The Mark Side of UCSB: Chancellor Never Ceases to Amaze

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A man appeared at the doorway of the office where I was working, appeared so suddenly and silently you’d have thought he’d just popped out of the ground. His eyes were light, bright and sparkling behind spectacles. This man’s name was Chancellor Henry T. Yang.

Many students only get a glimpse of Chancellor Yang either at their New Student Convocation or during their commencement ceremony. Some have taken his Mechanical Engineering class and yet others have unknowingly come across both the chancellor and his wife, Dilling, as they walk around Isla Vista on Halloween. The obvious reason for this being that he spends much of his time either in Cheadle Hall or traveling on UCSB-related issues.

This time, much like the other few times I’ve talked with Chancellor Yang, was completely out of the blue. Like clockwork I found that I had difficulty trying to have a regular conversation with him. It’s because I can never figure out whether to be intimidated by his authority or dumbstruck that he’s a person just like the rest of us. To this day I’m still amazed that he even knows who I am. I always figured the only students he would know are the ones he interacts with on a regular basis, such as members of Associated Students.

I’ve always wondered why so many people - especially Associated Students and their affiliated groups - come to Chancellor Yang to solve their problems. Why do activists inevitably end up storming Cheadle Hall, asking for his involvement in their causes? Why do they even need to personally meet with him in order to propose that Building 434 be used to house several A.S. entities and projects? You’d think their faith in UCSB’s bureaucratic process and raised awareness of issues would be enough to enact change. When it’s not, then it’s off to see the chancellor.

I wouldn’t blame them. Aside from Chancellor Yang’s actual position, he also has a pretty extensive background in other fields. He’s been involved in varying degrees with the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Engineering, the Defense Science Board and NASA. It’s amazing to even ponder the amount of influence this man potentially has and what he’s capable of accomplishing. When the Cedarwood tenants were evicted, Chancellor Yang helped start a fund for them. When a student and a professor were arrested at last week’s protest, Chancellor Yang went to the jail and quite possibly prevented the two from having to spend the night behind bars.

It’s difficult to describe the exact role Chancellor Yang plays in our lives as students. I’ve heard some describe him as UCSB’s biggest cheerleader. He passionately promotes the university with pride and attends away sports games when given the chance. I’ve also heard him described as the acting parent of the students. In some ways, he is. When looking for a responsible acting entity over the students, it’s easiest to look at the top. Not to take away from the accomplishments and responsibilities of the rest of the administration staff, but for better or worse, Chancellor Yang serves as the public face of UCSB.

The best way I can describe Chancellor Yang is that he’s Albus Dumbledore and we’re all mischievous students of Hogwarts. Although we rarely get a chance to see him, there is no doubt that he’s looking out for our best interest. He is, after all, even ready to magically transport himself back to Santa Barbara if need be. Who knows how much change Chancellor Yang could enact on the university and surrounding communities if he were so inclined? The fact that he doesn’t get directly involved every single time at least shows that he has some faith in our abilities. In a better world, there wouldn’t be a need for someone like Chancellor Yang. But until that happens, it’s comforting to know that there is still someone like him watching over us when things get really bad.

Daily Nexus columnist Mark Batalla hopes Chancellor Yang will not meet the same fate that Dumbledore may or may not have come to.

Finished Colors

Friday, February 23, 2007

Here's the final scheme I came up with. I probably could've worked on it more but I've gotta refocus my attention on other projects. I'm still not sure whether I like keeping the black lines or replacing them with dark tones.

Posted by Batalla at 4:57 PM 0 comments  


Here's an article written by Jeff Gibson about a salvia session he had with me and Nick Durnhofer:

Legal Salvia Highs Trip Out Users
Drug’s Intense High First Used for Visionary Benefits

“Is this shit ever going to do anything to me?” I asked.

I tried to step out of the metallic Volkswagen Beetle as the solar system spiraled around the vertical axis of my tunnel vision. Plumes of a red orange cloud began enveloping my hippie spacecraft until I realized we were plummeting through Jupiter’s upper atmosphere. The journey here was instantaneous. Five minutes before, I had been surrounded by the Viet Cong and engaged in an epic firefight beneath the rainforest canopy.

Apparently I had spoken too soon.

That was my first trip on salvia, way back in high school in my buddy’s vine-infested backyard. Back then, I had never even heard of the salvia plant, or Salvia divinorum as its known in the scientific community, and I hadn’t the faintest idea about its psychedelic effects. We just picked up a gram of 25X on Telegraph Avenue, sprinkled some on top of a bowl then snapped away. And the best part - this shit was legal.

While my knowledge of salvia’s past has slowly evolved from ignorance into a database rivaling Erowid’s vaults, I still haven’t found much solid research on the currently legal drug. While the herb is only native to the Sierra Mazatec area of Mexico, the history of the psychotropic Salvia divinorum, and the psychoactive effects its active principle salvinorin A, can be accurately dated back to the early 20th century when scientists documented the medicinal and visionary properties claimed by the area’s natives. In 1938, anthropologist Jean Johnson wrote that native Mazatec shamans used the plant’s psychological benefits to find lost objects, chewing the leaves for extended periods of time to absorb the principle - the most powerful natural psychoactive known to man - into the bloodstream.

It is not known how long the Mazatec have been using salvia in this manner, but it is rumored that the drug first made its way to the United States in the early 1960s. Yet, while the Mazatec would chew the leaves of the salvia plant to get their fix for extended periods of time, the most common form sold nowadays in American head shops comes as an extract of the plant ranging in potencies. Since salvinorin A does not chemically resemble any other known controlled substances like cannabis or hallucinogens, the United States Congress has yet to ban the drug nationally - despite Missouri’s statewide prohibition and New York’s recent, yet futile, attempts to ban it.

Smoking the extract usually results in short periods of hallucination, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to almost an hour, and has been used as a successful antidepressant for some. The actual effects range from person to person, even from trip to trip. Since it requires a large amount of salvinorin A to be absorbed into the bloodstream in order to experience the hallucinations, users can have widely different experiences if they do not inhale enough of the vaporized principle or if they exhale the smoke before it can be absorbed by the lungs. I witnessed this firsthand the other night, when our trio of journalistic journeymen discovered these alternate realms of reality.

“Why are you laughing?” Nick spurted as he lay prostrated on my bedroom floor, still clutching the pipe he had just recently hit. He spouted something about the room closing in on him, his mind converging on the vanishing point of the surrounding objects bending into oblivion.

Mark and I couldn’t stop laughing. While Nick was babbling something about voices repeating inside his head, Mark was hearing sound reverberations on the couch and I was enthralled by an evil skateboard protruding into my subconscious, whispering a dark warning to stay the fuck away. At least I retained some traces of common sense though - I knew I couldn’t skateboard to save an ounce of weed. Nick was tripping balls imagining that Mark and I were divine Sirens luring him into a permanent hallucinogenic state. I had been there before, though. I couldn’t relate completely with Nick’s analogies, but I understood the sudden burst of power he was under. I understood that you have to accept anything your subconscious will throw at you. So if you want to try salvia, stop by I.V. Deli Mart to pick some up. Trust me, you’re in for one hell of a ride, but only if you hold it in long enough.

Daily Nexus columnist Jeff Gibson couldn’t turn in his column on time because he was on salvia and convinced that his computer was Satan.

Posted by Batalla at 2:11 AM 0 comments  

Work in Progress

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I'll probably finalize coloring next week.

Posted by Batalla at 8:39 PM 0 comments  

The Mark Side of UCSB: Recreation Assists University Students

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Remember back in the day when we used to sign up for classes just for the hell of it? Or how about joining sports for the fun of playing? Metal shop, home economics and beginners’ art may not have counted much towards graduating, but they certainly made high school more interesting. With pass times coming around, it’s time to start looking at the extracurricular possibilities UCSB has to offer.

Obvious ones include Sociology 152A, Human Sexuality, and Music 114, Music and Pop Culture. If you want something unique, I strongly recommend everyone to take Art Studio 7A, Art and Life, at some point before leaving UCSB. If you’ve ever wondered about all those students setting up weird displays on campus during Spring Quarter, this is the reason. Students are urged to adopt some sort of persona different from their normal self. As the quarter progresses, they take part in various projects meant to develop this persona. It all culminates in the outdoor installation project and the final exam where everybody shows up to lecture in character. It’s quite easily the most surreal experience you’ll ever have short of taking mind-altering chemicals.

There are also options outside of GOLD enrollment. The Recreation Center has a wide range of classes including sports, martial arts, dance and even wine tasting. These usually require a fee but, then again, the price you pay is considerably less than you would for textbooks anyways. The Rec Cen classes are more conveniently scheduled later in the day and on weekends. You won’t have to worry about having to go in and out of lecture while sweaty or carrying bulky sports equipment.

Take things a step further by getting some friends together and organizing an intramural sports team. My best memories of the various sports I’ve played weren’t related to scores. Instead, it was the chance to mess around in the face of competition. Be warned, the Nexus staff scrounges together a sports team every year. We’re there to have fun and anybody that keeps us from having a good time will get properly trounced.

For those looking for some old school sports, just head over to Storke Plaza some time. KCSB 9.19 FM’s DJ Fatkid, Maggie Muldoon and company are bringing recess back every Sunday through Thursday. If there aren’t any events going on around Storke Plaza, show up around noon for some pick up games of dodgeball, kickball, four square, etc. Join their group on Facebook to keep up to date.

Extracurriculars aren’t limited to classes in which you can enroll classes. Over the past couple of nights, I’ve been attending software workshops offered by Instructional Computing. They’re only about two hours long, so the workshops can’t possibly get into the intricacies of the various applications they’re about. However, I didn’t go to them expecting to learn everything. The workshops exist to help spark interest in their respective subject matter and on that front they succeed. There are other organizations like Cotillion Dance Club and Kapatirang Pilipino that also offer their own workshops. Just take a look at the campus calendar of events at for listings.

These activities may or may not help any of your requirements. That’s not the point. Students need to slow down and enjoy college at a leisurely pace. For the amount of money we pay for tuition, we should participate in these opportunities while they’re right in front of us. If you think it’s hard finding time for extracurricular activity now, imagine what it would be like in the nine-to-five world.

Daily Nexus columnist Mark Batalla is a kickball all-star.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Bringing Sexy Back

Saturday, February 10, 2007

One would think walking into a dim theater to watch various sex workers perform would bring some type of guilty connotation. That was not the case for the Sex Workers’ Art Show in the Multicultural Center.

Annie Oakley founded the show to expose the human side of sex work such as stripping and prostitution through artistic performance. Their acts included songs, monologues, and dance numbers. Overall, the show had a great flow, alternately building up momentum with frenetic acts and slowing down with mellow performances.

Bridget Irish kicked things off by handing out potatoes to the audience. She then had them thrown back and attempted to catch them all in her pantyhose. The curvaceous Dirty Martini came out with a fabulous fan and feather display and returned later with strip dance tribute to the working girl. She magically pulled dollar bills out of nowhere to replace each article of clothing she took off. C Snatch Z came out with an intense performance, shredding a lemon on a grater as if it were an electric guitar. She rocked out so hard that she caused a wardrobe malfunction.

Easily the highlight of the show was redheaded bombshell Jo Weldon. I can only describe her as equal parts Jessica Rabbit, Morgan Webb and Elvira. She asked for a volunteer to step up for an impromptu lesson on stripping technique and etiquette.

The show wasn’t composed entirely with flashy numbers. It did contain a lot of emotion as shown by performers Amber Dawn, Kirk Read, Reginald Lamar and Stephen Elliott. These individuals recounted their experiences with abuse, prejudice and heartbreak. Despite these difficulties, they have been able to persevere and rounded the show with their universally human displays. The highly receptive audience came out that night with more respect for sex work - understanding that the separation between these performers and any other individuals is nonexistent.

The Mark Side of UCSB: UCSB Community Embraces Sexuality

Friday, February 09, 2007

I usually spend my Monday nights watching half-naked men beat the hell out of each other on WWE Monday Night Raw. This week I opted to attend the Sex Workers’ Art Show in the MultiCultural Center. Sitting there in the densely packed, dimly lit theater made me realize something. When it comes to sexuality, which I would like to differentiate from sexual activity, we should all count ourselves lucky for attending UCSB.

Last Monday certainly wasn’t my first experience around sex workers and I doubt it will be my last. As for the rest of the audience, they responded enthusiastically to each performer. Being surrounded by other people interested in learning more about sexuality in a mature manner made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Was this what it feels like to be sexually empowered? Enlightened? Whatever it was, it certainly felt good.

Each successive performer brought back notable memories I’ve had at this university in regards to sexuality. Starting as early as freshman orientation in Campbell Hall, the audience was treated to a demonstration of proper condom use. I saw the display for what it was - a lesson in sexual responsibility rather than a signal for promiscuity, as the person next to me thought. From that moment I knew this campus had something special going for it.

Last year, Playboy published an issue containing several UCSB students. Days afterward there was a screening of “Porn Nation” in Corwin Pavilion, a multimedia presentation discussing the negative aspects of pornography. Finally, during the same quarter, a student could enroll in a Film and Media Studies Pornography Genre class. Professor Constance Penley, one of the most notable researchers of pornography, lectures the class every year. That juxtaposition of events and perspectives doesn’t just happen anywhere.

The Daily Nexus serves as another example. Many people take for granted the existence of the Wednesday Hump. Complaints this year range from objection over the use of the word “butt-slut” to over 300 criticisms concerning Jenny Paradise’s authority to write about cunnilingus on These people need to realize Jenny had the rare opportunity to join other collegiate sex columnists around the nation for a roundtable discussion with Dr. Drew. She’s been kind enough to write every week, not to uphold a strict approach to sex, but rather to promote more dialogue about sexuality.

There isn’t a single definitive way to experience sexuality in UCSB. That’s how it should be. Taking Sociology 152 is a good start for many students. The course includes a wide range of topics while spending enough time to help address various sexual myths and questions many students have. Students can also choose to talk with UCSB’s own Sex and Relationship Interns for more specific and personal issues. From there people can branch out to other classes in Women’s Studies or Queer Studies. There are also organizations like Students Stopping Rape and Take Back the Night that are committed to making UCSB safer from sexual crimes.

That being said, it’s also unfortunate that not enough people make use of the resources and events they come across. A relatively tame sex life or even one of abstinence shouldn’t excuse a person from learning about sex and sexuality. There is no acceptable justification for ignorance. UCSB already has a notorious reputation in regards to sexual activity. While a more knowledgeable grasp of sexuality might not eradicate sexual crime, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Daily Nexus columnist Mark Batalla accidentally taped over his porn tape with Monday Night Raw, and coincidentally, he did not have to change the label on his VHS tape.

Marked Off

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Mark Side of UCSB: Discussion of Nexus Fails Intended Mission

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Last Wednesday afternoon, El Congreso decided to hold a town meeting to discuss the offensive nature of the Daily Nexus toward campus diversity. I walked into the theater expecting an honest dialogue. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the meeting to degenerate into an emotional blame fest. In retrospect, it’s easy to see why.

Holding the event in the Multicultural Center Theater might have seemed symbolic, but I believe a better venue could have been chosen. Thousands of students plus any other residents in the area would potentially have attended a true town meeting had it been held in either I.V. Theater or Embarcadero Hall. Instead, only a few dozen people showed up. Half of them were from the Nexus staff and they hadn’t received any formal invitation to the event. Among the remaining dozens of attendees, only the same six or so individuals spoke out. How can I take the meeting seriously if there weren’t enough people to fill the relatively small MCC Theater?

As for the speakers themselves, I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. As more time passed, the meeting became less of an opportunity to offer constructive criticism as a chance for some to blame the Nexus for their personal failures and offended morals.

One individual brought up how humiliating it felt to see a Conquest advertisement after spending thousands of hours fighting that company. To me, this is tantamount to a religious right activist complaining about an advertisement for a UCSB lecture on evolution. I’m sure it doesn’t make them feel good either, but what gives them the right to prevent other people from being exposed to it? A newspaper running an advertisement does not negate a group’s entire cause. Any individual that feels that way should reconsider being an activist. There are far worse obstacles to a cause than a passive advertisement, especially one regarding their activities.

Another person felt she was wronged because her response to an offending column did not run. She pointed out two days later that a similar response ran, but from a white student. Her letter didn’t get printed so she blames it on racism. First of all, how did she know the writer was white? Second, why does it matter? Third, if another writer feels the exact same way, shouldn’t she be glad that other people agree with her viewpoint? Instead, her argument became a matter of pride.

Eventually complaints also boiled down to matters concerning the Weatherhuman’s edgy sense of humor, opinion articles and advertisements. Again, these are valid complaints, but targeting the editorial staff for these offenses is misguided. How hard is it to understand that there is a separation between news coverage, opinion articles and advertisements? The editorial staff abstains from censoring opinions in order to ensure everyone’s right to free speech and maintain an open forum. A newspaper cannot have journalistic integrity if it segregates or censors such material. It would further be impossible to determine the moral compass that guides these decisions. Each individual is offended by a different subject matter and may not represent the viewpoint of the rest of the community.

The only nugget of constructive criticism that could be gleaned from the event was the complaint that the Nexus should cover more cultural events around campus as opposed to say, Pike Fraternity’s Fight Night. That was an honest critique that certainly carries merit and can be worked on by the staff.

I commend El Congreso for setting up the dialogue, but it still left much to be desired. It wasn’t the organizer’s fault that the meeting was close to a complete waste of time. The poor turnout and even poorer vocal representation did not resolve any issues. The meeting had the best of intentions, but then again, when have the best intentions gotten anything done? Hopefully in the future, more productive dialogues can exist between the newspaper and the readers.

Daily Nexus columnist Mark Batalla takes to heart what you say.

Fresh Ink

Monday, February 05, 2007