Enough pecksniffian cant, you fascist blethering guttersnipe of a cad.

5/29/2012: At the most recent UO Senate meeting President Rob Kyr announced that Pres Berdahl had asked him to appoint committees to address three issues: conflicts of interest, personal attacks, and leadership. Don’t get me started on the UO administration’s surplus of conflicts of interests and their shortage of leadership. But the British Parliament has a long and honorable history of personal attacks, and their rules might be useful for us to consider.

MPs can be reprimanded using the words above in debate. William Safire published a bit on this back in1984, in honor of the addition of “fascist” to the list of banned insults. And just in case, the benches are famously set two sword lengths apart. Ironically, the full list of forbidden words is in the “Erskine May” or guide to parliamentary practice, which is copyrighted and not (legally) available online. Just like Oregon’s public records manual, until a few years ago.

A few days ago there was an interesting discussion in the Guardian on the role of insults in the MP’s civil discourse:

David Cameron’s cheerful ripsnorter in the Commons, calling Ed Balls a “muttering idiot”, was probably unparliamentary, yes – but it was also perfectly justified and it made decent political sense. I don’t have much time for Speaker John Bercow but he was technically right to ask Cameron to withdraw the word “idiot”. He immediately did so by calling him instead “the man who wrecked our economy”, or something similar. If parliamentary debate descends to mere insults, it dies. But Balls is an idiot, and Cameron, who said plenty of detailed, serious things in the half-hour of Prime Minister’s Questions, cheered everyone up no end by spanking the shadow chancellor….

… I don’t want PMQs turned into a bloodless, bowdlerised shadow of its rowdy self. Politicians are now so wise in the arts of stalling and obfuscating and dodging journalists’ questions that it has become more essential than ever for them to face the full force of their opponents. … but grown adults should be able to do so within the boundaries of civilised language.  

Of course, I think the “stalling and obfuscating and dodging” by the UO administration is a far worse problem than the personal attacks – which they also dole out in good measure. FWIW, some helpful rules from the House of Lords involving conflicts of interest are here. Thanks to Cory Doctorow for some of these links.

Handy sues county for public records

5/28/2012: This suit may shed some interesting light on how Lane DA Alex Gardner deals with public records petitions, since SB242 gave him authority over UO public records. The requests in this story seem loosely related to Handy and Sorenson’s violation of the public meetings law and they look very broad. Typically there would be some back and forth between the requestor and the agency on how to make the request manageable. That process seems to have broken down between Handy and the Lane County PR officer, leaving the courts to deal with it. Under state law the county will have to pay Handy’s legal expenses if he wins his public records case in court.

Ken DeVeboise’s students go on hunger strike

to support his efforts to get a permanent contract. 5/24/2012. It mostly worked, update from Dash Paulson in the ODE:

… The meeting produced an agreement to retain DeBevoise another year and for the College of Arts and Sciences to open up a “conversation” on establishing a Middle Eastern Studies program, according to an email released by Hungry for Education.

Open access to scholarly research

5/23/2012: From John Russell of the UO Libraries. The link to the petition to President Obama is at the bottom, you have to register to sign but it is quick.

Open access advocates have created a White House petition asking the President to consider expanding the Public Access Policy of the NIH (http://publicaccess.nih.gov/) to cover all journal articles generated from federally-funded research.

Why this petition? The deep pockets of publishers who wish to maintain their monopoly on the dissemination of scholarly information. For every discussion in Congress around providing public access to research supported by public funds, there are for-profit publishers who can spend our subscription dollars to ensure that Congress protects publisher interests. The White House’s petition platform stipulates that any petition receiving more than 25,000 signatures requires a response from the White House; the petition creators hope that an overwhelming response from the public will influence White House policy discussions about public access to research.

If you care at all about public access to federally-funded research, I encourage you to learn more about this issue and sign the petition:

Petition creator website: http://access2research.org/

Alliance for Taxpayer Access: Federal Research Public Access Act: http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/issues/frpaa/index.shtml

PolyMath’s Journal publishing reform page: http://michaelnielsen.org/polymath1/index.php?title=Journal_publishing_reform

UO Libraries’ Scholarly Communications page: http://libweb.uoregon.edu/scis/sc/

Link to petition: https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions/!/petition/require-free-access-over-internet-scientific-journal-articles-arising-taxpayer-funded-research/wDX82FLQ 

John Russell
UO Libraries

Smashing particles with a 4.0

5/22/2012:

A University of Oregon summer college prep program for under­privileged middle schoolers ally-ooped a Springfield teenager into the loving arms of Bill and Melinda Gates — who will pay for her college education from freshman year to doctoral degree. …

“Particle physics,” she said. “What I really want to do is go to Switzerland to work with the large hadron collider, smashing particles together at speeds nearing the speed of light in attempts to re-create the big bang.”

Just read the whole story, it captures it all, wonderfully. From Diane Dietz in the RG.

Constructive engagement

A reader asks:

What can UO Matters do at this critical juncture in the search process to create a constructive environment?  How can UO Matters help market the UO to potential presidents?

What can be done now and in the next months and years to foster engagement between the faculty and the administration?

This Calico Cat thinks that all sides have now vented fully and repeatedly; there are no new issues. The question is: how do we escape Wonderland?

Comments welcome. 5/21/2012.

Note: these comments seem to have gotten a bit off track. Try here.

Economics, not athletics

5/17/2012: That’s the explanation the SacBee gives for the lucrative UO trade in CA students. Complete with Roger Thompson quote. Not a popular argument with the UO central administration, which loves spending that out-of-state tuition money on sports and on their own junkets to bowl games (link fixed) – and then claiming it’s all part of their job to increase enrollment. Tax deductible!

comments deleted by mistake

I mistakenly deleted all comments to UO Matters from 5/12 or so til now. I’m very sorry, there were some good ones too! I tried to recover them, but can’t. I really appreciate comments and the discussions that often develop. They make the blog much more interesting and I hope people will keep making them!

PS – will the person that keeps clearing their cache and giving Berdahl A grades in the poll just stop? I get it.