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Povich Panel Considers Sports Risk and Safety

February 20, 2013
Contacts: 

Dave Ottalini 301-405-4076

Povich Center 301-405-4605

The Shirly Povich Center for Sports JournalismCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - Just how risky is playing sports? The Shirly Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland will hear from a wide variety of voices on this issue during a panel discussion Wednesday, Feb. 27. The 7 p.m. event at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism on campus features a panel of media, media professionals and players from the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area.

The topics will range from Robert Griffin III's now infamous playoff game and subsequent injuries to the ever-evolving concussion issue in professional and amateur athletics to how children and their parents deal with the risks of playing sports.

Panelists Include Haas, Sansiveri, Hallenbeck, "Doc" Walker, O'Donnell, Hyman
Dr. Stephen A. Haas is a retired physician for the Wizards, Capitals and Nationals as well as the former medical director of NFL Player Benefits. He will use his experience from years of treating professional athletes to discuss first-hand knowledge of the effect professional sports have on athletes.

Representing the NFLPA will be Sean Sansiveri who is staff council for the players association as well as an adjunct professor in the Georgetown University Sports Management program.

Scott Hallenbeck is the executive Director of USA Football, which is the official youth football development partner of the NFL and is emphasizing a new approach to what they call "a better, safer game."

Rick "Doc" Walker who is a commentator for ESPN 980 and Comcast SportsNet brings perspective from the playing field as a retired football player who spent his playing-years with the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals.

Katie O'Donnell, who played field hockey for the 2012 Olympic team in London, as well as the University of Maryland, also brings perspective from the playing field as well as coaching as the student-assistant for the University of Maryland.

Rounding out the panel is Mark Hyman, the author of "Until it Hurts," a book about America's obsession with youth sports, and an adjunct professor at George Washington University teaching sports law, sports communication and sports management.

The panel will be moderated by George Solomon, the director of the Shirley Povich Center and long-time Washington Post sports editor.

The event in Knight Hall's Richard Eaton Auditorium is free and open to the public. For more information, please email events@povichcenter.org or call 301-405-4605.

Seed Grant Competition Powers UMD's Future of Information Alliance

February 20, 2013
Contacts: 

Dave Ottalini 301-405-4076

Future of Information AllianceCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Future of Information Alliance has chosen four University of Maryland teams as initial FIA-Deutsch Foundation Seed Grant Competition award winners. Each team has won up to $25,000 to carry out projects aimed at the information challenges and opportunities of today's world. Forty-four students and faculty mentors from nine UMD colleges and schools submitted proposals. The teams will present their results on May 6.

The award winners include:

  • Approach: Every Voice, Every Path - Approach layers information on a site, allowing users to choose a path and listen to multiple stories and found sounds that might otherwise be unavailable. This site-specific mobile art-app does not just offer an opportunity to contemplate difference, but expands who shapes the story of a space. Everyone's voice counts. Every path should be walked.
  • The Digital Cookbook: A Friendly Guide for Making the Local, Global - This virtual "cookbook" will help people document and share an event online by providing resources related to documenting and sharing events. The initial focus of the research is the National Mall. The cookbook will be designed to be easily understandable for novice users yet innovative enough that more advanced users will also benefit as their groups work to share their cultures and document experiences through collaboration.
  • Safe Space and Knowledge Discovery: Social Media in the National Park Service – This project will create a rudimentary design for a social media platform for middle school youth to compliment the in-person programming of the National Park Service (NPS) Junior Rangers program.
  • Wikid GRRLs: Teaching Girls Online Skills for Knowledge Creation - The goal of this project is to encourage and help middle school aged girls to think of themselves as tech-savvy and smart, and to give them the confidence and skills to contribute to online knowledge projects. We propose to advance this goal by teaching teenage girls a variety of online skills, including how to run and contribute to a knowledge-based website. The emphasis is on learning skills that are engaging (that they see as fun) and have wide applicability, across their school curriculum and beyond.

Claire Valdivia, of the "Safe Space and Knowledge Discovery" team, presents at FIA Seed Grant Competition Semi-FinalsTo develop their projects, the four winning teams will collaborate with Future of Information Alliance founding partners like the National Park Service, the Newseum, the Barrie School and WAMU-FM.

"We are excited by the innovative ideas coming from students collaborating across disciplines during the first year of the seed grant competition," says Merrill associate dean and associate professor Ira Chinoy, co-director of the Future of Information Alliance. "The four winning teams included 22 students and faculty mentors from six colleges working with several of the Future of Information Alliance's founding partners. We're looking forward to seeing what these teams will accomplish over the next three months and beyond."

About the Future of Information Alliance
The Future of Information Alliance was launched at the University of Maryland in 2011. It was created to serve as a catalyst for dialogue across disciplines and to promote research on issues related to the evolving role of information in our lives. By identifying shared challenges and encouraging innovative solutions, the Future of Information Alliance seeks to facilitate a future in which information in all its forms can be an effective resource for all. The founding partners include the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society, the Newseum, Sesame Workshop, the U.S. National Park Service, the Barrie School, the Online Academy, WAMU 88.5 and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. The Future of Information Alliance is co-directed by Ira Chinoy, a University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism associate professor and associate dean, and Allison Druin, a professor at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies (iSchool).

UMD Center for Math Ed. Joins National STEM Teaching Initiative

February 19, 2013
Contacts: 

Halima Cherif 301-405-0476

Neil Tickner 301-405-4622

100Kin10COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Center for Mathematics Education (CfME) in the University of Maryland's College of Education has joined a national partnership committed to the goal of recruiting, preparing, and retaining 100,000 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers in 10 years.

100Kin10 is a multi–sector mobilization that responds to the national imperative to train 100,000 excellent science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers over the coming 10 years. The partnership was founded and is led by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Opportunity Equation.

The Center for Math Education is one of 159 100Kin10 partners unified by a single, ambitious goal: to prepare all students with the high–quality STEM knowledge and skills to equip them for success in college and the workplace.

"We are honored as a university–based center to be selected to participate in this national initiative," said Professor Daniel Chazan, director of the Center for Mathematics Education. "Our selection recognizes our efforts on campus over the last decade to multiply the pathways by which STEM teachers are prepared. By multiplying the pathways toward certification as a STEM teacher, we have greatly increased the numbers of STEM teachers produced by our campus."

Over the next five years, CfME, working with other colleagues from the University of Maryland and district partners, will prepare 100 STEM teachers per year. Half of these graduates will teach for at least three years in a high needs school. CfME aims to prepare a diverse pool of STEM teachers who exhibit disciplinary expertise, cultural competence, and commitment to students and achievement.

More and better trained STEM teachers are essential to prepare America's students to fully participate in our democracy and to comprehend, and devise solutions to, complex national and global challenges. All students–not just those fortunate enough to attend certain schools—must have STEM literacy to find meaningful employment in a rapidly changing economy that has at its center a range of jobs based on skills grounded in the STEM disciplines.

Partner organizations were selected following a rigorous vetting process based on the innovation and boldness if of its commitment(s) toward expanding, improving, and retaining the best of the nation's STEM teaching force. CfME was nominated and selected based on its demonstrated resources and know-how, as well as a proven ability to deploy those assets creatively and strategically to address the nation's shortage of STEM teachers and ensure high-quality STEM learning for all students.

Watch this video to learn more about the 100Kin10 initiative:

UMD RecycleMania Goal: Win the 'ACC Grand Champion' Title

February 18, 2013
Contacts: 

Dave Ottalini 301-405-4076

Bill Guididas 301-405-3293

2013 RecycleManiaCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland is once again taking on the RecycleMania challenge to reclaim its 2011 'ACC Grand Champion' title from Boston College, who placed first in the ACC in 2012. RecycleMania is a national recycling competition between hundreds of colleges and universities to see who can recycle the most from Feb. 3 to March 30. This is the seventh year the university is participating.

"The competition seeks to tap into school spirit as the motivator to reach students who would not necessarily be interested in environmental issues otherwise," says Adrienne Small, recycling specialist in the Recycling and Solid Waste unit on campus. 

A state law - the Maryland Recycling Act - requires all counties and state units - including the University of Maryland - to recycle. Since its enactment in 1998, more than 1,000,000 tons of trash are being recycled throughout Maryland each year. The university has been working hard to improve campus recycling - in 2003, only 17% of waste was being recycled. During the 2012 calendar year that figure jumped to 70%. University officials say RecycleMania will help generate momentum for recycling efforts around campus so UMD can reach its 2013 goal of a 75% recycling rate.

"The University of Maryland has placed a high priority on recycling over the past few years," says Student Affairs Vice President Linda Clement. She says that while Maryland has made good progress, entering the RecycleMania contest will help "maintain and enhance this upward trend.”

How RecycleMania Works
The annual 8-week competition challenges colleges across the United States and Canada to collect the most recycled and trash materials. Weekly weigh-ins monitor the amounts each college reports and rank them based on volume per capita, determining which has the best recycling rate as a percentage of total waste and which produces the lowest volume of trash and recycling.

Collection will be done at various locations around the campus. Materials that will be accepted include all paper products (including cardboard, books, mail, magazines, and newspapers), bottles, cans, and all items that would go into the single-stream recycling bins. The university will compete in two additional categories this year: food service organics (which includes pre- and post-consumer food waste such as compostable dinnerware and napkins) and electronics.

Follow the University of Maryland's RecycleMania progress here.

Learn about UMD's electronics recycling drive taking place Feb. 26-27.

Md. Citizens for the Arts Honors Clarice Smith Center Executive Director

February 15, 2013
Contacts: 

Erica Bondarev 301-405-0199

Susie Farr, executive director of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of MarylandCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Susie Farr, executive director of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, has been awarded the Sue Hess Arts Advocate of the Year Award by Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA). The Sue Hess Award is given to individuals whose advocacy efforts have significantly benefitted the entire Maryland arts community and Farr is a longtime leader and innovator for the performing arts in Maryland. Her commitment to community engagement as a crucial component of arts programing has made the Clarice Smith Center a national model for academic integration and collaboration with on-campus and off-campus community groups at a university performing arts center.

"I'm deeply honored to receive this important award," said Farr, "and proud of the many ways we have opened doors to transformative arts experiences for the campus and all of Maryland's communities."

"The impact that Susie's work has had on the communities surrounding the Clarice Smith Center is vast. In an area of the state that was traditionally under-served she created a source of cultural enrichment which reaches far beyond the University's borders," said John Schratwieser, executive director of Maryland Citizens for the Arts.  "Her work is exactly the kind of advocacy we seek to encourage with the Sue Hess Award."

The award will be presented at Maryland Arts Day in Annapolis on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Susie Farr is a nationally known arts administrator and advocate who has made significant contributions to the performing arts, in the nonprofit sector and in higher education. Since becoming the Clarice Smith Center's executive director in 1999, Farr has overseen the growth and development of a major performance venue. Under her leadership, the Center has earned a reputation for adventuresome programming and community engagement. Prior to her position at the Clarice Smith Center, Farr headed the Association of Performing Arts Presenters as executive director for 13 years, where she developed The National Task Force on Touring and Presenting the Performing Arts to address the complex issues facing the arts and culture in America. She has extensive experience in creating and administering new initiatives in support of diversity, arts advocacy and audience development.

About the Sue Hess Arts Advocate Award
The award is named in honor of the first Chair of the Board of Trustees and longest serving member of the organization, Sue Hess, who is known for developing a network of grass roots arts supporters, driving tremendous change and growth in MCA. The first award was given in 2009 and is awarded annually.

About Maryland Citizens for the Arts
Maryland Citizens for the Arts is a statewide arts advocacy organization, founded in 1977 to represent all Maryland artists and arts organizations of all disciplines. MCA works to increase public recognition and support of the arts and the role they play in the quality of life and economic vitality of Maryland by advocating for the arts across the state and by promoting adequate public funding at the local, state and federal levels.

UMD Senior is First Terp to Win Gates Cambridge Scholarship

February 14, 2013
Contacts: 

Heather Dewar 301-405-9267

Krzysztof FranaszekCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland's first winner of the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship is Krzysztof Franaszek, a senior who juggles lab research that could lead to new virus-fighting strategies with volunteer work as an emergency medical technician for a local fire department.

This competitive international scholarship, which covers all costs for a year of post-graduate study at the University of Cambridge outside London, was established in 2001 by a $210 million donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This year, scholarships were awarded to 39 U.S. seniors and recent graduates who combine academic excellence with a commitment to improving the lives of others.

Franaszek will graduate in May with degrees in biology and economics that he will have completed in only three years. He conducts research at the department of cell biology and molecular genetics, looking for hidden points of vulnerability in the ways some viruses, like HIV and SARS , encode the proteins that give them structure and potency. On weekends, he is an emergency medical technician for the Branchville Volunteer Fire Department, which serves communities near the campus. Some of his patients are sick with the same viruses he seeks to understand and combat in the lab.

Combining science at the molecular level and hands-on care for patients helps the 20-year-old Olney, Md., resident stay focused on his ultimate goal: "to make a humane contribution."

"Intellectual pursuits are a goal in themselves," he says. But "trying to make something to help other people, I guess that's what drives me."

Franaszek, who was born in Krakow, Poland, is the son of a physicist and a pharmacologist. The family came to the United States soon after the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.

While still a student at Thomas S. Wooton High School in Rockville, Md., Franaszek worked in a laboratory at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology and took 17 advanced placement courses. After high school graduation in May 2010, he did summer work at the National Institutes of Health, and arrived at the University with nearly two-thirds the credits needed to graduate. He has worked in the molecular biology laboratory of Prof. Jonathan Dinman since his freshman year.

"He's got wonderful biological insight," says Dinman, Franaszek's academic advisor. Just as a jazz musician intuitively knows where a musical improvisation is headed, Franaszek intuitively understands the behavior of tiny biological molecules, the professor said.

Dinman's laboratory focuses on ribosomes, the molecular machines found within all living cells that link amino acids together to form proteins. Dinman's team works with viruses and yeast because their simplicity makes it easy to spot peculiarities in their ribosomes, which follow the commands of messenger RNA (mRNA) to assemble proteins in a specific sequence so the cells can reproduce and function.

Scientists studying mRNA initially thought each mRNA only encodes one protein, but there are exceptions. Franaszek's undergraduate research focuses on a phenomenon known as programmed ribosomal frameshifting, in which one mRNA can encode more than one protein.

"Imagine reading a sentence. You have spaces in order to know where one word ends and another begins. That tells you what frame you're reading in," explains Franaszek.

Just as a writer can change the meaning of a sentence by altering the spaces between words, some ribosomes can slip along the mRNA template that guides their protein synthesis, changing the kinds of proteins they synthesize. This doesn't happen with all types of mRNAs, but it can occur with mRNAs encoded by the HIV virus, the SARS coronavirus, and some mammalian genes, perhaps including those associated with liver cancer in humans.

Researchers hope their work will lead to drugs that interfere with frameshifting, disrupting the viruses' ability to reproduce. In Dinman's laboratory Franaszek studies the results of frameshifting experiments, looking for patterns that might show where the process is vulnerable to outside interference. At Cambridge, he'll do hands-on work with viruses and human cells in the laboratory of virologist Dr. Ian Brierley.

An avid rower who trains three to four hours a day with fellow members of the University of Maryland Crew Team, Franaszek also plans to try out for one of Cambridge's legendary rowing clubs.

UMD Expert: U.S. Airways-American Merger to Spur Robust Competition, Better Customer Service

February 14, 2013
Contacts: 

Greg Muraski 301-405-5283

Michael Ball 301-405-2227

Michael BallCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - Improved customer service driven by robust competition lies ahead of the new U.S. Airways-American Airlines merger, says Michael Ball, a University of Maryland expert on transportation systems and airport operations.

The move creates the world's largest carrier in a market dominated by four airlines. "The merger is a natural, almost inevitable evolution of the U.S. airline industry. The newly combined carrier, together with Delta, United and Southwest, will represent a strong group of competitors – each having a robust national footprint," says Ball, associate dean for faculty and research and Dean's Chair in Management Science in UMD's Robert H. Smith School of Business and co-director of NEXTOR, the National Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research.

Fares could increase in a limited number of markets due to reduced competition. But overall, and especially long-term, the merger will be advantageous for passengers, Ball says. "The four strong competitors will generally expand their national footprints, creating greater competition. In addition, as the airlines individually become healthier, they will be able to focus more on improving customer service and providing more innovative services, which should improve the customer experience."

Look for consolidated service and fewer flights in some markets, such as Charlotte-LaGuardia, he adds. "This is consistent with the impact of previous mergers and generally should be viewed as positive, reducing overall congestion and delays."

Ball also projects realignment of the combined U.S. Airways-American network, including some consolidation of the existing Dallas and Phoenix hub operations. "Most likely operations will be reduced at Phoenix with some potential increase in Dallas. No doubt there will be some rethinking of the combined strategy at Philadelphia and (New York) Kennedy, especially service to Europe with associated connections," he says. "The eventual outcome is hard to predict, but certainly changes will take place."

While the combined U.S. Airways-American corporation has the potential to be much stronger than the two as individual carriers, Ball cautions "a successful merger is by no means an easy task."

He says each airline today has different union representation, different sets of policies and procedures, different fleet characteristics and different operational control and planning systems. "A high degree of care and flexibility on the part of management and employees and investment of time and resources will be necessary. While it is unlikely that poor performance in these areas would derail the merger, it is certainly possible to induce a very long lag before a strong and robust combined airline would emerge."

How Do I Love Thee? Say it in Latin!

February 14, 2013
Contacts: 

Dave Ottalini 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The ancient Romans knew a little something about celebrating love - but it was March, not February when they had their fun. "Love celebrations did not show up on the ancient Roman calendar until March 1, which was sacred to Juno, goddess of marriage," says University of Maryland Classics Professor Judith Hallett. "On that day husbands would pray for the health of their wives and give them presents, and wives would dress up."

Poems were a favorite way to express that love - for instance, the poet Catullus (ca. 55 BCE) sent this missive to his married lover (translation by Dorothea Wender (1934-2003):

Catullus (ca. 55 BCE) sent this missive to his married lover (translation by Dorothea Wender (1934-2003)

Hallett says there are many, many examples of romantic poems sent by one Roman lover to another.

But for a romantic looking to express his or her love in the 21st Century, Hallett suggests something a bit...different. A more modern love song - translated into Latin, for example, might just be the perfect way to woo a lady's heart. Take the classic "As Time Goes By" (by Herman Hupfeld. Copyright 1931 by Warner Brothers) made famous in the movie Casabanca (scroll down to hear the audio version).

"As Time Goes By" (by Herman Hupfeld. Copyright 1931 by Warner Brothers)

Listen to As Time Goes By in Latin - sung by:

John Starks

Assistant Professor of Classics

State University of New York at Binghamton

 

Roman Playwright Plautus c. 254 - 184 BCEHallet's recent research has focused on ancient Roman "love talk." In a new essay published in Advances in the History of Rhetoric, Volume 9 (published at Maryland and edited by Professor Robert Gaines of the Communications Department), she focuses on the writing of Plautus' Phoenicium (Pseudolus 41-73). In that comedic work, Plautus - who was a 2nd century BCE (Before Christian Era) playwright - looks at the different ways in which two men of very different social classes assess the erotically-charged words of one specific woman.

"Plautus, in his characteristically funny way, illustrates that social class, that of the critic and that of the writer, plays a major role in how Roman women's writings, and in this case erotic Latin writings, were judged by men," says Hallett.

Professor Hallett's Faculty Home Page

Gender, Class, and Roman Rhetoric: Assessing the writing of Plautus' Phoenicium (Pseudolus 41-73) by Prof. Judith Hallett (PDF)

 Classics Department at the University of Maryland

Journalism Experts Gather to Discuss Challenges in the Digital Age

February 13, 2013
Contacts: 

Dave Ottalini 301-405-4076

Note: Some content provided by the Journalism Interactive 2013 website and Gary Green.

Journalism Interactive Conference 2013COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Faculty from the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism traveled to Florida this past weekend for the second Journalism Interactive Conference - designed for educators, journalists, scholars and students to explore how journalism schools are meeting the challenge of the digital age. The focus was specifically on Data, Design, Mobile and Participation.

The Merrill College and University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications formed a partnership last year to rotate the conference every other year between the two schools. The first Journalism Interactive event was held in College Park in 2011 and it will return to campus in 2014.

At the time the partnership was announced, Merrill College Journalism Dean Lucy Dalglish said, "We created the conference in 2011 with the aim of improving journalism education by fostering dialogue about new ways of teaching digital media and we are pleased to partner with UF in continuing these discussions in 2013."

Attendees came to this year's event from as far away as Kuwait. The program schedule featured some 46 academic and industry speakers from throughout the U.S. Social media was used extensively as the interactive sessions took place, including Twitter and a live blog.

Ronald Yaros, professor of new media and mobile journalism at the University of MarylandSessions included discussions about the journalist as coder, what journalists can learn from each other, landing cool jobs, student reporting in the real world, Tweeting your assignment and an exploration of the strengths and weaknesses of Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premier.

One of the highlights was the "7 Minute Tutorial" in which 10 tutorials offered 10 skills over a 70 minute period.

One of those speakers was Ronald Yaros, professor of new media and mobile journalism at the University of Maryland. He offered the top ten lessons for mobile journalism, including:

1. It's not just production of mobile content, it's the assembly of it for news consumers.
2. A live event for students to cover is not the same as classroom practice.
3. Practice, practice, practice…hold the device steady!
4. Conduct brief interviews. It's not a mobile interview for "60 Minutes."
5. No, viewers won't turn their screen sideways.  Hold your device horizontal, not vertical.
6. Pay attention to lighting and framing.
7. Most mobile video has poor audio. You must stand close to the interviewee
8. Think about adding audio with photos
9. Learn the skills but think out of the box. The audiences are changing.
10. Be prepared for more changes in mobile technology. It will only get better.

UMD's Don Kettl: Rules for Obama's State of the Union

February 12, 2013
Contacts: 

Jennifer Talhelm 301-405-4390

Don KettlBy Donald F. Kettl, dean of the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Obama's 2013 State of the Union Address is probably the most important speech of his second term, barring a major crisis. It might even be his most important speech, period, because now's the time to define and cement his legacy. So, as he preps for the big moment, here are five things he has to do—and five things he must avoid.
   
THINGS TO DO:

  1. Bookend the inaugural. Obama's second inaugural address got mostly strong reviews. He defined his own vision of liberalism for the 21st century. But now he needs soaring rhetoric to inspire - and specific details to give it life. Tough balancing act.
  2. Be Ali. Not the 1974 Mohammed Ali who "rope-a-doped" George Foreman, staying in the corner and daring Foreman to punch himself out. Instead, he needs to be the "float like a butterfly sting like a bee" Ali brought a decade before to beat Sonny Liston. Light on the feet will win the night. 
  3. It's still jobs, jobs, jobs. For better or worse, Obama owns the jobs issue now. He'll talk about investing in America to build jobs for the future.  But Americans want jobs, now, and he needs a believable plan to bring unemployment down. Given the fact the president can't do much to control the global jobs picture, that's a tall order.
  4. Lay out the budget plan. It's time to show us the money. Just how would the administration balance the budget? It's the fourth quarter of the budget game and it's time for the long ball.  Americans are tired of watching games that end in ugly ties and go into overtime.
  5. Paint the Republicans deeper into the corner. The Republicans, of course, have done a pretty good job of taking themselves out of the game. They're reeling, without a spokesperson or an idea to rally around. A powerful speech can win enough capital to keep them reeling.

THINGS NOT TO DO:

  1. Don't lay down everything you've got. Four fiscal cliffs are down the road—the March 1 sequester battle, the end-of-March end of the government's authority to spend, the mid-April debt ceiling fight, and the October 1 start of the new budget year.  It's time to keep a save a few surprises for the inevitable cliff hangers.
  2. Go easy on plants in the balcony. We've had a great run of personages sitting near the First Lady who are singled out for applause. It's been a great device for a generation, but it needs a rest.
  3. Don't taunt the Republicans. No one needs another "You lie!" moment, like the ugly interruption of Obama's September 2009 speech.  Americans don't want to see live sniping on national television.
  4. Don't call out the Court. Obama badly stumbled in 2010 when he criticized the Supreme Court for its Citizens United ruling, which opened the floodgates for campaign cash. The 2012 election proved he was right—but it's not nice to skewer the justices when they're sitting right in front of the dais and, by protocol, can't even crack a scowl. Plus, without Chief Justice Roberts' decision to save Obamacare, he wouldn't even be giving this speech.
  5. Stay away from the jokes.  Remember the 2012 pun on oil spills and spilled milk?  Or the 2011 crack about which federal agency regulates salmon?  'Nuf said. He gives a great speech—but can't tell a good joke.

To that, add the big question: can he keep it under 50 minutes? And keep viewers from tuning out?

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