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Archive for February, 2006

Emerald finds cartoonist titillating, disproportional

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Art Spiegelman, madman genius behind Maus, Shadow of No Towers, RAW, and those Garbage Pail Kids for which those of us around in the eighties used to trade our lunch money, was in town on his “Comix 101″ tour last night at the Shedd Auditorium.

Also present at the Shedd was an ODE reporter, whose coverage is nearly as comical as Spiegelman’s presentation. Explaining the fact that he was smoking on stage, the Emerald quotes the speaker as saying, “This is a performance by an erotic, self-absorbed cartoonist from New York.” Um… A NEUROTIC, self-absorbed cartoonist, Philip. Neurotic people smoke; perhaps you’ve seen me traipsing past the Emerald office fifteen times a day. Erotic performers generally take their clothes off when they take a stage; as Speigelman is a middle-aged man, that might have gotten a little bit weird.

The article’s full of stuff like this, by the way, but maybe you’d have had to be there to notice.

Spiegelman had a lot to say about the Jyllands-Posten thing, and he might even have stolen some of our upcoming thunder. (< -- HINT) A staggering majority of those in attendance admitted they hadn't seen the cartoons. They've seen 'em now. Unlike Ted Rall , he’s drawn up some arresting images in response to Iran’s call for anti-Semitic cartoons, which he showed last night. The only one he couldn’t get published featured a drawing of a heap of skinny bodies in the foreground, a razor-wire fence in the midground, and some beefy guards and puffing smokestacks in the background. Between the fence and the bodies, a single-file line of emaciated, somber prisoners. But the prisoner in the middle of the line is colorfully drawn, leaning back in laughter, squealing, “You know what cracks me up, though? The fact that none of this ever happened!”

I really wish I could link to the ones he’s gotten published– but you know how those Jews at the New Yorker can be.

Thursday OC Meeting

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Who: You and the original cast of Star Trek: Enterprise
What: The Thursday Commentator Meeting
When: 6:30pm on Thursday March 3rd
Where: The Commentator office in EMU Room 319, looking down on the Emerald

In Other ODE News…

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

A rather bizarre pie-throwing story was reported by the Emerald on Friday and today we get a peek into how the investigation is going in a story titled “Prank victim slow to cite racism”:

The Department of Public Safety is investigating the matter. DPS is searching the Internet for any possible leads, Martinez said. DPS has no suspects, he said.

A pie has been thrown? To the Internet, Watson!

“While we can’t determine … if the perpetrator was motivated by race or anything else, it is clear that when things like this happen, particularly to students of color on campus, it makes us instantly talk about race,” Martinez said. “It forces us into a conversation about the welcomingness of this environment for students of color.

“So whether or not it was motivated by race, we have a responsibility to address those issues as they come up about events like this, regardless of what may have been the motivating force,” Martinez said.

Uh, so even if the pie-throwing was a random prank you’re still going to shout racism, Mr. Martinez? Way to keep things civil.
Of course no one seems to know who the perpetrators are or what their motivation was. And the person who was hit by the pie appears to be the sanest person involved, at least if his quotes in the Emerald are any indication. Hopefully the idiots will be caught and this student can spend the rest of his time at Oregon free of pie-throwing morons and racists.

Also, is it just me or does Paben seem to catch all of the Taylor’s and Rennie’s related ODE stories?

OSPIRG Funding Reduced 6.66%

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

I’ve been told by a reliable source that in a late night emergency meeting Monday evening the Programs Finance Committee agreed to the Executive’s recommendation of a total budget decrease of 6.66%.

As it’s late and I should really be sleeping or laying things out, I’ll only give a brief summary of the past two weeks’ events:

  • Feb. 16 PFC Meeting – OSPIRG asks for an allotment of $115,274, a 4% reduction from their previous year’s total of $120,077. OSPIRG asks for this reduction because they have apparently roped another member school in during the past year. Meanwhile, the Executive recommends $112,077, a 6.66% reduction. The Executive asks for this increased reduction because of a line item for a “Campus Field Organizer” – a new position whose duties would include going to non-PIRG campuses and attempting to start new chapters. PFC members Richard Malena and Jacob Daniels initially express concern over the position and question whether the PFC can demand that OSPIRG not fund the position. This, of course, is impossible: Despite having line items on their budget, all OSPIRG revenues are ultimately pooled at a statewide level and then spent, so there is no conceivable way for the PFC to demand the money not be spent on a particular thing. Malena and others toss around the idea of including a note asking the state PIRG to not spend money on the position and hide the excess funds elsewhere in the budget, but ASUO Senators Toby Piering and Stephanie Erickson, despite initially opposing the increase, argue that writing notes and hiding funds is a bad precedent to set. Ultimately the PFC votes to fund OSPIRG the amount they requested. Ayes: Scott Lu, Malena, Kristin Kato. Nays: Daniels, Erica Anderson. Abstaining: Jared Axelrod. Absent: Adam Turcott.
  • Feb. 23 – The Executive vetoes the budget, according to the ODE.
  • Feb. 27 Regular 5:00 PFC Meeting – OSPIRG again presents its case for the position, with board members arguing that the position would “increase OSPIRG’s political power” and would not be a misuse of student incidental fees. The Executive (in the form of Adam Walsh and Nick Hudson) again states its disagreement with funding the position and threatens to veto anything above their recommendation. Among their reasons is that such an obvious misuse of fees would be an impetus for conservative groups like Fire to attack the fee in courts. The PFC, bridling at the threat of a veto, votes again to fund OSPIRG at 4%. Ayes: Scott Lu, Richard Malena, Kristin Kato, Adam Turcott. Nays: Jacob Daniels. Abstaining: Jared Axelrod. Absent: Erica Anderson.
  • Feb. 27 ??:??pm – The Executive again vetoes the PFC’s recommendation.
  • Feb. 27 10:18pm – I’m notified that there will be an emergency PFC meeting at 10:30 pm. Unfortunately, I’m unable to attend.
  • Feb. 27 10:30pm – During this meeting the PFC eventually votes to fund OSPIRG along the Executive’s guidelines. I’m sure the ODE will have a vote tally in the morning as they had a reporter at the meeting.

While unlikely, it is possible that the OSPIRG budget could still be approved by the Student Senate if the sitting members vote 4/5 to deny the PFC’s recommendation.

UPDATE: I forgot to note that at the regular Feb. 27 PFC meeting the PFC passed a recommendation that was one dollar less than what OSPIRG had asked for. I don’t believe they could have re-recommended the budget at their original amount.
UPDATE #2: According to the ODE, Turcott changed his vote in order to defer to Axelrod, who voted against overturning the Exec’s veto.

ASUO Senate Rules Cmte. Resolves to Make Resolutions

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

ODE reporter Nick Wilbur reports that the Student Senate Rules Committee decided today last Thursday to add language to the Senate rules which would enable the body to pass a resolution “when it is in the direct interest of the overwhelming majority.” (The majority of students, not senators, according to Wilbur’s story.) This will essentially allow the Senate to pass resolutions condemning/supporting whatever the hot button political topic of the day is, thereby wasting their time and our student funds. I was unable to make the meeting, so I’m left with two questions:

  1. How will the Student Senate determine how the “overwhelming majority” of students feels about a certain subject? Will the Senate conduct massive student polls or will senators simply divine how the proles they represent feel?
  2. Does the Senate really expect resolutions on issues such as Iran’s nuclear ambitions and textbook prices to have any effect or serve any purpose other than political masturbation?

As it is, the Senate essentially serves two purposes: to rubberstamp special requests from student groups and coordinating with other ASUO committees. While this may feel limiting, this year’s Senate has nevertheless proven that it can already waste three hours of its time each meeting arguing over pedantical nonsense. Our senators should restrain themselves from expanding their powers and spend their time doing what they do best: granting special requests, making speeches about how proud they are of the Senate, and jockeying for position in the upcoming elections.

UPDATE: The ODE’s website confuses the hell out of me. The story appeared online today, the date says yesterday, and “Seinor News ReporterWilbur’s story says “Thursday.”

Thursday OC Meeting

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Who: You, assuming you’re a current staffer or interested in joining
What: Commentator Staff Meeting
When: 6:30pm Thursday, the 23rd
Where: The OC Office, Room 319 in the EMU, looking down on the Emerald
How: That’s for you to figure out, lazy git.

In Defense of the Computing Center

Friday, February 17th, 2006

The Feb. 15 Ol’ Dirty has an article about the University’s decision not to outsource email services to Google. The argument posed by Junior Mike McNeeley is that the University should’ve accepted Google’s offer of hosting because Gmail’s interface is far superior to the University’s own web-based email client. As far as the interface is concerned, McNeeley’s absolutely right: The Gmail interface is wonderful. It’s superior to any other commercial offering in terms of speed and ease of use, and once you’ve become accustomed to it, one can barely stand using another web client. As McNeeley points out, it’s far superior to AlphaMail and the horrible, horrible production client the University uses. But that’s only a part of the story.

Computing Center Director Joe St. Sauver gives a good reason that this move wasn’t made (such outsourcing would conflict with University policy,) but the technical reasons to not make a switch were either not given or not reported on. So, I’d like to give some additional reasons why it’s good such a switch wasn’t made (warning: geekspeak follows):

  • While web email interfaces are important to have, most sensible users have a real email application on their computers like Outlook Express, Outlook, or Thunderbird. These applications are snappier and more flexible than even Gmail’s interface. But they’re only as good as the servers they’re connected to, and there are basically two common methods email applications can use to retrieve messages: POP3 and IMAP. Gmail only offers POP3 access, the University offers both.
    • POP3 is a simple retrieval system that is widely supported but severely outdated. Mail is intended to be stored on the client (your computer) rather than on the server. You cannot organize the mailbox into directories on the server: all changes are made on the local computer.
    • IMAP is an advanced way of storing both email and files in a directory structure. Mail is intended to be kept on the server, ensuring that you can access it no matter which email client you’re using or where you’re accessing it from. This means that if you’re someone crazy like me you can access your mailbox from different computers at home, work, or school and have the directory structure and unread state of individual messages perfectly preserved. It’s simply better.
  • If Gmail were adopted, who would users contact if things went wrong? As it is, the Computing Center can solve any University-related problem… when they don’t, at least you know who to direct your nerdrage at. If your mailbox stopped working, you’d have to go through the Computing Center who would then go through Google. And Google may make great interfaces, but their support is notoriously meager.
  • Google’s offer would have essentially made the University’s email system a testbed for a more universal system that they plan on implementing in the future. The University’s email system, on the other hand, is extremely well-tested and, despite the occasional problem, very reliable. Considering how many important emails are sent around campus nowadays, it would be horribly irresponsible to move to a new system in flux.
  • Finally, you can already have your campus mail forwarded to a Gmail account, thus enabling to use the Gmail interface for campus mail. (Kudos to the ODE for pointing this out in the article.) You can even send mail through Gmail and use a non gmail.com From: address (like ocomment@uoregon.edu.) In other words, you can already have every benefit that one might receive from a campus-wide switch without any of the pitfalls.

I could really go into more detail here, but this is waaay too long already.

Crosswhite Burns Another One Down

Friday, February 17th, 2006

And by “one,” I mean “bridge”:

“It was definitely a case of hanging out with the wrong crowd,” Crosswhite told The Daily Telegraph. “It also had to do with my goals of wanting to play in the NBA and for my country and I got caught up in all the hype.

“Then my college coach Ernie Kent and I were having a lot of problems and I was playing with five new freshmen who were All-American out of high school, but they were all ‘me, me, me’ and I couldn’t play that way.

Hat-tip: Jon Canzano, by way of Mindi.

OC Meeting 6:30 Tonight

Thursday, February 16th, 2006

Apologies for the late notice, but we have a Commentator staff meeting at 6:30pm tonight in our offices. Should be pretty quick and to the point.

Amidst Changes, One Constant Remains for Blazers:

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

Rule-breaking, of course:

The Portland Trail Blazers fined guard Sebastian Telfair on Wednesday after a loaded gun was found on the team’s private jet at Boston’s Logan Airport.

The handgun was found in a pillowcase belonging to Telfair as the team plane was being prepared for a flight from Boston to Toronto, the team said in a statement.

Telfair explained to local authorities that the gun belonged to his girlfriend and that he had inadvertently grabbed the wrong bag when leaving for the team’s road trip.

Why keep the clip in the gun while transporting it?

A Day Late, but Wow…

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

For those of you who, like me, missed yesterday’s ODE, well, we picked the wrong day to be busy. Columnist Gabe Bradley redeemed himself for quite a few previous columns with The Cock Conversations: A Wretched Play in One Very Short Act. Behold:

[Enter Penis 3]

Penis 3: Guys! Did you know we can say cock in this play?

P2: Seriously?

P3: Seriously. Isnt that empowering?

P2: Do we have to say a-doodle-doo afterward?

P3: No. And we can say pussy without cat, dick without Tracy, douche without bag, and cunt without [Expletive Deleted. Because even Gabe Bradley has to draw the line somewhere. At least until next year when he switches over to satellite radio.]

P2: Wow. I do feel empowered. Except for that horrendously offensive part at the end.

P1: The horrendously offensive part marks the point in our play when weve milked all the shock value we can from talking about our junk

P3: Cock!

Yes, he is hitting us over the head with his point. Yes, he is attention-whoring. But you’ve got to admire his ability to get the word “cunt” printed repeatedly in the Emerald. As Glenn Reynolds would say, read the whole thing.

(Bradley’s “oppressive” Vagina Monologues column from last year can be found here, with angry letters here and here.)

Itenewank: February Edition

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

To Whom It May Concern,

 I’ll be in Eugene this weekend.  Am as yet unsure of my schedule, but we could probably get together for drinks etc on Sunday some time.  As I am a lazy banker, Monday the 20th is a holiday.  Huzzah.

There’s ASUO Funding to be Had Here…

Sunday, February 12th, 2006

BBC: Japan’s internet ‘suicide clubs’:

Naoki Tachiwana opened his apartment door with a surprisingly warm smile, and beckoned us in to a neat living room. His computer was switched on – the screen facing out towards Naoki’s eleventh floor balcony, and the night sky above Tokyo’s eastern suburbs.

“Last night I was up all night,” said Naoki, smiling again, “talking online to this woman who really – I mean really – wants to die. She asked me to do it with her today, but I said I couldn’t because I had this television crew coming to see me. So she said we can do it after they’ve gone.”

Neighbors to Close

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

D’oh:

The home of the popular drag show “Shebang” will be closing on Feb. 28. The bar, Neighbors Bar and Bistro, has been open for nine or 10 years, owner Cindy Hill said. Hill said the building was sold, and the new owner plans to open a new restaurant.

Hill said she is currently not planning on relocating.

Until its final day, Neighbors will continue to hold “Shebang” on Friday nights at 10 p.m.

I’m quite surprised the owner isn’t considering relocating. Most distressingly, this means I’ll never be able to hear “some of my very best friends visit Neighbors!” again.

Are You Stupid, Gabe?

Tuesday, February 7th, 2006

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the answer is most definitely yes. His column today, aside from being written in his usual mouth-breathing style, declares that free speech is dangerous. Some excerpts:

Last September, a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons featuring the prophet Muhammad, a key figure in the Muslim faith. A controversy arose not because these cartoons depicted violent and offensive stereotypes (though they did), but because they depicted the prophet, period.

Well, he’s right about the “depicted the prophet” bit, but I’ll let y’all decide for yourselves whether the cartoons depict “violent and offensive stereotypes.

I’m a big free speech supporter. I believe 100 percent that more people have died because of a lack of free speech than because of an overabundance of free speech. But this isn’t just about free speech; this is about worldwide culture wars. This is about global stability.

There’s a quotation around, often attributed to Ben Franklin, that those who will give up essential liberty for temporary security will lose both and deserve neither. That’s the path you’re treading on here, Gabe. You’re poposing that the limit of speech freedoms isn’t threats, libel, slander, “fighting words” or incitement; no, in Gabe-world, the limit is “offense”. That doesn’t wash, you idiot. Having to see and hear things that are offensive is just one of the small annoyances that comes along with freedom, and with being part of the larger global community. I have very few sensitivities, but creeping statism sure offends my sensibilities, if I threaten to kill a few people (and perhaps actually do so) while shouting will that get the statists to shut up? Would I be justified in doing so or would you call me a sociopath and a murderer? I’m going to guess the latter, and you’d be goddamn right .

I offend people every week. I go out of my way to do it. But no one has ever died because of something I’ve said. The news outlets that published the cartoons had every right to do so. But they should have exercised better judgment and decided not to.

Muslims make up 20 percent of the world’s population. With the global political climate being what it is today, we can’t afford to piss off that many people.

I know when I was editing the Commentator, the first thought in my mind was “will some idiot with no sense of humor be offended by this?” If the answer was yes, I published it. If the answer was no, I reworked it until the answer was yes and then published it. The blame for violent reaction falls upon those who react violently, not those who publish newspapers. The blame for this past week’s violence falls not on a few very frightened Danes, but rather on the humorless fools burning down embassies. Being offended is one thing, using that as an excuse to cause violence and death is quite another. The appropriate response to offensive speech is, well, more speech, not self-censorship for fear of violent reprisal.

UPDATE: Jaques Chirac can go to hell.

UPDATE II: Bush 43 and King Abdullah can go to hell too.

I feel very strongly about this: The press has no responsibility to consider who will be offended by publication of a particular item. None. At all. Good, insightful, incisive points are often quite offensive to their targets and it is the duty of any free press to put those forward where they see fit regardless of which nut-job flips out. “Thoughtful about others” means the same thing as PC. The politically correct trend, while often well-intentioned, is dangerous, in my view, to a free exchange of ideas. If I want to argue that “it” is a perfectly servicable non-gendered pronoun in English, or print cartoons about Zombie Jesus (back from the dead to forgive your sins and EAT YOUR BRAIN), or call a bunch of war protesters “Fucking Racists”, that’s my right. Aside from actual threats, fighting words, and incitement (such as yelling “fire” when there is no fire in a crowded theatre), there is no limit to what can be published, nor should there be. Again, if someone is offended, well, okay, fine, and anyone should be free to publish some other piece of speech counter to mine. The onus is not upon publishers to keep people from being offended, but on the offended to respond in a proportional and appropriate manner.