The Ibuprofen Overreach

I’ve noted  before, in the Bush Chicken Hawk and  Bong Hits 4 Jesus cases, that students don’t park all their rights at the schoolhouse door, but everyone knows, and other court decisions have made clear, that minors don’t enjoy the full range of rights granted to adults (starting with the fact that by law,  kids must attend school up to a certain age;  adults, by contrast, can’t be forced to work or go to school).

Schools below the college level still have some of the old in loco parentis functions, and if administrators and teachers didn’t have the power to limit student freedoms in numerous ways (locker searches, for instance), schools in many cities would be even more unmanageable than they are today, if that can be imagined.

All that said, the Supremes were exactly right to rule 8-1 that strip-searching a middle school girl in search of Ibuprofen is just a wee bit excessive, though the school administrator’s actions in this case were so extreme, and so unlikely to be duplicated in many other schools, that it’s hard to see the case having a very widespread effect. Given our litigious ways today,  I can’t believe the principal was even able to find anybody who would conduct the search.


Sanford and the Boys: What Are They Thinking?

Again, as so often before, we must trot out the eternal question: What, what are these guys thinking?

Dunno, but here’s what they’re NOT thinking:

A. “You ’know, I’ve got a pretty good deal here–decent salary, lotsa perks, some power. . . why, reporters even listen when I talk.  Why would I wanna mess this up?”

B.  “Can I really trust  the thong-snapping intern/long-time staffer/dog-torturing crony/classy hooker/brother-in-law/would-be Senate-seat buyer forever?  What if these folks blackmail me or just get mad and decide to drop the dime?”

C. “What would my family/wife/children/parents/pastor/old friends think of me if I blackened my name in disgrace?”

D. “You know, this kind of behavior is just wrong.”

Sanford: Alpha-Male Idiots, Media Disgrace

A drum roll, please, as we add Mark  Sanford to the Clinton-Spitzer-Edwards-Ensign-Vitter-Craig Parade of Alpha-Male Idiots that’s been a regular feature on this blog. Again I shake my head, dumbfounded: What  possesses people who already have so much to arrogantly, blindly  grab even more?

Their collective autobiography title: Insatiable. As Springsteen sings in “Badlands”:

Poor man wanna be rich,

Rich man wanna be king,

And the king ain’t satisfied ’till he rules everything.

But as loathsome as Sanford is, as hypocritical as he is for voting to impeach Clinton for his sexual gamesmanship, then subjecting his own family to worldwide ridicule, there’s got to be an even hotter  circle of hell for the media leeches who have now printed the private e-mails between Sanford and his Argentine flame.

I’ve been a journalist for more than 20 years, so I know he’s a public figure and I know he has no legal recourse, and some of the e-mails were sent on state equipment, yeah, yeah,  but this is doubly disgraceful. Not only does it  add more pain and humiliation to Sanford’s family, it drags the most private thoughts of a man and woman into the voyeuristic glare. What “right to know”  justifies this? What public good does it serve that outweighs the damage done?  This reminds me of scenes in  Orwell’s 1984, where Winston Smith learns that Big Brother’s reach has no boundaries.

I would never have published these e-mails. I’m not even posting a link to them. What a lousy day for journalism.

Summer Solstice Garden Report

Given the problems underscored in the gag-inducing documentary Food, Inc., discussed here the other day, it’s clear we need alternatives to this out-of-control food behemoth.

One such step is growing some of your own food if your circumstances and energy permit. As I’ve mentioned in several posts, I’ve been planting a garden for the past nine springs. I think the payoff is well worth it, as discussed in this radio commentary, but as they say about old age, gardening ain’t for sissies.

Or at least it ain’t on the sun-ruled  acres of North Texas. The instructions on packets of vegetable  seeds always say: “Plant in full sun. Needs at least 6-8 hours of direct sun a day.” And I’m thinking: Uh, yeah, if you’re somewhere in northern Iowa or Central California, maybe.

Of the 19 tomatoes I planted in late March, about 15 have borne some fruit so far, but given the conditions they’ve had to face, I think I should pin medals on them instead of eating them. After moderate temps and decent rain in May, June rolled in like a blast furnace. The past week, we’ve had cloudless skies and 95-98 degree highs, and the forecast for the next week calls for 100 degrees every day.

From my experience, that’s just too much heat too soon for most tomato types. A few varieties such as HeatWave and Sunmaster are supposed to be able to set fruit in 95-plus, but I only planted two or three of those this year, preferring the size and taste of Supersonic, Celebrity, Early Girl and others.  And several of those, alas, are starting to show signs of heat strain usually not seen until late July or August. At the solstice, I’m predicting a small to moderate yield this year–enough to fill our plates for a couple of months  but probably not enough to give away to friends and neighbors, which is part of the fun.

As for other garden survivors, the green and yellow  peppers are coming in nicely, though they’ll be better in a month.  The cucumbers are almost burned to a crisp–third straight year of cuke-flop– and  the eggplant has put out several tasty purple specimens. The okra, one of my favorites, looks great, but the heat is causing the okrettes, or whatever they’re called,  to harden fast if they’re  not picked almost daily. And to my surprise, the watermelon is spreading out like crazy. Could this be the year?

So, as noted, it’s always something, a continuing mystery. This spring ritual always deepens my respect for the people who are in this thing with all their chips, trying to pull a living out of the soil. If my little plot fails, I roll off to the grocery store, but for millions of people around the world, freakish weather or an insect invasion can mean disaster.

“Food, Inc.” is Hard to Swallow

I didn’t think anything could make America’s Industrial-Caloric Big Food/Corporate Farming Complex less appetizing than Eric Schlosser’s book Fast Food Nation. But now comes Food, Inc., a documentary that, according to early reviews, may have us exploring the option of never eating again. One troubling review is here.

We really have cooked up a dilemma here. With a population as large as ours, some kind of industrial farming/food production seems almost unavoidable, and yet, as Fast Food Nation and this film demonstrate, the sheer size of the industry and the astonishing amounts of food that must be produced almost demand environmental damage, cruelty to vast herds of animals, subhuman working conditions, and a “race to the bottom” cost-cutting mentality that sometimes puts health and good nutrition second to profits.

Food Inc. reminds us, among other things, that cows never evolved to eat corn, which is what they’re stuffed on in the factory farms. The result is that the typical cow gut teems with deadly E. coli bacteria, so the animals must be constantly pumped up with antibiotics to prevent disease. Hello, frequent recalls of ground beef and  all kinds of tainted products.

What are the alternatives? We have this gigantic population, most of whom live in the cities, many of whom don’t have any land for gardening. It’s heartening to read that in World War II, about 40% of the country’s food was produced in small “victory gardens,” but imagine the personal changes and difficulties that would be required to approach that number again.

Obviously, this is yet another argument for embracing a vegetarian diet. The mass production of vegetable and grain products isn’t perfect, but it’s the picture of sanity and cleanliness compared to the meat biz. A recent update on my ongoing vegification  efforts is here.

Blogger’s Shame: “I Was So Wrong About Twitter!”

Okay, okay. I thought I was so smart in ridiculing Twitter.  I thought, “Why would I care about getting a 140-character blippette,  or whatever it is, from somebody stopping by Burger King for a double cheeseburger?”

I mocked. I sneered.

But now that  Twitter has proven so valuable in the Iranian sorta-revolution that the U. S. State Department asked the service to stay up the other day rather than shut down for maintenance, I give up! I give up! Never have so many said so much to so many in so few words.

In fact, if you’ve signed up with Twitter, as I did, though I have yet to Tweet, you can follow the Iranian action on this feed live from Tehran.

Twitter rules. Start following me at sosowrongabouttwitter tomorrow.