Slant 12-31-2015

It’s a dark and dastardly world out there so we’ve been cranking up the sunshine with some upbeat content in December. Our third annual “I Dream of Eugene” issue last week appears to be a big hit, and if you missed it due to the holidays, our office has extra copies. It’s great to see letters arriving in response to the funny, fanciful and thoughtful dreams we published for the Whiteaker, north Eugene, the city and Glenwood. We like dreams more than New Year’s resolutions. Dreams are visionary and visions have power. Those damned resolutions tend to set us up for disappointment and guilt. As Sally Sheklow notes in her “Living Out” column this week, she’s changing her bucket list to a fuck-it list. So it’s time to lighten up, and keep those fun and creative visions coming. Got dreams for Kesey Square? Send them to We need ’em. Winter has just begun.

Geri Richmond’s neighbors know another side of the famous UO chemistry professor who will receive a National Medal of Science in January from President Obama at the White House. She’s one of nine researchers receiving the country’s highest science award this year. She also raises chickens and routinely delivers eggs around her neighborhood near the UO. Her garden is amazing. It includes enough persimmon trees to put the gorgeous fruit on every table in east Eugene. When she is in town she walks several miles each way to her UO lab from her home near Hendricks Park, no matter how dark or dank it is. Her mother was a beautician. She must have instilled an iron will into this daughter who fights for great science and advocates for women scientists around the world.

• We read the R-G’s attention-grabbing “14 homicides a grim milestone for Eugene-Springfield area” story with interest on Dec. 28. What stood out to us was the quote from UO economics professor Benjamin Hansen: “Higher temperatures seem to increase aggressiveness, and lower precipitation increases exposure. When it rains, we avoid each other and therefore avoid most crime.” Eugene-Springfield had a “run” on homicides during the hot weather, and the daily’s number crunching shows that “more than 40 percent of all homicides of the past 44 years have occurred in the ‘dry’ months of June through September.” So what does that mean for us in terms of climate change with our summers getting longer, drier and hotter? Our population has gone up, but despite our murderous record year, homicides have statistically gone down. Will our increasingly hot weather make for more murder streaks? If you didn’t have a good reason already to battle global warming, avoiding murder is a good one. 

• In welcoming the New Year, we are also welcoming some new laws in Oregon that are going into effect. Of note, House Bill 2879 and House Bill 3343 allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control and require insurance companies to cover a full year of birth control. Under SB 454 employers with more than 10 employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to each worker. Also making things better for workers is the Ban the Box bill. HB 3025 bans employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history prior to interviewing them. The Motor Voter Act (HB 2177) gives a boost to democracy because now when people eligible to vote get or renew a driver’s license, they will automatically be registered to vote, with the ability to opt out. For more new laws, check out the full press release from the Oregon Democrats: