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What should we make of the appointment of Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education?

The answer is, perhaps, “Not very much.”

For professional educators, the choice of DeVos is a bummer but no surprise. Secretaries of education who champion the system have been rare. And yet our school system has been a robust and productive institution, worthy of pride. It does not yet live up to our dreams, but we have accomplished a great deal, plugging away at the local level.

The Eugene-Springfield Committee on Local Affairs (CoLA) of the American Institute of Architects – Southwestern Oregon Chapter commends the Eugene City Council for its decision to work with Lane County officials and pursue locating City Hall on the site of the current “butterfly” parking lot at 8th and Oak. 

We’re confident locating our new City Hall there can contribute significantly to downtown’s continued revitalization by capitalizing upon a synergy of established public open spaces, symbols of civic engagement, and community-defining facilities. This is a propitious moment worth embracing, an occasion that warrants a proactive and considered evaluation of the prospect at hand.

Toward this goal, we strongly encourage our government leaders to approach plans for City Hall with the following in mind:

I’ve been reading your advice column in the Coast in Halifax for a while, and it seems that most solutions to relationship problems revolve around sex. Everyone wants it or needs it, we should fuck before dinner, or we can spice up our sex life in this certain way to be happy. What about someone who doesn’t want to have sex, ever? I’ve asked other people for advice, and the answer is usually “take one for the team,” have sex to keep them happy. Is that the only way I could find happiness in a relationship?

Occasionally, there is a point in the history of a place that creates a before and after moment — an event that, in the aftermath, changes a place so significantly it renders it a totally different place from what it was before, forever. Like what the oil pipeline did to Alaska.  

With the election of Donald Trump we are witnessing a coup that combines white nationalism, finance capital and militarism.

The Lane Peace Center is bringing Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, to Eugene on Feb. 16. His talk, titled “Gandhi and Non-violence: Relevance for the 21st Century,” is well timed to help us gain perspective on these surreal and turbulent times.

I arranged the covers in front of my face to block out the red, blue and green lights on the various machines monitoring Wifey’s vitals. Creating this tiny dark space, I managed to get at least a little sleep during the incessantly interrupted post-knee-replacement surgery nights. 

Last week, I spoke at the Wilbur Theater in Boston and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Audience members submitted their questions on tiny cards before the show, allowing them to remain anonymous while forcing them to be succinct. Here are some of the questions I didn’t have time to get to at both events…


February is a very interesting month for the Willamette Valley. Although it’s midwinter in the northern hemisphere, we have spring activity gearing up, with expectations of first native wildflowers blooming.

What if you were born to live in this time, in these times? Choosing to incarnate, burdened by terrible conditions, strengthened by an indigenous strength, native to any human who can tap into it. Strength training is built on resistance. 

I am a 26-year-old heterosexual European man. I have been for four years in a monogamous relationship with my girlfriend. Recently she cheated on me. When she told me what she did, I felt a very strong pain, even stronger than I expected. After a few days of pain, however, I found that the sexual attraction for my girlfriend, instead of decreasing, increased after her adventure. In particular, I am now having a cuckold fantasy.

I am quite the follower on social media—Facebook and Twitter in particular. I make no trolling comments, no #MAGA hashtags; I just look with my male gaze. Like Laura Mulvey says, the male gaze is only natural. I’ve lost interest in pornography, so I use everyday pictures of women, typically selfies. It helps me to know the story behind the face and body. None of these pics are pornographic—just feel-good selfies by young women posted on social media. I don’t communicate with these people, because that would be creepy. I’m not worried about whether this is abnormal.

Dear Community Alliance for  Public Education:

Every year we hear about this “opting out” business. We aren’t big fans of standardized tests, but we don’t want our child to lose out. It says on the opt-out form that we will be missing “valuable information” about our child’s progress if she doesn’t take the test. 

Would I be preventing her teachers from knowing how she’s doing academically? 

Sincerely, A Curious & Cautious Parent

Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” I’ve always lived by that view. Today is no different.

And today is the sixth time I’ve been sworn in to a four year term as Lane County commissioner for the South Eugene District. I’ve also been sworn in twice as Oregon state senator and sworn in three times as Lane Community College board member. I’ve been privileged and honored to be called to public service.

We each bring all our past, including childhood traumas we have been working to heal from, to every experience we have, every day. Being arrested adds an intense fight or flight physical and psychological response that brings all of who you are into sharp focus. At least it did for me. As a child who’d been beaten with leather belts by an abusive father, I felt much of that same terror as an activist blocking oil trains from refineries in Washington state last May on the morning the police arrived in a military assault fashion at dawn, while our camp slept.

About a year ago, I was pretending to read my boyfriend’s mind and jokingly said, “You want to put it in my ear.” Since then, I have seen references to ear sex (aural sex?) everywhere! There’s even a holiday (“Take It in the Ear Day” on December 8), and I was reading a book just now in which the author mentions how much she hates getting come in her ear. So while I am honestly not trying to yuck someone’s yum, I do have two questions. First, is this really a thing? And second, how does it work?

One goal of Oregon’s statewide land use program is “citizen involvement,” providing opportunities for public participation in all phases of the regulatory system. Public awareness and engagement are essential to a functional democracy.

When statewide goals and the regulations meant to support them have been corrupted, and when, as a consequence, the health, safety and welfare of the public and the environment are endangered, it is incumbent upon injured parties to seek redress through formal judicial procedures and/or by initiative petition.

Just to be clear about my biases: I despise The Oregonian editorial board because it despises public employees and it misrepresents Oregon political reality because of it. And I’m also a retired Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) parasite, as my friends refer to me.

Ever since Oregon Democrats won control of both chambers of the Legislature in 2007, The Oregonian incessantly accuses Dems of monolithic control of the state without Republican input. That’s pure bullpucky! 

My partner and I have been playing with male chastity devices. We’ve been considering going to a strip club while his cock is caged up and getting him lap dances. Is there some etiquette for this with the dancers? Do we let the dancer know before she is on his lap? Or do we not mention it? Is it rude to get a dancer involved at all? I’ve not yet found an etiquette guide for this situation.

Letting Our Cage Kink Show

The natural world has its regular rhythms disrupted by natural disasters like ice storms, much the way human environments change.

Incense cedar trees have proven much more susceptible to damage from an ice load than Douglas fir. The recent ice storm brought down incense cedar branches in much greater numbers than Douglas fir. The incense cedar’s ecological adaptation to the warmer end of the forest zone allowed them to evolve into a species with weak branches. They are not resistant to snow or ice. Key elements to surviving a disaster seem to be adaptability and resilience.

A recent audit of Business Oregon, the state’s economic development department, will likely generate more local debate about economic development incentives. I spent about 15 years working for the state economic development department and, after learning about the state audit, my first reaction was: It’s about time. 

While I know from experience that incentives are an important business recruitment tool, in my time at Business Oregon I saw a lot of abuse of incentives and very little accountability. The audit was right on the mark. Let’s hope that it does some good. Accountability for incentives has been way overdue at Business Oregon. 

Republicans Donald Trump and Dennis Richardson do not lack chutzpah! Both the recently elected president and the recently elected Oregon secretary of state were already making headlines prior to their coronations. 

Trump’s carnival of cabinet picks and the UN-Israeli ruckus speak volumes about what we’re about to hear under Republican control in Washington, D.C. for the next two years. Breitbart News reports that Trump now intends to appoint El Chapo as the next head of the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Here at home, Dennis Richardson is demonstrating why he is the first Republican elected to statewide office in Oregon since Abraham Lincoln, according to Breitbart. I love fake news. Actually, the last Republican elected to statewide office in Oregon was U.S. Senator Gordon Smith in 2002. But you have to go back 36 years to Norma Paulus to find a Republican secretary of state.

My brother is a virgin and turning 30 in a few weeks. He said he wants to hire an escort just for drinks and conversation for his birthday, but he doesn’t really know how to tell what’s a reliable service or what criteria he should be looking for to tell whether an agency is legit, reliable, etc.

It is difficult not to lament the fate of the University of Oregon in light of the inept administrative response to what should have been seen, at worst, as a teachable moment gone awry. 

On Halloween a respected scholar, in the privacy of her own home, attempted to open a discourse about white privilege using props consisting of a blackened face, a stethoscope and a white coat.

I’ve taught interpersonal communication to college students for 20 years and I thought Gayle Landt’s viewpoint, “Difficult Conversations” [EW 12/8] gave excellent advice. But part of me thinks we’re in danger of re-fighting the last war. 

I agree we need to listen and de-escalate conflict, and that’s blue-chip advice for successful communication. But 2016 also points us toward radical steps to reinvent our habits.

I have two New Year’s resolutions I want to invite others to join.