Robert's House of Hamsters

Somewhere between Sacramento, the Oregon border and that tingly feeling in your toes.


Defending the numbers...

I do know that some people hate what I write with enough passion to waste an incredible amount of time in an attempt to disprove everything I say.

Take for example, this little rant about my tuition article:

Does somebody actually FACT CHECK LaHue's stories? First, he uses a biased pseudo-site to confirm his beliefs that PETA is bad. Next, he prints completely inaccurate tuition costs and odd math - how is $182 8% of $3,340? Even if you subtract the $182 from $3,340 and redo the math, it's still wrong. Check Princeton Review, you know, the people who post information about colleges? According to their, ahem, sources from the actual universities, LaHue is off by more than $2,000 on some, almost $4000 on others (year of U Texas at Austin - $6,786 compared to his inaccurate $8,860, U Wisconsin at Madison - $9,048 compared to $5,140). He fails to include out-of-state students' cost in his article as well - an 8% increase is a big deal when they pay $9,500 a year compared to other Chico State students' $3,200 (as reported by Princeton Review). Also, these universities are not comparable to Chico in selectivity or SAT scores. Come on, award-winners, CHECK THE FACTS BEFORE YOU PRINT THEM!!!!

Well, I think it's fair, in the interest of defending my credibility to explain my resources.

1) The exact amount of CSU fee increases- That information came from a press release from the Chancellor's office. The exact snippit states:
The annual State University Fee for resident undergraduates, and for students in CSU’s teacher credential programs will increase by 8 percent, or $186 and $215, respectively. Fees for graduate students will increase by 10 percent or $282.
I eliminated teaching credential fees in the article for space reasons. Also, there was a typo that didn't get caught--the $182 should have been $186.

2) Okay, so how did I come up with $3,340? Well, here's the thing- what you pay for classes is called tution and fees. The CSU increases deal with just tuition. This webpage on the CSU Chico Schedule site can explain this in detail.

Here's how it breaks down: This year, Chico State students will pay $1,577 in total tuition and fees each semester. But the CSU system is only responsible for $1,167 of those fees. Where is the remaining $410 coming from? Either from Chico State itself, or the Associated Students. Those are the various fees like the Student Union Fee, the Activity Fee, Health Services Fee, etc.

Those various fees are different throughout the CSU system, so each campus costs a different amount to attend. For example, Chico is less expensive than Cal Poly-SLO, but more expensive than Long Beach State.

The 8 percent increase will just be in $1,167 charged by the CSU each semester, because that's all they have authority over. Do the math from that: an 8 percent increase from $1,167 is $1260 (rounded off), a difference of $93 each semester. Mutiply that by two, and it comes out to $186.

To get $3,340, take the cost of all the tutition and fees this year at Chico State ($1,577 each semester x 2 semesters =$3,154) and add in that $186 increase to get $3,340.

4) Maybe the most crucial thing here: Where did I get my numbers for the other three universities. The Princeton Review was an option--but I felt in this situation, it would be better to not go with a third party source. Also, finding information on schools isn't PR's primary service- they're a company that sells test prep materials. That's their main business.

And probably the worst thing is, they're not citing where they got their information. How can I rely on that? It would be a bad move.

Instead, I opted to scan the website of the actual universities to see what they had to say. Besides, relying on one site for all my information would be sort of lazy, and if there's one thing I don't want to be, it's a lazy journalist.

The downside: a couple of these were from last year. But offsetting that with this being direct information from the university, I still considered that the best option.

University of Wisconsion-Madison Undergraduate Admissions

University of Connecticut Financial Aid website
University of Texas-Austin (I was actually refered to this page by a friend who actually attends UT! I also did a search from scratch in later days to confirm the validity of the information.)

So, there's my research. I hope this clears up any confusion...

New Article

This might stir up something from everybody, since I'm automatically supposed to say all tuition raises are bad because I'm in college. But what if I really believe it is the best thing to do?

Paying higher fees worth it for a better university


A map...

You know what we call this?

(credit: USA Today)


Well, next column up...

I'm online only this week, so you best read it here:

Trite ads supported by saps


More PETA stuff...

Man, you know, this is actually kind of sad. I've written like four columns on the most agressive election in recent American history, and I get more response for a damn PETA column?

Anyways, this letter was actually quite civil. So I gave it a civil response. This time, name withheld because I didn't ask for permission:


I'm writing in regards to your recent article on Peta. I found a link to your story on a Peta message board, and after reading some of the replies

["That's not nice...To write an article about it? What a waste of time for him, he's not stopping us. "

"you know...he is just mad cuz he knows he cant be as good as peta!!!!that fat butt.... "

and "karma will get him."]

, I have little doubt that you have received too many rude, childish letters, for which I'll take upon myself to apologize for. I'm sorry.

As I'm sure you have gathered, I am a member of Peta. I'm used to the criticism. But, if you don't mind, I'd like to rebut a few of your comments, and I promise I won't call you a "fat butt".

"The PETA-operated Web site lists medical charities and foundations that perform or fund medical research on animals in an encouragement to deny them donations. Among the groups PETA opposes are the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. So, if you were one of the more than 600 people who participated in Up 'til Dawn on Thursday, PETA hates you. If you had on a yellow bracelet, PETA hates you double." is a website to bring light to the charities that still use outdated animal testing in hopes that they will change their ways to better help people and the animals. Non-animal research methods that are available today are humane, more accurate, less time consuming, and less expensive than animal experiments, but, as we all know, change often comes slowly and many researchers are unwilling to switch to these superior technological advances. What really amazes me is the proven fact that animals and humans react much differently to testing and drugs, making most of these tests completely inaccurate. I won't drag this comment on much longer, but I recently saw a speaker on this topic in New Jersey, Dr. Jerry Vlasak. He is a vivisector-turned-animal rights activst who now speaks out against vivisection. A stastic he mentioned surprised even myself; 85% of all animal-testing results are simply thrown out because of the fact that they have no justification whatsoever.

Oh, and I promise I don't yell at any "Livestrong" wearers. =)

"PETA also exploits religion, claiming veganism is the only ethical Christian diet. Funny, I don't remember picking up a Bible and reading in Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-15 or John 6:1-15 that Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two blocks of tofu, even in some of the crappy newer translations."

Five loaves of bread and two blocks of tofu, I'd be pumped. Obviously you are completely correct. What Peta is basically stating is that, by their own set standards, Christians are in a way acting hypocritically by eating animals. They mandate kindness, mercy, compassion, and love for all God's creation. How is raising an animal in a crate too small to move about in, genetically altering its size to uncomfortably hold more weight, raising it inhumanely, horrifically slaughtering, and then eating its flesh being compassionate towards it? They're not claiming that Jesus was a die-hard vegan who's going to send every meat eater to hell, although I must admit, I'd get a good laugh out of Jesus with a "Meat is Murder" t-shirt.

I'll jump to the end to save some time..

"I'm not saying animal rights is necessarily bad. I'm just saying PETA isn't the way to go here. Their methods are ineffective. If you want to be vegan, go for it. You don't need PETA for that. Want to help animals? Get in the touch with the Butte Humane Society. "Think global, act local" applies in this situation."

Thank you, honestly. I was very impressed by this, usually writers like to throw in something like "If you're vegan, grow some balls and eat a cheeseburger. We didn't climb to the top of the food chain to eat tofu.." blah, blah. You made your point, but bashed the organization, not the animal rights community.

Now, I'm not saying I agree with everything else you said, I could go on forever, I absolutely love belonging to an organization like Peta. I just thought I'd try to shed some light on some of us more mature activists (okay, I am 18 and still love to sing along to Britney Spears.. but I like to think of myself as somewhat mature..) who like to spread our message in other ways than stickering meat packages and calling people who have another opinion "stupid" or a "fat butt".

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I'll look forward to hearing from you.
See, now if you take the time to write out something like this, I'll give you a decent response. :)

Here it 'tis:

Thank you for the *civil* letter. You're right, you are the first.

I actually had some moron send me a personalized titlehead in his email, which was nothing more than pitching his book.

You'd think someone who claimed to have a Ph.D would know how to type instead of copying and pasting his personal ad.

Anyhoo, looking over your letter, I do have the following to say.

+I know what message boards my column has been posted on. If these are the mentality of the people talking me down, I will be more than proud to keep my thoughts as they are, or more adamently.

+I would like to point out quite a few misconceptions. I'm quite sure most people I know will tell you I'm a very thoughtful, concerned, caring person. For all the animal lovers, one of the most difficult days of my life was when I was 14 years old and I was out on a cold January morning digging the grave for the fox terrier that was one of my closest friends my entire life. So to call me a rude, uncaring, callous ass is something I'm quite offended at.

+Half of what I would have liked to contribute towards the conversation (such as the blatent bias of, which I was fully aware of as I was writing the article) simply could not be put in due to space constraints. Due to the layout of The Orion's opinion section

+First off, Up 'til Dawn is one of the most popular student projects here at Chico State. Over 600 students participated this year. But, like I said, Caring Consumer has put the St. Jude's Children's Hospital (the direct benficiary of Up 'til Dawn, which took its name from the parents that would stay up all night with their gravely ill children) on their blacklist

As far as I'm concerned, any organization who would let children like this die over lab rats:

cannot be deserving of my consent.

Look at the name of St. Jude. In Catholicism, Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. This hospital takes in children who have virtually no hope of life whatsoever and gives them maybe the slimmest flicker of hope to live. It costs the families nothing. Operating St. Jude's takes $1 million each day. But organizations like PETA are hung up on a personal agenda and, like I said, would rather have children die than lab rats.

And whether or not you have should on LiveStrong bracelet wearers, the fact remains that Caring Consumer also calls for a blacklist of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It's a "guilt by association" concept. It's what I live with as a white male American Christian everyday.

+I had some trouble following your section on my Christianity talk. I grew up in a small town in northern California, where my family raised fowl as a hobby, and most of friends raised poultry or livestock of some kind. I find it safe to say that these animals had more room to manuver around in than I do nowadays in my small apartment as I go to college. Perhaps you're talking about large commercials farms. But even in most of these I've gone to, this hasn't been a significant problem. I would suggest attempting to make visits to these farms yourself (maybe a bit difficult in Jersey, I would imagine, but still worth attempting. Sorry if I'm jumping to any sort of conclusion here.) Nothing can really beat a firsthand experience. If you're still opposed, I cannot find any sort of fault there, but I feel as though some of the PETA arguments you've listened to may have some adjusting, too.

+No problem with the comments on veganism. I do have many, many friends who are vegans or mostly vegetarian. I'm not exactly a carnivore (lunch yesterday was a salad :D)

But the reason I came to respect them is because their decisions on their diet was thier own personal decisions. They weighed the advantages and disadvantages of each diet, and made their decisions. They also knew that the decisions I've made on my diet have been my own personal decision, and they respect that. But PETA doesn't do that. I'm an animal abuser for eating a slice of cheese. That doesn't fly with me. At all.

+To sum up the last part of your letter, like I said, I do not see anything wrong with promoting animal rights. I should also note, I don't see a total inherent wrong in the beliefs of animal equality. I don't agree with it and I do not see it as being logical, but that doesn't mean those who believe it are evil. However, PETA uses polarizing methods. I mean, for every person who sees a recently-triggered billboard campaign using Ronald Reagan's image (to Nancy Reagan's absolute disapporval, mind you) and attempting to say eating meat contributed to his Alzheimer's Disease, there's at least one who is offended by it, and will translate's PETA's wreckless actions to that of animal rights.

It's essential creating two violently oppsoing camps, and that's destructive.

Like I said, support animal rights if you wish, but PETA's polarizing tactics will not be the way to win. Therefore, my opposition stands.

Thanks for listening. I went on for a while. Sorry.

Robert LaHue

P.S. I will be posting this message on my blog ( If this could be posted in its entirity on the PETA2 website, I would appreciate it. I would like a fair shot to answer back to the comments against me civilly.