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Archive for December, 2004

Good News!

Friday, December 31st, 2004

Former OC contributor Brian Boone is alive and well. And he’s rocking the hell out of PITTSBURGH. Make sure you cacth him next Sunday at the HARD ROCK CAF´┐Ż Station Square (412) 481-7625 Doors open @ 8:30pm With David Gamble and opening act marklane. Advanced Tickets $5.00 from performers @ shows.

But enough of this nonsense. It’s New Years Eve! I’m clearly already drunk! Or maybe you’re the drunk one. Who do you think you are anyway? Nobody, that’s who.

We Should Invade Their Countries, Kill Their Leaders and Force Them to Listen to Rocket to Russia

Friday, December 31st, 2004

Did you know that Ann Coulter loves the Ramones? And the Grateful Dead! Did you care? Well… sorry… I thought it was strange… but youre right…

Randites of the World Unite

Thursday, December 30th, 2004

Attention objectivists: The Ayn Rand Institute is looking for college students to submit essays about the Atlas Shrugged for a contest. First prize is $5,000, though one can assume that once the federal government extorts its unfair share spending it on something ridiculous like tsunami relief (seriously, what were those people doing there in the first place? Its not our fault theyre stupid) — the amount will be far less.

The contest requires college students to respond to one of a number of quotes from the book. For example:

Galt: Which is the monument to the triumph of the human spirit over matter: the germ-eaten hovels on the shorelines of the Ganges or the Atlantic skyline of New York?*

A surefire way to win this contest is to stick to a script, a template:

1) Use the term moral certainty at least three dozen times on the first page alone. In fact, this could be your entire essay. Refer to yourself as “Moral Certainty” for good measure
2) Insinuate, but do not state explicitly, that feelings are, you know, totally for the weak and shit.
3) Affluence is the sole defining feature of a man. Without affluence, a man might as well be holed-up in some hovel eating germs on the shoreline of the Ganges (even in this case the germ-man relationship has been reversed).
4) Big buildings are beautiful.

* Does anybody else want to read the submissions for this particular quote as badly as I do?

New Issue

Thursday, December 30th, 2004

Im at home, kicking back with my favorite Christmas gift, a 24 pack of Corona (I love my family). Theres a James Bond movie on Spike TV and Im feeling that warm inner glow that comes only when youre able to stop the shakes long enough to forget the worries in your life and enjoy the greater, simpler things, like over-priced Mexican beer and violence-tinged British misogyny.
Of course this means the new issue is online. Otherwise I would be crying softly to myself or drinking rubbing alcohol or possibly Big Bear. Were trying to streamline the website, so if you click the image to your right you will automatically download a PDF of the newest issue. Its filled with thrills, spills, copious nudity, and gratuitous puppy bludgeoning (this will be edited out for the print edition).
Enjoy the new issue and have a happy New Year. Im Chinese, so my New Year is on February 9th this year. Its the year of the rooster, so you know what that means go cocks!

Deep End Doesn’t Even Begin To Describe It.

Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

Ramsey Clarke is officially batshit loco. If being a party to ANSWER protests wasn’t enough, he’s now decided to defend Saddam and demand that Washington be put on trial. Oh, LBJ, what a legacy you left us. Fine, okay, yeah, he signed the Civil Rights Act, that’s one point out of a possible 100. I think Ol’ Ramsey is probably a 50 point penalty, leaving the final LBJ score someplace in the neighborhood of -110, give or take a few made up Viet Cong attacks.

And Yet They Call America A Police State

Tuesday, December 28th, 2004

Via the most wonderful Jane Galt, I think we’ve all learned the real reason Ruff came to the states. That criminal!

Jolly Holiday in Ukraine

Tuesday, December 28th, 2004

Isn’t it difficult to have an election when the current occupant of the office loses the vote but won’t step down?

Perhaps the United States is setting a bad example:
“… Yanukovych has refused to concede defeat and is vowing to challenge the results in court. His camp says it has filed nearly 5,000 complaints about Sunday’s balloting.”
Hm. Must have come from those lawyers the Kerry camp had on call.

Yanukovych lost, this last time by 2.3 million votes. Why not have a fourth vote and see what happens, or just hold the election over and over until he wins? Then again, rock paper scissors is an underrated way of settling things, and should be used more often. Best two out of three? No cheatsies, and…hey, you!…get that dioxin vial away from Yushchenko’s lunch!

Best Christmas Gift Ever

Saturday, December 25th, 2004

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Whoa!

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

_40628935_millauclouds_ap220.jpg

J.H.C.! Have you seen the Millau bridge in France? It’s friggin’ huge. Another big government undertaking by the socialist French? Nope. This was paid for entirely by the French construction group Eiffage – you may have heard of another project of theirs, the Eiffel Tower – in return for the right to collect a bridge toll for 75 years. Good deal.

pic20.jpg

And while we’re on the subject of giant construction projects, let’s not forget about China’s Three Gorges Dam reservoir, which will be visible from the moon when it’s completed in 2009. This bad boy will engulf entire cities, displacing millions of people! Aren’t corporations supposed to be the biggest threat to the environment?

Excuse Me?

Tuesday, December 21st, 2004

Thought y’all might enjoy this. Needless to say, I have taken myself off the subscription list. Bully for Planned Parenthood and everything, but how far is too far?

Title of email from Planned Parenthood: “You’d Better Watch Out…”

I get the Christmas song reference, but it is not, emphatically not, very very
not, the best title for an email.

The first paragraph reads:
“Dear Melissa,

Wait, wait – before you turn a deaf ear to hard news and
politics and dive head first into gift giving, family dinners,
and a needed vacation from work, be sure to keep an eye on our
new Supreme Court Watch site.”

Dear Planned Parenthood;
Thank you for taking the time out of this magical holiday season to beat me over the head with my own reproductive responsibilities. In fact, I will put Christmas morning present-opening on hiatus until I have called every member of the Supreme Court and prostrated myself before the shrine of Obnoxious Extremist Behaviors. I throw in my two cents on abstinance-only sex education and Catholic health insurance plans, and this is what I get in my inbox!? Bah, Humbug!

Also, this is entertaining. What’s next… Castle of Swords for Cutters/Self Mutilators?

Hate Mongering

Monday, December 20th, 2004

In the comments above Tyler mentions that the PFC is throwing around the spread from last year’s HATE issue [Vol XXI, Issue XII & XIII, Pg 20] as an example of “hate mongering” by the Commentator.

As the Editor who ran that picture, the one whose friend drew it, and the person by whom the entire theme for that issue was decided, I would like to take this opportunity to explain to the PFC and anyone interested a little about the issue theme. Also, I will be recounting a brief experience I had with one R. Johnson of Eugene.

Fist of all, The HATE Issue. For regular readers of the magazine, and for those with a sense of humor, understanding the HATE issue is simple. However, some folks might not get it, so let me explain. Every May, the staff of the Oregon Commentator takes 48 pages to vent its spleen. Topics covered every year are “I Hate Eugene”, “I Hate the UO” and something akin to “I Hate the ASUO.” Other topics vary, but in my four years at the Commentator squirrels, the French, science, The Brainerd Lab, “My Girlfriend’s Cat” and Whitey have been the subjects of ire.

As a sophomore, I wrote “I Hate Jesse Jackson” which wasn’t about the man so much as his mostly horrible ideas and his propensity for, say, complete and total hypocrisy. Notice that all subjects covered are lampooned (to be generous) for their behavior rather than their identity. I suppose “I hate Whitey” is an exception to this rule, but if that joke was beyond your grasp, well, there’s nothing I or anyone else can do for you.

With the basic premise of the HATE issue laid out, let’s move on to that picture with the swastika on the robot. In April of this year, or maybe it was May, I asked my friend Christopher Flanagan to do some art for me. I’ve known him for years, he’s a good guy, and a hell of an artist as the issue demonstrates. Chris, also, is not a particular fan of my politics. The instructions I gave him were something like, “I want five, full-colour two-page spreads; plus a cover; plus your advertisement by three weeks from now. Theme? Hrm…I was thinking Gothic Horror, but how about some stuff that just looks real cool and is kinda scary? Great.”

Chris and I talked about the project off and on, and I think he at one point asked me if nazi robots were scary. I replied that, yes, yes they were. I didn’t really see more than concept sketches and the finished products which, honestly, are some of the best art I’ve seen for an issue of the Commentator. So yeah, there’s a swastika on page 20. You know what? Nazis are scary, I have encountered their modern-day brethren, as I will elaborate on shortly, but the fact that one robot that MUST die is denoted as a nazi robot using an easily recognizable symbol of national socialism tells nothing of the opinion of the magazine. Do we believe in zombies because they appear on page 14? When Brian Boone wrote “I Hate Squirrels” did he think they really were plotting revolution?

Let’s take this one step further, there is a button I saw around campus periodically, I believe my old roommate even had one, that depicts a stick figure putting a swastika into a wastebasket. Does this backpack ornament belie the wearer’s latent nazi sympathies? I think not. WAIT! Didn’t Ed Harris wear not only a swastika, but an entire Nazi uniform to film Enemy At The Gates? He must be a closet anti-Semite!

Furthermore, and the other denizens of the EMU third-floor can attest to this, I once threatened a holocaust denier (and probable neo-nazi) with bodily harm if he ever returned to my office. In fall of last year, that’d be late 2003 for all you Gregorian calendar folks, a shabbily dressed man in an orange knit cap and glasses came into the OC office. He said, “I have some literature you boys might find interesting.” I glanced at the top of the pile, then thumbed through. The first item in the stack was something called the DeWeese report, which I won’t link to, and was probably the closest thing to acceptable in the lot. The majority was psychotic, nutball conspiracy theory about Jews and Judaism, and a fair amount of holocaust denial material. Needless to say, I was not pleased.

So I got the guy’s attention by screaming something like “hey fucker” at him. I then proceeded to hurl his materials at him, call him a fascist [and, for once, the word was used correctly], yell and curse in his face quite a lot, and threaten him with great physical injury if he returned to spread his filth again. The practical upshot was his shouting, “your children will live in tyranny” and my going to apologize to the folks in Legal Services and down at the ODE for causing such a disturbance. Weeks later we got a letter from one R. Johnson of Eugene explaining that he’d seen me at my most irrational, that my children would still live in tyranny, and that he’s not a nazi but a man out trying to spread the truth.

Quick Recap:

1) Nazi sympathizer comes in.
2) I yell at him, throw his garbage at him, tell him to leave on pain of death.
3) He leaves.
4) I apologize for the noise and cursing.
5) I get a letter explaining to me that I am intolerant for refusing to listen to said same holocaust denier and probable neo-nazi.

Tgraf was there, I’m sure somebody at the ODE heard, and I know the folks in Legal Services were wondering what was up. Hell, I called my now ex-girlfriend minutes later in a fluster from the encounter. But, hey, I ran a picture of a swastika on page 20; that must mean I am a hateful, horrible person. Nope, doesn’t matter that I think Hasidism is about the coolest spiritual outlook on the planet, nah. I ran a swastika. Best non-econ professor I had in college? Hands down Jon Seidel [JDST 213, it's awesome], but that doesn’t matter, I ran a swastika.

Please. They could at least come up with something even sort of tenable, even if their tomfoolery is patently unconstitutional. It’s no fun shooting lame ducks.

More Not-PFC Things

Monday, December 20th, 2004

Latest child psychology news? Imaginary friends are perfectly normal, healthy manifestations of a child’s imagination and contrary to previous research, should be kept as long as necessary. Although it doesn’t go this far, I suspect the next step is to suggest…gasp…that adults who have imaginary friends are ok, too!

Raise your hand if you know which in-your-face alternative reality University contributed to this research! Oooh, oh, pick me, I know! University of Oregon, courtesy of Marjorie Taylor of the Psychology Department!

To illustrate: “… there has been little research on the purpose of pretend pals and whether school-age kids do shed them, Taylor says. Her study of 100 children finds that imaginary friends come and go. Some are invisible humans, the children say. The talking buddy also can be an animal, a doll or a GI Joe.”

Personally, I prefer to talk to the skulls in the anthropology lab. I suppose the basic tenet of imaginary friends is “It’s ok for them to talk to you, as long as you don’t answer them in public company” But further down:

“In fact, parents should look for day care and preschool programs that allow time for imaginative play so children can interact with pretend figures, Willer says. “Even if parents discourage it, it’s going to happen.”

There are any number of parallels to draw here, from parental banishments of most of the things we hold dear (sex, drugs, booze, rock n’ roll, sugar, caffine, boredom, etc. etc.) to where to distinguish potentially dangerous mental illness from normal everyday psychotic behaviors.

For diversity purposes: percent male, percent female, and percent imaginary friends enrolled at UO full-time. You can’t ignore them just because they don’t exist!

Parables and Precedents

Friday, December 17th, 2004

If you think we’re going over the top here, I assure you: we only do so when our survival is at stake. The situation is not exactly unprecedented, of course: the question of what can be printed on campus is perennial. I even dimly recall one of these controversies myself. I think it provides a teachable moment, although it’ll take a while to lay out in detail.

Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I’ll begin.

Dateline January 2001, when Southworth was still fresh in our minds. The good ol’ Student Insurgent, just being adorable, decided to tackle the issue of animal research. Being insurgents, their approach involved reproducing a primer from the Animal Liberation Front on effective ways to commit sabotage and property damage – and being students, they juxtaposed it with a list of various professors’ names and home addresses. Emerald coverage here.

Not surprisingly, many people felt this was going a bit far. While the professors were public figures – the same way that members of the ASUO Senate are public figures, for example – the Insurgents weren’t just calling the professors “silly [and] self-aggrandizing” – they seemed to be tacitly recommending the perpetration of violent acts against them. Emerald outrage here.

The PFC, in its frequently assumed capacity as a moral compass, swung ponderously into action. While they approved the group’s budget and mission statement, they placed the money in a holding fund and denied the group access to it pending resolution of the legal issues. Again, let me stress: the paper printed the home addresses of these professors alongside an Animal Liberation Front handout on how to best commit acts of property damage, and their budget passed PFC. Emerald argle-bargling here. Unfortunately, the Insurgent‘s web presence doesn’t contain this issue (nor has it been updated for the last three years) but their somewhat unconvincing claim to be merely fostering a dialogue seems to have been listened to. (I’m sure that the presence of collective member Willie Thompson on PFC at the time had nothing to do with this.)

And what happened? Well, of course, the PFC was flagrantly exceeding their authority, and got their asses handed back to them. The Insurgent is still with us, and the campus is the richer for it, lunatics though they may be. Emerald flapdoodling here. Our own response is locked up in a PDF file halfway down this page (Issue VII) but is worth quoting:

On an aesthetic level, [the Insurgent] reads more like a parody of itself, a grab-bag of mindless rants, dialectical arguments, and unmitigated hypocrisy. It’s ugly, poorly edited and barely laid out. The spelling is wrong, the graphics are pointless, the headlines are non sequiturs, the content is reprinted filler and the logic is circular… That said, the Insurgent does not, by any means, deserve to lose its funding, not this year at least. If the PFC really is afraid of a lawsuit against the Insurgent “jeopardizing the fee”, as so many student government wonks often dread, they’re just not familiar with the First Amendment case law… While extreme, [the Insurgent's] beliefs are relevant to much of the curriculum, from sociology to biology and women’s studies. In the short run, Frohnmayer could rule otherwise and the tradition of allowing unpopular political speech in the court system would reverse the outcome.

Nice work there, Bill (I think). Once more for the record: home addresses, primer on sabotage, budget and mission statement passed PFC.

To paraphrase Patrick Henry: if this be hate speech, make the most of it! You sack of bastards.

BLOG!

Friday, December 17th, 2004

Our buddy Blog has been linked on Volokh. Awesome.

UPDATE: And speaking of linked on Volokh….Thanks Professor!

Some Good News

Thursday, December 16th, 2004

I’ve backdated this as to keep Dan’s most excellent letter to the PFC at the top of the page above my ramblings where it belongs, but I just can’t explain how excited I am by some news about Global Warming.

That’s right, Global Warming. Steve Verdon [DRINK!] points out this most interesting piece about the Global Warming “hockey stick”. It turns out that the model used to generate that data is fundamentally flawed and generated a similar graph when given trendless monte carlo data. Practical upshot? Global Warming may not even be real.

And this is good news, no matter which way you slice it. If you were worried about the end of the world, hooray, we are saved! If you were sick of listening to econuts talk about the sad state of the planet, they no longer have a stick to lean on! Of course, it’ll be 50 years before they give up that flawed graph, but we can dream.

And yes, I know I’m being hyperbolic, because this really just reopens the debate, but that’s a ton of progress…we’ll see how long popular wisdom takes to catch up.

[UPDATE]: I have forward-dated Dan’s entry above to appear on the top of the page for the next month, I figure it should stay there until school is back in session. Other posts will appear below it. Do not be alarmed.