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Archive for December, 2008

Matthew Knight Arena

December 31st, 2008 by Scott Younker

Doesn’t have the same ring as Mac Court. Knight Arena. Meh.

For those who want more proof that Phil Knight and company own the University of Oregon, I refer you to the Register Guard and the Ol’ Dirty:

UO President Dave Frohnmayer was happy to comply and on Saturday, at a news conference in the Rose Garden arena just before the Papé Jam basketball double-header tipped off, he announced that excavation will begin on the Matthew Knight Arena this week. The $227 million stadium will replace 82-year-old McArthur Court — Mac Court to students and fans.

Maybe Susan Palmer just hates Nike and Phil Knight but I do enjoy the way she wrote the first sentence there. Frohny was happy to comply. Ha! Who wouldn’t be happy to comply with Phil Knight when he’s bankrolled 3 other buildings on this campus, two of which already hold the Knight name. Let’s list them: Knight Library, Lillis Business Complex, and Law School/Library.

I for one am not complaining about Knight’s money. The dude is rich, bored, and likes sports. However, other than the uniforms and various other Nike donations to UO athletics, the three buildings noted above are not athletic facilities and do support the entire campus.

Mostly I’m just waiting to hear the bitching and moaning from the rest of the UO campus and Eugene area.

Eugene Weekly’s Rick Levin Responds to Critics

December 31st, 2008 by Vincent

Rick Levin, the literary drip who was last seen subjecting Eugene Weekly readers to a pointless and largely uninformed anti-gun diatribe (covered by the Commentator here and here), has decided to grace his critics with a reply in the latest edition of the Weekly.

Needless to say, it’s more or less content-free and tries hard to work in some gun-related suicide statistics, a basically non sequitur paragraph about the oppression and tyranny of George Bush, and a lot of ad hominem attacks on 2nd Amendment supporters. At the same time, Levin deploys one of his literary trademarks, namely “authoritative” statements about the gun control debate (“…the bigger, deeper picture… pretty much renders unregulated private gun ownership a ridiculous and dangerous proposition…”) that are more or less devoid of any real legal knowledge.

Maybe instead of constructing absurd straw men and putting words in the mouths of his critics, Mr. Levin would like to debate the 2nd Amendment with some of the Commentator staff?

Kulongoski Proposes Taxing Oregonians by the Mile

December 30th, 2008 by Vincent

Oregon’s Governor, Ted Kulongoski, seems to be taking a page from the Microsoft playbook with his new proposal to replace the tax on gasoline with a mileage tax (volunteers in a trial program were charged $0.012/mile). The new program, which is going to cost $20,000,000 just to figure out whether or not it’s economically feasable, will use GPS systems to track how far your car has traveled. The reason for the proposal?

As Oregonians drive less and demand more fuel-efficient vehicles, it is increasingly important that the state find a new way, other than the gas tax, to finance our transportation system.

The governor also promises that even though GPS units will be uniquely identifying and tracking the location of every car on the road, “privacy will be respected”. I think we all know how long it’ll take for police bureaus to find an excuse to get access to that database.

Unlike the relatively simple gas tax, the new proposal seems likely to come with higher administrative costs, since the Governor has also promised that rural Oregon (where the roads are likely to be less used and driving distances are likely to be far greater) will not be “adversely affected”. What this will likely mean in practice is dividing the state into a number of administrative zones, each with its own “pricing scheme”. I also think we all know how long it’s going to take for members of a community that’s near the border between two zones to start complaining to the legislature if they happen to be situated in an an area in which the state has decided driving is more expensive. (One also assumes that it’s going to cost money to hire people to set up and administer the database and all the other infrastructure.)

And just in case you decide not to install a GPS unit in your old Ford Aspire, the Governor has you covered: he’s just going to raise your gas tax by $0.02/gallon

Expect similar “innovations” in the ways the State of Oregon takes your money if and when aggressive anti-smoking programs and legislation lead to a serious decline in the number of smokers and a concomitant decline in the revenues from sin taxes on tobacco products.

(via Slashdot)

Smoke ‘Em While You Got ‘Em

December 30th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

As you’re probably all aware, Oregon’s new smoking ban goes into effect on the 1st, meaning tomorrow is your last day to enjoy delicious tobacco in a bar. (Of course, smoking is banned in all bars in Eugene already. We’re way ahead of the curve in overbearing nanny-ism). But would you believe that the Oregonian had the cojones to run an anti-smoking ban opinion? Check it out:

The state could have considered offering tax breaks to smoke-free businesses, for example. Instead, it’s taking the most restrictive course possible, banning smoking in all but a few specialized shops and lounges. The fact that smoking gets such harsh treatment while workers in far more dangerous fields receive not an ounce of notice suggests that the ban actually has little to do with employee safety. Protecting workers is simply the polite fiction by which nonsmokers have imposed their will on an increasingly unpopular minority.

However, I liked the Willy Week’s more blunt take on the matter:

Congratulations, you busybody neo-Puritan health-crusade fuckwads: You win again. You have assured that the people who make a living distributing poison to addicts will not have to breathe the poison of other addicts. And the only collateral damage is the neighborhood dive: the hole-in-the-wall joint where beautiful people never congregated anyway. So one of life’s little consolations—a beer and a cigarette—is now illegal in Portland. Good work, team.

For the record, we at the OC have taken many firm stands against smoking bans local, state and national.

P.S. Don’t be too surprised to see newspapers coming out against the ban. Journalists are rather notorious smokers. See also: Edward R. Murrow, Hunter S. Thompson and apparently every reporter in China.

Bristol’s Baby Born

December 29th, 2008 by Amy

The only thing I love more than a good alliteration is the fact that Sarah Palin is now officially a GILF!

According to Yahoo! News, Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston was born yesterday, weighing in at 7 lb 4 oz. To date, Bristol and Levi have yet to tie the knot, so this 18-year-old, republican MILF is still available–rumor is she puts out.

Sarah Palin isn’t the only amazing grandparent young Tripp will have as an influence; Grandma Johnston seems to have a surprising life of her own. I think we can all look forward to seeing what the little town of Wasilla has in store for us in the next 18 years. Thanks to the Anchorage Daily News for this gem.

City Tries to Put Kaibosh on Giant Snowman

December 29th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

A man in Anchorage, Alaska has been issued a cease and desist order by the city for building a 25-foot snowman, dubbed “Snowzilla.” The city has tried to quash Snowzilla for a number of years now, saying it’s a nuisance, but the man refuses to give in. Every year, Snowzilla mysteriously returns, bigger and more badass.

According to the article, the city has also fined the man more than $10,000 in land use fines over the years (not snowman-related). I would warn the city of Anchorage not to push this guy too far. He’s got some time and creativity on his hands, and, as we all know, it’s a short step from building a giant snowman to building a giant KILLDOZER.

Hat tip to the Agitator.

Diversity Makes You Free

December 28th, 2008 by Vincent

And You Thought Your Education Was Expensive NOW…

December 27th, 2008 by Vincent

There’s an uproar at Slashdot over Microsoft’s newly filed patent application for a “Metered Pay-As-You-Go Computing Experience”. The patent application argues that, when a person buys a computer they shell out for hardware that can handle the most demanding application they’re likely to use (a graphics-intensive video game, for instance), even if that application is only actually in use for relatively short periods of time — the idea that the average person uses their computer mostly for e-mail, word processing, and web browsing and only fires up the video games on the weekends or whatever. Unless they’re evil software pirates, they’ve probably spent $50-70 for that video game, too.

Without getting too technical, Microsoft’s solution seems to be to come up with a scheme where you pay a fee per hour to use certain “bundles” of software and hardware performance is somehow throttled to match the “bundle” you’re using.

While Microsoft claims in the application that “[b]oth users and suppliers benefit from this new business model” it mostly sounds to me like a way for software companies to fleece their customers. Nevertheless, it’s not hard to envision instances where a metered pay model might be superior (one commenter at Slashdot mentions spending upwards of $1000 several hundred dollars for Adobe CS3, which he uses only a few times a year).

In any case, Microsoft made a typically poor choice in choosing the examples that it decided to include in the illustrations that accompanied the patent application. One of them reveals that the company envisions charging users a fee of $1.15 per hour to use a “homework bundle“, which apparently would incorporate some future version of Microsoft Office, some kind of graphics software, and even your web browser (the Patent Office’s website was a bit squirrelly for me, so if you can’t see the image, you can find a screenshot of it here).

That paper about Racism, Capitalism, and American Foreign Policy you have to write for a Chuck Hunt class is about to start costing you a lot more than your sanity and dignity.

Of course, there’s a very high chance that this idea will never fly, at least in its current form. And if it does… I guess there’s always this.

It’s Festivus, the holiday for the rest of us

December 24th, 2008 by Drew Cattermole

Since it is everyone’s favorite holiday of the year, I thought we should begin the Airing of Grievances for 2008.

[Posted late. My bad. – ED]

The Truth Will Out (Itself)!

December 23rd, 2008 by Vincent

It seems that an “internal review” by the incoming Obama Administration has concluded that the incoming Obama Administration wasn’t involved — no way, no how — with any of disgraced Democratic Illinois governor and political albatross Rod Blagojevich’s shady dealings. Phew! Thank goodness we’ve got that cleared up!

In other news, Bush Administration officials have produced an internal review that shows that the Bush Administration had absolutely zero knowledge of torture during interrogations of suspected terrorists, the ghost of Franklin Roosevelt produced an internal report proving that the Roosevelt Administration didn’t know about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and Bill Clinton maintains that he didn’t inhale.

Your Taxpayer Dollars at Work

December 23rd, 2008 by Vincent

You might be unaware that the Library of Congress instituted a pilot program earlier this year with the intention of uploading some of the millions of historical photographs in its archive to Flickr and allowing members of the public to help tag and identify them.

According to Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason, the program has been “a roaring success”:

One year on, some impressive stats:
• 10.4 million views of the photos on Flickr.
• More than 15,000 Flickr members have chosen to make the Library of Congress a “contact,” creating a photostream of Library images on their own accounts.
• 7,166 comments were left on 2,873 photos by 2,562 unique Flickr accounts.
• 67,176 tags were added by 2,518 unique Flickr accounts.
• 4,548 of the 4,615 photos have at least one community-provided tag.
• Less than 25 instances of user-generated content were removed as inappropriate.

The Library of Congress taken a poorly-indexed photo archive that was, in practical terms, available to almost nobody and found a way to make it available to pretty much anyone who cares to look at it. Not only that, but the integrity of the archive itself is being improved by allowing the public to assist in identifying and tagging photos. All of this is presumably at far less cost to the taxpayer than paying a team of professional archivists to do the same thing.

It’s nice to see the government do right by the taxpayers for once.

Incidentally, if you’re interested in historical photography, you could do worse than to check out Shorpy, which is a blog dedicated to high quality historical photos, some dating back to the 1840’s and 1850’s. A lot of interesting information about the photographs shows up in the comments section.

DAS FROHN! Circa 1975

December 22nd, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

This amazing picture of President Frohnmayer was emailed to us by Brian Walker. According to Walker, it’s a screen cap from a 1975 political endorsment outside the old courthouse. If anyone else has awesome pictures of the Frohn, send them our way.

From the Institute for Obvious Conclusions

December 21st, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

A new study shows that college students have a more positive racial outlook when placed in more diverse environments. From Inside Higher Ed:

One key finding was the generally positive impact on racial attitudes of living with someone of a different race. Students […] who lived with members of other ethnic groups showed statistically significant gains in comfort levels with people of different groups, having circles of friends beyond one’s own group, and a variety of other measures of tolerance toward different groups.

You don’t say!? Of course, the study also came to some other, less-positive conclusions. For example, the researchers also found that students who were members of largely homogeneous groups, such as student unions, fraternities and sororities, had decidedly un-cosmopolitan views:

The researchers examined the impact of membership in groups that are defined largely by race and ethnicity (such as black student unions) as well as membership in groups that do not have an explicit racial or ethnic mission, but have overwhelmingly white members (some fraternities and sororities). Generally, they found that a negative impact resulted from membership in these groups — white or minority — in which belonging to such a group led to an increase in feelings of victimization.

[…] [I]nvolvement with such groups also — in contrast to the more inclusive view of multiculturalism — increased students’ sense that they are victims and that all racial and ethnic groups are locked in “zero-sum competition.”

Why, who would have thought? We at the Commentator have certainly never experienced anything like that! (And I’m just cherry-picking there. The links could go on ad douchebageum.)

But getting back to the main conclusion of the study: Even if students benefit from more diverse environments, it would be a shame if universities used it as a precedent for foisting more ham-fisted diversity plans on students.

Oh, by the way, here’s the really weird/kind of funny part of the study:

The one exception to this positive impact was with Asian students as roommates: White and black students who lived with Asians tended to show increased prejudice against Asians on some measures after living with them.

P.S. Crossposted over at CAMPUS Magazine Online, where I also blog, and which has a fancy-pants new website.

Submitted Without Comment

December 19th, 2008 by CJ Ciaramella

Because I think it’s Funny

December 18th, 2008 by Scott Younker

I’ve already brought you the news that Obama is already disappointing progressives, and he hasn’t even been inaugurated yet. Well, lets see how many more liberals he can anger before starting his term. I bring you today’s news:

Obama’s choice of evangelical leader sparks outrage

I’m like a little girl inside, giggling softly whilst stroking the hair of a new Bratz doll. (Those are the new it things for girls, right? I don’t know. I had Hot Wheels when I was a kid, hence my doll knowledge is limited.)


And to top this ice cream sundae off, my favorite quote from the article:

People for the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert told CNN she is “deeply disappointed” with the choice of Warren, and said the powerful platform at the inauguration should instead have been given to someone who is “consistent mainstream American values.

I don’t know about you guys but this stuff brings tears to my eyes, both of humor and one of pity but mostly humor.