March 16, 2010
(datelines March 6-March 13) (links correct as of March 16)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
"To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle"—George Orwell
"A little learning is a dangerous thing"—Alexander Pope
"Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns"—Rome Daily Inquirer, 7-18-64A.D.
Texas Public School Officials Set to Inbreed Knowledge: A solid majority of the state's Board of Education don't much believe in "evolution" or in "separation of church and state" or in the weaknesses of capitalism, and they are determined that their own kids, and all other Texans', learn the correct things. They are in the process of prescribing the content for the state's textbooks (as opposed to what other states do, which is to select among what scholars in the relevant fields write). New York Times
Possibly joining the Texas Board of Education soon is a genuine cipher candidate, Tony Cunningham, who won a district's Republican primary with 58 percent of the vote, even though the Party establishment knew nothing about him (which in one sense makes him perfectly well qualified to write school textbooks). Plus, Cunningham admits to filing for the office only because he mistakenly thought it was a paid gig–based on numbers on the back of the form, which were actually a schedule of fees.) San Antonio Express-News
Sticks and Stones and Words May Break My Bones: The county school board chairman in St. Petersburg, Fla., called the gang of disruptive kids that made life miserable for teachers and students in one middle school "hoodlums"–a word that for some reason created waves of indignation among community leaders who specialize in becoming offended. Hence, based on the whims of a few, another perfectly serviceable dictionary word nears retirement. St. Petersburg Times
The Continuing Campaign to Make Americans Perfect: New York state Assemblyman Felix Ortiz of Brooklyn introduced legislation to prohibit restaurant chefs from adding salt to their dishes. Whatever is individually virtuous must be mandatory. WNEW-TV (New York City)
A New York Times investigation found that the federal government has given more than $100 billion in the past decade to U.S. companies while they continue to do business with Iran (while the U.S. government tries to get other countries to crack down on such companies). New York Times
A Miami Herald-St. Petersburg Times investigation found at least 86 illegal immigrants occupying beds in the F State's limited mental health facilities–thus denying space to actual home-grown citizen-incompetents, who are on a long waiting list. Could the illegals be deported? Maybe not. Although they have only the weakest of legal standing, their advocates can almost always say insane immigrants would be treated worse back home and therefore the lovable, benevolent U.S. can't send 'em back without violating their "human rights." Miami Herald
We know now what President Obama means when he talks about our health care system's wasting money on "needless" tests. Take, for instance, the battery of expensive tests that he just had for his annual physical. At age 48 and in magnificent health (except for that smoking thing), he still got a full battery, as if he were at risk for several bad things (according to experts interviewed by the Associated Press). [ed.: OK, the President of the United States is entitled to deluxe medical "care"–but the distinction between "care" and "tests" is central to the cost-reduction that is at the heart of the Obama reforms.] Associated Press via AOL
Greek workers took to the streets to demand that the government, on the verge of bankruptcy, not touch their pensions! These pensions include "early" retirement (age 50 for women, 55 for men) for 580 "dangerous" occupations, including radio and TV announcers (bacteria on the mics!–seriously) and musicians who play wind instruments (gastric reflux!–seriously). The European Union is called on to bail the Greeks out, but Germans in particular (retirement age: 67, going up) object. (Bonus: Greece's "national debt," "officially" 113 percent of gross domestic product [that's high!] is really 875 percent if you add "future obligations.") (Double Bonus: For the U.S., the numbers are 83 percent and 500 percent, respectively.) (Triple Bonus: But we knew all of that long ago–that if Congress had to comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, the federal government would be functionally broke–and its leaders by now probably saying hello every morning to Enron's Jeffrey Skilling.) New York Times
[Weird 2.0 is a kinda-upmarket rendition of News of the Weird / Pro Edition. No perverts, no drunks, no stupid criminals. Just scary important stuff.]