Two takes on Black Friday, plus views on Pirate winter sports, athletic conference musical chairs, and the Petreaus scandal...

Have your fun on Black Friday, but not quite guilt-free
Let’s go with the positive spin first. The day after Thanksgiving, known in the United States as “Black Friday” and the biggest retail shopping day of the year, is free market capitalism at its best, a feeding frenzy of fun, and if you don’t like it, don’t participate. And the Thanksgiving holiday is kind of overrated anyway, is it not? We may take a quick moment to give thanks for all we have, but it’s mostly a day to eat too much food and watch football, and the most important thing that you’re truly thankful for is that cranky uncle Earl ate and drank too much and passed out before he could go on his annual Obama’s-communist-America rant. But now, some retailers are expanding Black Friday, in that they’re opening their stores on Thanksgiving night; they’re infringing on the holiday, and some are particularly irked by that. But if the kitchen’s cleaned up, most of the relatives have gone home and the final football game of the day is a yawner, why not go stand in line outside a big-box retailer? OK, fine, do so. But when you’re jumping over piles of trampled, injured shoppers to get your grubby little paws on a $149 flat-screen plasma TV – not a gift for a loved one, mind you, but for yourself – feel free to feel at least one tiny pang of guilt.

The season of giving is upon us, and the season of shopping
The season of giving is upon us. On Thursday, millions of families across America will gather at the table and give thanks for all that they have. They will eat a lot of food and probably sleep it off in the afternoon and take it easy into the weekend. But then there are those brave souls who dare to get up ridiculously early the next morning to get in line at a store to buy an item on their loved one's Christmas list on what has become the busiest shopping day of the year. It's an event that many look forward to and that's fine. But in recent years, actual injuries have been attained, mainly coming from shoppers getting trampled when rushing into the store as doors open. There have even been reports of fights breaking out. Is ensuring a good deal on a certain item worth more than your own safety? No.  Instead of crowding the doors of a store, shoppers could form a line and enter in a civilized fashion. Also, if two different parties come across the last of the same item, they should remember that there will likely be more shipments coming in as weeks progress and be reasonably priced. If you're going Black Friday shopping this year, just take these tips in consideration. Amanda Wagner, Times intern

Enough musical chairs in athletic conferences
Enough already with the conference musical chairs! All over the world of college athletics schools are trying to position themselves to be in the best conference that will make them the most money. A decade ago or so you would only hear about one or so teams every few years moving to a different conference. Now, every few months there is a rumor of schools bolting one conference and joining another. It was confirmed today that Maryland will be moving to the Big Ten and Rutgers is expected to follow. It wasn't too long ago that the Big Ten realigned itself into divisions with the addition of Nebraska. College hockey fans know too well how schools moving conferences can shake things up. The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference added Minot State and Sioux Falls this year. Enough of the conference cavorting! Everybody just stay put!

An affair to forget
This whole Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley-Allen thing has spiraled out of control and is  reminiscent of the President Clinton impeachment attempt. Just because a high-ranking official lets his heart – and another body part – take over his usually intelligent head does not necessarily translate into job incompetence and should not automatically dictate a resignation. Adultery may be immoral but it's not illegal, and when sordid details best kept private are made public in witch hunts, lives are ruined. Although Petraeus and Allen exercised poor judgement, especially by forever embedding evidence of indiscretions into emails, there is no proof at this time that national security has been breached. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Make winter a good season, Pirates
Winter is definitely the longest season for Pirate sports, and arguably the most successful season as well. With boys’ basketball and wrestling starting up their first practices on Monday, the long-lasting season is here for everyone. With high hopes for their teams, winter sports’ coaches have been raising the bar for their teams in the first few practices. Girls’ hockey has already started their season with a 1-1 record, and girls’ basketball and boys’ hockey will begin competing Tuesday, Nov. 27 when they both have their first game of the season. Good luck to all of the winter sports' athletes, coaches and teams on your seasons, let's try and make the 2012-2013 season memorable. Katie Davidson, student staff writer