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What in the hell were they thinking

Everything’s okay in Utah

“The Utah State Assembly has passed a resolution decrying climate change alarmists and urging ‘…the United States Environmental Protection Agency to immediately halt its carbon dioxide reduction policies and programs and withdraw its “Endangerment Finding” and related regulations until a full and independent investigation of climate data and global warming science can be substantiated.'”

Big Principal is watching you

I first learned about this bit of nonsense from a link to a boing boing article. The article begins:

According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools’ administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins’s child was disciplined for “improper behavior in his home” and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.

Apparently the student in question had a piece of candy sitting by his computer and the administrator spying on him thought it was a drug pill. The school is defending its actions, saying that they were just trying to recover mislaid computers, and that their failure to mention that they could remotely activate the built-in webcams surreptitiously was inadvertent. There is a good short article about the affair at law.rightpundits.com.

As the article says, the school is in a world of hurt. The local district attorney and the FBI are both looking into the matter. Civil libertarian types are duly outraged.

The whole thing is rather creepy. One immediately thinks of administrators watching students prancing around in the nude and the webcam pictures somehow getting out on the internet, and other ugly possibilities.

So what in the hell were they thinking? I wonder if there is something about being a school administrator that activates the totalitarian instinct, the need to know the details of what their charges are doing and control their actions, and the belief that anything they do is alright if it is in the service of that desire.

Back in the sixties I remember college officials arguing that they were acting on behalf of the parents and had the authority of the parents. (One author said European universities defended their students but did not try to control them, whereas American universities tried to control them but wouldn’t defend them.) Those days are more or less gone – if you are over eighteen it is acknowledged that you are a human being with civil rights. In the courts of law, that is. Many employers and schools take the view that the private lives of their thralls are subject to examination and control.

Life is less rosy for those under eighteen. Eighteen is that magic age at which you suddenly gain the wisdom to intelligently vote, sign binding contracts, and join the military. As I understand it, the legal theory is that the brain of a young human has a little clock in it that turns on different thought processes at different ages. The workings of this clock is mysterious. For example, at eighteen you are able to decide the fate of the country in elections but not able to decide to have a beer.

To be fair – and I am always fair – school administrators have a daunting task. We humans are little better than wild animals with a rather fragile gloss of civiliation. The young often lack civilization and civility, and are more like young animals that need training and domestication.

Be that as it may, it does seem that one of the consequences of yielding to the totalitarian impulse is a certain essential stupidity, a loss of the ability to appreciate the nature of your actions and how they will be perceived.

A tragedy in Washington

As I write, the Democrats (or at least some of them) are trying to retrieve some sort of health care bill from the trash bucket. If I understand the scheme correctly the idea is that the house will pass the senate version, send it to Obama to be signed, and then rewrite in a budget bill. You have to give them credit – they are trying to do this in broad daylight.

The Blinuc-Guaca Theory

In the name Blinuc-Guaca, lingua is embedded in Bucca. Translating from the Latin, tongue is in cheek.

Putdowns seen on usenet

One of the joys of usenet discussions are the demolishing putdowns. Witness this gem by Eric Sosman in response to a particularly inane bit of nastiness.
Unfocused, thoughtless aggression of this kind is often just the outward manifestation of a nagging physical discomfort. I’m sorry you’re in pain, but be brave: It will pass. As soon as you find a new spot for your head, you’ll sit much more comfortably.

Groundhog Day II

I explain to people that in South Dakota when the Groundhog sees its shadow that means that there will be six more months of winter.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

See the trailer on You Tube. There is so much history that they never taught me in school.

Orange County Idiocracy

The following comes from Slashdot:

“The LA Times reports that Orange County officials are locked in a legal battle with a couple accused of violating city ordinances for replacing the grass on their lawn with wood chips and drought-tolerant plants, reducing their water usage from 299,221 gallons in 2007 to 58,348 gallons in 2009. The dispute began two years ago, when Quan and Angelina Ha tore out the grass in their front yard. In drought-plagued Southern California, the couple said, the lush grass had been soaking up tens of thousands of gallons of water — and hundreds of dollars — each year. ‘We’ve got a newborn, so we want to start worrying about her future,’ said Quan Ha, an information technology manager for Kelley Blue Book. But city officials told the Has they were violating several city laws that require that 40% of residential yards to be landscaped predominantly with live plants. Last summer, the couple tried to appease the city by building a fence around the yard and planting drought-tolerant greenery — lavender, rosemary, horsetail, and pittosporum, among others. But according to the city, their landscaping still did not comply with city standards. At the end of January, the Has received a letter saying they had been charged with a misdemeanor violation and must appear in court. The couple could face a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for their grass-free, eco-friendly landscaping scheme. ‘It’s just funny that we pay our taxes to the city and the city is now prosecuting us with our own money,’ says Quan Ha.”

—- Hugh Pickens.

Apparently it has escaped the attention of the officials of Orange County that California has a water problem and that all of those lush lawns exacerbate the problem. What in the Hell were they thinking?

Recent activities

In the past month I agreed to traipse all over the country side delivering census forms. (In cities, i.e., urban centers with over 1000 population, they supposedly deliver forms; in rural America they are hand delivered.) Mind you, I am already driving Miss Daisy and her friends around and about these parts. Not content with that I adopted a cat, or, rather it adopted me.

What in the Hell am I thinking?

This page was last updated Mar 2, 2010.

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Collected editorials