02 January 2010

Some Quick Hits

1. The New York Times wonders when too many high school honors societies begins to diminish their value. Some students are apparently in as many as nine honors societies. My favorite line from the article: "But as honor societies have grown, some schools have screened out less serious students. At Florida’s South Miami Senior High School, the math society delays induction of new members until they fulfill a requirement for community service, and withholds honor cords from seniors who skip meetings, said Ileana Rodriguez, the activities director." What does community service have to do with mathematical ability? If your math honors society has too many members, why not screen out those who aren't as good at math?

2. Newark's Liberty Airport is going to get the full-body scanners. The images they give of your body are so precise that they have to be pixelated when shown on television. It would seem a rather invasive procedure, but many interviewed passengers don't mind, because they "have nothing to hide" and they'll put up with just about anything "as long as it keeps us safe." The NYT helpfully gives tips on how to avoid further delay. My favorite line from the article: An airport official recommends parents rehearse with children, so they know what to expect and don't get too scared when they go--alone--into the magnetometer. Yes, it is important to begin the training in obedience to government authority early. And they have to do it, because so many of the terrorists travel with their children.

3. An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal argues that the health care bill that recently passed the senate is unconstitutional. My favorite line: "America's founders intended the federal government to have limited powers and that the states have an independent sovereign place in our system of government." It's a nice effort--no, it really is. But that argument, along with the related claim that "The federal government may exercise only the powers granted to it or denied to the states," has been impotent, and thus irrelevant, to what the federal government does for many decades now.

1 comment:

sourdoughcoaster said...

Perhaps body scanners will increase the fervor with which Americans undertake diet and exercise.

Some people might object to the claim that we "have nothing to hide." What about those folds of fat?