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The Internet Goes On Strike

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

The internet blackout has begun, and Wikipedia isn’t the only one participating in the blackout. sopastrike.com has a full list of all participating websites, which is, to say the least, impressive.

The above, meanwhile, is an actual screenshot of Google’s current homepage. Yikes.

Wikipedia Going Dark to Protest SOPA/PIPA

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has a tweet for students across the country: “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!”

And by “protest”, he means a full-on blackout, taking the sixth most visited website offline for twenty-four hours.

The English Wikipedia anti-SOPA blackout is to signify the possible–and likely–effects that SOPA AND PIPA will have on the internet if they manage to pass at the Congressional level. In case you’re in the dark about SOPA and PIPA, here’s a quick run-down: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act seek to protect intellectual property by enacting stringent laws against the distribution of copyrighted material online. In several melodramatic television spots, they claim that internet pirates are destroying American jobs, decreasing innovation in the entertainment industry, and probably ran over your dog when you were six. What supporters of the bills fail to note is that the language is so vague that any website can be shut down for having any piece of copyright material present on any of its pages. That means YouTube could be taken down if someone posts a video of themselves singing the karaoke version of a copyrighted song. It also means Facebook could be shut down if a copyrighted video is posted on one person’s wall, and thousands of other websites could be stomped out at the drop of a hat.

Oh, and did I mention that a person or entity doesn’t even have to own the rights to the content they claim a website is illegally distributing? And that SOPA and PIPA would effectively give the people who sued a 12-year-old, a dead woman, and claims that ripping music you have purchased to your computer is illegal the run of the internet?

Naturally, most of the tech community (i.e. Google, Facebook, YouTube, eBay, Twitter, and just about every website you will ever use, ever) and anyone with a brain knows that this is a bad idea. So they’re fighting back.

The tech community has been slowly gaining ground on the issue in the last few weeks; former supporters have backed out under pressure, and Congress has finally invited tech community representatives to speak on the issue, where previously they had only heard from representatives of the entertainment industry.

However, Wikipedia is not taking these positive moves as a sign to put the breaks on. The English version of Wikipedia will be blacked out tomorrow as a demonstration of the destructive effect SOPA and PIPA could have on the world wide web. “There’s [..] an element of this sending out a signal to governments in other parts of the world that the Internet is going to get really mad if you try to censor the Internet,” Wales said in an interview with CNN. “It’s quite ironic because the U.S. policy has been quite firmly about discouraging censorship of the Internet elsewhere. So it’s a bit of a shame that we’re trying to do it at home.”

Websites Reddit and Boing Boing will also be taking part in the blackout, and Google will posting a statement explaining its opposition SOPA/PIPA in solidarity with the protest.

The full interview with Wales can be found here. More information on SOPA/PIPA can be found here and here…for now.

The Lariviere Situation Continues

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

So here’s what we’ve got:

Governor Kitzhaber calling bullshit on Lariviere, saying it’s about “trust,” and standing behind the state board. From his letter:

First, let me say that the situation involving the Oregon State Board of Higher Education and Dr. Richard Lariviere has nothing to do with an “ongoing difference of opinion over the future of the University of Oregon,” as Dr. Lariviere suggested in an email sent out to faculty and students last Tuesday.

There have been a number of well-publicized incidents involving Dr. Lariviere that have eroded trust and confidence with the Board of Higher Education.

Dr. Lariviere unilaterally granted substantial salary increases to his administrators and faculty. Unlike every other university president in the state, he disregarded my specific direction on holding tight and delaying discussion about retention and equity pay increases until the next biennium to allow for a consistent, system-wide policy on salaries.

Full text of the letter here.

The UO Deans calling it as they see it, urging for reconsideration:

We are unanimous in giving the president an A+ for his vision, his leadership and his unwavering commitment to public higher education. We are confident that an evaluation of his performance based on appropriate metrics would lead to a similar grade. We can only conclude that the state board and the governor gave him an F in “plays well with state bureaucracies.”

President Lariviere was hired by the board and supported by the UO community because he promised to lead us in finding a new model for excellence in higher education in Oregon. The UO community challenges the board, the governor and our president to forge a new path so that we can continue to build a great university for the benefit of all Oregonians.

Full text at the RG

State Board Prez blames it on the trust too. Story here.

& A letter from the senate executive committee:

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Funny story: Stephen Glass wants to be a lawyer?

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The story of Stephen Glass goes a little like this:

Man has great story idea, works for awesome publication. Man makes up story even though it’d be pretty damn easy to just get the story. Actually, man does this a shit-ton an embarrasses himself, his publication and the world of journalism. Man loses job.

This is of course the children’s book version, sorry I didn’t have time to draw it out. There’s also a movie version called Shattered Glass (excellent film).

So, the moral is that this kid gets kicked out because he isn’t being ethical.

His next choice of careers? What better than law?

Glass is currently waiting for approval from the California Supreme Court so that he can start practicing according to this article.

Source: http://www.blippitt.com/23-of-the-worlds-greatest-lawyer-jokes/

 

Student loan company nip-slip

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Tears are the best lube

As many as 5,000 lucky students social security numbers made a sexy special appearance when a glitch in a student loan company’s website showed users other peoples information instead of their own for a good seven minutes before they pulled the plug to do damage control for the next 48 hours. The real victim here is, of course, the loan company who’s reputation was damaged by whistle blowers who carelessly sought the acceptance of their peers by pointing out the mistakes that the company probably didn’t even do.

I mean, come on guys, it’s not like social security numbers even do anything. They’re just the bar code imprinted on your spine by the Illuminati at birth, and everybody knows that, so why make the Direct Loan Program feel like the bad guys? It’s the students fault, anyways, for not having enough money to learn things, and then getting all mad because their private information was released, and it’s like come on guys, you signed a user agreement we can accidentally leak this shit all we want brah. The company was also confronted with claims that their site wasn’t “user friendly enough”, but they were told to go to Hell. The rest of the article is pretty super boring and I wouldn’t try reading it, but people were all mad about shit and stuff went down and I think they promised it to never ever do it again, swear on my mother.

The Daily Caller

Justice Scalia compromises neutrality in pizza-related cases

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

(Insert lame joke about controversial rulings vis-a-vis pizza here)

This is what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said about deep-dish pizza (link courtesy of Death and Taxes):

“I do indeed like so-called ‘deep dish pizza.’ It’s very tasty,” the Italian American justice told the crowd, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. “But it should not be called ‘pizza.’ It should be called ‘a tomato pie.’ Real pizza is Neapolitan [from Naples, Italy]. It is thin. It is chewy and crispy, OK?”

Important point. One that needed to be said. But if a case involving Pizzeria Uno ever makes it to the Supreme Court, its most conservative justice could find himself regretting his words.

You might have fun with how much the blogger in that link overthinks the issue.

Frank/Paul Joint Effort Against Marijuana Prohibition to Be Introduced Tomorrow

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Tomorrow, Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) will introduce bipartisan legislation to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. Under the new legislation-to-be, each state would be able to legalize, regulate and tax it (or not) as they see fit, without interference from the federal government.

News broke earlier today, when the Marijuana Policy Project made a press release announcing the legislation, which was later confirmed by a spokesperson for Rep. Frank.

Here’s some more info from the press release:

Other co-sponsors include Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). The legislation would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, allowing people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal. The legislation is the first bill ever introduced in Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.

Rep. Frank’s legislation would end state/federal conflicts over marijuana policy, reprioritize federal resources, and provide more room for states to do what is best for their own citizens.

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Oregon: Relatively Free

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Oregon is the 8th freest state in the union, according to a recent study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The study, which ranks New Hampshire and South Dakota tied for #1 and New York #50, ranks states based on their social and personal freedoms, analyzing a number of public policies specific to each of the states and taking care to ensure that fiscal policies are analyzed based on cost to the taxpayer.

Oregon, specifically, is ranked #24 in economic freedom and #1 in personal freedom (believe it or not).

Despite the low taxes, government spending in Oregon remains much too high, resulting in relatively high state debt. Public safety, administration, and environment and housing look particularly ripe for cutting. Gun control laws are a bit better than average. Marijuana possession is decriminalized below a certain level, and there is medical marijuana (cultivation and sale are felonies, though). […]

The state’s cigarette taxes are higher than most, and its smoking bans were recently tightened. Oregon’s spirits tax is the highest in the country and quite extreme (though interestingly, its neighbor, Washington, is the only other state three standard deviations above the national average).

The study also outlines some policy recommendations for Oregon in order to reach an optimum freedom ranking:

  1. At the state level, spending on the inspection and regulation bureaucracy, natural resources, and government employees’ retirement is well above national norms. We recommend cutting spending in these areas and reducing public debt.
  2. Eliminate occupational licensing for massage therapists, funeral attendants, pest-control workers, elevator installers and repairmen, boilermakers, fishers and related fishing workers, agricultural product graders and sorters, farm-labor contractors, and other
  3. Maintain, if not reduce, the minimum wage, even in the face of future inflation.

Oregon’s storied history of high property/income taxes and nonexistent sales taxes probably also contribute to our relative ranking, but from where I’m sitting, we’re doing fairly well. The full study can be downloaded here.

(Hat tip to the Oregonian for pointing us to this study.)

eduHookups Sold

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Earlier this year eduHookups.com went viral. What started as a casual sex site for UChicago students turned into a dating/sex site for many universities across the nation.

The website had just barely made its way from the Ivies to the University of Oregon before it was sold.  And for how much? $1,000. Seems a bit odd considering how many users were on the site.  According to this website which may or may not be very trust-able, eduHookups was facing security problems.

A look at their twitter confirmed not only that eduHookups was sold on eBay but that the original site, www.UChicagoHookups.com, is now for sale as well.

Now the website redirects to http://www.ratemylasthookup.com where you can describe your last hookup in terms of bases, like you’re in second grade again! How exciting! You can even list their initials!

The Commentator deeply regrets the loss of eduHookups and in memorial (and on Memorial day) will be launching our own casual sex website  www.oregoncommentator.com/ran_out_of_girls_at_the_district: A Sudsy Site for Casual Friends.

The Oregon Commentator, an independent journal of seduction/fornication etc.

*Nicholas Ekblad contributed to the reporting of this article.

Obama Uses “Autopen” to Sign Patriot Act

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

An autopen.

Firstly, why the fuck is there even such a thing as an autopen? As I type this, spell check underlines that word with the squiggly red line of blunder.  According to Frank James of NPR, “It is apparently the first time in U.S. history this has been done.”

Frank Jame’s article cites this part of the Constitution:

“Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.”

The automatic signature was affixed to a bill extending the Patriot Act. Georgia Representative  Tom Graves of Georgia sent a letter to Obama, asking him to confirm whether he takes the constitution seriously.

…Just kidding, Tom Graves didn’t say that. But he did sort of call him out. This whole happenstance is excruciating political bullshit. Read the article outside, or next to a toilet. There are pictures of the autopens, too. They show six different kinds.

It would seem to me that having such a device would eventually debase, maybe even eliminate the importance of a signature. However, Obama is in Europe and that’s why it was done. He even signed a document authorizing the use of the autopen while abroad. So, I guess I understand that.

But the fucking Patriot Act?

Goddamnit, Obama… Goddamnit.

Live-blogging the Constitutional Convention? Oh, hell yes.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

In a time where young people learn about history through video games and summer blockbusters and blogs are more highly read than books, a significant challenge is presented, not only to teachers who are trying to move students through the education system, but also to parents, politicians and those trying to educate and inform the the next group of young Americans about, among other things, the history of our great nation. In a culture so fragmented and disengaged, it is necessary to change the way we look at education in all forms, but it is arguably most important that young Americans know why there here, what that means, and how it all came to be.

It is likely with this in mind that the Bill of Rights Institute, an nonprofit based out of Arlington, VA that charges itself with educating young people about the United States Constitution, has started a new project: live-blogging the 1787 Philidelphia Convention.

This summer, the Bill of Rights Institute will be blogging the Philadelphia Convention of 1787.

Beginning … May 25 – the date when enough delegates had arrived to give the Convention a quorum – the Bill of Rights Institute’s ”A More Perfect Blog” will give weekly accounts of the key actions and conversations of the Convention.

The project is already underway, starting yesterday with the election of convention leadership, convention rules and the Virginia Plan. You can read the blog here. And please, tell as many young people as possible. It’s oging to be an amazing summer, made only greater by young Americans being informed about their history and the rights and freedoms they are granted because of it.

(Hat tip to Adam Kissel over at FIRE for pointing us to this cool project.)

On Liberal Pathways to Prosperity with a Rehash of the Same Information Every Two Pages

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

A study recently released by the Harvard Graduate School of Education seeks to solve the growing disconnect between the job market and academia by focusing on job training and education.

With barely half of the students enrolled in four-year colleges completing their bachelors degrees in six years and even less completing an associates degrees in three years, it is evident that college-prep should not be the only focus of High School. Indeed, many students drop out because the relationship between their courses and possible jobs is blurred.

This is not only a problem in High School, but college as well. With the variety of courses required for graduation being confusing at best and alluring course offerings like Zombies in Popular Media, Philosophy and Star Trek, and Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame, one can easily be distracted from reality. Moreover, the connection between education and career can be befuddling— what can you do with a history or Latin degree? What kind of job can you get a bachelor’s degree in economics?

What’s more, while Community Colleges face lower funding, they often produce graduates that earn more than those who earn a degree from a four-year university. “Pathways to Prosperity”, the study recently published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education reports, “27 percent of people with post-secondary licenses or certificates—credentials short of an associate’s degree—earn more than the average bachelor’s degree recipient.”

Professor Vedder of the Ohio State economics department made similar comments in his October article “Why Did 17 Million Students Go to College?stating ” the growing disconnect between labor market realities and the propaganda of higher-education apologists is causing more and more people to graduate and take menial jobs or no job at all” noting that more than 317,000 waitresses have college degrees.

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CDC releases zombie survival guide, OC rejoices

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

The Center for Disease control wants you to be safe in the case of all possible. Including cannibalistic undead uprising. On Monday the CDC released “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse,” urging Americans to think of the safety of themselves and their loved ones in the unlikely case of a ghoul situation.

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.

Whether one calls them ghouls, zombies or just “the infected” is a matter of semantics, of course. As the article points out, the term “zombie” originally came from Haitian / voodou origins, and referred to a reanimated corpse brought back by some form of necromancer to follow the evil priest’s will. But realistically, that isn’t the sort of zombie you’ll be up against in the case of undead infestation. More likely, it’d be Night of the Living Dead-style ‘ghouls': slow, stumbly groaning monsters with a penchant for human flesh. (more…)

Do You Really Like That Story?

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

On April 17, 2011, the New Yorker‘s Facebook page read, “Jonathan Franzen’s essay on David Foster Wallace and solitude will only be available to our Facebook friends for one more day. Click on the ‘Fans Only’ tab to read.” Such a simple status was met with 67 comments expressing confusion, disappointment, anger and appreciation. Insults were thrown back and forth between Facebook users. Franzen was referred to as some form of “narcissist” on several occasions. Earlier in the week, the New Yorker posted on its blog that readers would have to visit its Facebook page to view Franzen’s piece; “This week only, if you ‘like’ The New Yorker’s Facebook page, you can read Jonathan Franzen’s piece ‘Farther Away,’ about his journey to the island of Masafuera, in the South Pacific, which appears in our current issue.” Just as The New York Times put up a paywall a few weeks earlier the New Yorker had put up a “like-wall” for online readers, and Jonathan Franzen’s story was its trial piece.

Like-walls have unique advantages that are especially helpful in marketing and advertising. First, when a user “likes” a page, all of his friends can see that he is a fan. In addition, once a user has “liked” a page, updates from that page will show up in a user’s newsfeed (a page which displays current and popular “news” from friends, status updates, pictures, videos, comments, re-posted articles, etc.). This means more interaction between the individual user and the page he is a fan of. But it doesn’t end there — when a Facebook user “likes” a page, the page gains access to that user’s information; how much information is dependent on the individual users’ settings. Organizations use this information to collect demographic data and then tailor their material accordingly. In a Neiman Journalism Lab article published on March 8, 2011, Megan Garber wrote, “It’s not just about how many people are liking (and, you know, Liking) your stuff; it’s about who’s liking it — according to age range, gender, location, and language.”

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You know your movement is a little too crazy when…

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

…even the Klan doesn’t want to be associated with you.

Earlier this month, some press releases on the KKK’s official website from summer 2010 made their way over to Reddit, from which they proceeded to hit the Facebook walls of social-medites everywhere. According to the infamous organization, they want to make sure no one associates them with the Westburo Baptist Church (these people, in case you didn’t remember), Florida Pastor Terry Jones, or the Tea Party:

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