in politics and expect to have people’s confidence”.

More on this story here.

A few months ago, this man could have become the potential successor to George W. Bush. Is this latest scandal an indication that politicians are becoming more, not less, likely to betray the public’s trust?

“Cut The Plastic”

I’m not exactly what you’d call a “Tree Hugger” nor am I all about “Save the Planet” or “Save the Animals” - that kind of stuff, but I think this video deserves some attention.

Question: Are people overreacting or are plastic bags a real hazard to the environment? What do you think? Is eliminating plastic bags a good idea? Would you be willing to use (or do you already use) “cloth bags” as they call them? If you use plastic bags, do you feel bad when you do so?

Silverwood’s New Coaster Gives Passengers Real ‘Shock’

Passengers aboard Silverwood’s newest roller coaster, the Aftershock, were given more than they asked for Wednesday night.

Athol, Idaho, held its breath as the amusement park’s newest attraction stopped in midair with an estimated 32 riders. Silverwood’s marketing director later explained that a sensor had failed as the ride travelled up to the second tower, activating an “automatic safety fail safe” to stop the ride. Maintenance personnel were able to bring the ride safely back down to the loading dock five to ten minutes later.

The ride was closed and tested. No more problems arose; the ride will be ready for more thrilled visitors Thursday morning. To learn more, click here.

Could this incident possibly be the result of its recent change in location? The 191-foot steel roller coaster was recently bought from Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, and moved to northern Idaho.

Would you ride this roller coaster after its “incident”? What kinds of precautions should be taken? Does its recent move have anything to do with this malfunction? How big of a deal is this issue?

Photo courtesy of

Paris for President?

Paris Hilton has recently released a new campaign ad of her own. WARNING: She does use mildly bad language. Take a look.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Her “ad” is a response to a recent John McCain ad which compared Barack Obama to other celebrities. You can watch this ad in the extended entry if you have not already seen it.

What do you think should be done about our current energy crisis? Do you think McCain’s ad was effective in conveying its point? Does Paris’ new “ad” hurt either candidate or is it just plain silly?

Want a Fuel-Efficient Car? Get a Twin-Turbo BMW.

We seem to like kicking around ways to help ease fuel shortages, so try this on for size. BMW has teamed up with tuning legend Alpina to create the D3 Bi-Turbo Coupe.

From Alpina’s press release:

ALPINA engineers have taken BMW’s state-of-the-art twin turbo diesel engine from the 123d and increased power to 214hp.

…The car is capable of 152mph and 0-62mph in 6.9 secs and yet the official fuel consumption and emission figures tell a very different story: 52.3 [imperial]mpg combined].

52 imperial mpg comes out to 43 US mpg (three less than the Prius’ 46). Take that ugly, slow Toyota.

Here It Comes!

We’ve heard about it for years- the Beijing Olympics. The trials, and the victories, the athletes and the officials. But now that it’s finally here, has China really pulled it off?

Wang Changshan/Xinhua Photo, on official Olympic Games website
US Flag Raising Ceremony in Olympic Village

It looks like it. After the algae filled sailing sea, AP story here, and the possible boycotts of the opening ceremonies by world officials, China had a big task on it’s hand.

However, with 3 days left until the US sees the opening ceremonies, this event may actually be a well-executed reality. The official Olympics website, here, is filled with factoids and stories about China’s successes.

Was there ever a time you thought there was no way China could do it? Are you going to watch the Olympics? Do you congratulate China, or do you think they don’t deserve it with their record of human rights violations?

Home Built By ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” In Trouble

A home in Lake City, Georgia is in Foreclosure. Not just any home. A home built by ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover’ crew. The story was written by Dawn Wotapka of The Wall Street Journal.

The Harper Family were the lucky recipients of this “gift house.” The original problem that brought ABC to their doorstep was a faulty sewage system that leaked into their house when it rained. The episode was aired back in January 2005.

The home was going to be foreclosed and auctioned off at the Clayton County Courthouse Today, August 5th, because the family used the home as a collateral for a $450,000 loan to finance a construction company that in the end never really took off, leaving them with a BIG debt in their laps. An email to the Atlanta Journal Constitution from ABC included this quote “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” advises each family to consult a financial planner after they receive their new home. Ultimately, financial matters are personal and we work to respect the privacy of the families.” Obviously, the Harpers didn’t take the advice.

An update from the Wall Street Journal, however, states that the homeowners are working with the Chase Mortgage Loans Company to form a repayment plan that will allow them to keep the home and pay off the loan.

What do you think? Did this family “abuse” what they were given? Do they deserve to keep the home? What would you do if you received such a grand gift?

145 deaths at India temple stampede

It sounds like a nightmare to pilgrims in Northern India on Shraven Navratras, a 9-day festival that honors the Hindu goddess Shakti, when they hear that 145 people, 30 of them children and 38 women, died on the path to a Himalayan hill shrine.

Dead pilgrims were left lying along the 2-mile muddy road wearing festive clothing, witnesses report, after most of them suffocated after a rumor of a landslide sent crowds racing down the hill and colliding with travelers journeying up to worship at the temple.

There are reports that a railing at the shrine broke and collapsed beneath the burden of the crowd, and launched many of the stampedes down steep, narrow stairs.

AromatherHAPPY: The Nose Sure Knows

Scientists recently discovered that smelling pastries boosts your mood. Who knew?

According to an article from by Anne Underwood, “Agreeable scents can summon the better angels of our nature. Psychologist Robert Baron tested people in fragrant locations like Cinnabon and the Coffee Beanery and found they were significantly more likely to help a stranger who ‘accidentally’ dropped a pen or asked for change.”

What do you think? Do you agree with this science? How might research like this be helpful to people?

Photo courtesy of THE DOG Artlist Collection.

J.K. Rowling’s Bittersweet Goodbye

With the publication of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” December 4, J.K. Rowling will say her final farewell to the world her imagination created 17 years ago.

Her newest book is a collection of five wizarding stories mentioned throughout the seven Harry Potter books, which collectively have sold over 400 million copies worldwide.

But there is something else truly magical about this book. The Children’s High Level Group charity, which Rowling co-founded to support institutionalized children, will receive all of the profit (an estimated $8 million) from the sales. In fact, J.K. has signed over her royalties already.

“The Tales of Beedle the Bard” will include commentaries from Albus Dumbledore as well as J.K. Rowling’s very own illustrations and introduction.

Check it out when it hits shelves December 4!

First Double Arm Transplant Takes Place in Germany

(Image courtesy of CNN and some really awesome German doctors)

I’ve always maintained that the Germans are often a step ahead when it comes to ingenuity. Further proof comes from a CNN report of doctors from Munich giving a man two new arms after a farming accident.

The patient is reportedly doing well so far, but the process was not easy.

“A team of 40 people participated in the transplant surgery, conducted July 25 and 26. The donor matched the host in sex, age, skin color, size and blood group.”

Click here for the full story.

Hopefully, the man will be exercising his right to bear arms again soon.

The Tomatoes, They’re Innocent!

Since the massive and well-known salmonella outbreak in April, 1,294 illnesses of the kind have been reported in 44 different states.

The alarming truth was watching the Food & Drug Administration searching for the source and not finding a clue, until earlier this month.

Serrano jalapeno peppers from Mexico have been identified as the source of the salmonella, instead of tomatoes, as strange as that seems.

The FDA said some types of jalapenos, and jalapenos growing in the US are safe, as well as commercially canned, pickled, and cooked jalapenos from all locations.

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About this blog

In 2006, then-editor Steve Smith of The Spokesman-Review had the idea of starting a publication for an often forgotten audience: teenagers. The Vox Box was a continuation of the Vox, an all-student staffed newspaper published by The Spokesman-Review. High school student journalists who staffed the Vox made all content decisions as they learn about the trade of journalism. This blog's mission was to give students an opportunity to publish their voices. The Vox Box and the Vox wrapped up in June 2009, but you can follow former staffers' new blog at

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