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Archive for July, 2008

Possible 2010 Ballot Initiative to Legalize Pot

July 9th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

Proponents of legalizing pot have begun collecting signatures to place an initiative on the 2010 ballot that would decriminalize marijuana in Oregon. Sounds groovy, right? Well …

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission would manage the program, which would license approved individuals to cultivate the product for sale.

Oy vey! If you thought the OLCC’s alcohol regulations were asinine, just wait until they have control of weed. Even if passed, I wonder how effective the program would be when citizens are given the choice between trying to navigate all of the OLCC’s sure-to-be maddening regulations or just going to a black market dealer.

A similar initiative might end up on California’s ballot this November.


July 9th, 2008 by Vincent

Reason posts a link to what’s destined to be the next big internet meme.

Fellow Travelers [updated]

July 8th, 2008 by Vincent

Over at the always-excellent Harry’s Place, I ran across this thought provoking piece about modern anti-Semitism which I thought was particularly illuminating, given this University’s continuing controversies surrounding the Pacifica Forum and certain of their guest lecturers.

The author, Anthony Julius, makes explicit a crucial distinction that I think has long been missing from the debate over anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism, that of the “fellow traveler”. The out-and-out anti-Semite is usually not difficult to spot. These are the David Irvings and Hassan Nasrallahs of the world. Their distaste for Jews is barely concealed, if at all.

The “fellow travelers”, on the other hand, are like their counterparts who rooted for the Soviet Union (and the author makes clear that the comparison is deliberate) in that they dissemble and downplay actual instances of anti-Semitism, often unconsciously. Sometimes, as in the case of Palestinian terrorism, anti-Semitic acts are explicitly justified as being appropriate (or even automatic) responses to “oppression” at the hands of Zionists (read: Jews). In many cases, however, the very same people would find, say, the vandalizing of a synagogue here in Eugene appalling. As with the Soviet Union’s fellow travelers, a distinction is draw between what is considered normal and acceptable elsewhere and what is intolerable at home.

The article is especially timely, as the Register Guard has, within the last week, published letters like this one today (July 8) by George Beres (you might have to scroll down… the RG’s letter’s page doesn’t allow linking to specific letters) and this one on July 5 by Valdas Anelauskas, who should already be familiar with readers of the Commentator for his comments regarding a piece written by former Oregon Daily Emerald columnist Deborah Bloom:

Even if the author’s name wasn’t Deborah Bloom, after reading your opinion piece in the Emerald (Feb. 7) there is no doubt that it was written by someone who is Jewish. Because only from people of that peculiar tribe can we expect such Talmudic hatred for humanity. There is even a famous saying that wars are the Jews’ harvest.

In any case, the piece is rather long (11 pages + 9 pages of footnotes), so I won’t attempt to summarize it any further; it really does merit reading all the way through. Julius’ recognition of the “fellow traveler” is, I think, an important and useful addition to the lexicon of the debate.


Here’s a fine (if somewhat nauseating) example of the “fellow traveler” phenomenon, though it’s not really so much about anti-Semitic themes as an apologia for Islamic fundamentalism from a hardcore Marxian perspective. (Also via Harry’s Place)

Payday Lenders Cash Out of Oregon

July 8th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

As The Oregonian reports, payday lenders have all but disappeared from Oregon due to broad-sweeping legislation that put a cap on the interest rates they could charge. The moral crusade, led by the Oregon Legislature to get some feel-good, populist approval, enjoyed widespread support from consumer advocacy groups who claimed payday lenders were “predatory.”

Indeed, everyone’s been slapping each other on the back and declaring the “end of the predatory lending crisis,” but have they really quashed the insufferable evil of short-term, high-risk loans? No. (Surprise!)

In Oregon, officials now worry most about residents going into debt with payday lenders on the Internet, Tatman said.

Internet lenders selling to Oregonians are required by law to register with the state and abide by its regulations, but many do not.

It is difficult for the state to control Internet payday lenders who charge triple-digit interest rates, Tatman said. “If we could just get our arms around the Internet better to make sure people don’t jump out of the fire and into the frying pan.”

Who could have seen that coming? Why, It’s almost as if people seek out services to fulfill their needs! And if they can’t find a loan on the Internet, they can still seek out an illegal loan shark who will break their fingers if they’re late on payment. Huzzah!

Also, I haven’t heard a peep out of the Legislature about other “predatory” ventures such as the Oregon Lottery and its video poker machines. Is it any coincidence that payday lenders would often open up offices next to establishments that owned video poker machines? Oh, but that money goes into the state coffers, so it must be alright. I guess the moral of the story is the government won’t abide competition when it comes to swindling people.

Reason also has a write-up of the story.

From Your Friends at Homeland Security [updated]

July 8th, 2008 by Vincent

Some Washington Times blogger is reporting that:

[a] senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®.

This bracelet would:

• take the place of an airline boarding pass

• contain personal information about the traveler

• be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage

• shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes

I’m pretty inclined to take all this with a healthy dose of salt. I say this because it is the Washington Times after all, and the scanned letter purportedly originating from the DHS official that he links to is incomplete and refers to a meeting that took place in 2006. And nevermind the fact that the idea of giving airline passengers shock bracelets instead of boarding passes is one of the most batshit crazy things I’ve ever heard.

If it is true, though, then everything that’s been said about the dangers of an intrusive government is true.


A recent comment on the Washington Times site from “S&Tspokesman” clears things up:

The bracelet was never intended to replace boarding passes, contain ID information or be worn by all passengers as asserted in the Lamberd video and discussed in the Washington Times Blog.

The hypothetical use of the bracelet would have been for transporting already apprehended prisoners and detainees at prisons and border patrol facilities, and DHS was looking to see if there were potential air travel applications for apprehended suspects.

This concept was never funded or supported by the DHS or TSA and hasn’t even been discussed for two years. The letter circulating throughout the blogosphere from Paul Ruwaldt was not addressed to Lamberd and merely states the DHS was interested in learning more about the technology. Neither side followed up.

DHS/TSA does NOT support the asserted use and has not pursued the development of such technology.

Ben Westlund: “Jizz Pimp For State Treasurer”

July 7th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

Found in the Willy Week’s “Queerest moments of PDX’s Pride Week 2008” editorial:

10:25 am Sunday: State Senator Ben Westlund tells me he regrets he didn’t wear his “Jizz Pimp for State Treasurer” tee.

Wow. Of course, Westlund might be referring to his former job as a bull semen collector and not his affinity for man chowder. In any case, I would vote for Westlund hands down if he actually has a shirt that says “Jizz Pimp for State Treasurer.” In fact, that should be his slogan. Imagine it – bumper stickers, billboards, yard signs, television ads.

Hat tip to NW Republican.

Coming Soon to a PAC-10 Near You!

July 7th, 2008 by Vincent

Chess boxing:

The match began over a chess board set up on a low table in the middle of a boxing ring.

Stripped to the waist, wearing towels around their shoulders and headphones playing the lulling sound of a moving train to drown out the baying crowd, the men played for four minutes.
Then off came their reading glasses and on went the gloves and the mouthguards.

For three minutes they beat each other and then, when the bell went, the chess board was back in the ring and they picked up the gentlemanly game where they had left off.

Sorry CJ. Rugby is cool, and all, but if chess boxing isn’t the best sport ever, I don’t know what is.

Coming Soon to a Daycare Center Near You!

July 7th, 2008 by Vincent

One hopes that this news report from the UK is wildly inaccurate:

The National Children’s Bureau… has issued guidance to play leaders and nursery teachers advising them to be alert for racist incidents among youngsters in their care.

This could include a child of as young as three who says “yuk” in response to being served unfamiliar foreign food.

[The report] alerts playgroup leaders that even babies can not be ignored in the drive to root out prejudice as they can “recognise different people in their lives”. 

The world has gone fucking mad.

Metal Mondays: Sweet Leaf Edition.

July 7th, 2008 by Vincent

The U.S. Government has a patent on medical marijuana. Go figure.

(Via The Agitator)


Preparing for a Future War

July 6th, 2008 by Vincent

When reading this article at Foreign Policy, one gets the sense that the author is mostly correct in criticizing the military’s apparent mania for developing absurdly expensive “toys”, but I don’t think she takes it far enough.  Her argument seems to be that many of the technologies that the military chooses to invest in (hypersonic aircraft, for instance) may, in the future, turn out to have been expensive endeavors with no real practical value, while more down-to-earth needs, such as defending against dirty bombs or researching alternative energy sources, fall by the wayside. Her point is probably correct — the history of military R&D (or pretty much any R&D, for that matter) is strewn with examples of failed experiments, research dead-ends, and money-sinks that, in the end, have no useful or tangible product.

The real problem is not that we’re investing in science fiction technology, it’s that we’re spending money on it to the exclusion of more mundane technology that, while less sexy, is nevertheless the backbone of any strong military.


Happy Independence Day, You Bastards.

July 4th, 2008 by Vincent

According to the clock on my computer, it’s 3 minutes away from being “not Independence Day,” so I thought I’d take this opportunity to drunkenly mention what a fine country we’re lucky enough to live in, flaws and all.

As the song goes, “America? FUCK YEAH.”

Legit Facebook Ad: Bacon Salt

July 3rd, 2008 by Amy

I have been seeing ads for Bacon Salt on the left-hand-side of Facebook periodically for weeks. Generally, Facebook ads seem like obvious scams—featuring secrets on how to lose 20lbs in a week or where to sell broken gold jewelry. Much to my delight, however, the ads for Bacon Salt are no lie; they even have a blog to prove it!

What is Bacon Salt, you ask?

“A zero calorie, vegetarian, kosher certified seasoning salt that makes everything taste like real bacon.”

I ordered the Original and Hickory flavors today in hopes that I can make any fries taste like Rennie’s Cheesy Bacon Fries, and thereby, make my life worth living, again. I also plan on concocting some cocktail recipes that involve Bacon Salt-rimmed glasses.

Stay tuned for my follow-up Bacon Salt consumption post, once my order arrives!

Breaking News: OLCC Still Totally Sucks

July 3rd, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

The OLCC is putting the kaibosh on a local vineyard’s attempt to actually do something cool. AgriVino Wine Center recently installed a fancy-pants new tasting room, complete with a self-serve wine tasting machine. From the McMinnville News-Register:

AgriVino offered visitors the opportunity to get a taste of and detailed information about Yamhill Wine Country before they ventured out into it. At the core of the operation was the Enomatic wine dispensing and preservation system.

This Italian-made device, legal for use in California and most other states, consists of individual units or stations holding up to eight wines each. The machines read a prepaid smart card that allows a maximum of 10 one-ounce pours over a two-hour period.

Licensed employees oversee the operation, offering advice, answering questions, disseminating information and controlling issuance of the cards. But customers insert the card and push the button to dispense the selected wine themselves.

Can you see where this is going? (more…)

Dotters-Katz To Liberate OSA-Run ASUO Intern Program

July 2nd, 2008 by Niedermeyer

Since his election, ASUO President Sam Dotter-Katz has hardly been running away from his campaign promises of reform. If anything, one might even wonder where he’s going to find the time to enact the many reforms he has recently committed himself to in a lengthy letter to President Frohnmayer. But Dotter-Katz doesn’t seem to be worried, as his administration is kicking off the usually-sleepy summer term with a reform that didn’t even make his already-epic to-do list: eliminating the OSA Campus Coordinator position. (more…)

Eugene Men Sweep 800 Final, Threaten Jesus

July 1st, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

It was a big day for Eugene at the Olympic Trials yesterday. In the men’s 800 final, Nick Symmonds of the Oregon Track Club, Andrew Wheating of Oregon and Christian Smith, also of the Oregon Track Club, took first, second and third, respectively. The crowd at Hayward Field went absolutely nuts, even those watching the jumbotron in the Eugene ’08 festival area.

The race, probably the most memorable of the Trials, has received write-ups in both the Chicago-Tribune and The New York Times. Sports Illustrated columnist Tim Layden profiles Wheating and his meteoric rise, making some not-so-subtle allusions to a certain mustachioed Oregon runner of yore. For the most comprehensive coverage of the race head over to

Symmonds and Wheating both stayed in the back of the pack until the homestretch, as is their wont, before burning the rest of the field with their trademark kicks. Both were somewhat of underdogs going into the finals, which led to some live-blogging foot-in-mouth over at the Eugene Weekly blog. “It’d be a miracle if both of them go to Beijing,” EW writer Chuck Adams wrote at 8:21 p.m. This was followed at 8:28 by “Holy Fuck. Wheating and Symmonds are going to Beijing.”

Smith’s third-place finish was perhaps the most dramatic. He literally dove face-first over the finish line and into the track, beating Khadevis Robinson by six-hundredths of a second. Robinson filed a protest, claiming Smith had grabbed him as he fell. The protest was denied. For his part, Smith can’t even really remember if he grabbed Robinson or not, which led to a rather odd quote. From

“We both fell and I was hoping anyone was there, if Jesus would’ve been there I would’ve grabbed him.”

However, the Tribune story has a slightly different quote from Smith:

“I was so lactated I couldn’t see. I was hoping Jesus was out there so I could have grabbed him, too.”

In any case, watch your back, Big J. There’s a lactating Olympic athlete after you.