Archive for November, 2010
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
This week it’s back. Maybe I’ll even post about the new Insurgent today.
- Scaffolds: The UO is thinking new architecture building, maybe a retrofitted Mac Court. (Emerald)
- Career trapeze: UO assistant dean Larry Singell has a tempting offer from Indiana University, courtesy of UO Matters.
- Verdegris gone mad: There is lead in (some) reusable grocery bags? What the fuck? (Emerald)
- Holding: In Oregon, we do not pump our own gas, and that surprises some sometimes (Emerald).
- ASUO: Read about the swirling tornado of yawns known as Robert’s Rules of Order, and its potential effect on OSPIRG … if you dare. (Emerald)
- Shock: Mosque-arson? Some would say not the most encouraging thing for UO Muslim students. (KEZI)
- Events: Elton John will be playing the new Oregon Basketball mosque Feb. 17 (Register-Guard, Voice). There will be a screening by a local filmmaker on Thursday (Voice).
- Prestige: A UO graduate is a Marshall scholar. (Oregonian)
- Prestige-ishness. A UO alumnus is now the CEO of MySpace. Unimpressed? Are you the CEO of MySpace? (Pulse2, TMW)
- The Guard’s Bob Welch can usually be relied upon in moments of truth to be insightful, rather than smarmy. The Mohamud non-bombing is one such.
- The Emerald’s JoAnna Wendel wants to learn about particles, no matter how many universes it is unlikely to destroy, and believes bite-sized science fragments are an impediment.
- Letters: A football rabid wants volunteerism to squeeze out a viable ticket system and doesn’t sound entirely insane in the Emerald. Some dude is offended in the Emerald by the UO mascot’s wearing a Santa Claus outfit at the Hated Wildcats game (snooze). Pro-tree, anti–casual-and-nothing-more praise, pro–Civic Stadium, anti-terrorism letters in the Guard today.
- Editorials: The Guard doesn’t really seem to take a strong stance about the Mohamud incident until it’s all like, “Hey, maybe forfeit your civil liberties?” It also lauds Obama’s federal employee pay freezes.
- Former U.S. Sen. Wayne Morse’s biographer is a bit of a fan, some would say, of former U.S. Sen. Wayne Morse. (Guard)
- Some blogger’s pretty stoked on UO Prof. Kyu Ho Youm’s Twitter account.
- Oregon Football: crasher-in-the-periphery D.J. Davis is actually quite good, you know (Emerald); is up for a bunch of awards, but its scampering gong-tempter LaMichael James is dazed and nobody’s talking about it (Emerald); will face the Hated Beavs in a game that now matters a bunch, but didn’t always (Register-Guard); isn’t really too bothered with the Paeas of this world, really (Register-Guard)
- Clobbering: UO and Hated Beavers U students will do plenty of that to one another this week (Emerald).
- The Emerald’s Robert Husseman throws a few obscure-ish references at us and then speculates OF prophet Chip Kelly might one day lose His job.
Monday, November 29th, 2010
University of Oregon Adjunct Professor Bill Hillar is under investigation by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department for fraud after some of his students at the Monterey Institute of International Studies discovered that Hillar had been lying about his exploits as a member of the US Army Special Forces and receiving a doctorate degree from the University of Oregon. Hillar had been a part-time instructor at the Institute, which is an adjunct campus of Middlebury College. He was scheduled to teach a Substance Abuse Prevention Program class this term at the University of Oregon, and during winter term 2010 taught a SAPP class in International Drug Trafficking that had 241 enrolled students. He also was one of the keynote speakers at last year’s Slavery Still Exists conference. He was scheduled to give a lecture at the University of Portland this month, but failed to show up, and all contact attempts have been fruitless. His website has since been taken down.
From the LA Times:
Bill Hillar, a part-time instructor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, told students enrolled in his workshops on terrorism and human trafficking about what he described as his own dangerous exploits as a former colonel in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces.
He also boasted, they recalled, that the 2008 action movie “Taken,” starring Liam Neeson, was based on his life and his daughter’s kidnapping by men who wanted to enslave her.
Such claims, along with incidents in which Hillar seemed to borrow material from other people’s books, raised suspicions among some of his graduate students about Hillar’s resume and background. “He didn’t seem to act like a veteran or someone who served so highly in the military,” recalled Brian Hubbs, a graduate student and Marine veteran.
So this fall, Hubbs and several other veterans attending the graduate institute began investigating Hillar’s resume. And the school now says their suspicions had merit.
Monterey Institute officials said Hillar, who has taught workshops twice yearly at the school since 2005, had claimed to hold a doctorate from the University of Oregon, but a check showed that he had only attended classes there. The institute, which is well-regarded for its foreign language and international relations courses, has been unable to confirm the instructor’s claims of military rank and service, officials said.
Hillar, who has also been an expert speaker on security and leadership at other colleges and police agencies across the country, did not respond to messages left Monday at the phone number and e-mail address listed on his class syllabus.
An apology from the Monterey Institute of International Studies can be found here. It seems Hillar fooled a lot of people, including various law enforcement agencies.
Also from the LA Times, on the investigation:
Deputy Keith Bickford, who heads the human trafficking unit of the Multnomah sheriff’s agency and is helping in the investigation, said he had heard Hillar speak twice at conferences and emotionally recount the supposed kidnapping and murder of his daughter.
“The story that he told was very sad and he did a very good job in making everybody feel horrible,” said Bickford, who did not initially suspect Hillar’s credentials. “If he is a fraud, he’s hurt a lot of people and taken advantage of a horrible, horrible crime,” he said, referring to trafficking.
Hillar could not be reached for comment at the phone number and e-mail address he listed on a syllabus for his Monterey Institute class.
Retired Green Beret Jeff Hinton started a website, professionalsoldiers.com, in order for Special Forces members to discuss their lives. Hillar has been listed on the website as a fraud for over a year. From KION News:
Hillar has been posted as a fraud for over a year on the website Jeff Hinton started, professional soldiers.com. A place for special forces to network with each other. It was there that Brian Hubbs and the other students at the Monterey Institute of International Studies found more evidence to back up their research on Hillar.
A client list from Hillar’s now defunct website shows a lot of people believed his stories for a long time, “It’s because he’s never run across a real Green Beret… They read just enough or watch just enough movies to pass themselves off,” said Hinton.
This story is still unfolding. Updates will be added as they are received. If you have any info on Hillar, or have taken a class with him, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, November 29th, 2010
Just after the ASUO Senate filled up their body, it has cleared out again.
According to an email over the ASUO Programs Listserv from Office Coordinator Nicole Nelson, there are two seats available. Seat 10, a student who sits on Senate and the Department Finance Committee, was previously filled by Jeremy Blanchard, who resigned due to graduating at the end of this term.
The other open seat, Seat 12, which is charged with representing the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, Psychology and Music students, was filled by Jackson Hite, who has apparently resigned.
Hite’s resignation is number five of the year, if you include Senator Blanchard.
Monday, November 29th, 2010
Desperate for money, the city of Portland decided to invoke a leaf-removal fee this autumn. As reported by the Oregonian, the city hopes to raise as much as $800,000 by charging homeowners, renters and property management companies for removing leaves from streets. Fees range from $15 to $65 with an opt-out option based on the very reliable honor system. In addition, low income-citizens will pay a reduced rate.
How exactly, the city council and Mayor Sam Adams got away with having individuals pay for a public good is questionable. In fact, when Adams first proposed this idea in 2008, the city admitted that it was in the best interest of the people to keep the streets leaf-free, saying that leaf removal reduces slippery roads and flooded drains. According to OSU Economics Professor Patrick Emerson’s blog, ” public goods — they have elements of non-rivalry (one person’s consumption does not leave less for another) and non-excludability (you cannot prevent people from consuming)”. Therefore, streets are not only a public good, maintaining them is in the best interest of the people. So, if this is the case, why must a few suffer the fee? As Emerson wonders, should high-crime neighborhoods pay an extra fee to the police, should people who live next to parks have to pay more for those parks?
What’s more ironic is the hand-holding the city engages in with anything involving trees, when leaves are seemingly a private matter. According to city regulations , one must obtain a permit to plant, prune or remove a tree in the city right-of-way and even on private property sometimes. Yet a citizen is expected to clean up the leaves in the street in front of his or her house and if they don’t the city is going to clean up, no questions asked, and then mail bills? This seems, quite simply, asinine.
Moreover, the incentives of the system are inherently flawed. As Emerson notes, “I think perhaps each block should pool and every house but one sweeps their leaves in front of one house and everyone chips in to play that house’s leaf fee.” Or, with even less effort one can easily opt-out. The program requirements are rather generous, according to the city website one must either “declare that they removed the street leaves themselves, they paid someone else for the service, or they have no street trees near their property and the trees in their yard do not drop leaves in or near the street…[or by] declaring that they would have managed the street leaves themselves if they had earlier notification about the fee and the opt-out process”. The incentive to actually pay the fee is nonexistent and the opt-out program just creates more paperwork. With it being so easy to duck the fee and the costs involved with enforcing the fee, how much money is the city of Portland really going to make?
For you unfortunate Portlanders, here are a few ideas if you choose to opt-out (click here for the application and remember, no lying):
- Toss the leaves from your portion of the street to your yard. Sit outside with a smug look as the leaf crew passes by.
- Rake your leaves to someone else’s portion of the road, then pretend like nothing happened, smile and wave at your neighbors so they won’t be suspicious.
- For a marginal cost take your leaves to a “leaf depot.”
- Or, kindly drop them in front of Council Chambers City Hall, 1221 Southwest 4th Avenue, to show your appreciation for their stupidity.
Monday, November 29th, 2010
For those considering robbing coffee shops this holiday season, Dutch Bros. is not the best choice. No, seriously, they will shoot you.
As reported by both the Register-Guard and the Oregonian, on the evening of November 24, two men attempted to rob a Eugene Dutch Bros. Shots were exchanged and the final toll was 1 robber, a Sirus Combs, shot dead, one robber escaped and an unharmed, unidentified Dutch Bros. employee. The event occurred at 2150 Franklin Boulevard and is still under investigation. According to the Oregonian, the police say that shots were fired from more than one weapon.
Dutch Bros. originated in Grants Pass, Ore., and i’s main operations are still based there. The local newspaper, the Daily Courier, ran an article explaining the cautions owners Travis and Dane Boersma took following the incident. Thus far, there has already been a company-wide meeting regarding both the event and safety. What remains clear though is that robbers might want to think twice before pulling a gun, because not everyone is going to roll over and take their shit.
Monday, November 29th, 2010
In a bold and unorthodox move, Pope Benedict XVI expressly acknowledged that in some situations condoms might be acceptable. Though he did not change the official stance of the Catholic Church, he opened the door for debate. In indicating that condoms help prevent disease, the Pope seemed to advocate safety over morals.
Earlier this week, the Pope released a book, Light of the World, wherein he reasoned that, while condoms aren’t a moral solution, they exude responsibility and a step in the right (moral) direction. As reported by the New York Times, the statements were ambiguous and when questioned, Benedict retorted with a smile. Specific examples the pope cited include prostitutes, which in itself is amusing since the church doesn’t quite advocate for prostitution. It was clear in Benedict’s message that the use should be to avoid disease, not pregnancy. However, contraception does tend to prevent conception, which is also against Catholic doctrine.
Benedict has stirred up a bit of opposition. The New York Times reported that several prominent individuals disagreed with the pope’s actions, going so far as to tell the publisher not to publish the his book. Though Benedict is not changing the church doctrine, one cannot deny the influence his words have on the Catholic community and the world. Perhaps in the future, there will be one less thing to confess for. Perhaps change is on the way.
Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
The University is building a new expansion to the Len Casanova Athletic Center, to great controversy because the process involved will be the same as that used for the John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes. UO Matters posted a couple of days ago a long mp3 of a meeting at which President Richard Lariviere outlines his rationale for accepting the donation from Phil Knight/Phil Knight’s various organizations.
This is the important part, I think. The mediated form hinders the ability of those being mediated to make a considered, rational argument, so I’ll just block-quote the thing in its entirety. Emphasis mine.
It really doesn’t have much to do with the central mission of the University of Oregon. The mission of the University of Oregon is education and research.
We live in a very odd society in that every society feels passionately about sports of one sort or another. You know this from your travels internationally. Soccer in most of the rest of the world. People spend billions of dollars on that entertainment. The odd thing in this country is that some significant portion of that entertainment world is associated with higher education.
There’s in my view an unconscionable tolerance for confusion around this. All of us who know better need to be educating the public that athletics is entertainment and education and research is why the University exists.
Now, do I wish that there was as much passion and willingness to part with treasure that focused on the humanities and the social sciences and the natural sciences as there is around football? You bet I do. That’s not the world we live in.
And should we be puzzled that a family that have made billions of dollars in the sports industry and love the University of Oregon are interested in giving money to this entertainment enterprise? It’s not much of a mystery for me and I don’t think it probably is for anyone.
If we don’t accept this gift, is it likely that the donors will get out of bed tomorrow and think, “Oh, what were we thinking? We should have been giving it to promote Sanskrit at the University of Oregon”? I don’t think so.
If we don’t accept this gift, what will be the negative consequences for the University’s education and research mission? Probably not much — in the short term. But they could be really, really profound over the long term. Really profound. This is an important gift for our future. So that’s all I have to say on that.
Once, Matt Petryni, an ex-Emerald columnist with whom I used to work there, told me that if the UO would just come out and say this, he’d understand the flirtation with sportswear corporations. And we’re talking about a guy who organized a march on Johnson Hall in an effort to end the UO’s relationship with one.
There are questions raised, though, such as what kind of “really, really profound” “negative consequences”? I guess I’ll ask Lariviere next time I see him. On the other hand, nobody in a position of power has ever been this forthright about the UO’s relationship with Knight on the record, at least that I can remember.
Media digests: They’ll return once all the content for the magazine gets copy-edited.
Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
The UO Emergency Alert system sent out this email at 12:06pm today:
The University of Oregon received a threat against the Knight Library and the Lillis Business Complex warning that an explosive device was set to detonate early Wednesday morning, Nov. 24, 2010. UO Department of Public Safety staff conducted searches of both buildings and found nothing suspicious.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Knight Library and Lillis Business Complex will be closed at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday evening to allow another sweep by law enforcement officials. The buildings will remain closed until Wednesday morning.
Excellent. Let’s hope the potential bomber is as truthful as he is disgruntled.
Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
Someone asked the other day if I was celebrating No-Shave November. No, no I’m not, unless you count the other 335 days out of the year that I am. But anyway, in honor of the month (which is almost over, I know), the National Journal has a compilation of the best facial hair in politics.
I’ve got a couple beefs with it, mostly a strong urge to “Dislike” for Ben Bernanke, but I feel it’s my duty to share it on principle. Link here: http://nationaljournal.com/no-shave-november-best-facial-hair-in-politics-20101112
My second beef: No list of best political facial hair is complete if it doesn’t include Dwight Coon. Don’t look directly into the mustache. Just saying.
Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
Soon, smokers will be seeing more than a fine-print warning by the Surgeon General when they pick up their favorite pack. The FDA and the Department of Health and Human services unveiled a new anti-smoking plan today that would plaster cigarette packages with pictures of diseased teeth and gums, corpses, a man with a tracheotomy smoking a cigarette and a cartoon of a mother blowing smoke in her baby’s face.
The proposed packaging change is part of the law that Obama signed in back in 2009 that moved regulation of tobacco to the FDAs authority, and allowed for the outlawing of flavored and “clove” cigarettes while allowing for the mentholated smokes produced and marketed by big tobacco companies.
Right now there are 36 labels in all that are being considered, all of which contain bright colorful images that will take up the entire top half of the package. All of them will also contain messages like “smoking will kill you” and other such cheery life-affirming mantras. Additionally, 20 percent of advertising must be a warning label. The labels will be finalized in June, and then manufacturers will have a little over a year to faze them into effect.
More than 30 countries have imposes similar policies to this one in recent years. Canada did in 2000, and has since seen their smoking rates fall from 26% to 20%.
The decisions comes on the heels of a study completed last year that found that when faced with printed reminders that smoking kills people, smokers developed coping mechanisms to allow them to continue their habit. The study also found that is was much more effective to just tell people that it makes them ugly:
Comparatively, if smokers are shown warnings suggesting the habit could make them unattractive, they are more likely to give up. Teenagers who took up the habit to impress or fit in with their peers were more likely to be influenced by warnings about their appearance, the study found
“In general, when smokers are faced with death-related anti-smoking messages on cigarette packs, they produce active coping attempts as reflected in their willingness to continue the risky smoking behaviour,” the study said.
“To succeed with anti-smoking messages on cigarette packs one has to take into account that considering their death may make people smoke.”
Participants in the study filled out a questionnaire about their smoking, and were then showed warning labels that either focused on the health effects of smoking or how attractive it would make them. After fifteen minutes, they were asked more questions, about their smoking and if they intended to quit.
The group that had read the health-related warnings was either unaffected by the warnings or held more positive attitudes about smoking afterward. The vanity-based warnings, however, were actually found to be more useful among people who based their self-esteem on smoking.
Also, on a related note, cigarettes in Britain are likely soon to be sold in plain brown packaging, to negate the apparent bug-zapper-like shiny packaging’s effects on kids. Two years ago they became the first country in the European Union to include big scary pictures on their packaging like the ones the FDA is proposing.
Sunday, November 21st, 2010
Just received an email from the UO Office of Communications regarding a kidnapping and assault near campus, and a separate incidence of assault on campus.
From the email:
KIDNAP AND ASSAULT
On Saturday, November 20, 2010, at about 11:30 p.m., a University of Oregon student reported being the victim of a kidnapping and assault. The victim stated that she was walking on 15th Avenue, between Alder and Kincaid, when an unknown individual grabbed her arm and told her to come with him. When the victim refused, the suspect cut the victim’s wrist with a key, which caused a superficial laceration. The suspect forced the victim to walk with him to a campus bench, where she was able to flee. The victim described the assailant as a white male, mid-to late-20’s, slight husky build, with brown hair, light beard, wearing blue jeans and brown running shoes.
In a separate incident occurring at approximately 12:10 a.m., a University of Oregon student reported being the victim of a sexual assault near Gerlinger Annex. The victim stated that an unknown individual pushed her into a wall and then groped her. She was able to escape after pushing the suspect away and screaming for assistance. The victim described the assailant as a white male, mid-20’s, brown hair, beard, husky build, wearing blue jeans, a black collared button-up shirt and dark shoes.
Within minutes of receiving the second report, University of Oregon Department of Public Safety Officers detained an individual matching the suspect’s description. After being positively identified by the victim, the suspect was arrested and lodged in the Lane County Jail on a charge of Sexual Abuse 1. The suspect arrested in this crime has a similar description to the suspect in the Kidnap and Assault crime.
Anyone who has information about either incident is asked to contact University of Oregon Department of Public Safety at 541-346-2919.
Updates about the situation or investigation will be available at http://safetyweb.uoregon.edu
Thursday, November 18th, 2010
Since all things FourLoko related have been assigned as part of my beat, I’ve got big news for you:
Convenience stores throughout Eugene received an order yesterday: pull all Four Loko. Actually, it was the same story that unfolded across the US yesterday as the Food and Drug Administration’s ban went into effect. The ban didn’t just affect Four Loko, but all caffeine-containing alcoholic drinks, such as Joose and others. The mixture of caffeine and hooch was ruled unsafe earlier this week after a year-long investigation.
So far, the controversy has done little but drive sales of Four Loko through the roof, local businesses say. Without the controversy, the disgusting elixir may have stayed palatable only to hipsters and 18-year-olds; but since it became “edgy” and “dangerous,” its popularity soared.
Phusion Projects, the unholy creators of Four Loko, have decided to reformulate their product without the caffeine, much like what their competitor, Sparks, did. They also chose to remove the guarana and taurine from the Four, making it just regular Loko.
Six other companies were also cited for making unsafe products, such as San Diego, California-based United Brands, which manufactures the Joose and Max brands; Portland, Oregon’s Charge Beverages Corp., which sells Core High Gravity HG, Core High Gravity HG Orange, and Lemon Lime Core Spiked; and New Century Brewing of Boston, Massachusetts, which makes Moonshot.
At least one, so far, Moonshot, is calling bullshit on the FDA’s ruling, feeling that their product was unfairly lumped in with Four Loko and other such beverages:
New Century proprietor Rhonda Kallman told CNN she was puzzled by the FDA’s decision to include Moonshot on its list.
“I don’t know what to say except I’m really shocked about the outcome of the FDA’s inquiry, and I need more answers than what I’ve gotten,” said Kallman, who said she is New Century’s only full-time employee.
Kallman described Moonshot as a craft beer that has about 4 percent alcohol by weight, about two-thirds the caffeine of a cup of coffee and is sold in only three cities — “and yet it’s being singled out with Four Loko and Joose.”
“Those brands are neon green. They’re not beer, they’re juice, with 200 grams of sodium and artificial everything,” she said.
We’ll see if this has any effect on breweries like Oakshire and their delicious Overcast Espresso Stout, as well as the MateVeza line of beers, which are brewed with yerba mate tea. But there’s probably nothing to worry about. Seriously, when has the government ever been known to make sweeping regulations with little concern for unintended ramifications?
Thursday, November 18th, 2010
Surprise, motherfuckers. I can’t be contained. I was like, “Gee, the responsible thing would be to sleep, wake up tomorrow, write your articles, do your part, dot your ‘ts.’” Then I realized working until almost midnight in a coffeehouse can compromise your ability to sleep, and sometimes you just can’t get to bed without saying your piece.
This one’s going to be truncated though. Forgive me if I can’t be bothered to give two Crispy Ducks about the umpteen Emerald articles today about the new Harry Potter movie. You think I’m kidding about that, don’t you, you fool? Just the bare essentials today.
That means the heady business of how our University is run. Last weekend, UO Matters had a post about how Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner’s idea of “the principle of shared sacrifice” via furloughs and faculty pay freezes is a 19 percent raise in his contractual compensation. A new column by the Oregonian’s Steve Duin reveals that OUS even released inaccurate figures on his salary to the media, and made his new contract retroactive to July 2008 about a month after Pernsteiner asked employees to take furloughs, although he also took a voluntary pay cut unrelated to his contract.
UO Matters is in one of those moods, predicting the demise of higher education and providing some spine-tingling figures on where a lot of college-educated people end up (hint: think waiters).
Smoking’s going to be banned, too, but you knew that already.
The Emerald has a positive profile of the new public records officer at the UO. Verbano has problems reporting this kind of thing. In my day, the obstacle to reporting on the UO administration was that nobody in the administration would talk to you. Now it’s their opponents. A profile of Denecke can’t be complete if it doesn’t include the fact that the man with whom she does most of her dealing thinks “she was actually hired to prevent the release any public records.” But that man doesn’t go on the record, by name, which I understand and think is justified, but it’s too bad Emerald readers, who aren’t necessarily passionate enough about university governance to follow a blog about it don’t get to read the whole story. Too idealistic of me? Definitely.
Oh, and the ASUO’s decided it doesn’t want my august colleague reading its e-mails. More about that later.
Thursday, November 18th, 2010
Hi there. If you’re expecting a media digest today, don’t hold your breath.
Much as the idea of putting print content before online content makes my skin crawl, I’ve put so much time into the digests this week that I’ve fallen behind on my actual stories for the magazine. Those, along with sleep will have to take precedence today.
If, once I finish them, I still have time to write a media digest before clocking in to work, I will do it, but there are only so many hours in a day and they are often outnumbered by pesky distractions (making breakfast, doing laundry and dishes, going to the bank). Making a media digest usually takes about four hours, so we’ll see how it all fits together. If I don’t get around to it, the real highlights will appear in Friday’s edition.
Once I start making enough money off journalism to quit my dayjob, you’ll be spared this kind of affront. Maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath for that either.
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
Come and join in on the fun!
Tonight’s topics include the reappointment of Kristina Harding to Seat 20, Benchmarks, and other such happiness!