Monday, March 28, 2005

Recent commentary: What to ban?

If you could ban something, what would it be?

(published 28-Mar-2005, Appleton Post-Crescent)

Is this thing on? Test! One. Two. Three. OK. Broadcasting live from your newspaper! Today’s Reader Reaction Forum topic: “If you could ban something, what would it be?” First up is Mr. Steve Erbach of Neenah. Steve is a self-employed confuser programmer … What? Oh, sorry, computer programmer ... with something to say about today’s topic. Steve? Thank you, Merv. I gotta say, it’s a privilege to be able to tell the good people of the Fox Valley what they can expect from me in the way of banning the most annoying thing that everybody hates. What an honor! So, here we go! The thing that I would most like to ban is ... What?! I only get 150 words to do this?! Hey, wait a second! That’s not fair! Merv used up a lot of my words! You can’t do this to me! Don’t turn the page yet! Please! Wait! NOOOooo...

Friday, March 25, 2005

I love stories like this XX

For the twentieth version of this topic a story that even I, who have made it a point to seek out stories like this, find incredible. Would you believe that a public school teacher, Wayne Brightly (stunningly ironic name), paid a formerly homeless man with a developmental disability to take the New York state teacher's exam for him? And would you also believe that the homeless guy scored so much better than the teacher did that the state got suspicious? And would you believe that the homeless guy is white and fat and that the teacher is black and slim? Wait! There's more! When the New York Daily News went to Mr. Not-So-Brightly's house to interview him, the teacher claimed that he was the son of the man they were looking for. And, to top it all off, 95% of all NY teachers pass the certification exam. A story rich in delights. It's all here for your reading delectation.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Recent commentary: Renewing the PATRIOT Act

Should Congress renew the USA Patriot Act?

(published 7-Mar-2005, Appleton Post-Crescent)

John Adams said that it's more important "that innocence should be protected than it is that guilt should be punished." That certainly goes against our Judeo-Christian heritage of retribution for crime. Exactly what crimes are we retributing with this monster? The PATRIOT Act contains a lot of language like: "(ii) in paragraph (2)(B), by striking the period and inserting '; and'; and (iii) by inserting at the end the following..." This verbiage amends the federal laws. Therefore you cannot make heads or tails out of it without having that whole lot next to you when you read the PATRIOT Act just to determine whose ox gets gored. I'm with Russ Feingold on this one. The best part of the USA PATRIOT Act is Title II Sec. 224(a): "...this title...shall cease to have effect on December 31, 2005." Take it out behind the barn and kill it with an ax.

Friday, March 04, 2005

I love stories like this XIX

Two stories, actually, from our government-funded public zoos....uh, schools. First, a female high school teacher of physiology and anatomy plunged a knife through a stack of papers on a student's desk. No arrests. No clue where the knife came from, though I wonder if it was a scalpel for dissection.

Second, another grade school child led away in handcuffs. Now, granted, the kid was throwing a fit and knocking over desks and such. He even head-butted his teacher and kicked an assistant principal. But, gosh, folks! He was led away in handcuffs by the police! How old was he? Eight years old. Like, a 2nd or 3rd grader, eh? I wonder if mom and dad had to come to the station to get him. Handcuffs, ladies and gentlemen. On an eight-year-old.