Sound Off! Do Students Really Use The Mocs Express?

by Alex Cooze (UTC)- With unreliable temperatures and an unruly weather patterns, many students are forced to walk to classes in very undesirable conditions. Battered from rain, and whipped around from the brutal winds, students have been using the Mocs Express bus system to help get them from point A to point B.

I am one of the few who have taking to the ever so free, ever so convenient Mocs Express that encircles this campus. Actually, the benefits of the bus system out weigh the negatives.

Positives

  • Online Tracking that pinpoints locations of the current buses on route. Allows for the student to know when the bus will be hitting the stop next to him or her.
  • Safety! The bus is safe, and is much safer that walking alone around town.
  • Speed! The bus can get you across campus in most cases faster than it would take one to walk by foot.

Negatives

  • Costs $250,000 a year for us to pay CARTA, but according to sources CARTA handles most of that money.
  • There can be some shady people riding the bus, and this is one of the main reason students do not ride the bus now.

According to campus statistics, in 2007, the Mocs Express had 95,677 riders. I wanted to find out how many students actually use the Mocs Express, the system that I, myself have become accustomed to riding. I wanted to know why they didn’t ride the bus, and one answer stood out particularly.

Most students do not ride the Mocs Express simply because it is more convenient for them to drive. UTC is still a commuting school, and thus many students get a parking space close to where a majority of their classes are held.

Brett Burns, a senior, has most of his classes near the Fine Arts Center and thus tries to park near there. He doesn’t believe he would ride the Mocs Express just because it is not terribly convenient for him.

Many students agreed with the inconvenience Mocs Express may have with their schedule, but most students actually do not know of the new system that CARTA has introduced.  A new online system called Bus Tracker allows anyone with internet access to see exactly where buses are on routes, and can help avoid waiting a long time at a bus stop.

All CARTA buses also have free internet access which also you a few more minutes to finish that email.

For more information on CARTA and the Mocs Express or if you want to track a bus near you then check out their website!

In Search of the Best BBQ

CHATTANOOGA (UTC) — Have you ever been to a restaurant and eaten something that has just made you say, “Wow?” Have you ever eaten something that you wonder if there is anything that could possible be worse than this?

Barbecue is one of those foods that is hit or miss with most people. Some places the barbecue could be fantastic and others it could be horrible. Chattanooga has its fair share of BBQ places with approximately 30 in the area. With so many BBQ places, how could someone find that one special place that really makes their favorite BBQ?

A group of UTC students hope to answer that question. The “Great Chattanooga BBQ Search” is a group of UTC students who go out every Friday in hopes of finding the best BBQ Chattanooga has to offer.

Drew “Boss Hog” McCallie and Alex J. Ford were two of the founding fathers of the GCBBQS, and sat down for an interview with me.

The group began from a simple gathering of the UTC Drumline members going to eat BBQ. After frequent BBQ eatings, the group decided to embark on this epic adventure.

The group created a BBQ rating system, and even rules to properly judge the barbecue.

Their rating system:
1-3 – Poor sandwich – unrecommendable
3-5 – Medicore sandwich – recommendable
5-6 – Good Sandwich
7-8 – This is a great sandwich. – Very recommendable
8-9 – This might be one of the best sandwiches you’ve ever eaten.
>9 – New Standard Setting Sandwich

“We judge only on the pulled pork shoulder sandwich. Other factors are not allowed in this contest. Atmosphere must be totally excluded as well as preference for side items. Mashed potatoes and baked beans are great, but they are not what makes good BBQ!” says~ Drew “Boss Hog” McCallie

Meeting every Friday at 4:30pm in the Fine Arts Center, anyone is invited to come eat BBQ with the group and can also place a vote with them. They plan to compile the list and possibly turn it into a book, pamphlet or an article for the Times Free Press.

Here is their current running list (Places without scores are still waiting to be visited):
Big Ben’s BBQ – 9.0
Big Momma’s BBQ –
Bones – 6.5
Choo Choo BBQ – 7.0
Chubby’s BBQ – 5.5
Couch’s – 6.0
Dixie BBQ – 6.5
Hickory Pit BBQ – 7.0
Hillbilly Willy’s BBQ – 7.5
Master Blaster’s BBQ – 7.5
Memo’s Pit BBQ and Chopped Wieners – 1.5
Momo’s BBQ
Nooga-Q – 6.0
Old Plantation – 6.0
Pit Stop BBQ
Porker’s BBQ – 7.5
Purple Daisy – 5.0
Rib & Loin – 6.5
Shuford’s BBQ – 5.0
Smokin’ Ed’s – 6.0
Sonny’s BBQ and such – 8.0
Sweeney’s BBQ – 5.0
Sugar’s Ribs – 6.0
Tinker’s BBQ
Two Pigs BBQ
Way Crazy’s BBQ – 6.0
*List Pulled From Facebook Group

If you have any more barbecue places that you found were left off the list, then contact the group on facebook, under the group “The Great Chattanooga BBQ Search.”

Movie Review: “Coraline”

By: Alex Cooze

CHATTANOOGA (UTC)– Henry Selick’s latest movie, Coraline, was a well written, well animated tale that any movie-goer should go see. It has elements for children to enjoy and things that adults will find appeasing as well. It is definitely worth the money to go out and see this film.

To be honest, I had not heard much about Coraline before I went to see this movie. I remember seeing the video game adaptation of the movie at Blockbuster, and really that was all I heard of the film. After doing some research, I found out that the book had come out in 2002, and had won many prestigious awards. So I went to see the movie at the Bijou downtown.

In some selected theatres, the movie is presented in 3D, which adds depth to the movie and really makes it more stunning. The stop motion art is done very well, and has a very “Tim Burton-esque” feel to it. The film is very appeasing to the eyes, and even though you’re wearing dopey 3D glasses the visuals are still good.

Without giving away much of the story, I’ll just present the trailer and let that tell you the story.

When asked about the moral of Coraline, director Henry Selick had this to say:

“Of course, morals always sound like cliches, but usually cliches are based on things that are ultimate truths. Be grateful for what you have, appreciate what’s right there in front of you.”

This movie does push the envelope with the PG rating in the sense of scary elements. However, after all is said and done this movie is well put together and perfect for a family to go see.

Rating: A-

Positive Elements:

  • Enthralling Story
  • Interesting Characters
  • Wonderful Animation

Negative Elements:

  • Scary for young children at times (some adults too)
  • Times where the 3D felt like a gimmick

For more information, go to the movie’s website

Brett Favre Retires From Football….Again!

By Alex Cooze (NYC/AP)-

As it comes to no surprise to NFL fans across the nation, New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre announced his retirement from football for the third time in the past three years.

The 39-year-old quarterback told the New York Jets on Wednesday that he was retiring after 18 seasons, ending a record-setting career in which he became one of the NFL’s all-time greats.

“We had an all-encompassing conversation,” owner Woody Johnson said of his discussion with Favre. “He told me at that point that he had made his decision to retire and thanked everybody and talked about what a great experience he had with the New York Jets.”

Favre’s decision came six weeks after his only season with the Jets ended in disappointment as New York failed to make the playoffs. In an e-mail to ESPN, Favre said he has no regrets about finishing his career in New York and praised Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and fired coach Eric Mangini.

“My time with the Jets was short, but I’m honored to be given that chance,” Favre wrote in the e-mail.

If this is indeed it for Favre, he leaves the game with a slew of records, including career touchdown passes (464), completions (5,720), yards passing (65,127), regular-season victories (169) and interceptions (310).

Favre tearfully retired last March then changed his mind, prompting a bitter divorce with Green Bay. He was traded to the Jets in August and was a Pro Bowl selection despite an overwhelmingly disappointing season that cost Mangini his job.

“With Brett, there was always the possibility that he wouldn’t play the second year,” Johnson said. “We were hoping to get one good year out of Brett Favre. We picked him based on, in our opinion, his giving us the best chance to win last season. We were disappointed not to have made the Super Bowl, but we did some very good things with Brett.”

And the team doesn’t expect Favre to change his mind.

“He did not ask to be released,” Tannenbaum said. “Everything he said was, he is done playing football. We have our plan according to that, and we’re going to move forward.”

When asked if the door might be open to Favre if he again decides to come back, Tannenbaum said he wanted to stay away from hypotheticals.

“He felt he had given us everything he had, and it was time for him to move on,” Tannenbaum said Favre told him.

Running back Thomas Jones and safety Kerry Rhodes were critical after the season of Favre and his performance. The Jets went from 8-3 to missing the playoffs. Favre threw nine interceptions as the Jets went 1-4 down the stretch, and a torn right biceps might have contributed.

Still, Favre had nothing but positive things to say about his Jets experience.

“Mike and Woody, as well as the entire organization, have been nothing short of outstanding,” Favre said in the e-mail. “My teammates — Thomas (Jones) and Kerry (Rhodes) included — were a pleasure to play with. Eric could not have been any better. I enjoyed playing for him.”

As did All-Pro kick returner-running back Leon Washington.

“The longevity of his career and his love for the game is truly inspiring,” Washington said. “I’m privileged to have played with not only a Hall of Fame QB, but also a great role model.”

New York hired former Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to replace Mangini, and he, along with Johnson and Tannenbaum, repeatedly said they wanted Favre to return. Instead, Favre spent several weeks after the season at his home in Kiln, Miss., away from football before deciding to retire — again.

New York now will move forward with a new quarterback, whether that will be Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff, Erik Ainge or perhaps a veteran free agent such as Jeff Garcia, Kerry Collins, Byron Leftwich or Rex Grossman.

“We’ve got three quarterbacks on the roster, and I think we feel pretty good that in a competition among those guys, we’ll end up with a pretty good quarterback,” Johnson said.

Favre had two years left on his contract and was due $13 million for next season, clearing a chunk of salary cap space for the Jets.

“It was an honor to coach against Brett over the years,” Ryan said in a statement. “If he’s not the best quarterback ever, then he’s certainly in the conversation. I have great admiration for him as a player and a person. I wish him only the best in his life after football.”

The three-time NFL MVP holds the mark among quarterbacks with 291 consecutive starts, including the playoffs, despite playing through several injuries throughout his career.

“It was a great honor to play with Brett,” wide receiver Chansi Stuckey told The Associated Press. “He had an illustrious career, and I want to thank him for giving the Jets the opportunity to play with him.”

After the Jets’ season-ending 24-17 loss to Miami, Favre said he felt discomfort in his arm “for quite a while.” It turned out to be a torn biceps tendon that didn’t require surgery.

It wasn’t all bad with the Jets for Favre, who showed a few glimpses of greatness — as well as great zip on his passes — early on. He threw a career-high six touchdown passes, tying Joe Namath’s team record, in a 56-35 victory over Arizona in Week 4. Favre also helped rejuvenate the franchise, drawing thousands of fans to training camp practices.

He finished with 3,472 yards passing and 22 touchdowns, but the 22 interceptions were his most in three seasons.

Favre was drafted by Atlanta in the second round of the 1991 draft but was traded after the season to Green Bay for a first-round pick. In the third game of the 1992 season, Favre stepped in for an injured Don Majkowski. He started the following week against Pittsburgh, beginning a streak that was still intact when he first retired.

During his 16 seasons with Green Bay, he helped lead the Packers to consecutive Super Bowls, including a victory over New England in 1997.

 

Copyright Associated Press 2009

Ancient Fossil Found of Giant Snake, Biggest of All Time.

By Alex Cooze 

Imagine this snake, but 10 times larger.

Imagine this snake, but 10 times larger.

 

 

(UTC/AP)–Never mind the 40-foot snake that menaced Jennifer Lopez in the 1997 movie “Anaconda.” Not even Hollywood could match a new discovery from the ancient world.

Fossils from northeastern Colombia reveal the biggest snake ever discovered: a behemoth that stretched 42 to 45 feet long, reaching more than 2,500 pounds.

“This thing weighs more than a bison and is longer than a city bus,” enthused snake expert Jack Conrad of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, who was familiar with the find.

“It could easily eat something the size of a cow. A human would just be toast immediately.”

“If it tried to enter my office to eat me, it would have a hard time squeezing through the door,” reckoned paleontologist Jason Head of the University of Toronto Missisauga.

Actually, the beast probably munched on ancient relatives of crocodiles in its rainforest home some 58 million to 60 million years ago, he said.

Head is senior author of a report on the find in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

The discoverers of the snake named it Titanoboa cerrejonensis (“ty-TAN-o-BO-ah sare-ah-HONE-en-siss”). That means “titanic boa from Cerrejon,” the region where it was found.

While related to modern boa constrictors, it behaved more like an anaconda and spent almost all its time in the water, Head said. It could slither on land as well as swim.

Conrad, who wasn’t involved in the discovery, called the find “just unbelievable…. It mocks your preconceptions about how big a snake can get.”

Titanoboa breaks the record for snake length by about 11 feet, surpassing a creature that lived about 40 million years ago in Egypt, Head said. Among living snake species, the record holder is an individual python measured at about 30 feet long, which is some 12 to 15 feet shorter than typical Titanoboas, said study co-author Jonathan Bloch.

The beast was revealed in early 2007 at the University of Florida’s Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. Bones collected at a huge open-pit coal mine in Colombia were being unpacked, said Bloch, the museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology.

Graduate students unwrapping the fossils “realized they were looking at the bones of a snake. Not only a snake, but a really big snake.”

So they quickly consulted the skeleton of a 17-foot anaconda for comparison. A backbone from that creature is about the size of a silver dollar, Bloch said, while a backbone from Titanoboa is “the size of a large Florida grapefruit.”

So far the scientists have found about 180 fossils of backbone and ribs that came from about two dozen individual snakes, and now they hope to go back to Colombia to find parts of the skull, Bloch said.

Titanoboa’s size gives clues about its environment. A snake’s size is related to how warm its environment is. The fossils suggest equatorial temperatures in its day were significantly warmer than they are now, during a time when the world as a whole was warmer. So equatorial temperatures apparently rose along with the global levels, in contrast to the competing hypothesis that they would not go up much, Head noted.

“It’s a leap” to apply the conditions of the past to modern climate change, Head said. But given that, the finding still has “some potentially scary implications for what we’re doing to the climate today,” he said.

The finding suggest the equatorial regions will warm up along with the planet, he said.

“We won’t have giant snakes, however, because we are removing most of their habitats by development and deforestation” in equatorial regions, he said.

Copyright AP Exchange 2009

UTC’s Metro Annex Building to be Partially Demolished

By Alex Cooze

CHATTANOOGA (UTC)–With the recent partnership with Erlanger, UTC Health Services will be relocating from their current location in the Metro Annex building to Erlanger Hospital. With this move, more options and services will be available for students. This is a win-win scenario for Health Services and UTC students.

However, what will come of the building once Health Services leaves?

Currently, the only residents of the Metro Annex building are the UTC Television Studio, the Gear Up program, and UTC’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program. UTC actually has begun renovations to the Metro building next door, and originally planned for the Metro Annex to be included in the bid.

The bid, however, came back too high. According to Jim Pulliam, UTC’s safety officer and member of the facilities board, the bid would cost too much to bring the Metro Annex building up to modern code. 

“Building codes change over time, and older buildings are typically grandfathered in. However, when you do renovations to at least 51% of the building, the older buildings must be brought up to code,” said Pulliam.

If the Metro Annex building had been included, that would have meant the Annex had to be brought up to code. Jim Pulliam believes there are no current ecological code violations such as mold, although there has been some similar code violations in the past.  The current violations involve hallways which are too narrow, no fire sprinkler system, and not enough restrooms.

Since the renovations were too expensive, Facilities personnel now plan to demolish the flat roofed portion of the Metro Annex building as soon as money is funded. Because of UTC’s investment in the Television Studio in the building, the pointed roofed part of the building will be spared. Facilities officials plan to use the demolished space for more parking.

The demolition will wipe out all of the Health Services area as well as the downstairs portion containing the Gear Up offices. Hunter Huckabay, director of Gear Up, has been in contact with Facilities about the possible move of his program. “Facilities has treated us well. I would prefer to stay at the Metro Annex, because we like it here,” says Huckabay. Huckabay has mentioned if a move is required, he wouldn’t mind relocating to the Stagmeier building.

Money is still an issue. According to Pulliam, it could be as early as this fall, or even be a few years down the road before this demolition will occur. He stresses, however, that no one should move into the vacant Health Services area due to possible roof leaks that commonly occur in the area.

Facilities did go on record to say that this project is first on their list.

Men vs. Women Soccer Game Causes Uproar in Iran

By Alex Cooze

TEHRAN, Iran (UTC/AP)–Three officials were suspended and $5,000 in fines were handed out Monday at a mixed soccer game between men and women in Tehran. This is the first such game since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran’s currently rules state that no physical contact may occur between men and women who are not related. Iranian women are also banned from attending any men soccer games. Only women may also attend games when women soccer players play. Occasionally, foreign women may attend men’s matches due to lack of knowledge of customs and language.

The game had been denied that it took place, but pictures and videos from cell phones have shown its existence.

The mixed game took place on Jan. 20th between Iran’s top soccer clubs. The female team played the youth male team which was the first time in 30 years that males and females have played soccer together.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has the final word on all Iranian matters and firmly believes that no women are allowed in the stands at soccer games, even in the segregated sections.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Containing Fitzgerald Key to Shutting Down Arizona’s High Power offense.

By Alex Cooze

Pittsburgh, PA (UTC/AP)–You don’t need to ask the Pittsburgh Steelers what they think about Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald. They’ve been watching Fitzgerald for years, and know how big of a threat he is on the field.

Steelers coach, Mike Tomlin believes that scouting and a good game plan isn’t going to be enough to slow down Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald already has 419 yards receiving which is the most in a single NFL postseason. There’s still one game to go.

“If you get down the field one-on-one with him, he’s going to come back with the football,” Tomlin said. “He is the best in the world at that, bar none.”

So what does Pittsburgh plan to do to contain Fitzgerald’s A-game? They’ll do what they have been doing all year. They’ll pressure the quarterback. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is know for his zone blitz, but even his fabled zone blitz might be hard against a quarterback such as Kurt Warner. Warner led the NFL with 14 touchdown passes against the blitz.

The Steelers have had plenty of opportunities to watch Fitzgerald though. For two years, they just had to look outside their windows. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh share a four field complex in South Side Pittsburgh, but never do they practice together. Fitzgerald spent two years at the University of Pittsburgh under the direction of passing guru, Walt Harris. Fitzgerald finished his collegiate career with 2,677 yards and 34 touchdowns. Trust me, the Steelers noticed.

Fitzgerald is but one of three receivers with over 1,000 yards in Arizona. Anquan Boldin and former Pittsburgh high school sensation Steve Breaston. Expect Pittsburgh #1 defense to play hard against the pass heavy offense of the Arizona Cardinals.

“It’s not about what they do. It’s about what we do. As long as we block hard, run hard, tackle hard, catch passes, make the right reads, our potential is unlimited. We can do anything we want to do.” ~Steelers wide receiver Nate Washington.

AP Copyright 2009