Archive for the 'National' Category
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.)
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.
Sunday, May 29th, 2011
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.
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.)
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.
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…)
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.”
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:
Thursday, April 21st, 2011
For those of you in the beer world who keep tabs on the Brewers Association or the craft beer scene, you may have heard: Goose Island, a craft beer brewery, has just been bought by Anheuser-Busch (newly acquired by InBev). What this means is that Goose Island beer could turn into the same watered down piss that AB already brews and bottles. Typically the bigger company will sacrifice good ingredients like real hops, malt and barely to replace it with cost effective extracts and artificial flavors. Speaking of beer tasting like piss, the Brewmaster Greg Hall himself brewed his own concoction of beer the other night. Huffington Post reports:
It’s been a real up-and-down couple of weeks for Greg Hall.
The brewmaster at Goose Island announced in late March that he’d be leaving that role, as the Chicago-based craft brewer was bought up by Anheuser-Busch for a hefty $39 million. He’ll be leaving for an undisclosed new project, according to statements at the time.
And last Friday night, Hall celebrated his 45th birthday at Bangers and Lace, a self-described craft beer and sausage bar that Time Out Chicago recently named its Best New Bar.
Unfortunately, according to the Chicago Tribune, the celebration got a bit out of hand. In a conversation with the Tribune on Monday, Hall didn’t deny accusations made by the Bangers staff that he urinated in two beer glasses and left them at the bar.
Looks like someone partied a little too hard. The intoxicated Brewmaster made his father’s brewery (of 23 years) become known for more than just beer the other night while celebrating his 45th Birthday at Wicker Parks Bangers & Lace. Folks, this is quite the drunken tale.
Hall unveiled a brew all his own: pissing in two pint glasses. After throwing a few back Hall proceeded to go behind the counter of the bar and proceeded to urinate in two glasses, leaving them on the bar. At this point Hall probably should have discreetly left, but he had to be escorted from the premises by staff to his car (hopefully he wasn’t driving).
Yes we can all laugh at the silly over-the-top drunken escapades of a man threw one too many back, but there is a bitter note to this story. What beer lover might not realize is that Hall’s company has just sold out to a corporate giant which has a monopoly on almost half of the beer industry. As Huffington Post points out though, craft breweries like Goose Island are doing well, but I guess if I was offered that much money I would probably allow myself to be bought too.
John Hall, the head of Goose Island, said that the company was quickly outgrowing its capacities, having to limit production of some of its most popular beers, and that the deal with Anheuser-Busch would help the company continue to expand. “This agreement helps us achieve our goals with an ideal partner who helped fuel our growth, appreciates our products and supports their success,” Hall said, in a statement on the buyout.
Looking at the real numbers, small breweries are popping up all across the country, the BA lists 85 breweries just in Oregon. Understandably Goose Island was growing but as the rest of the HP article points out, small breweries are gaining attention while bigger companies are losing it.
As the Wall Street Journal points out, craft brewing has been an exceptionally solid performer in an otherwise unexceptional beer market in recent years. Craft beer sales were up 11 percent last year, while the broader industry was down one percent.
I do not disagree with smaller breweries expanding, but typically with these sorts of expansions in the beer industry, it leads to a more generic product using lower quality ingredients just to cut costs. It also moves the flow of money from within a state economy into the wider commercial economy, which results in states losing money to outside sources. Whether it is sourcing ingredients for the product from farther away or giving jobs to workers who are out-of-state, it hurts the local economy.
When a consumer buys beer from a small or local brewery they are more likely to receive a fresher, higher quality product because the ingredients used in the beer were sourced locally (fresh is good). Sourcing ingredients locally means that brewers are supporting local farmers, creating a co-op effect within the community. Radical thoughts: local people stimulating local economy by buying products that are made locally. I am sorry for the locavore commotion train, but the dollar signs make sense.
Sunday, April 17th, 2011
The United States Postal Service recently printed a batch of stamps of our fair Lady Liberty. Great idea for a financially hemorrhaging national government agency! Or it least it would have been if they had used the right photo.
The New York Post is reporting that the $880 million in stamps that went to press carried the face of not our proud Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island, but a Las Vegas replica:
Somehow the Postal Service insists that the stamps, introduced last December, have “no error in the artwork.”
“The error was in the description, which we’ve changed to indicate was a replica,” Betts said.
An investigation by Linn’s Stamp News exposed the mistake after proving that the eyes, eyelids and eyebrows on the Lady Liberty replica were more sharply defined than those of the original statue.
The real difference between the two statues should be obvious to anyone: People arrive tired and poor at the New York one — and leave that way from the Las Vegas one.
The true beauty in government agencies is when they try to cover up their mistakes. And this is a pretty big one. To claim that the USPS intentionally used this photo instead of a photo of the original is pretty silly, and likely untrue — especially since it followed an investigation from a journalistic publication proving the image to be of the Vegas replica.
Is it offensive to those whose families braved the long and arduous journey across the Atlantic to find hope and prosperity within the borders of our great nation? As the member of one of those families, I’m going to say no.
But a hilarious embarrassment on the part of the United States Postal Service? You betcha.
Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
Northwestern Professor John Michael Bailey has been put in a compromising position after his recent post-class demonstration was met with explosive reactions. Bailey’s Human Sexuality class, like many others, covers topics ranging from transexuality to masturbation, but unlike the course you can take here at UO, he has after-class “educational addendums,” the most recent being a live demonstration of a woman being penetrated by a this:
It’s called a fucksaw, and for around $170 you can get your very own. The after class special was a discussion on kink and sexual fetish, where students could touch clown wigs, feel the “titillating” sting of an erotic electric shock device, and watch as Faith Kroll (pictured below) stripped naked and was penetrated by the toy, wielded by her fiance, Jim Marcus.
Kroll and finace Marcus
It is yet unclear as to what, if any kind of repercussions this will have for Professor Bailey, but of course some critics are already spurting with disapproval. The demonstration “troubled and disappointed” Northwestern University President Morton Shapiro, who also called for an investigation. The addendum was an optional part of class, no credit was given for attending, and because the act was performed in a classroom setting it is considered legal. But was it necessary for student comprehension? Yes, says Bailey, Kroll, and Marcus. During the lecture the class watched a video depicting a female orgasm which both Kroll and Marcus found to be inadequate and thought they could give a much more realistic example right then and there. Kroll and Marcus are self-proclaimed exhibitionists, meaning they derive their sexual pleasure from being watched during the dirty deed.
“Both Professor Bailey and myself gave [the students] five or six warnings about what was about to happen and it would be graphic,” said Ken Melvoin-Berg, who was the main guest lecturer and who is also co-owner of Weird Chicago Tours. The most important precaution taken, in this writer’s opinion, was the towel that Kroll made sure to lay down beneath her before the love session began.
So far no lawsuits have been filed, so it seems that none of the students were severely traumatized by watching the 25-year-old get totally reamed by a fucksaw.
“It is probably something I will remember for the rest of my life. I can’t say that about my Econ 202 class and the material that I learned there,” said Justin Smith, a Northwestern senior.
But the real question at the heart of this controversy: did Kroll actually climax for the class, or was she just faking it? That is a mystery we may never be able to answer, or at least not until the cell phone videos begin surfacing.
Thursday, February 17th, 2011
The University of Oregon may ban the sale of bottled water on campus, due to its environmental effects, a growing trend on campuses nationwide.
The movement is part of a national campaign called “Take Back the Tap,” which was adopted and promoted by the Climate Justice League, a superhero cape-wearing environment-advocating student group at the U of O.
“Bottled water is not necessary because we already have perfectly good tap water, and it’s terrible for the environment. It’s better just to get it out of our economy, and out of our ecosystems,” said freshman Manny Garcia, co-coordinator of UO’s Take Back the Tap.
“If you were to take, in 2009, all the bottled water, and you stacked them on top of each other, you would go to the moon and back 65 times,” he said, adding that only 5 percent of those are recycled worldwide.
The Associated Students of the University of Oregon has voted to support Take Back the Tap’s proposal to ban the sale of bottled water; the proposal was passed 12-3-1.
There is no official data yet on how many bottles are sold on campus. Officials have collected data on the dining halls, but do not yet have figures from the food vendors in the student union or the athletics department, which they expect to be a substantial percentage of the total.
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
I swear, lately the slew of Starbucks headlines in the NYT have been akin to a 13-year old girls twitter posts- logo changes, protests and bigger cups. Now, in a pinnacle of (superfluous) modernity, Starbucks will be accepting payment via select cell phones.
At more than 7,500 U.S. locations, customers will be able to pay by using their Blackberrys, iPhones and iPods. Customers will be able to scan their phones after they download an app and add money to their Starbucks account.
According to the vice president for the Starbucks card and brand loyalty, the goal of this new service is to allow customers to pay in the fastest way possible. In order for this to benefit the stores as well, they will have to install expensive scanners.
I love Starbucks, I really do, but I question the practicality of using ones cell phone as a method of payment. It seems to me that since I don’t own a Mary Poppins style purse (and I would, if they were made!), fetching my credit/debit card is just as quick as digging my phone out. Further, adding money to my Starbucks card requires that I must either think ahead or waste time at the register. Both options seem inconvenient and time consuming. So, if the goal of this initiative is to save me time, how much time am I really saving?
Moreover, I worry that this will cause unnecessary problems in the event that a cell phone is stolen. Not only will the owner be losing a phone, they will be losing money as well. And, in the case that someone leaves their phone at work, at home, in the car, at a party or anywhere else, then that individual will be forced to use money they hadn’t already allocated for coffee, or go without.
The technological advances that have occurred in my lifetime amaze me, but there comes a point where improvements heed small benefits and efficiency flatlines.