Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Denver Lacrosse Fund Raises at Alumni Game

The University of Denver womens lacrosse program will host its annual alumni game on Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 12 p.m. at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

The Denver womens lacrosse program has been a division I program since the fall of 2002 and since then, the program has been ranked among the top 20 division I teams in the NCAA. In 2009, the team went 16-3 during the regular season.

Alumni players are invited back to challenge the team’s current players in an exhibition game as a warm-up for Denver’s 2010 season opener against Northwestern in January. "It is very important for us to show the alumni players how grateful we are for all they have done for our program and the more fans the better," said assistant coach Rachel Shuck.

With more publicity comesmore money that’s donated to the DU lacrosse program. In every season the womens lacrosse program is expected to raise $17,000 and this season is no expectation. On top of the $17,000, the lacrosse team is fund raising to go to Europe in June 2012 to play different European lacrosse teams and their alumni game is just one of those fund raising activities.
Head coach, Liza Kelly explains, "We need all the help we can get! The graduated alumni have already had the experience of playing high level lacrosse in different parts of the world and we want that same experience for these girls today, but it takes a lot of work, and a lot of effort."

The question many ask is "why are Division 1 varsity athletes fund raising so heavily?" To answer in the simplest terms, its not all sport teams and the ones that do, need the money. At the University of Denver there are 17 Division 1 sport programs and of those 11 fundraise and over half are the womens sport programs. College sport teams today fundraise primarily to pay for their events, but the bigger and more popular the teams are the less they have to do. The DU's hockey team doesn't have to fundraise throughout their season, however the DU womens lacrosse team does over 30 fundraising activities per year.

"Although fundraising is time consuming, in the end its helpful for not only those we are helping, but it also allows the girls to experience helping others, which is something that is important to our program," says Kelly.

Aggregator Blog - Teen Pregnancies in the Media

How does media influence audiences on topics such as teen pregnancies? Television programs such as 16 and Pregnant and The Life of an American Teenager, and movies including Juno, showcase teen girls in situations where their lives have resulted from either faulty protection or unprotected sex at young ages.

In many cases the girls portrayed are average girls in a variety of social positions and socioeconomic circumstances, but the fact of the matter is that teen pregnancy rates have increased at significant rates in 26 states. Nearly one-third of all teenage girls will get pregnant in their teenage years.

The increase and glorification of teen pregnancy through media outlets has resulted in an increase in cultural acceptance. But is this acceptance unrealistic? Sarah Brown, CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, explains these portrayals as largely fiction. Brown states that Juno is atypical, particularly in the support system during a time of crisis. Even for reality shows such as 16 and Pregnant it’s easier to be supportive of an unfortunate circumstance when the cameras are shining on you.

Bristol Palin, now a teen mother who has been highly publicized during the vice presidential campaign of her mother Sarah Palin, has gone so far as to star in an anti-teen pregnancy public service ad, “Pause Before You Play.” As a publicized portion of the increasing teen pregnancy statistic, Palin’s ad attempts to discourage the carelessness leading to unplanned teen pregnancy while admitting to her own faults and privileges for her peers to see.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Aggregator blog: Energy issues in elections

For Colorado, one of the many topics of debate in the upcoming U.S. Senate elections is renewable energy. Candidates Ken Buck, the GOP candidate, and current state representative Michael Bennet, have different views when it comes to oil production.

According to Buck's campaign website, Buck is strongly opposed to the "cap and trade" bill that currently is in Congress. Buck says, "On this issue there couldn't be a bigger difference between the 'appointed' Senator Michael Bennet and me."

At the first set of debates between Buck and Bennet in Grand Junction, Colo. last week, the discussion about energy independence was heated. According to the National Review Online, at the debate, Buck asked Bennet about his support of cap and trade, and his response was, "I didn't support the cap and trade bill that passed in the House. And I do think it's an unproductive conversation to be fighting about cap and trade or carbon tax." 

Colorado Education Reform through Jeffco's Eyes

The war for education reform continues to rage in Colorado, even following the state's possibly
controversial Race to the Top loss. The most recent advances focus on district-specific implementations of teacher merit pay, a move that excites many and frustrates others.

This week, Jefferson County School District unveiled a plan to use their newly acquired federal grant money, $32.8 million when all is said and done, to introduce a tiered pay scale for teachers. Those teachers with more experience and those who score higher on evaluations would see a higher salary and more performance-based incentives.

The Jeffco tiered teacher pay system will resemble the following:
Tier 1 – Probationary teachers or those with up to three years of experience, would earn base pay of $40,000 and up to $10,000 in stipends for effective evaluations and meeting student growth goals.
Tier 2 – Non-probationary teachers would earn base pay of $55,000 and up to $20,000 in stipends.
Tier 3 – Mentor and master teachers, with eligibility criteria to be determined, would earn base pay of $80,000 and up to $20,000 more in stipends and for working a longer school year.
The move for higher teacher pay will provide needed compensation for those teachers who put in the extra time to ensure student success. Some of the best teachers in the district could pull in a well deserved salary of $100,000 per year. Jeffco middle school teacher Lisa Suomi tells 9News,
"Since we are already doing a lot of this, so why not be compensated for the work that we are already doing," said Suomi. "I am very excited about the collaborative approach to setting group goals and working together."
Though merit pay may not be a "magic bullet" for reform, Jeffco's new pay scale is certainly a step towards a more qualified educator pool in Colorado.

"Jeffco launches teacher performance pay" - Education News Colorado

Aggregator Post - Money in Colorado Politics

The First Amendment prevents Congress from making any law that abridges citizens' freedom of speech. Federal courts have since decided political speech is most protected type of free speech.

Citizens can use political speech to endorse, or to speak out against, candidates in campaigns. But winning elections today takes more than citizens' speech, it takes millions of dollars for advertisements.

So the question today is, can citizens (or corporations) speak with their dollars to fund advertisements? Is money speech? A recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, said yes. Some of the blame for the inundation of negative political TV ads can be put on this decision.

This has resounding effects for Colorado politics. Midterm elections are approaching, and it's important to know which candidates are taking money from which corporations, political action committees and Wall Street banks. Once elected, who will our elected representatives be indebted to?

Campaign finance advocates are pushing for legislation currently in the House and Senate to reform the financing freedoms created by Citizens United. Supporters of the DISCLOSURE Act in the Senate recently failed at an attempt to counter a Republican filibuster of the bill. The House version of the bill, the Fair Elections Now Act, is making its way through committees.

If passed, this bill would only affect federal-level House seat races.

Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck are in the race for Colorado’s open Senate seat this midterm cycle. According to OpenSecrets.org, Bennet and Buck have raised $7.7 million and $1.3 million, respectively.

In the race for Colorado governor, Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper is leading American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo and Republican candidate Dan Maes in fundraising.

In addition to OpenSecrets, there are other online resources, like State Bill Colorado, to understand campaign finance issues in Colorado.

The Elections Division of the Colorado’s Office of the Secretary of State has its own resource for tracking campaign contributions and expenditures for state-level offices, a program called TRACER.

Agrigater blog:Colorado Gubernatorial Race

There is tons of information to sort through relating to the upcoming Colorado Governor's race, so how do you know what's important? Here are a few helpful sites to make your decision making easier.

First off, the site for Tom Tancredo's American Constitution Party. They only have candidates active in Colorado, and some of their ideology is pretty interesting. Take a look at this before making up your mind to vote for Tancredo, or any of their other candidates.

Next, the twitter feeds for all three of the gubernatorial candidates. Some of the stuff they post is pretty interesting, as well as giving information as to upcoming events:

Dan Maes
John Hickenlooper
Tom Tancredo

Check out these sites and get informed!

Alcohol Tax Increase

Its no secret alcoholl abuse has been a lingering problem in the United States. In many instances, it leads to numerous injuries, crimes, diseases and car crashes. This is why it’s the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. How does the U.S go about solving this issue? For years various laws have been enacted and altered in order to reduce this unhealthy behavior. CNN writer Carina Storrs suggests increasing the alcohol prices is the way to go. “If state alcohol taxes were doubled, the tax on a six-pack or bottle of wine would increase by anywhere from a few pennies to 50 cents,” says Storrs. The effect of tax increase wouldn’t have an immediate impact on alcohol abuse, but over time the budget increase would reduce a college students fund for a party or a social drinkers bar tab. Storrs cites a study published by the American Journal of Public health. This study compiled data and analysis from 50 studies that explored the correlation between drinking related issues and increased alcohol abuse.

In 1983 Alaska enacted an alcohol tax increase. The price for a bottle of beer incrop in deaths. Some may be skeptical believing that a two-cent price change can have such a significant impact on public health, but after taking into account all the negative attributes associated with
alcohol abuse, it’s reality. Alcohol abusers are more likely to experience strokes, depression, various forms of cancer and liver and heart diseases than non-alcohol abusers. Impaired judgment such as drunk driving and risky sexual behavior also needs to be accounted for.

A variety of issues stand in the way of an alcohol tax increase. For starters, an increase would be widely unpopular among drinkers regardless if it’s in their best interest. Secondly, the beverage and restaurant industries might night be able to withstand a tax increase given the significance of alcohol to business.

If a tax increase does ensue, it won’t be to ensure the good health of Americans, but to have more money at the government’s disposal. The number of alcohol related deaths per year has decreased by 23 percent. According to associate professor and alcohol policy expert David Jernigan, a Maryland 10 cent per drink tax increase will decrease alcohol consumption by 5 percent, save $214 million in healthcare costs and produce $214 million in revenues. Although he drew his data from Maryland, Jernigan claims every other state will have the same result.

If an alcohol tax increase is to occur, than accommodation must be provided for the beverage and alcohol industries. With alcohol being a vital component of these industries, combined with the nation being in a recession, a increase will inevitably hurt their generated revenue.

Animal Cruelty for the Sake of Entertainment

In an article titled, The Dirty Truth, it suggests that Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus travel more than 25,000 miles over a 11 month span. When people think of the Circus they probably think of clowns, cotton candy, stunts, and of course elephants. In fact, the elephants are usually the stars of the show! People are amazed at how they perform those silly tricks and probably wonder, how are they so tame around all those people? The real question that needs to be asked is how are the elephants trained?

The organization widely known as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) certainly has something to say on this topic. Ailing Elephants Forced to Perform claims that the four elephants currently traveling with the circus are under extremely agonizing amounts of pain.
"Yet despite the vet's recommendation that the elephants be excluded from performing certain routines, Ringling is going right ahead, forcing these hurting girls to strain their muscles and joints by doing tricks such as hind-leg stands."
Animals Rights Information and News Resource Blog also references this subject. In fact, the blog labeled “Video Acts as Undeniable Proof: Baby Elephants Tied Up and Electro-Shocked by Ringling Bros. And Barnun and Bailey Circus Trainers” links readers to pictures of baby elephants being shocked by trainers. In this case, the pictures speak louder than words. It is clear that these entertainment animals are not rewarded for positive reinforcement. These animals are performing the tricks out of fear, not because they want to.

One of the main problems with animal entertainment is there are no governmental regulations for training the animals. Animal cruelty is a subject that many people throughout the world are passionate about and many organizations as referenced above are fighting to give the animals a voice against cruelty. For instance, Gawker released an article about free speech vs. dogfights. This publications speaks about how dogfights are not a suitable source of entertainment and something needs to be done to prevent dogfight videos from being released to the public. Obviously, just because these scenarios are entertaining to humans does not always mean they are right.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Michelle Obama Breaking Fashion Barriers

(All photos courtesy of Getty Images and Elle.com)

Are politics changing the face of the runway? Since Michelle Obama took residence in the white house as first lady, her unique fashion sense has started to become one of the most influential pieces in the fashion industry. But, her style seems to be doing more than just making her America's top fashion icon, it's defining much more.

Mrs. Obama's style has been influencing both the office and the billion dollar fashion market, with black women becoming more popular for the cover of some of America's top fashion magazines and designers beginning to place more ethnicity in their shows.
Statistically speaking, an African American woman appearing on the cover of top fashion magazines like "Vogue" , "Marie Claire" and even "Elle" were few and far between.Only about 16% of all covers in 2006 allowed a African American woman to take the spotlight.

But, since the election of Barack Obama in 2009, all eyes have been on the first lady and Mrs. Obama is slowly scratching out boundaries for black women in fashion everywhere. Statistics of African American women appearing in magazines and the runway have skyrocketed, proving that darker skin may becoming more acceptable in the world of size zeros and blonde hair. Vogue magazine came out with an all black issue, featuring nothing but models of African American descent and more recently, albeit controversy, Elle magazine has featured actress Gadbourey Sidibe, the star of "Precious" on their cover.

Not only has Michelle Obama's style rocked the white house with flipped traditions, such as baring her arms during events that usually require more formal attire, but, she seems to be redefining what it means to be black and beautiful in fashion.

Aggregator Blog: Colorado Senate Election

Senate elections are less than two months away and yet Colorado residents are still having a hard time deciding between Michael Bennet and Ken Buck. According to a recent poll by CNN and Time, Ken Buck has only a five point lead on Michael Bennett (49%--44%). Clearly, Colorado is operating as a purple state. And with such a small disparity, the competitin is intensifying. The Huffington Post estimates that $1.7 million dollars has been spent on advertisements against Buck, and almost $1.9 million for ads against Bennet. Only time will tell if such astounding sums have been worth the investment.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Money, Power and College Athletics

Where there's sports, there’s money. But the question many have began to contemplate is “how much money is too much money?” Today high school parents have shifted their concern from the classroom to the field. Parents of high schooler’s have seen the great effects of being a college-athlete, and lets not forget the thousands of dollars in scholarship money that go hand in hand with being one of the elite.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the varsity athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. The NCAA is what most consider to be the "backbone" of college athletics. The NCAA has set up rules and regulations for each college sport to make both the recruiting process and the college experience as fair and equal as they can. However, when the question of money comes into play, there is no “fair and equal.”

Each college and sport has
different rules regarding money and funding for scholarships. According to the graph above the amount of money through 2002 that each of the NCAA schools spend is no lose change. Reaching up to $45,000 in just conference money is almost doubled with how well teams in the NCAA perform. In 2009, University of Florida athletics generated more revenue then any other college. UF football team alone helped bring in $66.3 million.

Many people today question whether or not money changes college sports. In an article in The Daily Targum, the author states,

"Once money enters the equation, college athletes can no longer be considered amateur athletes. By paying their players stipends, universities would be making college athletics into a downright profession."
Today, college athletics has taken on a much larger role then just the average, "playing the game you love." The politics and money that are associated with college sports have become consuming and overwhelming. Professional athletes are coming forward and admitting their faulty mistakes of taking money or endorsements during their college career. Right or wrong, good or bad, the corruption of college athletics is starting to boil and the NCAA, the backbone of all college sports, might be to blame.

Aggregated Blog: Amount of Resources Required for Meat Unsustainable

A great deal of information is available currently on the amount of natural resources that are consumed by animals that people feed in order to eat meat. One article entitled "Omnivore, Vegan, Vegetarian," discusses the huge amount of grain that is needed to feed cows in order to have their meat. The article puts this huge concern in viserally tangable means when it describes this possible scene:

“Imagine sitting down to an eight-ounce steak dinner,” writes author
Frances Moore Lappe in “Diet for a Small Planet,” “then imagine the room
filled with 45 to 50 people with empty bowls in front of them. For the ‘feed
cost’ of your steak, each of their bowls could be filled with a full cup of
cooked cereal grains.”

A vegan diet is also enouraged by the UN. They recently released a report
in The Gaurdian entitled "UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet" that addresses similar concerns regarding the incredible amount of resources it takes to feed animals that are killed for meat, as well as to the maintain the land they live on.

DADT Failure Disappointing but Future is Still Hopeful

After Tuesday's disappointing failure to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal" in Senate, along with being upset and discouraged, many LGBT Americans are left to question if we will ever receive equal rights and be granted the same liberties as our heterosexual counterparts. In an Advocate.com article, Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, expressed his disappointment:

“Today’s vote is a failure of leadership on the part of those who have been duly elected to serve this nation and to put the best interests of the country ahead of partisan politics. It is simply inexcusable that this vote failed today."
Read more of this article, D
ADT Repeal Fails in Senate, at Advocate.com.

Despite many ignorant attitudes, as such displayed in the YouTube video, "Tony Perkins: The British and Israeli Military Don't Fight to Keep the World Free," the fight for LGBT equality continues to progress in the form of small steps. In Florida, Miami Judge Cindy Lederman's 2008 ruling that a ban on adoption by gay couples is unconstitutional was upheld by the Third District Court of Appeals (You can read the full decision here). In addition, some are speculating that U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton will have no other choice but to reinstate Major Margaret Witt who was discharged from military duty after being outed. (Read the full article here.) Finally, in an August poll conducted by the Associated Press, 58% of Americans believe that same-sex couples should be entitled to the same government benefits as married heterosexual couples.

Aggregator: Marijuana Dispensaries

When many people come to Denver, and more specifically in the downtown and central areas, people tend to notice something that is not often seen in other city's; medical marijuana dispensaries. With so many dispensaries popping up around Denver, one begins to question how easy it really is to obtain. In the well-known newspaper, USA Today, there was an article in 2005 discussing the legalization laws of marijuana in Denver.
In Denver, marijuana has always had a presence but it has gotten a lot of attention in the last four to five years with how lenient the government is becoming with marijuana growers and users in Denver, CO. On September 1, 2010 there was an article written by the associated press which goes even more in depth on the specifics of the new laws. Another great source for finding out about marijuana laws in Denver, can be found on the cannabis culture website which is associated with the Marijuana Magazine. Because of a decision voted on in 2005, known as the I-100 campaign, adults 21 and older are able to possess and ounce or less of marijuana. Many pro-marijuana activists truly believe that marijuana is much safer then drinking alcohol. Marijuana has always been a controversial topic. Marijuana has actually existed for centuries and the concept of marijuana being used for real medical purposes is not new at all. Many people in Colorado obtain "medical marijuana" cards for reasons including headaches, HIV/AIDS, and cancer patients recovering from chemotherapy. To learn more about the history of marijuana use in the U.S. there are many sites to visit on the web. There have also been books written on this very topic.

Blunders in the AFC East

In a interview with former NFL player Deion Sanders, N.Y. Jets Cornerback Darrelle Revis called New England Patriots Wide Receiver Randy Moss a "Slouch." Clearly Revis felt compelled to vocalize his opinion since the Jets rewarded him with a four-year $46 million deal.

Moss on the other hand let his play do the talking. Midway through the second quarter, the 33-year-old wide out burned Revis with arguably the greatest catch of his career, snagging the ball with one hand in the back of the en-zone. This catch has special meaning because Revis is widely regarded as one of the best corners in the league. Although New England lost the game, they’re the winner in the grand scheme of things. Revis left the game just before halftime because of an aggravated hamstring. He is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. Next week they face division rival Miami and speedy wide out Brandon Marshall. Perhaps the $46 million investment is starting to look overpriced.

Furthermore, Jets wide out Braylon Edwards was just arrested Tuesday night for driving under the influence. Edwards not only has to face legal ramifications but NFL and team punishment. Alcohol falls under the substance abuse policy and as far as we know Edwards is a first time offender, which means NFL punishment will relatively light, but he has already been ruled ineligible for next weeks game by the Jets. The Jets organization has little tolerance for incidents like this because they have taken steps to prohibit such actions, including designing a shuttle system that picks up any player or players that are unfit to drive or in distres. The shuttles are free and drivers are licensed police officers. All Edwards had to do was make a phone call. In neglecting to do so, he has put an unwanted distraction on his team. How the Jets respond to this incident will have a substantial impact on the future of Edwards career. Edwards is in the final year of his current contract and seeking a larger one at the end of the season.

Not having Edwards on the field puts extra pressure on second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez and newly acquired wide out Santonio Holmes. Sanchez had a strong game vs New England but threw over 20 interceptions last season. Edwards joins a lengthy list of professional athletes that have faced legal problems. If he doesn't get back on the field and produce, drunk driving will be his legacy.

While all the attention in the AFC East is on the Jets, the Patriots will fly under the radar poised, calm and motivated from their first loss of the season. Brady, Moss and Belicheck are too experienced not to exploit the Jets misfortune. Look for the Pats at the end of the season atop of the AFC east.

Church still struggling to rebuild nine years later

It has been nine years since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. While construction has begun on the 9/11 memorial as well as other major buildings planned for the site, one community is still struggling to move forward.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has been trying to rebuild St. Nicholas Church, the only house of worship destroyed on 9/11, however the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have refused to honor their agreement to rebuild, and have virtually seized the property.

According to the Orthodox Observer, the Port Authority itself originally proposed 130 Liberty Street in Manhattan, some 100 yards away from its original site, to be the new home of St. Nicholas church.

This issue has drawn national attention in recent weeks following media attention to the efforts of an Islamic group to build a 13-story mosque and cultural center approximately one block away from the St. Nicholas Ground Zero site.

According to Fox News, the Port Authority and the church announced a deal in July 2008 where the Port would grant the land and up to $20 million to rebuild the house of worship. The Port also was willing to pay up to $40 million to construct a bomb-proof platform underneath the site, Fox News reports.

However negotiations between Port Authorities and the church broke off last year, however both parties disagree as to where things left off. Fox News says the Port Authority claims the church made additional monetary demands, while the archdiocese says they are able to proceed on its own if needed.

“It must be rebuilt as a symbol of hope not just for the congregation or even the surrounding community, but also for the whole country,” Fr. Mark Arey, spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese said in a recent edition of the Orthodox Observer. “It was the only church destroyed on 9/11 and the Archdiocese has engaged in honest, candid negotiation with the Port Authority.”

The Archdiocese urges its community to contact elected officials and ask them to confront the Port Authority on the issue. The cause has reached more than 20,000 followers on Facebook and thousands of signatures on official petitions.

Analytical Blog- Photos

It's interesting how in the past, during the 1900s, war efforts were praised rather than shunned. The American people stood by their government, taking rations rather then actual meals and grabbing a wrench to help construct army machinery.
The government praised those who fought and the general population was ready to do anything they could to bring another victory to America. Classic propaganda images such as the one pictured above(Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter) grabbed the attention of young men and even posters of the feminine figure longing for her husband fighting on the front lines, pictured right, promoted women participating in the war efforts as well. However,today, these images of patriotism don't seem to be nearly as prevalent.

Instead of having iconic figures of the bearded spirit of America gracing our walls, we are introduced into a world that seems to strive more for peace, rather than the efforts of brutality to achieve power. But, by not having these patriotic images anymore, could America be hurting itself more than helping? These images not only brought a sense of "WE CAN DO IT" to the minds of Americans, but, they also brought a sense of community. A "we are all in this together" mentality. But, now with the negativity floating through the streets, condemning anything and everything, perhaps these images may have been the last remnants of community and belonging in America.

Working with photos

The Portland, Maine, Muslims (AP)

Photos and text

In the post 9/11 era we are all under suspicion, some more than others. Take these people for instance. They are Americans who live in Maine and they are celebrating the last day of Ramadan. The photo of their celebration appeared in the Portland paper with a story about Ramadan and Maine's muslims. The story ran on the front page on September 11. A lot of readers were scandalized and left the editorial office messages saying the story was insensitive to Americans. Some said things to the effect that all Muslims were guilty for the 9/11 attacks.

The editor ran an apology to readers. But so far he has not apologized to the people in the photograph who may or may not be offended that he apologized to bigots for his decision to run a positive story about Muslim life in Maine.

Analysis v Commentary

Your (city) neighborhood


Sirota on the enthusiasm gap

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cupid Has Lost His Bow, Large People are Dancing and the Voyeur Bear Strikes

While some are in opposition to the large art that is cropping up in cities across the nation, these sculptures give the towns that they reside in character and are sure to be a landmark to identify the city for years to come. Many of the sculptures, funded publicly or not, find themselves in high traffic areas of the city and add to the visual aesthetic that planners work hard to achieve when creating such influential, highly visible pieces of imagination. For example, the dancing people depicted above called, Dancers by Jonathan Borofsky, are located in front of the Denver Center for Performing Arts Complex on main roadway, Speer Boulevard and cannot be missed when driving down this stretch through the city. This sculpture, installed in 2003, sits around a circular base that supports the 25-ton steel and fiberglass piece of work and caused quite a stir amongst citizens whos tax dollars contributed to the installation of this piece.

In San Francisco, Cupid's Span, pictured, was built in 2003 by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen and is said to mark the spot in which Tony Bennet left his heart as sung in his hit song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." This piece of art, which is sunken into the ground to create the illusion that it had fallen from the sky, is a striking piece of work that distinguishes the San Francisco Bay Area and leaves visitors with flights of fancies abound in their imaginations.

In 2005, after the completion of the new addition at the Colorado Convention Center, a 40-foot-tall sculpture of a bear peeking into the building was installed. The sculpture, called I See What You Mean rendered by Lawrence Argent who still retains that copyright to the design, has brought many smiles to visitors of Denver and overall has become another iconic landmark that visitors and residents of Denver will remember for decades to come.

Analytical Blog: Sadako’s Mixed Legacy

Sadako Sasaki, a 2-year-old girl, was killed when the atomic bomb dropped, hitting her home on Aug. 6, 1945 near Hiroshima, Japan. Her image and legacy has been construed in two very different ways -- one in popular culture as a frightening figure, the other as a symbol of peace.

Sadako has been popularly depicted through "The Grudge," where the theme is that a curse develops when a person dies under extreme anger or sorrow. The evil character of a Japanese girl with long stringy black hair covering her face only enough to show one eye at times has become synonymous with Sadako's name. If you Google Sadako, you will see many versions of her character as a symbol of fear before discovering another version. It could therefore be interpreted that Sadako's anger for her death due to the atomic bomb has remained and she seeks revenge on the American woman who temporarily lives in the home as a nurse.

The other depiction of Sadako is simply for peace. After her death, funds were raised for a memorial of Sadako and other children who had died from the effects of the atomic bomb dropping. In 1958, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was erected, which is silhouetted in the opening photograph.

Paper cranes are a symbol of peace related to Sadako’s legacy. Over one thousand origami peace cranes were constructed for the erection of Sadako’s memorial and continue to be a symbol for peace across the world.

Images of Italy

Images of Italy seem as they are from a distant, foreign time. But there are many aspects of modern Italian culture that haven't been changed for hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of years.

The photo to the right is St. Peter's Basilica, completed in 1590 by Michelangelo. This Renaissance basilica, and many others in Rome and Florence, show the immense wealth and power of the Catholic Church during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.

The Catholic Church still holds great sway in Italian culture. Catholicism in Italy today fosters a deep investment in tradition and ritual, superstitions and patron saint worship.

The photo at left is from a canal in Venice. Venice is a city with water for roads and boats for cars. Venice was once home to explorer Marco Polo and 18th century playboy Giacomo Casanova.

Venice has been around for 1,500 years, but may be nearing the end of its days. The city is sinking due to rising sea levels and shoddy building foundations.

The trades that make Venice famous today, like fishing and glass-making, are those that for centuries the city has been revered for. Some places in the world, it seems, modernity doesn't touch.

The photo at left is the quintessential Italian herb, basil. Whether with mozzarella and tomatoes in a caprese salad, on a margarita pizza, or mashed up into a pesto, basil is a staple of Italian food.

Ancient Romans would use basil to freshen their breath after meals. This herb has been a hallmark of Italian cooking for thousands of years, proving that some things in society don't need to be improved upon.