• Hard Truths: A Confederacy of Dunces
    No Comment

    HardTruths_7_23_15Everyone appears to be engaged in a competitive round of shortsightedness and lack of empathy regarding the Confederate battle flag, and it strangely doesn’t seem to be subsiding despite the constant stream of new things to be pissed about. It started with the tragic and horrifying murders committed by Dylan Roof in a South Carolina church. From there it went from sensible to obnoxious at roughly the speed of Twitter.

    Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina made the smart and risky maneuver of unilaterally declaring that State offices would no longer fly the flag. And that would be a great example for the rest of us on how to handle the situation, except we sort of took the reasonable ball and ran it all the way to Crazytown.

    The first signpost en route to Nutsville? Apple announced they would remove the offensive image in question from all games sold in their app store. What kind of games have the Confederate battle flag in them, you might rightly ask yourself? Civil War games, of course. In an effort to protect each other from seeing things that make us feel bad, we’re going to go ahead and scrub the Confederate imagery from things that are attempting to portray the very conflict which birthed it. Is that unquestionably moronic? Yes, it really is. Are they going to do the same for the swastika from the roughly million games that portray World War II?  Of course not. Does that make any sense at all? No, of course not. But common sense and logic are not the endgame here. Being on the “right side of history” is.

    Which raises another interesting point you may have seen flying around on Facebook. Is the Confederate battle flag the same as the swastika? No, of course it’s not. I know how easy this particular parallel is, and how hard it can be to resist. But the difference is actually pretty simple and obvious. The truth is that everything in this world is not the same as something else, no matter how smart a comparison can be made in meme form.

    The Nazi flag is not a symbol of anything else to Germans other than the Third Reich and its dreams of world domination. There isn’t a large swathe of Germans (Jews, Catholics, and homosexuals among them) who see some value and interest in the symbol and flag. Confederate symbols, on the other hand, just legitimately do mean more to people than a defense of slavery. Now I should take this opportunity to point out: not to me. I can’t stress this point strongly enough, that I have no love in my heart for the Confederacy or any of their symbols. I would never in a million years wear or wave anything that could give that impression, because to me, they are symbols of divisiveness and persecution.

    But I don’t get to make calls for everyone else. And whether I like it or not (and believe me, I don’t), there are many Americans, primarily Southerners, including many African Americans, primarily Ludacris, who do see some value in the Confederate flag, or even more, personally love and identify with the symbol.

    I’m not here to pass judgment on their values, I’m simply advocating they be free to express them.

    Speaking of flags that are symbols of oppression and genocide, perhaps you’ve heard of Old Glory? Because if you’re a person of indigenous heritage, one could make a very good case that the American flag is just as offensive to you as the Confederate flag is to most of us. But obviously it’s not that simple.

    And while we’re catch-all-ing the reasons why people need to relax a bit, here’s another phrase I could do without hearing in the framework of this debate: traitor. There’s a lot of people out there tossing around this word with a lot of comfort as if it’s not an incredibly serious charge. The attempt of the Southern states to secede is indeed a serious and some might say “traitorous” move to make. The flying of a symbol that memorializes that is not and could never be traitorous or treasonous, and people suggesting these terms need to understand better what they mean.

    In short, we all need to empathize more with each other. If you’re flying the Confederate flag outside your house, maybe consider how scarred the nation still is from the horrible practice of slavery and the fight to end it. Maybe think about how your brothers and sisters in the African American community particularly might feel. Conversely, if you’re in the middle of posting on Facebook how rednecks are like Nazis and we need to have laws against speech and imagery like this, maybe consider how awesome this country is particularly because of our freedom to do offensive things and not be scared to hang an image outside your window. Maybe take a minute to think about whether you are really offended by something, or if you just think you should be offended by it and are acting out of a sense of noble attention seeking.

    And maybe, just maybe, keep your damn hands off the General Lee. Because as disgusting as the symbol is to me personally, I can separate my Dukes from my hazards.

    By Sidney Reilly

    Read more ...
  • Corvallis’ State Lawmakers 2015 Session Review
    No Comment

    Dan-RayfieldWith the five-and-a-half-month Oregon Legislative Session ending back on July 11, it is worthwhile to look back at the year Corvallis’ state Senator Sara Gelser and Representative Dan Rayfield had. While both legislators are new to their respective positions, Gelser has 10 years of experience as a representative.

    Rayfield just completed his first year in Salem, filling the vacancy created by Gelser’s successful state senate run. He appears to have played an active role rather quickly; he served as co-chair of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources and the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness. He also was a member of the House Committee on Rules.

    As a freshman legislator, there’s definitely been a steep learning curve,” Rayfield wrote in an email, “but I’ve found that being an active participant has been the best way to learn and succeed.”

    Though some of the bills he sponsored could be considered fluff, such as SCR15, which “commends the Oregon State University Beavers wrestling team on their exemplary intercollegiate athletic achievements” (for coming in 30th in this year’s NCAA Championships), Rayfield played an important role in this year’s legislative session.

    HB3315, a bill that Rayfield introduced, helped settle an impasse between the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and the State Legislature. “At the start of the legislative session, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife projected a $32 million budget shortfall for the next biennium,” explained Rayfield. “As a result, a number of important ODFW programs were on the chopping block.” Rayfield was among a group of legislators and ODFW stakeholders that developed a compromise budget package. Part of that package was HB3315, which allows ODFW to collect the cost of services given to other state departments over the next six years.

    Through his position as a regular member on the Ways and Means Committee, Rayfield introduced a bill that would have alleviated financial problems for those with student loan debt through means of a state tax credit. The bill, HB3342, was not passed, despite a fair amount of statewide support. “I plan to continue to try to address the student debt issue, and will come back next session with another proposal to address the student debt crisis,” Rayfield said, “potentially looking at a system of refinancing loans that puts money back into the pockets of student debt-holders.”

    Gelser, over on the state senate side, served as chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services and Early Childhood. She also served on the Committees for Education, Workforce, and Judiciary. Gelser is surely celebrating after SB 946 passed, a bill she both sponsored and carried, which establishes the position of LGBT veterans coordinator for the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs. The position is the first of its kind in the nation, and will provide support for thousands, particularly older veterans whose discharge status was tied to their sexual orientation. The cost of the position over its first two years is $182,787.

    She also acted as a watchdog for victims of sexual assault, bullying, and harassment. Gelser was at the forefront of legislation that pushed back against institutions, most notably the University of Oregon, which weaken the privacy rights of victims. Additionally, HB3425, which is currently in committee upon this session’s adjournment, would require school districts to disclose demographic information regarding bullying, harassment, and cyberbullying.

    Worth noting over the course of this legislative session are our legislators’ voting stats vis-à-vis their political parties. Both staunch democrats, Gelser voted along party lines 98.91% of the time, nearly identical to the Democratic Party average of 99.05% in the senate. Rayfield voted with his party less often than Gelser at 97.88%, but that is nearly half a percentage point above the state house average of 97.37%. Gelser was more present with her votes, missing only 24, while Rayfield missed 51. Rayfield sponsored 33 bills, while Gelser sponsored 97.

    It seems Corvallis’ political representation in Salem had a fairly successful session in terms of productivity. For Republican voters, some or all of this may come as unhappy news, but such is the bifurcated nature of our political process.

    Several attempts were made to reach Gelser for comment; neither she nor her office responded. 

    By Matt Walton

    Read more ...
  • Where Are the Evicted Now?
    No Comment

    DSC_0168Eighteen months after evicting low-income tenants from the Corvalla Apartments to make room for renovations and higher rent student housing, the now renamed Park at Fifth Street is a success and the displaced residents—well, that is another story. Meanwhile, neighborhood groups continue to use all legal means necessary to delay or even stop apartment developments that would leverage costs down for both students and low-income households.

     Even now, just about two years after submitting plans to the City, Campus Crest has still not been allowed to put 900 apartment beds online, despite its willingness to leave 70 acres of its 95-acre parcel as open space.

     When the Corvalla property changed hands in 2013, there was quite a bit of controversy after all of the then-tenants were immediately served eviction notices with 60 days to relocate so that the complex could be renovated. The 84-unit complex was built in 1967, and although it was in need of a lot of repairs and a facelift, it provided a low-income housing option for those living on disability or Social Security, and with so few comparable rentals in the area a lot of our neighbors were left without anywhere to live.

     According to Bob Loewen, housing specialist for the City of Corvallis Housing and Neighborhood Services Division, removing over 80 units of lower cost housing in a rental market with so few comparable units leaves displaced tenants with the choice to either pay more or move to another area, and for many former Corvalla residents, paying more was not an option.  One of the evicted tenants is still without a home, but sources say that he may have finally found housing after over a year of living out of his car.

     We Care, a local nonprofit organization that gives assistance to people in need, gave a total of $9,325 to 15 households (28 individuals) as a result of the eviction. William M. Walker Jr., one of the displaced tenants, was given one of these grants. They were able to assist him with the amount that he needed to move into a new apartment, but when he received his deposit of $400 back from the Corvalla, he was able to pay it forward. He gave the entire amount to We Care so that they could help someone else in need. “I guess I feel it’s the least I could do for what they’ve done for me,” Walker said. “My income is very limited but thanks to all the assistance I’ve been given, I manage.” He also stated that he knew of many people who did not get deposits back and at least two tenants who were homeless for over seven months.

     The apartments are currently managed by Greystar Property Management, a company that manages many complexes in Corvallis. The units now have a modern lighting package, new carpet and flooring, and new paint throughout. When asked about the new look, one current occupant said, “The renovations look nice but you can tell they were done pretty cheap.”

     Although the quality may be questionable, the improvements came with a hefty rent increase. Some of the apartments are renting for more than $200 more per month than they had been, which is not affordable for someone on a fixed income. Right now, a one-bedroom costs $735 to $850, a two-bedroom is $995, and a three-bedroom is bringing in $1,265 per month. All of the apartments contain one bathroom, and the floor plans range from 560 to 1,090 square feet.

     The updates and repairs to the rundown apartments ended up costing over $2.5 million, according to Brad Denson of Portland-based Dalton Management, speaking for the Park at Fifth Street LLC. He said that time will tell if rents will cover the costs. “The scope of work we did at the old Corvalla Apartments was primarily addressing life and safety issues,” Denson said. “The former owners did not keep the apartments properly maintained and when we purchased the property there was extensive deferred maintenance inside and outside. Many residents were low income but others were involved in criminal activity. Our lender and the City required that improvements be done to code. Construction costs are high and at the end of the day have to be factored into rental costs.”

     Fortunately for Greystar Property Management, there are plenty of people more than willing to pay the new prices. Currently, there is a waiting list for their one- and three-bedroom apartments.

     Corvallis is known for having high standards and a tight urban growth boundary that limits new construction, and most of the new rentals that are built are geared toward college students. This has created an unwelcoming rental market for low-income families.

     Denson, also a former resident of Corvallis, recognizes the need for suitable low-income rentals. “It was unfortunate that many residents were displaced at the former Corvalla Apartments, but we firmly believe substandard housing is not a solution for the lack of affordable housing. The city, county, and state need to be called upon to address the urgent need for affordable and subsidized housing for those in need. Simply allowing landlords to defer maintenance to keep rents low, as was the case at the Corvalla, is not a viable option.”

    We Care is a nonprofit that is supported by individuals, businesses, grants, and faith communities. To support We Care, visit their website, www.wecarecorvallis.com/support.html.

     By Hannah Darling

    Read more ...
  • Make It New, Make It Strange
    No Comment

    IMG_0490There’s a pack of wild dogs lurking in the Corvallis Arts Center. At first glance, Greta Ashworth’s canines don’t appear to be made of papier-mâché. They look more like muscle and bone, wearing expressions of both amusement and scorn. Are they going to snarl, or will they laugh? It’s hard to tell. The viewer shares this conflicted response; these sculptures provoke a kind of macabre curiosity. You want to get closer, but is that really a wise idea?

    This balance between fear and humor is what Ashworth is aiming for—in her own words, “Life isn’t all sweet and wonderful.” Her work isn’t docile. And when asked about her influences, she cites animation like that of Tim Burton, the illuminated interiors of 15th century Flemish painters, and her own pets.

    There’s an appealing tension in Ashworth’s art. She’d always considered herself a painter, but dissatisfied with the painting instruction she received in college (she attended Eastern Oregon University, not far from where she grew up), she turned to sculpture. Now she finds it natural to work in 3-D; it’s “familiar and comfortable.”

    The transition from painting to sculpture was, according to Ashworth, accidental. While hanging a selection of her pieces in the restaurant del Alma on 1st Street, her husband suggested adding some sculpture to accompany her paintings. Ashworth admits she hesitated at first, but finally she gave in—a choice we can all be grateful for.

    The sculptures at the Corvallis Arts Center are constructed through a layering of different materials. Once a steel armature is bent and welded into its desired shape, Ashworth covers it with a coat of various household materials: packing material and toilet paper rolls, for example, and on top of that, cloth and tissue paper. Finally, the creature is coated with matte media and painted. The resulting piece is surprisingly light—Ashworth demonstrates this by lifting a cute but almost deranged-looking pug with one hand. From this point on, the main challenge is getting the animals to stand on all four legs.

    In contrast to the careful construction of Ashworth’s animals, there’s a confrontational aspect to her work. The dogs, Ashworth reveals, are a response to her issues with the breeding practices of the American Kennel Club (AKC) and its unintended, but widespread, consequences. In fact, Ashworth has recently adopted a Carolina dog (also known as an American dingo) puppy. Carolina dogs aren’t AKC certified; they’re a primitive breed, which makes them a suitable complement to Ashworth’s interest in naïve folk art.

    Ashworth draws inspiration from her own life—her pets frequently appear in her paintings—but her work doesn’t feel mundane or overly familiar. The marriage of the uncanny and the cozy is what sets her work apart from other art depicting scenes of domesticity. It’s uncomfortable, yet playful.

    Look out for Greta Ashworth in a Footwise show this winter. The exhibition will be Christmas-themed, but don’t expect your typical mistletoe and popcorn garlands; where’s the fun in that?  Her current exhibit at the Corvallis Arts Center ends Sunday, July 26.

    By Kerry Hill

    Read more ...
  • Summer Stage Becomes a Thing
    No Comment

    jan mcinnisWith that dreaded summer heat lingering in the air and the passage of THAT law on July 1, Corvallisites are undoubtedly questioning whether or not it is truly necessary to leave their homes.

    It might surprise you to find that one of the biggest draws of the summer will be community theater.

    Stick with me.

    Between the blazingly busy Majestic Theatre and our neighbors up the road at the Albany Civic Theatre, there are a ton of artistic ventures worth your eyes. Plays (big and small), a comedy show, and something that can only be described as the craziest theater workshop known to man await you in the months to come.

    Albany Civic Theatre
    First up, at the Albany Civic Theatre, we have Footlight Frenzy. This play lands somewhere between the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers thank to its slapstick visual comedy and its farcical nature. This play is currently running, and will run weekends through July 25 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $9 for students and seniors.

    Next up, the Albany Civic Theatre puts the man in green tights on center stage with Peter Pan. A classic beloved by all, Peter Pan has everything you could ask for. Crocodiles, pirates, alarm clocks, enchanted islands, and the aforementioned tights. ACT’s Peter Pan will run three weekends in August at 7:30 p.m., starting Aug. 14 and ending Aug. 29. Tickets are $12 for adults and $9 for students and seniors.

    Majestic Theatre
    Moving on to more familiar surroundings, the Majestic Theatre is shaking things up with Kiss Me Like You Mean It. A more modern play written by BBC veteran Chris Chibnall, it explores the nature of romantic love with a comedic hand. The show will run two weekends at 7:30 p.m., starting on July 17 and ending on July 25.

    Kent_Rader_PhotoFor a smaller, more intimate experience, the Majestic Theatre has its Reader’s Theatre. The first of two shows being put on from the Reader’s Theatre this summer is The Lyons. This drama follows a family brought together by tragedy as their patriarch lies dying. Rather than “celebration of life,” the Lyons family resorts to mudslinging and chaos ensues from there. The show will run on July 26 at both 3 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for members, seniors, and students.

    Baby boomers! This is your time to shine! No millennials allowed at this show, as the Baby Boomer Comedy Show comes to town on Aug. 15. Touring comedy veterans Jan McInnis and Kent Rader pride themselves on their ability to make you laugh through their squeaky clean comedy. And they are calling on baby boomers with the promise of material that is “for people born before seat belts, safety helmets, and Facebook.” The show will start at 7:30 p.m.; tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for members, seniors, and students.

    Majestic Madness promises to be just as described. Madness. This experimental artistic showcase is calling on writers and actors for a night of chaotic fun. Writers present 8 to 10 pages based around a basic prompt, actors are chosen randomly from the audience, and short sketches are performed for the audience’s amusement. Majestic Madness is intended to inspire the theater-wary folk by tossing them straight into the fire. The madness begins on Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.

    And to close out the Majestic Theatre’s summer schedule is another show from the Reader’s Theatre. On Aug. 30, romantic drama Closer comes to the Majestic for a night of love, betrayal, and back-and-forth heartbreak. Four people become unexplainably tied together through a series of chaotic circumstances, all in an effort to find true love. Closer will run on Aug. 30 at both 3 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for members, seniors, and students.

     The local theater communities are eager to buck the trend of quiet theatrical summers. Over the next two months, Corvallisites have seven shows to look forward to, each touching on something just a little bit different from the last.

    By Nathan Hermanson

    Read more ...
  • Art Walk Set For July 16
    No Comment

    CAW__sad_birds_Growing in terms of venues and geography, last month’s Arts Walk saw another significant attendance increase and July looks over the top for sheer number of genres and mediums.

    Seeing what has developed in so short a time, less than a year, is impressive enough. But now, there is so much going on each month that one really wants to attend just to see what’s new. Speaking of growth, it’s become difficult to hit every venue, so we’ve asterisked the ones that are only open to the public for the Arts Walk or by appointment.

    700 SW Madison Ave. • 5 – 8 p.m.

    The Arts Center hosts the opening reception of SUBTEXT, an exploration of language in the visual arts with Portland artists Pat Boas, Marie Sivak, and Robert Tomlinson. Artists will be present. Welcome word at 6:15 p.m.

    209 SW 2nd St. •  5 – 8 p.m.

    This month they feature a group exhibit featuring the members of the gallery, titled Shelter. They will explore the meaning of residence for various beings and various situations. Refreshments and surprises are always a part of the Arts Walk evening.

    ArtWorks GALLERY (CEI)
    408 SW Monroe St. • 4 – 8 p.m.

    In Your House a Door, a participatory union exploring the meaning of home/house/housing with artist/catalyst Zachary Gough.

    341 SW 2nd St., Ste. 3 • 4 – 8 p.m.*

    Debi Lyn Friedlander’s multi-layered “Colored Pencil PhotoFusion” work. Her technique emphasizes individuality, visual and emotional depth, recapturing the immediacy of experience.

    340 SW 2nd St., #3 • 4 – 8 p.m.*

    Activist artist Brittney West invites you to view over 100 drawings and paintings full of affirmations, absurdity, and thought-provoking imagery. View originals and “eco-prints” for sale in her ambient studio.

    425 SW Madison Ave. (upstairs)  •
    4 – 8 p.m.*

    Tony Fisher’s art started with fabricating parts and pieces for hot rods and developed into large-scale, wall-hung metallurgical pieces. Fisher’s current work is a tribute to his brother, Deputy Sheriff Terry Fisher, who passed away unexpectedly in 2014. As usual at The Advocate Loft, other artists and a musician or two are likely to also appear—and, of course, there will be something delicious.

    459 SW Madison Ave. • 5 – 8 p.m.*

    Open studio with screen printing demonstrations, recent work on display, and a pop-up shop featuring prints from Betty Turbo, Mixed Species, and CRVDPLS. Observe, discuss, and participate in another print-stravaganza.

    This exhibit has a broad diversity of approaches to the making of art, with faculty working in photography, painting, drawing, mixed media, printmaking, and video.

    230 NW 6th St. •  4 – 8 p.m.*

    Featured artist Barbara Levine says, “My artwork is an attempt to transfer the joy and beauty I find in the world into a visual form. Creating images allows me to explore the spiritual realm in a private way and then to share my findings for others to enjoy.” Her primary medium is fluid acrylics but she also works in collage, pastels, colored pencils, and oils.

    341 SW 2nd St. • 4 – 8 p.m.

    Geometry has never been this fun and colorful! We’ll have 2D and 3D art by Jeremy Smith, plus geometric jewelry, and beads to make your own.

    341 SW 2nd St. • 4 – 8 p.m.

    Summer Abstractions is a textural exploration of surface and color in acrylic, mixed media, and glass by artists Jennifer Bennett, Jim Noel, and Bill Shumway.

    460 SW Madison Ave., Ste. 7 •
    5 – 6 p.m.*

    Paperhat & Popsicle Surprise. At 5 p.m., make a hat, eat a Popsicle, enjoy some art. At 6 p.m., put on your hat, eat another Popsicle, and walk the CAW in style!

    425 SW Madison Ave., Ste. H-1 •
    4 – 8 p.m.

    Artist reception for regional artist, Kelly Callahan, and her most recent paintings inspired by nature, dreams, music, and emotions. Callahan paints in mostly acrylic and watercolor with an impressionistic style incorporating bright vivid colors. She also started in 2013 a project called “Chance Upon Art.” Her mission is to “commit random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” With this project, Callahan places original pieces of art around the Pacific Northwest. The art is free to the “adopter” to keep or give away. She also runs an online version of her giveaway at www.facebook.com/ChanceUponArt. Also be sure to drop in for an art trading card make & trade event during the reception!

     Visit www.corvallisartswalk.com/events/ to learn more. Other participating venues include Cyrano’s, Fairbanks Arts Gallery, and Old World Deli.

    By Advocate Staff

    Read more ...
  • The Power War: Geothermal vs. Nuclear
    1 Comment

    Adam schultzIt turns out volcanoes are good for more than sci-fi movies and fueling doomsday preppers. The Newberry Volcano, located 20 miles south of Bend, is one of five sites that have been awarded $2 million by the Department of Energy to conduct research on the production of geothermal energy. Yes, there are some that see the process being used as fracking, but more on that in a minute.

    The end goal will be selecting one of the sites as a national Frontier Observatory for Research on Geothermal Energy (FORGE) laboratory. Once established, companies, businesses, researchers, and scientists will be able to utilize the lab to test technology and equipment, with the eventual goal of geothermal energy production.

    The Newberry project is being spearheaded by a collaborative partnership between Oregon State University, the Seattle-based company AltaRock, and the Pacific Northwest National Lab out of Washington State. Phase One, which is more or less a desktop phase where design, engineering, and scientific plans are scrutinized, will start Aug. 1. It is up to the team to demonstrate that a site on the flank of the volcano, outside of the National Volcanic Monument and near a geothermal research site already extensively studied by OSU and AltaRock Energy, has the potential to be the home of the FORGE lab in order to receive funding for Phase Two, where three finalist candidate sites will be selected, after which significant funding will be released for detailed scientific investigation of those sites, leading to the Phase Three final selection of the FORGE lab location.

    Newberry Volcano is a prime location for several reasons, the most significant being the highly concentrated heat source provided by a chamber of magma located beneath the volcano. Also, if the technology demonstrated at Newberry based on extracting heat from an otherwise dry geothermal system was ever developed into commercial power generation at other locations near Newberry or elsewhere in the Cascade volcanic range, these would be close to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and have power tie-ins to the energy grid that are already well-developed. Technology companies such as Internet search businesses, social networks, and cloud services that have been settling in Oregon consume large amounts of energy and are seen as natural customers for green energy. Of course, there are the ever-growing areas of population that would also benefit from a clean energy source.

    AltaRock has been operating at the site since 2012, and is working to perfect an enhanced geothermal engineering system. Although Newberry has an incredible heat source, it lacks the naturally occurring deep underground water source and permeable rock that would make harnessing geothermal energy ideal. To compensate for this, AltaRock is engineering a hydrothermal system using hydroshearing, the injection of shallow groundwater into deeper very hot rock formations, at modest pressure, to open up a network of small cracks that are meant to allow for the transfer of heat away from the rock and into the circulating water. This method is intended to create an artificial closed loop “wet system” where a water source would be provided, circulated and heated, turned to steam, then cooled and condensed to be reused.

    Traditional geothermal energy comes from naturally occurring steam. At Newberry there is underground heat but not steam, so the plan is to create a geothermal source by cycling water down an injection well and bringing steam and hot water up a production well.

    “If you’re really going to make a big impact on the US energy budget, you’re going to need to expand geothermal energy production outside of those areas to areas where there’s a lot of hot rock, but not a lot of natural hydrothermal systems,” said Adam Schultz, professor of geophysics at Oregon State University and principal investigator for OSU’s part of the FORGE partnership.

    OSU is playing a large role in Phase One, both in geological physical model development as well as outreach and engagement with the public. Collaboration with the Cascades campus to possibly establish a facility affiliated with the campus in Bend is also underway, an important development when and if drilling begins. Valuable scientific rock material and fluids will need to be handled skillfully and processed quickly, and a facility close by would be essential in handling this important task. There is also a real prospect for developing a significant green geothermal industry in Oregon, and for providing training to students who would be needed for the jobs that industry would generate.

    Of course, there were several hurdles to be cleared before any work was able to begin. As to be expected with anything involving sticking instruments into the ground, every single action required a special use permit, and getting permits to do any project ends up being a significant effort. Not to mention the very careful sophistication with which one must present injecting water into the ground, in order to satisfy regulatory requirements. Although there are some correlations with hydroshearing and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking—namely water being injected into the ground under some pressure—they are not the same. The process of hydroshearing involves injecting water into the ground through wells, and it’s injected at much lower pressures than is done, for example, in the oil industry where high-pressure hydraulic fracturing of so-called tight shale formations is used to free up oil and gas formations, and where chemicals and mechanical “proppants” such as sand or ceramic particles are used to keep cracks in those formations open. At Newberry, lower pressure hydroshearing opens up existing cracks in the rock formations, and no proppants are used.

    During the research carried out at the Newberry Volcano, a very elaborate control process was in place, and work was monitored carefully by seismographs and other sensors installed throughout the site.

    “You always have to be aware doing geotechnical work, regardless of where you are, you’re changing the pressure, so you have to monitor that, and modify the pressure or even shut it down if you need to as conditions change,” Schultz said. AltaRock has gone through two cycles of hydroshearing at Newberry, first in 2012 and again in 2014. The hydroshearing process was shown to work, and its control system passed with flying colors in terms of environmental impact. The research team is working toward a green energy future, and environmental awareness is a top priority.

    The biggest obstacle, unsurprisingly, is green and made of paper. Although funding has been granted for Phase One, there is no guarantee it will be provided for the remaining two phases of the project, regardless of where the site is ultimately located. Alternative energy is big now, but in two years, with elections and possible changes in Congress, it may not be.

    For instance, for the first time in history, Congress is specifying the amount of money each individual directorate of the National Science Foundation is allotted. Political influence within the NSF is an alarming notion if you’re a scientist, more so when considering the fact that federal research and development funding has decreased dramatically, and continues to do so. While FORGE is funded by the Department of Energy rather than NSF, all federal agencies are subject to similar political realities.

    However, the potential benefits of successful development are undeniably promising. “If you could develop a Cascade-style volcanic system, you’re looking at something that would be a real good competitor with a nuclear reactor on the scale of power output,” stated Schultz. “Successful development would lay a foundation for a new industry that doesn’t exist right now, which is large-scale enhanced geothermal energy. So if you make it exist, just thinking about the Northwest, because we happen to have the highest geothermal potential, you have a chain of volcanoes stretching from Southern British Columbia to Northern California, with a lot of potential that could be tapped into, using closed loop systems.”

     Of course, the DOE is very interested in the continued research in geothermal energy production. “Enhanced geothermal systems could represent the next frontier of renewable energy and hold the potential to diversify the nation’s energy portfolio while reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere,” said undersecretary for science and energy Lynn Orr in a recent Department of Energy press release.

    By Kirsten Allen

    Read more ...
  • Stuck Between a Truth and a Hard Place
    No Comment

    HardTruths_7_9_15On Name Value
    In a move that can only be read as “mild desperation,” former first lady, senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is going to be a bit more visible, and audible, over the next few weeks.

    “She’s all on board… America will see more of her…” is how her campaign comms director, Jennifer Palmieri, put it to Fox’s Howard Kurtz.

    What’s prompting the heir apparent to abandon her time-tested method of just ignoring all controversies and clamming up until victory is handed to her? Berniemania.

    Senator Bernie Sanders, whose socialist values campaign seemed as quixotic and unserious as Perot ’92 just a few weeks ago, is now becoming obnoxious to the Clinton machine. First there were the Facebook graphics which snottily pointed out how Clinton’s voting record is virtually indistinguishable from George W. Bush on nearly every issue that counts with liberal voters. Then there were the mounting scandals, of which she has several and he has none (save the non-troversy of an old essay he wrote in the ‘70s that made some bizarre assertions about women). Then Team Bernie actually showed a knack for raising funds, announcing a $15 million haul just a couple weeks ago. Now the depth charge: Joe Biden is talking about jumping in.

    That’s the real problem for Hillary; not the weekend at Bernie’s that fashionable liberalistas are currently enjoying, but crazy Uncle Joe waiting in the blind. Nobody with Bernie Sanders’ voting record will ever sit in the seat of Corporate Partner Commander-in-Chief, but he might siphon off just enough votes to let a challenger, even one as old and demonstrably unequipped for the job as Joe Biden, slide past.

    So buckle up, because you’re about to enjoy some soundbites from one of the most charismatic accomplished innovative professional candidates to ever do it.

    On Rending One’s Clothes and Shaking a Fist to the Heavens
    Lamarcus Aldridge is officially done in Portland. The biggest star the franchise has had since Clyde Drexler, and the most impactful, is taking his talents to Texas and joining up with the San Antonio Spurs. Which is not only sad for Oregon sports, but ridiculous and unfair for fans of any team other than the Spurs, which will probably reel off three or four championships in a row now.

    Trail Blazers fans are rightfully heartbroken, and strangely classy about the whole affair. I was expecting way more burning of jerseys and hateful graffiti, but leave it to a town of hipster half-sports fans to react in an emotionally mature manner. Proving once again why Portland deserves no pro sports teams (other than the Timbers, you can have them).

    A real city riots when it doesn’t get its way.

    On Greeks Bearing Needing Gifts

    Greece is broker than my friend’s ’86 Volvo. The only difference is my friend can take his Volvo to a European auto mechanic and get it fixed. Greece, not so much. The Eurozone is preparing to bid adieu to the first member nation of the EU to have to exit as Greece moves inexorably toward bankruptcy.

    As you can guess there’s a lot of finger-pointing across the pond right now, with Germany, the resident rock of EU stability, being the presumed savior/executioner of Greece’s financial future. One thing that’s particularly unhelpful is people declaring that it’s just a facet of the Greeks to be bad with money. Not only is this unhelpful, but it opens the door to moronic historical digs, such as the one in this week’s Huffington Post by Christof Asche that attempts to explain that Germany, far from being a financially secure nation, is history’s worst bankruptcy scofflaw, because they’ve gone bankrupt seven times, including historical Prussia.

    One has to wonder if the only class in Greece not feeling the pinch right now is creators of online content, who now have unlimited reasons to point out inane and irrelevant factoids in place of actual analysis.

     The Greek debt load is sinking them and austerity is not something the populace is on board for. They’re heading toward bankruptcy. Full stop. How bad the Prussians were at managing their funds 200 years ago is less than pointless, because the Germany of today is the only angel of mercy the Greeks can expect to find. And they probably aren’t interested in a scolding or a history lesson for their trouble.

    By Sidney Reilly

    Read more ...
  • The Mind Behind the Bot
    No Comment

    hurst_AtriaOregon State’s ATRIAS is a robot with a lot going for it. Bipedal and agile enough to tackle unexpected obstacles in stride, it’s gained national recognition, press coverage, and caught the eye of the government, who recently invited the bot out to be displayed at the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

    ATRIAS deserves the spotlight, there’s no question about it. But it might be time for ATRIAS to share the spotlight with some of the great minds behind its creation.

    One such mind is Jonathan W. Hurst, an associate professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University. He is one of the masterminds behind the little bot that could that is ATRIAS.

    Hurst is an unassuming man who probably wouldn’t describe himself as a mastermind. He dresses neatly, nothing flashy, with only a small pair of round glasses to serve as any sort of accessory. But he clearly has a lot going on. Behind those small glasses lies a buzzing mind, constantly running the numbers and processing possible solutions to the endless number of problems he, and his robots, face. For example, as we initially sat down to talk, he paused for a moment to jot down some notes, dying to get some info out of his head and onto the page. Hurst is always working and always building, but never seeking fame or money as many do in the technology space, and that’s why he’s the perfect guy to anchor the fledgling robotics program at Oregon State.

    “What I don’t respect is people who end up making a lot of money and then they just buy yachts with helicopter landing pads and mini spaces for their mini yachts to go into. Spending it all on themselves,” Hurst said. “That’s just not what it’s about. What it’s about is doing important things, doing things that are useful and that make a difference. That’s the great motivator for me.”

    Looking back into his past, Hurst struggled to recall a time when he wasn’t interested in legged robotics, which has been his specialty since his college days.

    “I think I’ve just always been excited about robots,” he said. “It’s just something I wanted to do when I was seven and it turned into a good career. I built little walking robots out of LEGO when I was a kid. I played with model airplanes and made hovercraft ones. I just liked building stuff. And I was interested in legs. Not a lot of people were doing it, so early on I was able to gain some early expertise that made me an expert in that. That’s an advantage. Being an expert in something no one else is.”

    Even with that specialty, Hurst didn’t always find success, especially in college.

    “Freshman year, I entered to do the Walking Machine Decathlon,” Hurst said. “That was an international competition, there are usually 15 or 20 teams that would show up from around North America to do walking machines. So we went. We did terribly. I remember distinctly one of the people at the competition telling us, ‘The robot you tried to build is really just too complicated. I think it was too hard for you.’ That pissed us off.”

    But he took that loss and leveraged the knowledge gained from that competition into success. A win at that competition two years later turned into his entrance into the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon, which turned into a successful doctorate, which led to his time at Oregon State and the revival of the robotics program. Which all led to the birth of ATRIAS.

    ATRIAS allowed Hurst to demonstrate in front of DARPA, to showcase the talents of the scientists he works with, and even to start his own company, but he thinks it’s just about time to move on, likening it to a home ready to be left behind.

    “If you move into a home that’s a real fixer-upper, and you spend five or six years of blood, sweat, and tears fixing up that house, and you kind of get to the point of diminishing returns, but you’re ready to move on and glad to be done with it and ready to get to the next thing—that’s how ATRIAS feels,” Hurst explained. “We spent five years designing and building this thing. I’m very pleased with what we accomplished and demonstrated, but I think we pushed the robot to just about what it can achieve.”

    And so Hurst looks to continue to leverage his successes into bigger and better things.

    While at the DARPA Robotics Challenge, Hurst said he was approached by a great number of potential collaborators. “I got a lot of cards at [the DARPA Robotics Challenge]. My favorite one is from Michael Curry Design; they made the giant lion that Katy Perry rode during the Super Bowl,” he said. “And they’re in Portland. They work a lot with Disney and Disney research. How cool would it be if our company, Agility Robotics, gets to build a life-sized, functional AT-ST to walk around Disney Parks?”

    Hurst doesn’t only look to leverage his success into being able to make sci-fi a reality. As previously stated, Hurst has ambitions to better day-to-day life. Calling Bill Gates and Elon Musk his two inspirations, as they both leverage their successes into the betterment of humankind, Hurst hopes to continue to build and to follow in their footsteps.

    “It’s about taking what you do and, instead of looking back at what you achieved and… taking it easy, it’s about taking the new level of resources that we have and saying what’s the next big thing [scientists] can do?” Hurst stated. “That’s what I strive to do all the time.”

    ATRIAS may be on its way out the door, but Hurst is moving forward stronger than ever. With a new start-up company and a ton of students passing through his doors, Hurst is well on his way to fulfilling his goal of being a Musk-esque talent, likely to leave his mark on both human and robot kind.

     “We had a lab that had maybe 10 or 15 people, students and post docs and graduate students,” Hurst described. “I hope we can have a company that has 50 or 60 professional engineers in the next eight years. And then, I hope we can be successful with a product there and then we can leverage that into 800 people, and then leverage that into something that’s gonna make a difference. Legs for exoskeletons that will get people out of wheelchairs or legs for disabled people. That’s important. That’s what I hope to do.”

    By Nathan Hermanson

    Read more ...
  • Kandy Jo and Library Girl Update
    No Comment

    kandyjo11Kendra Sunderland, who became notorious online after an adult webcam video she filmed at Oregon State’s Valley Library was uploaded to the website Pornhub.com, returned to her hometown of Salem on June 19. She danced at Stars Cabaret Club locations in Bend, Salem, and Bridgeport* as part of her national tour.

    Sunderland started webcamming while in college and then “just stopped going to school” (although she now endorses a website called Date Broke College Girls, which matches college-aged women with sugar daddies). One of her viewers suggested she could make more money camming from a public place; the video session at the Valley Library netted her $700. A few months later one of her viewers uploaded the video of Sunderland, tagged with her name, and Benton County police arrested her and cited her with a misdemeanor, public indecency. She has pleaded not guilty and her trial date is set for later this year.

    In the time since the video of her solo sex act went viral, Sunderland has done an exclusive photo shoot for Playboy, been featured in Penthouse as “Penthouse Pet” for May, been on the cover of Xtreme Magazine in June, booked the Exxxotica Expo in Chicago, launched her own webcam website, and has her own line of sex toys with Pipedreams. She was also nominated for “Top Live Webcam Model of 2015” by the first annual Adult Webcam Awards.

    In an interview with The Daily Mail, Sunderland said she didn’t realize at the time she made the video the repercussions of what she’d done: “I didn’t expect to be kicked off campus or the fine. Even when I got charged, I didn’t fully understand it until I looked it up. I knew you couldn’t walk down the street naked, but I didn’t think [what I did] was public indecency.” Nevertheless, she has leaned into the opportunity.

    In an interview with Xtreme Magazine, Sunderland said she doesn’t intend to start making porn and will instead stick with webcamming: “I think that’s about as far as I want to go at this point… I feel really sexy when I do it and the guys are super supportive and it’s really fun for me.”

    Sunderland is now banned from OSU campus, something she doesn’t regret except for missing the basketball games. She said she disliked school and doesn’t plan on going back. She was studying human development.

    Kandy Jo, the Oregon State University student who posed for Playboy in November 2013, has also dropped out of college. On April 7 she posted a Facebook status update saying she’d been dropped from two of her classes for missing the first week of spring term: “Being dropped from two classes means I am no longer enrolled as a full-time student, which means my scholarship doesn’t apply, so I grabbed my bags and left… As upsetting as the situation is, I believe everything that has happened in my life has been only to move to a better place. I had been contemplating leaving school for nearly a year, but wanted to stay and graduate more for the disciplinary aspect of it, rather than the degree. If the situation occurs where I want or perhaps would benefit more from completing my degree then I always have the option of going to a new university or finishing online.”

    Kandy Jo then went to Coachella in early April, and took a “mini getaway at a Buddhist retreat” in Santa Cruz, California, in early May. She is active on Twitter and recently did a photo shoot with VICE.

     * The fate of Sunderland’s scheduled appearance for the Beaverton Stars Cabaret is uncertain, as the OLCC is currently trying to take away that location’s liquor license after the owner pleaded guilty to prostituting a 13-year-old girl.

    By Kelsi Villarreal

    Read more ...
  • Tips for the Perfect Portland Day Trip
    No Comment

    whitestag2576The students are gone. Corvallis feels like the best kind of ghost town, but you’re growing tired of your old haunts. Sure, it’s great that there’s no swarm at Crowbar, and that you can visit bars on Monroe without running into sorority girls and frat boys on the prowl, but what comes next? Isn’t there more to summer vacation and weekends than the usual spots?

    Of course there is, silly! Corvallis is only 72 miles from one of the best cities in the US. But it can be overwhelming. You could easily spend all day in one part of town, and you’d have fun, but you’d miss out on a lot.

    So, what you have here is a day in Portland crafted just for the visiting Corvallisite. We’ll hit all the quadrants of Portland and include bars, restaurants, shopping, and, of course, coffee. Most of these places are open all day so if you want to trade out lunch for dinner, you should be good! (But remember, the Internet is your friend. Check for hours/locations/etc).

    And as no small aside, a quick pitch for staying the night and getting an early start: Airbnb finally came to Portland.

    For your morning coffee, try Dapper & Wise coffee roasters on SE Division Street. They’ve been roasting in Beaverton for the last few years, but opened their first PDX shop this spring. They feature a medium-ish roast and all kinds of delicious single-origin coffees, and some crazy awesome cold drinks. Try the coffee lemonade, seriously. Like an Arnold Palmer, but better because it’s coffee.

    Then, if you’re hungry, either eat a Bakeshop pastry from D&W, or head over a couple blocks to Broder on SE Clinton. They’re a Swedish/Scandinavian restaurant that has gotten a lot of press since it opened in 2007, and for good reason. Try the seasonal fritters or Swedish hash. At this point, you’ll be full of delicious food and coffee and may want to walk it off a bit. Head on up to Mt. Tabor for a nice hike. Tons of space to sit and chill, or walk or bike around. Also, in August, there’s an adult soapbox derby race.

    Your lunch recommendation is as follows: Big-Ass Sandwiches on NE Glisan. Also a favorite of the local press, this cart-turned-restaurant is so damn good and delivers on its promises. Their Big-Ass Sandwiches average a pound each. But if you want something a little lighter, they’ve got amazing meatballs (called Brian’s Meaty Balls) served either on a sandwich or penne, salads, and Cold-Ass Sandwiches (cold cuts!). Something for everyone, and they have five taps and a full bar! So good.

    Again, you’re likely on the verge of an oh-so-welcome food coma, so nap if you’d like. Or, for an afternoon perk, head across the Willamette River to Sterling Coffee Roasters on NW 21st Avenue. They serve amazing coffee, and it’s where the Schnieders of Tried and True Coffee Co. hail from. Corvallis connection in Portland—it’s a beautiful thing. Take it to go and wander aimlessly through the city block-sized Powell’s Books. Find a new favorite!

    So you’ve been eating delicious food, drinking amazing coffee, but it’s time for my favorite part of the day: happy hour.

    There are so many options, all of them (well, most of them) are great, but some of my favorites are Saucebox and Bailey’s Taproom. Both are downtown and only a few blocks from Powell’s and Sterling. Saucebox is an Asian-fusion restaurant with one of the best happy hours, IMHO. Creatively infused and crafted cocktails from talented bartenders (mixologists if you’re nasty), and if you’re hungry, they serve quality food for cheap. Bailey’s Taproom has what seems like 7,000 taps (think Beer:30), with something for everyone. Keep an eye out for a Corvallis brew!

    Now, nothing against Happy Trails, but the Corvallis record store scene just isn’t quite as poppin’. Mostly, just because it’s the one store. But just an hour or so north, there is a veritable mecca for record and record store lovers. And most of them sell CDs (and tapes if you ask nicely), too, so if you’re rocking a CD player in your car like I am, they’ve got you covered. My favorites are Everyday Music on West Burnside and Music Millennium on East Burnside.

    Portland is totally a food town. There is no shortage of great places to eat with menus that cater to even the fussiest of eaters. While there’s no way to eat at all of them, or even most of them in a day, we sure are trying.

    Which brings us to dinner. Head north to Mississippi Avenue—a street with bars, restaurants, and shopping—one of those places where you could spend an entire day and feel like you’ve only scratched the surface. Try dinner at the food cart pod on Mississippi and try one (or more) of the 15 carts assembled there, including the famed Koi Fusion. Then catch a show at Mississippi Studios and dessert at Ruby Jewel—funky flavors of ice cream and, at least for now, less of a line than Salt & Straw. Plus, they will make you a fresh ice cream sandwich with local cookies in funky flavors.

    If you’re still up and looking for something to do, get a drink up the street at Prost!, a bar specializing in German bier.

    And if you’re not too sauced after Prost!, head south to Sassy’s, a SE strip club with girls that are impressively flexible, strong, and tattooed. Or if you’d rather dance, and not on a pole, Holocene is across the street. This dance space is basically the opposite of the Top of the (Pea)Cock—good music, clean floors, strong drinks. And more hipster than bro. It’s a good time either way.


    Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. It’s a cherry-picked, planned day based on what Portland is known for and what a Corvallisite may want to do up there. Maybe this is just a jumping-off point, or maybe it’s the best day ever. In any case, Portland has a lot to offer. Did we miss anything? Want to see a second version—maybe a themed version? Send us an email.


    By Rachel Sandstrom

    Read more ...
  • Boring Advocate Office Happenings
    No Comment

    TonyFisherThere’s nothing newsy about the ever-changing structure of the contemporary newsroom, but an office that morphs into a gallery or public discussion space is, by just about any account, different. Beyond regular use by newspaper staffers, the Corvallis Advocate’s space has so far been used by Poetics for readings, the Corvallis Independent Business Alliance for an after-hours mixer, and most notably as a regular destination for the Corvallis Arts Walk.

    Housed in the old J.C. Penney building at 425 SW Madison, the Advocate office occupies a space just above Einstein’s Bagels that was formerly a boiler room, so the look is industrial. With only minimal restorative effort, the space had in the past also been used as studio space for artists and a photographer.

    There is a patina to the place, a feeling that dangerous things have happened there, could happen there, but it is confusingly comfortable and reassuring at the same time. It’s like the worn surfaces want you to live within them, but not change them. Somehow, since the Advocate took the space over, most everyone seems to refer to it as “the Loft.”

    The main room is about 1,200 square feet; this is where most of the art is exhibited. For this month’s Arts Walk, Tony Fisher will be the featured artist. Fisher’s art started with fabricating parts and pieces for hot rods and developed into large-scale, wall-hung metallurgical pieces. His current work is a tribute to his brother, Deputy Sheriff Terry Fisher, who passed away unexpectedly in 2014. The Corvallis Arts Walk falls on Thursday, July 16 this month; the Advocate Loft will be open for viewing from 4 to 8 p.m.

    Publisher Steven Schultz says, “There are times that we’ll be interviewing or having staff meetings where art is being installed around us, but it really doesn’t seem to bother anyone, most of the staff is supportive.” Schultz goes on to offer, “We’ve actually decided to seek a very part-time gallery curator, which to my knowledge is a first for a newspaper, even an alternative newsweekly.”

     To find out more about the Corvallis Arts Walk, visit www.corvallisartswalk.com. To find out more about using the Advocate Loft or the gallery gig, email admin@corvallisadvocate.com.

    By Elizabeth Arthur

    Read more ...
  • Hard Truths: Things, They Happen
    No Comment

    HardTruths_7_2_15Marriage Equality Achieved

    Now let the madness begin.

    Last week, in a monumental decision that will likely rank up there with Roe vs. Wade among the titans of decisions people retroactively blame for the fall of Western civilization, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for any state to not recognize an otherwise lawful union between two people of the same sex.

    I’m mostly pleased about the whole thing, because I don’t see a single thing wrong with a same-sex couple. And if they want to be married, I think they should go right ahead. That said, I haven’t got a clue why we still let the feds have a say about marriage at all, and this case will simply ensure we continue to let that happen for a long time to come. But to be perfectly clear, I think homosexual couples should have all of the same rights as heterosexual couples, including the right to a life of misery and indentured servitude.

    But obviously not everyone was going to be so laissez-faire about the debate. Opponents, ranging from the frothy-mouthed and bigoted to the reasonable but disagreeing, are all throwing in their two cents and prescribing proscribing as an answer.

    Governor Mike Huckabee went a step farther and is advocating civil disobedience. Which raises the question of how one civilly disobeys another person’s right. Nobody is requiring Huckabee, a private citizen, to do a single thing. Not even “accept” gay marriage. Huckabee and his ilk can feel absolutely free to continue not approving. But rest assured they won’t, and they’re going to continue shrieking about this issue until not even my pith can make it seem interesting in summary.

    And in case that’s not obnoxious enough for you, if I see another one of my Facebook friends letting the world know they were “on the right side of history” via emotional status updates, I’m afraid I’m going to self-harm. It’s like a humblebrag, but more insulting because it’s actually a serious topic that matters.

    Stop patting yourselves on the back for being so tolerant. It’s not a good look, and it doesn’t come off half as sincere as you think it does by the time you’re posting your seventh status update about how beautiful Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in the case was.

    How about we make a grand compromise: If Huckabee can stop crying about gay marriage every three seconds, I’ll see what I can do to get all of my friends to stop clamoring to show off their gay-friendly bona fides on Facebook.

    How Has This Never Happened Before?
    A jury in Fairfax, Virginia, awarded a guy $500,000 after he sued the anesthesiologist who put him under for a surgery. The surgery must have gone horribly wrong, you’re probably thinking to yourself. What did they do? Attach a third arm? Damage a second kidney? Remove a first penis?

    No, what they did that was worth a half a goddamn million dollars to a jury was make fun of him while he was under.


    The procedure came off without a hitch, but the patient had his iPhone recording sound from inside his pocket, and when he listened to it later, he heard the doctors having a grand old time at his expense.

    And this is worth $500,000 dollars?

    Does everybody not have a job? Are we not all well-aware of what is said about the client when their back is turned, when they’re on hold, when they’re in the bathroom, or yes, even when they’re under anesthesia? It is universal across all fields. Yes, we have to serve you, but no, we don’t have to like you, to quote Kevin Smith.

    I already assumed doctors did this when we weren’t looking, and figured everyone else did, too.  They’re humans, and they don’t like you nearly as much as they pretend to. If that’s worth $500,000 in this day and age, I don’t know what to say.

    The worst part is that they awarded the money under the premise that the cruel jokes constituted slander, even though he would have never known about them if he hadn’t recorded them, and nobody else would either. That’s right, in an ironic twist, the only reason we know what the doctors thought of him is because he brought it to the world’s attention.

    Which is also not to say the doctors deserve no disdain. They’re obviously unprofessional and deserve to lose business for such sloppiness, but a half a million dollars? Don’t let anyone ever tell you the truth is easy.

    By Sidney Reilly

    Read more ...
  • Legal Weed Used to Be Sci-Fi
    No Comment

    bugjackbarronDay by day, our world is coming to resemble the science fiction of previous generations: pocket telephones, home computers, a black president, and now comes the commercial sale of legal marijuana.

    These are all things that aren’t necessarily the subject of science fiction stories, but part of the “furniture,” the elements in a scene which are there to remind us that the story is taking place in the future. As one sci-fi writer pointed out, there are thousands of SF stories in which a character goes somewhere in a flying car, but there has never been even one which was about the invention of the flying car. The cars that fly and the doors that dilate are simply there. And so, often, is cannabis, legally sold and openly used.

    In John Brunner’s 1969 Stand on Zanzibar, hemp has more or less replaced tobacco: it is sold in brand-name packs of pre-rolled cigarettes and smoked by businessmen in their offices (smoking at the office—imagine!). One of the characters is an executive of a cannabis company who is being blackmailed by criminals who want him to sneak cuttings of the newest genetically engineered strain out of the lab so they can grow a pirate edition of it—sort of the way people are trying to find ways to work around Monsanto’s patents on GMO crops.

    In The Tomorrow File, almost the only sci-fi piece written by Lawrence Sanders (much better known for his Deadly Sin mysteries), people might very well feel the need to light up a joint of Bold (distributed by the Federal Department of Public Happiness, formerly Health & Human Services), to help them endure the pain of being denied a permit to have a child, or to choke down the foul-tasting food made from petroleum. Or they might want to try the legal government-distributed heroin…

    If the government wasn’t going to hand out weed, then surely corporations would deliver it in plenty. In Norman Spinrad’s 1969 Bug Jack Barron, the most popular talk show on late-night TV is sponsored by “Acapulco Golds, America’s Premium Marijuana Cigarettes” (imagine—cigarettes advertised on TV!). At the time, Acapulco Gold was a variety praised so much by pot smokers that even the least hip readers would recognize the name. In David Gerrold’s 1972 When Harlie Was One, for instance, a character bums a cigarette, hoping for an Acapulco Gold but settling for a Highmaster. Harlie, by the way, is an AI program who communicates with his creators through a teletype—a printer whose keys clatter out text onto endless rolls of paper.

    There was a widespread rumor in the ‘60s that one of the country’s major tobacco companies had quietly registered “Acapulco Gold” as a trademark—you know, just in case. Other brand names seen in sci-fi stories include Panama Red, Foxy Lady, Happening, and Too Much. This is one area in which sci-fi writers were, if anything, too cautious: brand names are proliferating rapidly in areas where pot is legal, with probably far more brand names than there are actual varieties available.

    Finally, here’s a funny item: When I mentioned I was writing an article about SF stories in which pot was legal, almost everyone mentioned Robert A. Heinlein’s 1965 Stranger in a Strange Land. Now, that novel contains what was at the time considered some forward-thinking stuff and it was a favorite among college students, but in fact the book’s only reference to hemp is in a line where a wise old man expresses the fear that the hero may be tempted to join a particularly creepy cult group, declaring, “I’d rather see Mike smoking marijuana than converted by Digby.” Public nudity and a casual acceptance of gay politicians was one thing, Heinlein seemed to think, but pot smoking? Unthinkable.

    By John M. Burt

    Read more ...