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SMU prepares for bowl game INSIDE Winter style selections PAGE 2 DFW’s hottest holiday events PAGE 5 Student quits Facebook PAGE 6 PAGE 7 WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 5, 2012 Wednesday High 72, Low 45 Thursday High 82, Low 54 VOLUME 98 ISSUE 46 FIRST COPY FREE, ADDITIONAL COPIES 50 CENTS ME ADOWS Courtesy of Photowings Kael Alford, an adjunct Meadows professor, is a photojournalist. SMU artist travels world, lands on Hilltop Courtesy of AP A Navy officer salutes during the inactivation ceremony for the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise at Naval Station Norfolk Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 in Norfolk, Va. Professor, fellow call for action on fiscal cliff KATELYN GOUGH News Editor The phrase “fiscal cliff ” has dominated much of the nation’s political news recently, and so have talks surrounding the defense budget in light of international conflict. The John Goodwin Tower Center’s National Security Conference held on campus several weeks ago, zeroed in on the close relations between the two. Professor James Hollifield said that since the conference, talk surrounding the defense budget and its dependence on the issues regarding the fiscal cliff has continued and escalated. “If we go off this so-called fiscal cliff, are there going to be deep cuts in the defense budget?” Hollifield said it’s that question that is dominating many negotiations between “the president and the Republican Party.” “The fear is that budgets are going to overwhelm stratedy,” Hollifield said. Admiral Patrick Walsh, keynote speaker at the conference and a Tower Center fellow, said that the key factors in having the defense the country needs are forces, strategy and budget. “All three have to work together,” Walsh said. According to Walsh, changes in international relations over the past few decades currently drives much of what is required of the country’s defense. With the rise of nation-states and groups like al-Qaeda, he said the U.S. must take a proactive role in preparing defense. “It is very important as we look at potential threats and risks in the future that we encapsulate the same framework,” Walsh said of keeping what works and developing new strategies for what doesn’t. He explained that international tensions created by things like “the association with radical Islam” and other terrorist groups “is a problem that continues to linger,” and it requires far more devotion and commitment than many are willing to provide. “It is not going to go away because we make changes to the budget or strategy,” he said. “It is a problem we are going to need to continue to pace ourselves for with a sustainable approach.” He emphasized “the rise of the nation state,” which Walsh said stems from “an unresolved sense of national identity, integrity, and wholeness”. Cases of civil issues internationally now come with “the rise of armies and navies” thus creating an entirely new challenge to the U.S. defense plan. “We do have to be prepared strategically for a surprise,” Walsh said. Taking a proactive role comes back to the need for a resolved, effective defense budget and strategy Hollifield said. He said solving the budget questions is something of immediate importance. Walsh asserted that “if we don’t have a plan to get across the fiscal cliff,” then the country is at risk of damaging “either the economy or the industrial base.” He said that would be nearly impossible to bounce back from. “We have to do this now,” Walsh said. “We cannot afford to allow ourselves to get to the point that you cannot recover.” ECONOMY Holidays mean big business for Park Cities CLARA LEMON Contributing Writer It is 9:30 a.m. on a chilly November day, and Bruno Macias and his team from Park Cities Lights have barely begun to hang the Christmas lights on a large house on Armstrong Parkway. They have adorned almost every bush along the pathways surrounding the house and some of the trees in the yard. Balancing precariously on a tall ladder, a worker manages to hang another strand along the rooftop. This is the busiest time of year for companies like Park Cities Christmas Lights that decorate houses in Highland Park where residents go all out during the holiday season. This area has become famous in Dallas for the light displays put on by the residents each year, which is a tradition that has lasted for nearly 50 years. The Highland Park lights not only attract onlookers but have also created a great business opportunity for light companies and other organizations during the holidays. However, such a fantastic light show does not come with a small price tag; some houses can cost thousands to decorate with the size of most of the properties in Highland Park, this is no small feat. The trees themselves can cost as much as $30,000 to light. “You would be amazed at how much money is spent on just the lights,” Macias said. “We use thousands of lights just to cover the bushes and trees, and for these families it’s go big or go home.” The price for installing Christmas lights is determined by how many lights are used, as well as the difficulty level of the design and installation. Macias meets with the owners of each home at the start of the season to discuss the layout and design. Some customers will even coordinate their flashing lights to holiday music complete with moving reindeer and nativity scenes. The area with the biggest light displays is contained by the Dallas North Toll way to the east, Preston Road to the west, Mockingbird to the north and Armstrong Parkway to the south. “It’s exactly like in the movies,” Tony Gonzalez, a light installer, SIDNEY HOLLINGSWORTH/TheDailyCampus The Celebration of Lights at SMU uses more than 138,000 lights. said. “People don’t want to be showed up by other families on the street, so they try and out-do their neighbors.” Macias said that many of the houses are left vacant during the holidays as Highland Park families travel to vacation outside of Dallas. That still doesn’t stop them from decorating their houses, and it’s not only families that compete during the holiday season. Many of the lighting companies working to attract customers must fight for attention in this big selling neighborhood. “A lot of times, you’ll see we have sign wars,” Macias said. “People will steal signs from some companies and write over them, or slash them or put them in trees — all to get more advertising.” Another big lighting company in competition with Park Cities Lights is the Christmas Light CompanyIinc., owned by a friend of Macias, Bill Rathburn. ZAIN HAIDAR Contributing Writer Although the Meadows School of the Arts sometimes seems like a world of its own, for adjunct professor Kael Alford it’s just another pit stop on a never ending journey across the globe. Before coming to teach at SMU, Alford went from the Balkans to the Netherlands, and finally to Iraq before returning to America. Her return, however, was not a mark of slowing down. “I was kind of a restless person — always pushing the boundaries of any social situation I was in,” Alford said. This restlessness has been a defining characteristic of Alford’s career as a documentary photographer, writer and journalist. It even affected the way Alford chose her professional pathway, which didn’t necessarily begin with the idea of photojournalism. “I always imagined I would be a writer. I still think of myself as a writer,” Alford said. Alford specialized in English and anthropology at Boston University, but eventually went on to achieve her masters in journalism at the University of Missouri. It was during the latter half of her higher education that Alford grew to enjoy photojournalism. However, Alford’s choice to pursue documentary photography wasn’t a complete surprise. “When I was young, I was always exploring my neighborhoods anything in walking distance. The exploration in my childhood made me interested in photojournalism as a career.” The theme of exploration runs through the catalogue of Alford’s work: particularly her photography documenting the Iraq War and soil erosion on the Louisiana coastline. Both series attempt to uncover a side of the story that may not be accurately represented in the media. These stories, though nearly invisible to the outside world, get airplay through Alford’s lens. “I think her philosophy is that of what I consider to be the great documentarians, which is make the unseen visible through whatever it takes,” professor Michael Corris said. To get a good grasp on the unseen, Alford has employed extreme measures in the past. For her photography during the Iraq War, Alford managed to negotiate a visa at the consulate in Jordan three weeks before the invasion of Baghdad. When asked why she put herself in such danger, Alford emphasized the importance of shedding light on both sides of the issue. “There’s the story the government tells about what’s happening on the ground, and you can count on that narrative being false in some way or another,” Alford said. Although the situation in Iraq called for a distrust of the local government, Alford’s work in the Pointe-aux-Chenes and Isle de Jean Charles areas of Louisiana point to a much more personal connection. “[Her] position is one that’s politically informed, but she’s looking at the areas not getting a lot of media coverage. She’s drawn to those areas,” Corris said. The unseen element of Alford’s work in the Gulf includes the forgotten Native American and French populations that still reside on the disappearing lands. Alford can trace her heritage to these populations through her maternal grandmother’s family and her work resonates with an attachment to the fading area. “These are places literally washing out to sea. I like to imagine this is as a footnote of these communities’ history,” Alford said. While Alford’s freelance work and personal projects have taken her to a mix of countries across the world, her photography is meant to wade through the confusion of conflict and provide a glimpse into the lives of civilians on the ground. “Her ability to find the human element and spirit amongst decay, destruction or chaos is a gift,” teaching assistant William Binnie said. When it comes to the photographic process, Alford admits the limits of her journalistic training. “Journalism’s more limited because of the contract between the audience and the photographer. The audience needs to know you’re not intervening in any way,” Alford said. This shift from documentary reporting to a more personal approach comes to light between Alford’s two books Unembedded and Bottom of ‘da Boot – which focus on Iraq and Louisiana respectively. “[Alford is] not afraid to get out and go somewhere. That’s my idea of documentary photography in the context of journalism,” Corris said. Alford’s time is currently consumed by her responsibilities as an adjunct professor, her project on the Louisiana coastline and workshopping around the country. Regardless of her time commitments, however, Alford remains dedicated to exploring mysteries in the world. “Artists do what they do because they have questions they want to answer. Art gives them the space to explore those possibilities,” Alford said.


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