The Arizona Desert Lamp

Column on Get REAL in today’s Wildcat

Posted in Campus, Culture, Politics by Evan Lisull on 3 November 2009

Get REALThe Internet-People declare: All your Paper are belong to us! Ben Kalafut had a piece on Proposition 400 in yesterday’s paper (and if you’re a Tucson voter, take the time to read his excellent breakdowns of the other propositions – 200, 401, and 402); today, Laura was kind enough to find a spot for our tilting at the windmills of Legal Age 21.

Writing the piece also served as a reminder of one of the benefits of blog format – no word limits! Sure, this allows for a lot of run-on and obsessive inquiries to little end, but it also prevents necessary clarification of certain lines.

One that particularly sticks out is the mention of President Shelton’s refusal to sign the Amethyst Initiative, an item that this site first reported in its infancy, over a year ago. Yet reading it through again (older, wiser!), Shelton’s dismissal of the Initiative comes off as even more venal than before. Here is what signatories of the initiative pledge to do:

To support an informed and dispassionate public debate over the effects of the 21 year-old drinking age.

To consider whether the 10% highway fund “incentive” encourages or inhibits that debate.

To invite new ideas about the best ways to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol.

We pledge ourselves and our institutions to playing a vigorous, constructive role as these critical discussions unfold.

Here was President Shelton’s response (with emphasis added):

Underage drinking in general and binge drinking specifically are serious concerns for our society and certainly at universities where so many young people in the 18-20 age group are present.  It is wise to think about, plan and execute programs that address these problems.  From my perspective, I do not believe the issue is sufficiently simple to be solved by lowering the drinking age.  I have not signed the petition.  The studies with which I am familiar indicate that starting to drink earlier can lead to more problematic behavior in later life.  At the UA, we address these issues through education and programs to inform and assist students.  I offer a list of some of our interventions below as provided by the VP for Student Affairs.

But there’s nothing in the Initiative which makes any President beholden to any drinking age! All it wants is a critical conversation, with honest airing out of facts. Instead, President Shelton alludes to “studies” with absolutely vague conclusions (so much for scientific rigor), and lists of a list of bureaucratic forms that make other health-ranking bureaucracies happy. He fails to mention the issue of the highway fund, although I suspect he’d drop the drinking age to twelve if it got some money from the state legislature. His response is the antithesis of an “informed and dispassionate debate.”

Life Under the Sun

Posted in Media by Evan Lisull on 17 April 2009

Sun God at All SoulsIt’s been awhile since we’ve toured the Online Pueblo:

-Alyson Hill puts on her Margaret Mead boots and studies that elusive subset of the Nacireman peoples, the Etau’dargs.

-At Critical Political, Vishal Ganeshan finds a uniquely Parisian way for the UA to waste even more fee money.

Ben Kalafut has been on fire these last two weeks. If you haven’t already added him to your feed aggregator (don’t ask, don’t tell), be sure to read this piece on basic economics, as well as this on the “wait ’til next year” resignation that classical liberals are forced to adopt in Arizona.

-Over at her blog, Laura Donovan turns in a timely interview with a Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) representative on campus.

-Justyn may be busy running a newspaper, but that doesn’t mean he can’t take time to call out Justice Clarence Thomas’s distinctly unlibertarian conservatism.

-Not quite a blog, but the Wildcat has a bizarre piece on some extremist mouthpiece written by what appears to be a pair of typing baboons. (Seriously, though, we appreciate the real-world coverage.)

Image, from the All Souls Procession, courtesy of Flickr user cobalt123

Spring Break Reading

Posted in Campus, Media by Evan Lisull on 12 March 2009

Reading on the BeachWell, that’s quite enough of that. We’ll be blogging at a lighter pace throughout the break, but for now here are some selections from Tucson town:

-Alyson Hill is back, with a new blog: Arfing Round the Bend. Already, she knows more than you do about cat food marketing; at this rate, she’ll be Treasury Secretary by July. Also, she writes a poem with the appropriate amount of levity for the upcoming break.

-At Critical Political, Matt takes up arms against this post of mine on the academy. A sample:

Frankly, I have a hard time understanding anyway what “knowledge for the sake of knowledge” really means anyway. It’s easy to say this, to accept learning just for learning’s sake, but I think there is a flaw in thinking that this is the whole story. Every action and plan has intention behind it and some kind of goal. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge, as Evan takes it, probably has its origins in medieval monasteries, the safe havens of wisdom in the dark ages. Then, the dissemination of knowledge was a challenge to the social order, and so dissemination was a threat to the knowledge itself. So the purpose of knowledge for its own sake was its preservation, and this was in response to the social conditions of the time. I can’t imagine anyone who really thinks that this is the case today – that the preservation (and continuation) of wisdom and knowledge is dependent on keeping it locked up, rather than directing it to what we recognize as explicitly practical goals.

Read the rest here (and yes, a reply is forthcoming).

-I’ve been remiss in noting Laura Donovan‘s chronicling of her Women and Literature (here and here). This empirical data gathering will prove, I think, to be extremely important when it comes to discussing the academy in broader terms. We do need more of these sorts of accounts. though.

-In addition to his work against PIRG, Ben Kalafut of Goldwater State fame finds that freedom of choice when it comes to health care isn’t quite dead yet.

-Justyn pities the fate of conservawunderkind Jonathan Krohn at the Civic Spirit. (And, shamelessly, I will point out that I have a loopier take on the kid over at the Kosmopolitan.)

Image courtesy of Flickr user scissorhands33

Weekend Reading

Posted in Media by Evan Lisull on 27 February 2009

There will be a quiz on Monday:

-Matt Styer of Critical Political discusses some seriously highbrow stuff in his post entitled, “Political Freedoms, Ethics, Relationships.” Also, it looks the site will soon be featuring a guest writer, who finds himself on “the side of classically conservative ideas, regardless of what party they come from (I voted for Obama).” Awesome. 

-At the Civic Spirit, Justyn Dillingham takes down the myth of Bobby Jindal after his SOTU-response, not realizing that a malevolent ex-staffer switched his planned response with a statement that he had planned for his guest appearance on Sesame Street later on in the week.

-Ben Kalafut exposes the absurdity of Arizona’s driving laws at Goldwater State.

-Laura Donovan bids soror, ave atque vale to the Chi-O House, and seeks input on the unwritten laws of men and women over at her nonfiction clearinghouse.

From Under the Sun

Posted in Culture, Media by Evan Lisull on 19 February 2009

Tonatiuh, Aztec God of the SunThanks to Matt Styer, we’ve got a new name for the UA’s nascent blogosphere: Under the Sun. It’s cleaner than “Zonasphere”, yet keeps the localism firmly in tact. 

1. A new blog emergeth! Former guest writer Matt Styer has forged a path of his own and started a new blog, Critical Political. Swinging like he’s in the Phillipines, Matt follows a Lepidopteran follow-up to this site’s discussion on the liberal arts with a stinging rebuke of market misconceptions. This conversation just got a whole lot more interesting. 

2. Over at Goldwater State, Ben Kalafut calls out the wingnuttery, be it in on the secessionist (Tenth Amendment! Be still, my beating heart) or nativist primary feathers

3. Laura Donovan finds herself aligned against both Brother Jed and Victoria’s Secret. Also, if you need a break from the whizz-pow! pace of the blogging world, be sure to check out the site devoted to her essay-length creative nonfiction. 

4. At the Civic Spirit, Justyn Dillingham points out the conflict within the National Review’s list of top conservative movies. Somehow, I suspect that he’s getting at something far bigger than cinema preferences. 

Picture of Aztec god Tonatiuh courtesy of Wiki Commons