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Slant 1-10-2013

A critically important message to American educators, and all the rest of us, came from Dr. Yong Zhao Jan. 4 at the City Club of Eugene meeting at the Hilton. He’s the UO College of Education associate dean for global and online learning. Zhao said American education is copying Chinese education while the Chinese are moving in the opposite direction, copying America. That means more standardization, more centralization and more testing for American kids, practices in China that have hurt innovation and entrepreneurship. “Everything has focused on passing tests ... no intrinsic interest in education, only what you know to pass tests,” according to Zhao. 

 • We like these Conestoga huts that are being built as emergency shelters for homeless folks in Lane County. Perhaps this clever design could be put to good use elsewhere around the country and the world where people need waterproof, lockable shelters. A group gathered at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection Jan. 5 to assemble two of the huts to be used at the church property. The biggest need now is for more places to site dozens of the huts, according to Dan Bryant, pastor of the First Christian Church and board chair of Occupy Village Eugene (OVE). “Lots of folks are giving to build them, not so many are offering places to put them,” he says. Two business leaders spoke at the gathering, Tim Laue of Essex Construction, and Sue Scott of Scott and Sons Towing. Both talked about the benefits of having people camping in vehicles or huts on their properties. In addition to sites, donations of labor, building materials and money are still needed. Each hut costs about $400 to $500 to build. Checks can be sent made out to St. Vincent de Paul, designated for OVE and mailed to CALC, 458 Blair Blvd., Eugene 97402. Cornbread Cafe’s fundraiser is 4-9pm Jan. 13. Call 606-3480 or visit www.conestogahuts.org

• Good! It should be a sure thing that Chips Kelly will stay on the menu at the Wild Duck Café on Villard. Great chips. We’d hate to lose them.

• The fight to preserve Waldo Lake’s quiet, wilderness ambiance and clear waters is back and it might not go so well this time. Gas-powered motor boats are banned from the lake, thanks to a vote of the Oregon Marine Board last spring, but much noisier, more dangerous and potentially more polluting seaplanes are expected to get a friendly nod for Waldo, with some restrictions, from the Oregon Aviation Board. The OAV will meet, hear testimony and likely adopt recommended rules when it meets from 6 to 8 pm Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the Willamalane Center in Springfield. Complicating the issue is Oregon’s odd and inconsistent statutory language: A seaplane is a boat when it’s on the water and taxiing, but it’s an airplane when it’s landing or taking off. But is it a motor boat? What about the 10 mph speed limit on Waldo? Jurisdiction is a gray area, and the Marine Board is deferring to the Aviation Board. 

The big issues here are super noisy take-offs and the fact that seaplanes can crash and sink, causing huge pollution in a highly sensitive environment. Seaplanes have also been blamed for transporting invasive species. And back in 1994 a landing seaplane’s pontoons killed a mom and dad out for a family canoe paddle on the Willamette River, sparing their two children’s lives by inches. The email addresses of Aviation Board members can be found at http://wkly.ws/1eu

• Not that we need any more lurid descriptions of pedophiles ravaging small boys in this country, but the January issue of Harper’s magazine has a memoir too powerful to miss. It must have been an agonizing decision for Barry Lopez to tell the terrible story of his own brutal mistreatment from ages 7 to 11 in this national magazine. But he tells it with his usual precision and fine fidelity to detail. Lopez, who lives up the McKenzie River and is certainly the most famous writer in our region, has authored 13 works of fiction and non-fiction. In this piece, he really forces the reader to vow to do everything possible to prevent, expose and punish such crimes and their enablers. He also forces himself to confront the trauma of sexual abuse. Both are huge accomplishments.