Saturday, December 09, 2006

Grossly inflated value of college football seen in salaries

So now it turns out that Oregon State University is paying its football coach Mike Riley $925,000 a year in salary and bonuses. The number showed up on today's Oregonian sports page in Brian Meehan's column.

And to think that last week I bemoaned the University of Oregon's compensating Athletic Director Bill Moos $550,000 annually while UO president David Frohnmayer gets $445,433.

Silly me.

When is what we pay people going to bear some relationship to their real worth to society?

On a related note, the Financial Times reported this week that the richest 2 percent of adults on this planet own more than 50 percent of the wealth. Count Riley and Moos among them. The story included this fact: "So much of the world's wealthy is concentrated in few hands that if all the world's wealth were distributed evenly, each person would have $20,500 in assets to use.

Back to Coach Riley and education real needs and mission in Oregon (and elsewhere). Riley's compensation would pay for 10 full professors at OSU or 50 full scholarships.

Here was Meehan's take on the distorted value of college football in these times: "During the past two decades public investment in higher education has declined dramatically across the country even as the economics of college football has spiraled. Perspective about this game has been lost along with college access for many Americans. It's far past time for university presidents to bring football back under control."


Friday, December 08, 2006

Red gets a new "header"

It took some doing but I finally got a new graphic header to appear in the size and shape I wanted it to be (see above).

In the (alas dying) newspaper trade, the equivalent to the "blog title header" is the "flag" at the top of the front page. And the "flag" is not to be confused with the "masthead," which is where you find the head honchos' names – publisher, executive editor, advertising manager etc.

In the blogosphere, instead of a masthead, you get a "profile" and probably a lot more information than you want to know.

Back to the new title header. What do you think? For starters, I'm open to technical consultation. For one thing, the thing is too "grainy." I'm still not sure I like the slanted "destination" line at the bottom, but let's live with it, at least until I can get the graininess problem fixed.

I made the image in Quark xPress and then "grabbed" it and converted it from tiff to jpeg. Something got lost along the way. Suggestions?

Also lost was the old standing description line about welcoming you aboard.

Hey, not to worry. I still do!

"Red" meets The Multnomah Villager

My guess is that a few visitors to this site live in, or at least regularly visit, Multnomah Village. Those who do should check out The Multnomah Villager blog, written by Mark Myers.

Mark recently came across my mention of The Red Electric in my Southwest Community Connection column and was kind enough to bring The Red Electric to the attention of his readers.

The Villager has a kind of ambling, newsy feel to it. In his wanderings about The Village, Mark pops in here and there and reports on what he sees and hears. A visit to the site gives the reader a neighborly, anecdotal mix of informality and information.

I'm adding it to my links list for easy reference.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wilson grad makes WSJ with paper-saving program

Hayden Hamilton, 29, a Portland software developer who graduated from Wilson High School and whose family still lives in Hillsdale, made it big in today's Wall Street Journal.

Renowned tech reviewer Walter Mossberg reviewed Hamilton's GreenPrint program, which instructs printers not to print those little wasted end pages with one or two lines of non-essential information on them.

If the GreenPrint program, released in November, becomes widely used, whole forests might be preserved. The Portland Tribune, in a story about GreenPrint on Nov. 12, noted that it takes one tree to create 8,300 sheets of paper.

Indeed several environmental organizations have endorsed the product, which costs $25 now and will cost $35 after the holidays.

Hayden now lives across the river in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

Robert Hamilton, Hayden's dad, says his son's company has been flooded with requests since Mossberg's favorable Journal review was published this morning.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Recognizing our labors of love

Nearly every Sunday in the early morning I spend an hour in silent “worship” with fellow Quakers. Often the reflection offers insight worth sharing.

That happened on a recent Sunday as I thought about a fellow Friend whose work is clearly infused with love. The silence led me to consider all work that could be called “labors of love.”

It struck me that without our ever acknowledging it, much, even most, of our work is “love’s labor.” We simply fail to make the connection.

Consider even the smallest task. Three times a week I labor mightily in the weight room at our community center. The exercise is good for me, certainly, but more than that I am striving to stay fit so I can lengthen my time of modest service on this planet.

So 45 sit-ups and three miles on the treadmill are “labors of love.”

Linking work and love makes the effort much easier, even enjoyable.

How many of our labors are in fact unacknowledged “labors of love”?

If we count and consider them, I’m certain we will discover far more than we had imagined.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Media Literacy: protecting kids from deceptive ads

For the last few years, as a presenter with The Northwest Media Literacy Center (NMLC), which I helped found, I have given talks to groups about the critical importance of understanding media's effects on us, our children and our world.

One of NMLC's goals is to establish media literacy curricula in Oregon’s schools. Today, we were given a boost by a new policy statement by U.S. pediatricians.

Here’s an excerpt of the story as reported by Reuters:

The American Academy of Pediatrics today urged doctors, parents, legislators and regulators to limit children's viewing of television and access to the Internet, move some TV ads to later hours after bedtime, and restrict how alcoholic beverage makers promote their products.

"If we taught kids media literacy, you can essentially immunize kids against advertising," said statement author Dr. Victor Strasburger, a pediatrician at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

The average American child is bombarded by 40,000 product advertisements a year in all media. The forms of advertising range from television commercials to billboards created by the $250 billion U.S. advertising industry, said Strasburger. He added that children younger than 8 years are especially gullible.

He said advertisers and broadcasters bear a responsibility to teach and not just exploit child consumers.

"I would like to see parents energized and more sensitive to the impact of media on kids," Strasburger said. "If they observed (American Academy of Pediatrics) guidelines to allow children no more than two hours of entertainment media a day, that alone would limit exposure."

Studies have shown a direct relationship between advertising exposure and youths who try smoking or drinking alcohol, he said.

Children who watch more television -- presumably exposing them to ads for fast food, snacks, soft drinks and candy -- are more likely to be obese, although no studies show a direct correlation between advertising and obesity, he said.

"If we can make the airwaves healthier, and make advertising healthier, then it makes more sense than putting 50 million children on a diet," Strasburger said.

The statement, published in the academy's journal Pediatrics, also sought to limit televised ads for alcoholic beverages to show just the product and not bikini-clad women or cartoon characters, and to ban tobacco advertising of any kind.

Australia has banned all tobacco advertising, Strasburger said, and Sweden and Norway have barred TV ads directed at children aged 12 years or younger.

Monday, December 04, 2006

End "The Civil War"

There’s a hot debate going on in the media these days about whether to call the fighting in Iraq a “civil war.”

Hey, what’s the big deal?

In this state when well-padded collegiate youth chase each other around the football field, Oregon and Oregon State fans, parroting the press, mindlessly proclaim the annual game “The Civil War.”

And each year I try to find some way to get my fellow Oregonians to come up with a name worthy of the rivalry and the state in general.

Incidentally, calling the Oregon/Oregon State game “civil” (get the oh-so-clever play on words there?) doesn’t help. Let’s face it, the name is just a sick, and tired, old joke. And each year I get a little more sick and tired of it.

The name hardly shows Oregon’s two premier universities to be places of historical awareness or sensitivity. The American Civil War was a tragedy that took the lives of nearly a half million soldiers. Giving a collegiate rivalry the same name is no less dishonorable than offensively naming teams after ethic groups. Two decades ago, several universities honored objections by some of those groups and dropped those names. Among the universities was Stanford, which abandoned being the “Indians” and became “The Cardinal.”

Indeed, The Oregonian newspaper took the lead in refusing to use such offensive names in its coverage of collegiate and professional sport. But each year, the paper and other media around the state persist in thoughtlessly trumpeting “The Civil War.”

In this time of intractable international strife and real civil wars, imagine the respect, to say nothing of much-needed good publicity, OSU and UO students, faculty, administration and alumni would get if they came up with a name for the rivalry that was truly clever, worthy of the state…and, yes, civil.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hillsdale holiday book sale tally tops $2700

Today's Hillsdale Alliance benefit book sale brought out throngs of local book lovers as well as numerous area book dealers.

When the doors opened at 10 a.m. at the old Estby gas station, a line of at least 30 bibliophiles was waiting for first crack at some 5,000 books donated by the community over the past two months at the Hillsdale Farmers Market.

The preliminary tally of money raised by the sale is $2700. A few books that we tagged as being having extraordinary value didn't sell and may be sold on-line or to Powell's.

With few exceptions, the sale books sold for between 50 cents and $2. Buyers agreed they were getting bargains, and many asked when the next sale would be. If we can find a location (the gas station is slated for demolition), it will likely be the last Sunday in July, the date for the annual Pancake Breakfast.

Meanwhile, the chili feed accompanying today's sale brought in more than $300 for the Hillsdale Business and Professional Association.

The first Hillsdale benefit book sale last summer grossed $3700 for the member organizations of the Hillsale Alliance.

Particularly heartening at today's sale was seeing children excited about their purchases.

Most of all, the event, which involved hours of volunteer time, adds to our sense of community.

Book sale proceeds will go (likely through a Hillsdale Community Foundation) to the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association, our three public schools, the Hillsdale Farmers Market, SW Trails, the Hillsdale Business and Professional Association, Neighborhood House, the library, the Hillsdale Emergency Team and Hillsdale Votes.