Analyzing Recent Trending Topics on Twitter

Twitter is where most people (myself included) in today’s society get their daily news from. Trends, top stories, #hashtags, tweets, you name it—that’s how people get their information. Rather than going to a source more well known for their stories on world problems or controversies, people are taking to Twitter to read more nonsense than actual news. I’ve decided to take a week and watch which trends would be weekly/daily/hourly topics of discussion and share my thoughts and opinions of the day before and after I read some of the tweets. I got the inspiration Thursday night, and this is how the week played out:

09/19/13

#owlcity 7:00 p.m.

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Initial thought: OwlCity? They were irrelevant a week after Fireflies came out. This isn’t news.

After reading: Still irrelevant, but why is/are he/they talking about his/their favorite toppings on tacos? Plus, they came out with a song with Carly Rae Jepsen last year, so why are people still talking about it? Although I never listened to it, I’m still a fan of Carly Rae Jepsen. #CallMeMaybe?

#Eagles 8:45 p.m.

Initial thought: Chip Kelly’s offense was looking pretty sweet, and were one of the most highly anticipated teams to watch this year, next to the Broncos of course.

After reading: You would think this would be sports news, right? Wrong, not even a mention of the score; it’s just people tweeting “let’s go #eagles” and attaching pictures of their McNabb jerseys…

#KCvsPHI around the same time

Initial thought: Philly is probably winning by a lot based on last season. (I don’t watch football.)

After reading: 10-6 Chiefs? The people saying that Chip Kelly is an idiot and it’s not college football are the same ones during Week 1 who said how sick his offense was going to be this year. Can you say hypocrites?

#HowToAskSomeoneOnADate 11:30 p.m.

Initial thought: Just an example of one of the many ridiculous hashtags people use to “entertain” themselves. Regrettably, I used this hashtag, but quickly deleted it because no one favorited it.

After reading: Mostly just pictures that are somewhat funny.

9/20/13

#1Dfansgotthatpower 7:30 a.m.

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Initial thought: One Direction has a huge amount of fans, so it’s no surprise that a 1D type of hashtag is trending. What kind of hashtag is this though? Is it a mix of 1D and will.i.am’s song #thatPOWER? I just don’t get it.

After reading: Not news. My understanding is that Liam just used this hashtag because his “gang” has more followers than their bitter rivals the Beliebers? Okay maybe Liam is mocking Justin Bieber, but some people just go way too far sometimes.

#1DAnyTimeOfDayMemories 9:00am

Initial thought: I like the Best Song Ever and everything, but really? Another One Direction hashtag? This isn’t what I would consider “news.”

After reading: This is ridiculous. The hashtag could have just been “#1DMemories” for starters, but this is getting out of hand. Why are people reminiscing on what it was like before Harry had tattoos, when the Best Song Ever video came out, their first picture as a group, and them hugging at the VMAs? One Direction fans need to stop tweeting while they’re in school.

#BlackBerry 3:30 p.m.

Initial thought: Did BlackBerry send an update for their products or something to compete with Apple’s release of the iOS7?

After reading: 4,500 job cuts from the company?!?!? That’s nearly 40% of its global workforce! BlackBerry expects an estimated $1 billion loss in quarter two. I’m no expert on stocks, but I suggest selling your shares.

#AJO not a trending topic (yet), 5:45 p.m.

Initial thought: Everybody is tweeting about Alyssa O’Neill in the area and many people around the world are tweeting pictures of them “Paying it Forward” with a Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s amazing how much one person can change the world and raise an awareness such as Alyssa is doing for epilepsy awareness.

After reading: Wow. Alyssa’s story is going to be on the Ellen Show hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. It is truly unbelievable how much of a difference she has made.

Christmas 8:30 p.m.

Initial thought: Really? This is trending? I LOVE Christmas, but it’s 90-some days away guys.

After reading: Nothing newsworthy. Just as I expected, people are counting down the days until Christmas and talking about how much they love Christmas music.

An A-Bomb 9:35 p.m.

Initial thought: As a Yankees fan, I love seeing this. Alex Rodriguez probably smashed one out of the park.

After reading: Not only did he smash it, he hit a grand slam to pass Lou Gehrig for the most grand slams of all time! People can hate him all they want, but there is no denying he is one of the best baseball players of all time. Pretty exciting for a struggling Yankees team.

9/21/13

Anything related to college football, all day

Initial thought: I hardly watch football, but college is better than the NFL in many people’s opinions. Also, MSU thanks for not putting Damion in. #GoBlue

After reading: Twitter is run by college football fans. It just goes to show that people would rather watch and tweet about football than read a depressing article about a world problem.

Sweet Caroline 4:30 p.m.

Initial thought: Classic. Everyone knows the words to Neil Diamond’s hit song. I wonder why it’s trending though.

After reading: Another college football reference. After being banned from Penn State following the Jerry Sandusky scandal, it was played for the first time at Beaver Stadium.

#Kenya 8:00 p.m.

Initial thought: Honestly, I have no idea what this could be about.

After reading: 39 people killed after the terrorist group Somali Al-Qaeda affiliate Al Shabaab hijacked a Nairobi mall. It’s speculated that four U.S. citizens were injured in the attack. Here’s more from Kenya via BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-24191606

#10ThingsILove 9:40 p.m.

Initial thought: “I love lamp.” But seriously, it’s just another pointless hashtag people are using.

After reading: My initial thought exactly. Just a bunch of people tweeting 10 things they love.

9/22/13

Anything NFL related, all day

Initial thought: When does the NHL season start?

After reading: When does the NHL season start?

#boldpredictions 10:40 a.m.

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Initial thought: This hashtag is definitely about bold predictions for today’s NFL action.

After reading: Why am I so good at predicting what hashtags are about?

9/23/13

iPhones 9:00 a.m.

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Initial thought: Thank God for Steve Jobs. I wouldn’t be able to check Twitter on an hourly basis if it wasn’t for my iPhone. With the release of two new phones recently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a big headline about them.

After reading: Apple sold more than 9 million iPhones this weekend. That’s crazy. It’s hard to wrap your head around, so here’s a little perspective.

#ManCrushMonday, All day

Initial thought: At first I was reluctant to write about this hashtag, but seeing it has been trending all day I said why not. For those unfamiliar with Twitter, every Monday this trend happens and mostly girls just tweet pictures of their celebrity “man crush”.

After reading: Why do people waste their time with this hashtag? It’s usually the same celebrities and pictures every week. I have a little resentment because no one has ever tagged me in one of their tweets with this hashtag so let’s get on with something somewhat important.

#DWTS 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Initial thought: I love Dancing With The Stars, and it’s up there as one of my favorite TV shows. You can expect a season finale article from me in the future. I’m not surprised this hashtag is trending considering all shows nowadays have their hashtag in the bottom left corner of the TV.

After reading: Honestly, I didn’t read anything, but I did live tweet myself. I was kind of sad when none of my tweets made it onto the show.

9/24/13

#ThingsIGetALot 11:20 p.m.

Initial thought: Things I get a lot: “Hey, are you and Jake brothers?” “Are you guys twins?” My reaction: “No we’re just really good friends that do everything together…” But what I really say is “Yes haha

After reading: Not news. Just people saying what questions they get a lot. Very pointless.

9/25/13

Darth Vader 8:55 a.m.

Initial thought: Darth Vader used to scare me as a kid. Idon’t know why episodes four, five and six came out before one, two, and three, so I never understood Star Wars, I just liked the action.

After reading: Senator Ted Cruz apparently did a Darth Vader impersonation during his “filibuster” to keep the Senate from restoring the funding of Obamacare. I think taking almost 22 hours and him saying, “until I am no longer able to stand”, for what he believes in is a pretty cool thing. Consider this, Sen. Cruz is 42 and stayed standing for almost a day, while kids in school complain about having to stand for more than five minutes. He also kept it pretty light the entire night with some things I thought were kind of funny (such as reading Green Eggs and Ham while on the Senate floor), and in my opinion did one of the worst Darth Vader impersonations I have ever heard, but it got the point across. Check out his Vader voice:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/t/video/ted-cruz-obamacare-filibuster-senate-speech-2013-darth-20372524

#wcw, All day

Initial thought: The cousin of #mancrushmonday, another one of the weekly hashtags of guys tweeting pictures of their “woman crush” on Wednesday.

After reading: Same thoughts as the “man crush Monday” hashtag.

As you can see a very high percentage of trending topics are unrelated to news, and instead are things that are used to entertain the Twitter users. Even though there is a large amount of nonsense cluttering social media, people are referring to it for news rather than watching a news station. We should be careful of what we believe on Twitter, since much of it can be fictional information that people use to play jokes on one another.




Meet Prep’s new weatherman, James Kolakowski

As last school year ended, Prep’s morning news was left with two spots on the air open. Jimmy Bufalino and Nick Burch, two staples of the morning news graduated and moved on to college. As the new school year began, there are two new faces to fill the void on the news, Sean Taylor and James Kolakowski. Sean, a senior, has taken over as an anchor along with Avery Mooney and Sakhari Thomas.

Junior James Kolakowski gives Prep students their weather each morning.

Junior James Kolakowski gives Prep students their weather each morning.

James, a junior, has been on the news in the past, from being an anchor to doing the “Fact of the Day” segment. But this year James is taking on a new challenge as he aims to fill the shoes of Nick Burch as a weatherman. I caught up with James to ask him about his new position and the future of the weather on the Prep news.

Q: Have you always been interested in the weather?
A: Yes, ever since I was little. I grew up watching The Weather Channel, and my interest grew from there.

Q: Why did you decide to be the weatherman?
A: I have always been interested in weather since I was little. When Nick Burch graduated from Prep, I found out there would be an opening for the weatherman, and I lucked out!

Q: Would you like to be a weatherman when you’re older?
A: Sure. Meteorology is definitely a possible career for me.

Q: What are some important things to keep in mind when you’re a weatherman?
A: Look at the monitor to make sure you are pointing to what you are talking about and speak slowly and clearly. Make sure to get everything including the graphics and the camera ready before the broadcast starts and keep the broadcast to a maximum length of 1 minute and 30 seconds.

Q: Do you have any plans for the weather segment this year?
A: I want to include the “Friday Football Forecast” every Friday before a game.

Q: If you could add something to the weather segment, what would you add?
A: I’d like to explain the highest and lowest temperatures recorded in Erie for that day in history.

James has already done well on the weather this year. With his new ideas the weather segment seems to be looking up. Exciting new changes look to be on the way as well, and if new features like the football forecast are added, the weather on the morning news may become something students look forward to seeing each day.




Prep Hockey 2013-14 Preview

Hockey is a long and grueling season filled with a lot of ups and downs. Last year, the Ramblers’ season had a lot of positives to look back on, including a winning season and beating McDowell 12-0 in Pink the Rink.

Pink the Rink starts at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 27 at Erie Insurance Arena.

Pink the Rink starts at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 27 at Erie Insurance Arena.

Unfortunately, the hockey team had a disappointing first round playoff exit. After only losing two seniors from last season, this year’s team features a group of veterans in the senior and junior class that is hoping to prove themselves and will be searching for revenge.

Look for big headlines coming out of the Rambler hockey team this upcoming season. Prep picked up a few new players as well as bringing back some key returnees. The group of kids this year are very special and each brings something of their own to the team.

Austin Braendel, sophomore
Pro Comparison: Pavel Datsyuk
New kid on the block Braendel will be a machine on all parts of the ice after coming from Pens Elite.

John Colvin, senior
Pro Comparison: John Tavares
Another new face on the team, “Johnny Hockey” will be a key addition to the team’s scoring depth.

Eliason focusing on the puck

Eliason focusing on the puck

Ben Eliason, junior
Pro Comparison: Tyler Seguin
Benny the Jet will take off flying after an impressive sophomore season. Expect to see him on the front page a couple of times this season.

Hunter Emerson, junior
Pro Comparison: Claude Giroux
A transfer from Harborcreek as an Open Division All-Star, watch Hunter continue his success in AA.

Trent Faulkner, sophomore
Pro Comparison: Jonathan Quick
Returning goalie Faulkner will be the backstop and brick wall between the pipes.

Trevor Faulkner, junior
Pro Comparison: Matt Duchene
He missed two months of hockey last season. As long as he stays out of the box Faulkner could be a big contributor this season.

Nick Findley, senior
Pro Comparison: Mike Green
A transfer from Meadville last season, look for him to score from the point with that slapshot of his.

Brandon Gotkin stares down the opponent.

Brandon Gotkin stares down the opponent.

Brandon Gotkin, senior
Pro Comparison: Anze Kopitar mixed with Steven Stamkos
The “Man with Many Nicknames”, Brandon Gotkin is the returning assistant captain. He will score his fair share of goals this season with the hardest shot in the league.

Jack Kelly, junior
Pro Comparison: Kris Letang
After switching to defense halfway through last season, the Bobby Orr of the team will lead the rush and score plenty of goals, even as a defenseman.

Joe Kelly, sophomore
Pro Comparison: Evgeni Malkin
He’s the younger brother of Jack Kelly. Don’t be surprised if Joe gets the nod for the All-Star game this year after a spectacular rookie season.

Jacob Ordos, senior
Pro Comparison: Patrice Bergeron
He’s a golfer, but today he’s playing hockey. The grinder of the team will help get some energy going in close situations on the ice. Look for Ordos to make plays happen by working hard.

Jeremiah Ordos, senior
Pro Comparison: Patrick Kane
Jeremiah and his twin brother work magic on the ice together, expect some pretty passes and some nice finishes by them this season.

Anthony Piglowski, senior
Pro Comparison: Dustin Byfuglien
Piglowski loves to hit his teammates in practice, so expect the same against other teams.

Dana Stewart, junior
Pro Comparison: Deryk Engelland
As a JV move-up again this season, Stewart will see his fair share of ice time on the varsity team much like last season.

Tanner White, sophomore
Pro Comparison: Bryan Campbell
Also coming off a rookie season as a freshman, Tanner should be more mature and experienced, which could lead to more ice time as a sophomore.

With this much depth on the team, don’t be surprised to see the Ramblers make a deep playoff run in the 2013-14 season. This group of kids could be compared to the 2012 group that made it to the Pens Cup and fell just short of winning it all. With high expectations, we can only wait to see how the hockey team performs this year.




Dead Rock Star of the Week: Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain was a Neil Young fan. This is evident not just in his music itself, though Cobain’s predilection for pushing pretty, catchy pop melodies through hellacious amounts of guitar distortion is ripped straight from Shakey’s playbook.

No, the truest and most blatant connection between the Crown Prince of grunge, and its Godfather, is Cobain’s almost perfect embodiment of that most salient and Romanticized Young line, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” It’s one of the all-time great rock lines, one that sums everything essential and dangerous about rock music and encapsulates that most classic of pop struggles, the desire to be immortal balanced with the fear of lost relevancy.

Cobain straddled that divide better then anyone. He was openly contemptuous of his fame and his fans and absolutely acidic towards those who would have him as the voice of his generation. He was deeply troubled and suffered from both depression and crippling stomach pain. He was prone to absolutely toxic relationships and consistently addicted to something or other. Despite it all, this dorky, skinny, greasy-haired geek from Seattle was able to compose anthem after decade defining anthem, songs that really did speak to a generation of disenfranchised kids looking for someone or something to tell them what was cool.

And just like any good legend, on the precipice of his prime, at what we could assume was just the start of what would be a game-changing career, Cobain punched his own clock. On April 4, 1994, Cobain took enough heroin to kill himself twice over, and when it didn’t do the job as quickly as he’d preferred he put his Remington Model 11 in his mouth and pulled the trigger. An air conditioner repairman found him the next day.

If Cobain had been any other junkie eating his shotgun, this story probably wouldn’t have made the Seattle Times. I’ve heard culturally astute people my own age reduce Cobain to nothing more than a patchwork quilt of his musical influences with nothing ideologically interesting to say and no real talent beyond the capacity to die pretty and on time. With all do necessary reverence and respect, this is not entirely incorrect.

Musically, Cobain accomplished what Elvis before him and Eminem after him did. He took music with edge and danger and made it palatable to middle class white America, codifying that music as the defining pop outlet and making much money in the process.

The difference, I think, is that Cobain’s tortured, “doesn’t wanna be famous” attitude was more than just posing and posturing. He was legitimately a man with issues, self-created and otherwise, whose only emotional catharsis came via his pretty, pretty songs. His popular sensibility was too instinctual for him to ever be confused with the musicians he idolized, the hardcore punks and the college rockers who recorded some truly game-changing music in the 80s.

The genre Nirvana has come to typify is commonly called grunge, characterized by Wikipedia as containing typically “a sludgy guitar sound that uses a high level of distortion, fuzz and feedback effects…The music shares with punk a raw sound and similar lyrical concerns. However, it also involves much slower tempos, dissonant harmonies, and more complex instrumentation.” Grunge, as a rule, is awful. That last little bit isn’t actually in the Wikipedia article, though I think it’s important. Barring the occasional single by Pearl Jam or Soundgarden, the entire movement was a barrage of dreck. Nirvana made it safe for these bands to rise in prominence, but it was not of them.

Whereas most grunge bands took their cues from 70s classic rock, Nirvana owes much, much more to bands like REM and Hüsker Dü than to bands like Led Zeppelin and Van Halen.




AL Wild Card Race

It’s that time of the year again. The leaves are starting to change, Apple Cider is being brought out of the cellar, little kids are all gearing up for Halloween. That can only mean one thing: playoff baseball.

The ending of summer has passed and now we get to look forward to great playoff baseball. As of right now from the American League, all three divisions are sealed up. The Detroit Tigers are representing the AL Central, the Oakland Athletics from the AL West, and finally the best team in baseball at the moment, the Boston Red Sox are representing the AL East. But the AL Wild Card Race is not nearly as easy to predict.

With three teams all within at least two games of one another, this race is shaping up to be an all-time classic. With the Tampa Bay Rays leading the way, followed closely by the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers, this thing could not get any closer.

A lot has to be said of Indians’ manager Terry Francona. His ball club finished the 2012 campaign with a record of 68-94, finishing dead last in the AL Central. Now the Indians are on the cusp of the playoffs with a record of 87-70 at the moment. They are exactly one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays who are sitting in the first Wild Card position with a record of 88-69.

The Rangers, who were looked at as the favorites to win the Wild Card, have struggled mightily in the month of September going 7-15. They sit exactly one game behind the Tribe at the moment and two behind the Rays. The Rangers’ manager looks like he will be going somewhere he has gotten all too familiar with: the hot seat. After two World Series losses, one of which he had a 3-2 lead in, and multiple late season collapses, it finally looks as if the longtime Texas skipper will finally be booted from Arlington.

With only four games left in here season anything can happen. But with the way the Rays and Indians have been playing as of late, I would say it is going to be tough for the Rangers to overcome these obstacles and make it to October. A lot of fun will definitely be in store after these next four games.

Update: The Rangers play the Rays tonight in a tiebreaker to get the final wild card spot. The winner will head to Cleveland for a one-game wild card showdown with the Indians.




Rambler soccer team set to battle Mercyhurst on Saturday

This Saturday night at 8 p.m. Cathedral Prep (4-2-0) and Mercyhurst Prep (5-2-0) clash at Penn State Behrend for the first time this season. Prep and Mercyhurst have brewed up a new rivalry in the past few years. Both teams have had good but young teams and last year was the first game between the two teams.

The game was played on a Friday after school in October. The stands were filled with Prep students and Mercyhurst students waiting for the game to kick off. Everyone was looking ridiculous, cheering loud, and going crazy for the big game.

Prep vs. Mercyhurst 2012

Last season the Ramblers and Lakers ended in a 0-0 draw.

Last season the Ramblers and Lakers ended in a 0-0 draw.

The game lasted 100 minutes with the two, 10-minute overtimes. With tough defense on both ends, the high-powered offenses could not decipher either, which led to the 0-0 draw.

This year the teams will have a greater hunger for victory. Teddy Martin and Tyler Shuemaker will look to be the playmakers in the game, but each team will use their young forwards to score goals. The Lakers this year have a well-rounded team with a deep line-up of experienced players, but Geoff Mayes, who is a four-year varsity player, will be sidelined with a concussion. The Ramblers will look to use their three forward system and cause distress to the Lakers back line.

This is a must-see match because both teams will play great soccer and will have a high intensity. Yes, last year it ended in a draw, but this year is a different story. Having the game under the lights on a Saturday night means something great is about to happen.




After breaking school win-streak record, football team prepares for St. Francis

Last Friday night the Cathedral Prep Rambler football team had a big win over Ohio powerhouse Lake Catholic. Prep was able to win with authority with the final score being 43-20. The team shocked a lot of people that they were able to beat a great team with such ease.

This win was also very significant to Prep because the team broke the longest win streak in Prep’s history and now holds the record at 18 games.

Prep is now looking to keep it alive this Friday when they play St. Francis at home. St. Francis is a very talented team out of New York. When asked about breaking the win streak and carrying the momentum into this game, senior Felix Manus said, “Breaking the winning streak is cool. We made Prep history and are one of the best football teams to play at Prep. That momentum will carry us because now we are going for the Erie County record that McDowell owns.”

Senior Jake DeHart also shared his thoughts about the accomplishment. “It is a great feeling to break the win streak,but we are even happier with being 3-0 and continuing our streak this year,” he said. “We will use this week to practice hard, get better, and get another W.”

Prep has some tough games in the weeks to come, including McDowell on Oct. 4, so staying focused will be one of their biggest concerns. Senior Alex Greenawalt explained what is important for the team in preparation for this week’s game. “We need to take it one game at a time and not look over them because they aren’t as strong as some of our opponents we will be facing in the next few weeks,” he said. “Just take it one game at a time and take care of business like usual.”




Does the NSA protect us or invade our privacy?

The NSA or National Security Agency is a government program intended to protect the national security of all American people. The agency is set up to scan email and phone records for any suspicious activity that may pose a threat to the United States. How the program is set up, people from the agency are only intended to look for prolonged communication between two people. And when they find any conversations that they feel pose a threat to the United States, the director of the NSA must go to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or FISA and present a case as to why the NSA needs a warrant to further investigate these conversations.

Although this is what the NSA is supposed to do, federal officials have recently released classified documents showing the misuse of this program dating as far back as 2009. Instead of getting a warrant to perform a search, the agency has just pulled the trigger and illegally gone through some Americans’ information. This information included telephone numbers, calling patterns, and the collection of Internet user names and IP addresses.

One judge, Reggie Walton, of FISA became so disturbed of the repeated violations by the NSA that he imposed a restriction on their ability to access bulk databases of phone records. According to Walton, thousands of American phone numbers were improperly accessed by the government. This indicates that the directer of the National Surveillance Agency, Keith Alexander, gave misleading information to the court about how the agency carried out their surveillance. He told the FISA court in 2009 that from a technical standpoint, there was no single person who had a complete understanding of its phone records “architecture”.

In 2009, Walton questioned wether or not the program would be allowed to continue. He questioned the value of the program, and if it was justified by protecting the nation’s national security. He demanded the agency not be able to access their collected data until the government is able to restore the court’s confidence in the NSA.

After further investigations, the NSA discovered one of its partnering agencies had improperly stored credit card numbers in its databases. Instead of terminating this stored information, the government claimed that by destroying these records it would result in a loss of evidence gathered by the NSA linked to these credit card numbers. However, the agency pledged that under a future data-management program, they will transfer all of their collected data into a new database and purge all credit card information.

To make matters worse a separate document was released stating the the government had been querying phone records in a manner contrary to the court order. The documents (posted on social media website Tumblr) came after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the FBI for disclosure about the phone records through the Freedom of Information Act.

The ACLU and EFF show that the government failed to mention that Alexander, the NSA director, declared to FISA his standards for searching through Americans’ phone records were inaccurate. In order to monitor phone records, the NSA would need reasonable suspicion of terrorism. Alexander bypassed this standard, telling the court he used an alert process for the incoming stream of metadata.

He also claimed that there was a safeguard in place to ensure that the analysts from the agency did not disseminate or analyze personal phone records. And the agency’s failure to fully describe the alert process is why the FISA court were unable to determine wether or not their court orders were being implemented properly.

Despite the NSA’s clear invasion of privacy and disregard for the fourth amendment, it has done well in regards to preventing terrorist attacks. Over 50 attacks have been prevented worldwide by the NSA, including he New York bombing of Najibullah Zazi in the fall of 2009. The NSA intercepted an email he sent to his leaders in Pakistan and were able to stop the attempt before any damage was done.

So it all comes down to the question all Americana must ask themselves, what is more important: the security of the nation or our own personal privacy?




Week 3 NFL Power Rankings

As the NFL enters Week 3 of the regular season, here’s how the teams stand.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
The Jacksonville Jaguars are absolutely horrible. I have two words to sooth Jaguar fans: Teddy Bridgewater. That is basically the only thing the Jaguars have to look forward to this season after their 0-2 start and accumulating an astounding 11 points.

31. Cleveland Browns (0-2)
The Browns’ offensive woes are the reason they are 0-2 to start the season. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner failed to utilize Trent Richardson in the right way, and now he’s been traded to the Colts. It could be a long season for the Brownies.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2)
Even though the Buccaneers have only lost by a total of 3 points in two games, they have issues that go way beyond the results of their game. Coach Greg Schiano and quarterback Josh Freeman might be out of town after this season.

29. Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
Besides having the best running back in the past decade on their team, Minnesota looks very helpless. Secondary problems and quarterback issues have diminished Minnesota’s chances thus far this season.

28. Oakland Raiders (1-1)
Don’t get me wrong, Terrelle Pryor brings a breath of fresh air to Oakland fans, and the resurgence of Darren McFadden is good news as well, but keep in mind they beat Jacksonville. The game was truly hard to watch.

27. New York Jets (1-1)
Right now the Jets look very standard on offense. The Jets should have won their game this past Thursday night against the Patriots. That was their opportunity to steal a crucial one from a division opponent.

26. Carolina Panthers (0-2)
After getting demoralized by the Seattle Seahawks, the Panthers let dumb mistakes and crucial errors decide their fate in Buffalo this past weekend. Cam Newton is going to have to turn into Cam the Man here soon if the Panthers have any chance this season in the NFC South.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2)
The Steelers have an identity crisis at the moment. Unless they get back to “Steeler Football” that won them so many of their championships, it will be a long season in the 412.

24. Washington Redskins (0-2)
The Redskins have been outscored 51-7 in the first half so far this season. RGIII looks tentative and scared out there coming back from ACL surgery. I have confidence the Redskins will turn it around.

23. Buffalo Bills (1-1)
I know it is early in Buffalo, but the excitement around Ralph Wilson Stadium is absolutely real. The Buffalo organization definitely believes in their first round quarterback, E.J. Manuel.

22. Tennessee Titans (1-1)
After an impressive win against the Steelers, the Titans let one get away in Houston.  Jake Locker keeps looking more and more like a bust everyday.

21. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
Carson Palmer looks to have some control of the Cardinals’ offense, but that’s not the problem. The pass rush in Arizona is beyond weak. Only one sack in two games? C’mon Arizona.

20. New York Giants (0-2)
The best team at 0-2 lies right in New York. With a game they let get away and a thorough beat down at the hands of the Denver Broncos, hopes don’t look good in NY. But remember this, Eli Manning has won two Super Bowls. He knows what it takes to win.

19. St. Louis Rams (1-1)
Although on paper it looks like a 7-point loss to the Falcons this past weekend, the Rams looked bad. The Falcons beat the Rams down.

18. Detroit Lions (1-1)
The Lions have to clean up the penalties if they want to win football games and return to the playoffs. Matt Stafford also needs to throw the ball to Calvin Johnson. I need fantasy points.

17. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
As soon as the Eagles lose a game people suddenly stop talking about how fast that offense is and start talking about the secondary issues. But the Eagles were actually faster this game than they were against the Redskins Monday night.

16. San Diego Chargers (1-1)
After letting one slip away against Houston on Monday night, the Chargers regrouped to win a last second game against the Eagles. Philip Rivers looks very good.

15. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
The Chiefs have already matched their win total from a year ago. They have finally found a good coach in Andy Reid and a consistent quarterback in Alex Smith. I am sure Andy Reid is eagerly anticipating their week 3 game against Philadelphia.

14. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Yes, the Cowboys lost to Kansas City, but they still have one heck of a team. They need Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to get healthy though or things could get ugly in Big D.

13. Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
The Colts look a lot like last years team. They dropped a rough one at home to the Dolphins, who made Andrew Luck look human. Nonetheless, I expect the Colts to be in the playoff picture come January.

12. Miami Dolphins (2-0)
With the biggest surprise of the season so far, the Dolphins are 2-0. This is due in large part to QB Ryan Tannehill’s maturation as a second year quarterback and his favorite target Mike Wallace. Look for the fins to keep on rolling in those sharp unis.

11. Chicago Bears (2-0)
The Bears are 2-0, yes. They have squeaked out two victories though. Jay Cutler is playing well, and the defense is looking very good. We’ll see how well Da Bears look in the upcoming weeks.

10. Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
After getting taken to the woodshed by the Broncos in week 1, the Ravens rebounded by defeating the Browns. The offense still looks very shaky. Look for a sharp decline with the Ravens this year.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
Andy Dalton led the way Monday night over the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals could possibly be 2-0 if not for a dumb Rey Maualuga penalty at Chicago.

8. New England Patriots (2-0)
The Patriots are struggling to find Tom Brady a number one receiver. After a one point win in Buffalo and a sluggish 3-point win against the Jets, we will have to see where New England will end up this season.

7. New Orleans Saints (2-0)
The Saints look true to form and are proving one day at a time that last year was nothing but a fluke.

6. Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
The Falcons lost a close one to New Orleans in week one but totally dismantled the Rams in week two. Look for big things from the Falcons.

5. Houston Texans (2-0)
Houston is definitely earning the nickname of the Cardiac Kids with two come-from-behind victories. Andre Johnson’s injury will be key to Houston’s season. Hopefully it won’t be severe.

4. Green Bay Packers (1-1)
After losing a close one in possibly the game of the year so far to the Niners, Aaron Rodgers and company came out and tore apart the helpless Redskins.

3. San Francisco 49ers (1-1)
The 49ers looked awful Sunday night against the Seahawks, but don’t worry Niner fans, your team is still great.

2. Denver Broncos (2-0)
After the shellacking they laid on the Ravens last Thursday, the Broncos destroyed the Giants in their own building.

1. Seattle Seahawks (2-0)
Seattle’s D proved its utter dominance against San Francisco on Sunday by allowing a total of 3 points. They have allowed 10 points all year long and less than 250 yards in both games. Seattle is the real deal.




All You Need to Know About the State of Professional Cycling Today

Cycling is changing, but why should you care? To most, the sport is a bunch of gangly guys riding across France with extra blood and EPOs throughout their bodies for an unimaginable amount of time. There was previously a lot of truth to this view, but no longer.

Le Tour de France, the epitome of cycling, a three week race throughout the countryside and mountains of France, was raced for the 100th time this past July. The most recent race embodies what the sport of cycling is going through, a revolution and transformation into a worldly sport.

Chris Froome was the winner of the 100th Tour de France this past summer, putting in a dominant performance and leaving no doubt as to his reign over all other cyclists. Born in Kenya and now a resident of Great Britain, Froome was just the second British cyclist to win Le Tour, the first being Bradley Wiggins last year. Both riders won with the support of Team Sky, a cycling juggernaut comparable to the New England Patriots of 2001-2004.

Coincidentally, the start of next year’s race will be out of London, speaking to Le Tour de France’s willingness to cater more to their ever expanding international crowd. Previously a predominantly European sport, the boundaries now transcend international boundaries and extend into all continents.

Two years ago Cadel Evans won Le Tour, becoming the first to do so out of Australia. This past year, Team Orica Green-edge, a pro circuit team based out of Australia, won the team time trial early in the race, and in doing so put one of their riders in the yellow leader’s jersey, marking the first time an Australian-based team had a rider in yellow.

Later in the race, a South African, Daryl Impey, found himself in the overall leader’s yellow jersey. This was the first time a South African racer had ever worn yellow. Additionally, there were riders in this years Tour from Uzbekistan, Kazakistan, Japan, and Brazil.

The surprise in this year’s Tour de France came in the form of Colombian rider Nairo Quintana. Quintana came in second place overall, won the young riders (under 25) classification, and the King of the Mountain classification, giving him both the white and red polka dot jerseys, respectively.

There had been talk prior to the Tour of a new face out of Colombia who could be a threat to the dominance of Team Sky, but no one truly saw what Quintana had in store. An interesting factoid to the story is Quintana’s superb climbing skills can be partly attributed to his childhood, in which he would bike up and over two mountain passes to get himself to and from school.

The ease with which Quintana climbed and attacked at was absolutely incredible. Whereas most riders push and chug and crank and grind their way up a mountainside, the Colombian’s riding appeared to be done in a very fluid, even eloquent, manner. No emotion could be found on his face when he was climbing, as opposed to that of sheer pain on the other rider’s. Quintana’s ride was a beautiful dance between man and bike; the two worked together in a way that permitted an uphill ride that resembled more of a glide, characterized by ease and consistency.

Quintana rode so well he found himself ahead in the overall classification of many riders who, before the race had started, were favorites to win. Quintana could have found himself atop the podium in Paris too, if it weren’t for the hellacious, and at times seemingly inhuman, attacks from Chris Froome.

For so many decades, cycling was dominated by the Europeans, particularly the French, Spaniards, and Italians. In the 1980s, Greg Lemond, an American, won the Tour de France, and the sport slowly gained popularity in America. Now, finally, the sport has clearly moved onto a worldly stage.

For America, the future of the sport of cycling looks promising, in both the success of its riders and its influence on an international scale.

The future of American cycling lies in the hands of Andrew Talansky and Tejay Van Garderen. Talansky, who rides for American-based team Garmin-Sharp, finished tenth in the overall classification and second in the young rider’s classification in last summer’s Tour.

Van Garderen, though, may be where more of the promise lies. Two years ago, Van Garderen, riding for that year’s Tour winner Cadel Evans, finished fifth overall in the Tour de France and won the young rider’s jersey, an impressive feat for a rider not riding as the leader of a team.

Lately, Van Garderen has become that lead rider. In the spring, Tejay won the Amgden Tour of California, a week-long stage race, which was his first overall victory in a stage race. After a poor Tour showing, continuously being dropped by the blistering pace set by Team Sky in the mountains, Van Garderen came back and won the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in August, the highest profile race on American soil featuring many of the same teams and riders that raced in Le Tour.

In cycling, there are three grand tours. These are three week-long stage races. One is the Giro d’Italia, another is, obviously, Le Tour de France, and the final is La Vuelta a Espana. Few riders attempt more than one of these in a year, and most choose to focus all of their attention, rightly so, on Le Tour de France. Still, a win in the Giro or La Vuelta is by no means an easy feat.

La Vuelta a Espana just finished this past Sunday. Whereas the final stage in Le Tour de France is a ceremonial ride throughout Paris, the last stage in La Vuelta is a ceremonial ride throughout Spain. The overall leader in La Vuelta wears red, as opposed to yellow in Le Tour. On Sunday, American Chris Horner rode into Madrid in red.

Horner is a 41-year-old rider, and in winning La Vuelta, he became the oldest champion of a grand tour. Horner won with a series of dominating mountaintop performances.

A cyclist’s efficiency is measured by his watts, or the power he produces through pedaling. In his win, Horner produced an incredible amount of watts. In one stage, his output was measured at over 2,000 watts. To put that into perspective, Chris Froome, even with how dominating of a performance he put in during Le Tour, produced just 1,700 watts in the key mountaintop stages.

Of course, with his age and dominating performance, as well as the nature and history of the sport, speculation was raised as to whether or not Horner was doping. Suspicions were heightened when Horner missed a random drug test that was to be administered by the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency. The Spanish agency went to Horner’s team’s hotel, but Horner was not there as he had switched his accommodations to stay in a different hotel with his wife. Apparently, Horner had followed protocol and told the United States Anti-Doping Agency of his change of whereabouts along with his new contact information, and in doing so, he had not violated any rules.

As a cycling fan, I really hope that Horner did not dope, and that Tejay Van Garderen, as well as Chris Froome, did not dope. Unfortunately though, success in cycling naturally comes with speculation as to whether or not one doped, and there’s a chance all three of these men did dope. But I’m going to go on continuing to believe they didn’t. There’s a general consensus now that the peloton is dedicated to clean racing and far more clean than it was just five or ten years ago.

There’s no way to be sure cycling is 100 percent clean; it probably never will be. However, all of the cheating that happened has, at least for the most part, been completely uncovered and is, relatively speaking, a thing of the past. The unveiling of Armstrong’s cheating, while the most publicized, was really (read: hopefully, admittedly) the last secret to be made public at the end of a long string of lies unveiled.

No cyclist will admit to doping without any evidence suggesting they did, but the consensus among spectators, coverers of the sport, and media alike is that the sport is cleaner than it ever has been, and its future is bright. Despite the fact that we really don’t know whether or not cycling is clean, I’m still going to watch it, follow it, and sometimes become too attached to it. It’s an excellent spectacle, a beautiful race to follow that can be inspiring, and something that is undoubtedly becoming more and more of a worldly sport, bringing together different cultures and backgrounds like only the thrill of and shared love of a sport can do.