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“Perceived” Rights and Smoker Ethics

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

After getting off of work in the dungeon that is the Knight Library basement, I stepped into the afternoon rain. I pulled a pre-rolled cigarette from my pocket (Bugler brand – mangy, disgusting Bugler) and lit it. Standing off to the side so as not to spread smoke, an elderly woman shot me the evil eye before stopping in front of me: “There’s no smoking on campus. Go smoke across the street.”

I stared at her until she left.

This kind of situation has become all-too-common since the Healthy Campus Initiative, in partnership with the UO Health Center and the administration (with a special guest funding appearance from the ASUO), implemented a campus-wide smoking ban at the beginning of the Fall. The idea of a smoking ban isn’t anything new; the Smoke Free Campus Task Force (SFTF) issued a report in 2008 that sought to

tak[e] up the matter of campus smoking policy with the understanding that the issue is fueled by strong personal convictions for perceived personal rights, both the right to be free from the effects of secondhand smoke and the right to choose to smoke cigarettes (STFT Report, emphasis mine)

The rest of the report either references student support from polls drawn from other universities, or flat-out neglects student responses in order to reference various studies, policies, and polls from other universities. Under “Synthesis of Survey Findings of UO Faculty, Staff, and Students,” the report states that

Many survey respondents are ready to support the move to a smoke free campus… [and] also were confident that this could be accomplished with designated smoking areas… (Ibid.)

Oh, hey, there’s a reasonable point. But no! The STFT simply cannot concede, because “enforcement becomes very difficult and compliance suffers as a result.” You don’t say.

No matter what the administration does, what programs it implements, what funding it pulls or pushes, students will push against it. Lord knows the Commentator will. The Healthy Campus Initiative tried to remedy this student disconnect with the “STFU” posters, a internet-conscious campaign that seemed to confuse people more than encourage quitting (check out this post about the issue from our very own Editor Emeritus Sophia Lawhead).

Another argument is that it unfairly targets lower-income UO workers. Even those filthy hipsters at the OV agree with us on this point. Making workers go off campus for a 15 minute smoke break is not only inconsiderate, but damaging to already-strained labor relationships.

“All I wanted was a non-fat, cream-jizzed latte with peasant tears in it!”

So why bring up this almost-5-year-old report, you may ask? Because Frances Dyke and company never really cared about what students thought. The UO has become a brand, and it needs to sell itself in order to keep flagging state funding and private donor contributions steady. The publicity surrounding the ban has relentlessly focused on the “progressive” aspects of the program without attending to the opinions of students or faculty – and if so, only through narrow data samples used to prop up their point.

But the effects of secondhand smoke are serious. I completely understand the goal behind the smoking ban. Cigarette butt litter continues to be a problem, and has only been exacerbated by the ban — take a look at the 13th and Kincaid entrance to campus if you don’t believe me. Families with young children and people with respiratory problems are also rightfully concerned.

The only way to fight this ban, then, is to implement a personal smoker code of ethics to demonstrate smoker commitment to a healthy campus and personal freedoms. Here’s mine:

  1. Always smoke away from buildings and large groups of people, and/or areas of great traffic.
  2. Stop inhaling and pull the cigarette as far away from passing families with children.
  3. If someone asks you to smoke off campus, politely decline or simply don’t say anything at all. You’ll be finished if and when they call DPS.
  4. Put butts out and make sure they’re extinguished before throwing them away.
  5. Throw butts in the trash.
  6. If an officer asks you to put your cigarette out, assess the situation. Fines suck, but so do the deprivation of “perceived personal rights.”
  7. Overall, recognize that your activity is looked down upon. Take pride in this.

It’s not perfect, but it works for me. The Commentator will continue to fight this arbitrary ban with articles, letters, appeals, and upcoming events like Tobacco Appreciation Day. But the ball is in smokers’ courts. We at the Commentator will do our best to point out the massive cavalcades of bullshit directed at students who make the choice to smoke. This smoking ban is just another attempt at nannying the student populace; the administration never does anything without direct benefit to them, and they’ve fucked smokers to bolster their public image under the pretense of “knowing what’s best.”

The whole campaign feels like yet another pat on the head, another assumption about our intelligence, actions, and responsibilities. But we’re not kids anymore. We’re adults, students, workers, and yes, smokers. So smoke ’em if ya got ’em. It’s going to be a long, long battle.

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.

Evolution has nothing to do with science.

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Shaggy 2 Dope is the Oregon Commentator’s science blogger. A guest contributor who is not a student, Shaggy enjoys music, professional wrestling, playing with his children, and anti-social acts of violence. He writes every week in response to JoAnna Wendel’s Oregon Daily Emerald science column.

Hello friends. I’m sorry it’s been so long since we last spoke. I realize that my nemesis, Oregon Daily Emerald columnist JoAnna Wendel, has published two articles since I issued a public challenge to her and I have not responded. I intend to. I’d say that being a multi-platinum recording artist, record label-founder and all-around renaissance man is demanding, but that’s no excuse. I’ll try to be on time next week, but here are my thoughts on Wendel’s work this week.

Wendel’s first column alleges that a new “species” of human has evolved. “Collegius baconus” is supposedly its name and Wendel says it has evolved in visible time, and that she’s surprised. Well, of course a scientist would be surprised.

What they don’t realize is that evolution is one of life’s little miracles, like looking into your son’s eyes after he gets into his first hockey fight or the little yellow powder that makes Funyuns so salty. “It’s just salt dude!” they’ll tell you. Maybe they’ll say, “Evolution is a natural process,” or, “Your son displays early signs of psychosis.” But no, scientists, who, as I have already elaborated, are all motherfuckers, are always trying to leech the magic out of miracles like evolution.

They are making me so pissed.

Everyone knows evolution has nothing to do with scientists. If scientists had their way, we probably never would have heard of evolution. Evolution: it’s something human beings have known about since the beginning of time. If we’d left it up to scientists, they’d probably tell us evolution is caused by “chemical imbalances of the brain” or “too much drinking” — just a few of the outrageously false explanations the medical scientists with which which I’m forced to talk try to come up with — and they’d be wrong.

Evolution is a miracle. It has nothing to do with science. You can’t explain it, just like you can’t explain what’s inside Fonz Pond.

Fonz Pond

I’ll tackle Wendel’s other article a little later. Shaggy out.

Famous

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Look look, this random website says we’re the #20 most awesome (Twitter) person in Eugene.

See at the bottom?

Victory alas,

To Rennies to celebrate this momentous moment!

 

 

Bambi

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

I would like to take this time to point out that the all time number two search term referring to the Commentator blog is “bambi.” WTF.

Tired of studying for finals?

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Want to do something entirely useful with your time instead? Well look no further. Click below for computer science’s greatest ever contribution to humanity. Happy studying!

Click here for awesomeness.

You’re welcome,
– The Oregon Commentator

Media digest will be late, possibly nonexistant, today

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.

Student Insurgent for sale by owner

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Bored over this summer, the Oregon Commentator decided to have a little fun in preparation for a terrible, soul-crushing elections season. We decided that the most logical choice of action was to register the name “Student Insurgent” as a non-profit magazine in Lane county through the Oregon Secretary of State’s Corporation Division.

We’ve had it posted on craigslist in the barter section for quite some time, but have yet to receive any e-mails in response. We decided we’d put it here and get a little interest going.

As the ad says, we are open to trades or cash for the naming rights to a magazine called the “Student Insurgent” in Lane county.

What’s your best offer?

Draw-A-Dick Coloring Contest!

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Download this picture and color in University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere. Submit your colorings/drawings via email to us at ocomment@uoregon.edu or upload it and submit it in the comments section. We have 2 weeks till our next issue comes out, so get in your submissions! First Place will be a Sudsy Tee, and the others will be mystery prizes!

New Button Added for Sudsy Tees!

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Just added a sweet new button for y’all to buy Sudsy Tees from us if you’re not in the direct vicinity. Due to eBay costs and shipping, the price of the shirt is $16.95 when purchased online, but you can use your credit/debit card or Paypal to buy it!

As always, you are also welcome to send us a check for a mere $15, or come down to the office in person and purchase a shirt less the shipping and eBay tax for just $10.

CLICK HERE TO BUY A SUDSY TEE

Cheba Hut Block Party Jan. 30th

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Full Disclosure: Unfortunately the OC had a problem with our printer and our issue won’t be out until tomorrow morning. In the meantime, since Cheba Hut paid for an ad for their event on Saturday, we figured we’d throw them a little plug here on the ol’ blog since we’re not well-acquainted enough with this fancy-pants Internet to figure out how to put it on the sidebar.

Cheba Hut, over on 11th and High, is having a big block party type of affair this Saturday the 30th. They’re going to have a raffle and live music, including local Ninkasi-sponsored act Cambio alongside two other bands. The music starts sometime around mid-day, and there will also be a Ranch Dressing-chugging contest to win $100 and free subs for a year.

Sudsy will be there, that’s for sure.

Oregon Commentator Archive Updated

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

dingbat

I know you’ve all been clamoring for an updated OC Archive, and lucky you it has finally been posted. The Archives from this year and the end of last year have been updated, with my end goal being to scan in all of the old issues as well.

Until then, enjoy Volume 26 and Volume 27.

New Button to Purchase “By the Barrel”

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

bythebarrel

We just added a new button (look to your right) underneath the “Current Issue” button that you can click and be able to purchase a copy of our book By the Barrel: 25 Years of the Oregon Commentator.

Clicking the button takes you to another page that has a short description of the book as well as a picture of the cover and a list of chapters. At the beginning and end of the page there is a link that allows you to purchase a copy of the book with your credit/debit card or with PayPal.

You can also click this link and it will take you to the same place.

For just $10 you get a book that’s hardbound, has a dust jacket and has 24-pages of glossy color in the middle. Increase your money’s utility this holiday season by giving it to us.

Wisdom for the Ages

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009
"Your iPhone, sir..."

"Your iPhone, sir..."

“I don’t know about you but whenever I read a blog I do not let my eye drop below half the screen in case I accidentally hit the bit where the comments reside. Of all the stinking, sliding, scuttling, weird, entomological creatures that inhabit the floor of the internet those comments on blogs are the most unbearable, almost beyond imagining… Their resentment, their desire to be heard at the most vituperative level, at the most unpleasant and malevolent, genuinely ill-willed malevolent, level is terrifying…”

Stephen Fry, proving once again that he’s pretty much the man.

[via Harry's Place]