It's time to get something straight. I don't know what granola junkie techno-fascist Earth Day engineer designed the hand blowers that are replacing paper towels in public restrooms across the country, but I'd like to replace all the towels in his home with one of these mosquito-fart devices and see how long he tolerates it before he starts doing like the rest of us and drying his hands on his recycled cotton pants. The worst part is the little lecture that's written on the newer ones. You remember, the first one gave us directions, in case that big metal button on the front wasn't clue enough ("Push Button. Rub Hands Until Dry."). But soon every twelve year-old with a penny in his pocket was changing the directions to "Push Butt Rub a ss Until Dry." So then we just got a picture of a finger touching a button -- and we've seen the creative art that inspired. So now we get an environmental science lecture, about how the blower saves a tree, and is more sanitary than paper towels.
Since when did trees rate higher than human dignity? So long as Yellowstone has a tree standing, no American should have to huddle under one of these transgendered vacuum cleaners, pathetically rubbing his hands like a fly on a ham sandwich. What's more, who are they kidding with this sanitary nonsense? Which of my readers hasn't been dutifully washing his hands in a public restroom, only to look in the mirror and see some greasy tub of lard exit a newly polluted stall and stride right on out the door? Without paper towels, there's nothing between you and that contaminated door handle. So you have to stand there, trying not to look like a lurking pedophile, and wait for someone to come in and thereby free you from this feces prison, because for some reason bathrooms are immune from the fire code requiring doors to open outward.
Let's be honest about this. Restaurants put these things in because they're cheaper than paper towels. But they don't want to admit it, so they buy dryers with this eco-babble on the plate, to make me feel good about the fact that the waiter is hitting on my woman while I try to create fire between my palms. Pretty soon they'll start installing those Al Gore toilets, the ones that only use three tablespoons of water to flush, and then western civilization as we know it won't flush down the tubes, oh no, it will get stuck because there isn't enough counterweight in the tiny government-regulated tank. Meanwhile we'll be rubbing our hands down to bloody little nubs trying to get those beads of water to defy physics and disappear from our skin.
It's enough to make me give up public restrooms altogether. Don't be surprised to read that I've been arrested for relieving myself into a fish tank display at Wal-Mart.
We all know how to indicate that something isn't quite legitimate by putting quotation marks around it, as I've done in the title to this piece. Now check out yesterday's headline from Reuters News on the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, which forbids abortionists from murdering a child who survives an abortion (yes, Virginia, this happens, and the standard practice is to either kill the child or let him lie exposed until he dies):
--- Bill Passed Giving Rights to Infants "Born Alive" ---
In other words, according to Reuters, children born prematurely or through an attempted abortion who emerge breathing and grasping with their fingers are only "alive" according to some legal fiction. It might be closer to the truth to say that the "journalist" who wrote this piece, Julie Rovner, is "objective" only according to Reuters' increasingly questionable "standards."
Graduate teaching assistants at the University of Michigan are once again on strike. There is a sweet irony in seeing the misguided ideas of academia contribute to its disruption, though I'm sure the parents paying tuition would be unhappy to learn that the stated aim of the union is to shut down the university until they can extort more benefits and pay.
As a former graduate teaching assistant at UM, I can tell you what that pay was, at least a few years (and strikes) ago. In return for teaching a couple of hour-long discussion sections a week, the content for which is largely pre-determined by the professor, graduate teaching assistants receive a full tuition waiver (worth at least $11,000), virtually free health care, and pay amounting to about $15 an hour. On top of all that, virtually none of them can teach worth a darn.
Despite this relatively good treatment, the graduate student union goes on strike about once every other year, holds rallies at which they all sing the Communist Internationale, and fosters the delusion that its largely white upper class members have somehow immersed themselves in the class struggle.
The solution is simple. Have every graduate student sign a form during enrollment that gives the university the right to summarily expel him in the event that he engages in a strike. Of course that won't happen. It would encroach upon the equally distorted self-image of the university administration, which is that in acquiescing to the students' demands it is doing a good turn by the working classes. Everybody wins in this self-indulgent game.
Except, of course, the people who are paying the bills.
Paralyzed former actor Christopher Reeve testified before Congress yesterday in favor of stem cell research. He believes that this may one day help him and others like him. A quote from his testimony: "Our government is supposed to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people."
Today Charles Colson calls attention to a letter in The Washington Times that reveals the bankruptcy of Reeve's reasoning. The writer observes in a kind and roundabout way what I'll state more directly: if we lived in Reeve's world, we would unplug his respirator. It is only because we live in a culture that values individual life that people like him are cared for, rather than cast aside.
CNN reports that the Immigration and Naturalization Service notified a Florida flight school on Monday that two of the September 11 hijackers have received INS approval of their student visas. When questioned about this, an INS spokesman pointed out that the approvals came before September 11th.
In an article admiring recently deceased economist James Tobin, the malicious and deceitful Paul Krugman bemoans the passing of a time when "economic debate was both nicer and a lot more honest than it is today."
No word yet on whether Krugman will help revive this era by retiring.
Hospitals are a strange mix of caring, committed people and box-checking bureaucrats. The nurse who stayed with us for twelve hours of labor and post-delivery care, for example, did cleaning up and tending tasks that I won't describe here, and she did it all cheerfully, as if she actually enjoyed it.
The nurse during our evening stay, on the other hand, demanded that we track every diaper event on a little form. In the morning, she asked me to verify that Eli had indeed had the number of "poops" and "pees" (medical terms, I think) indicated by my handwriting. Up until that moment, I had assumed that she was simply taking no chances, and wanted to be sure that my son has well-functioning bowels:
Nurse: "Okay, so that's four poops and one pee, right?"
Me (gesturing to notes): "No, there's another pee at 6:40 pm."
Nurse: "That one doesn't count; my shift started at 7."
Me: "That's funny. The diaper seemed just as wet."
The next morning, the picture-taking woman came in to tell us that she would be taking our son for his picture:
Picture Lady: "You aren't obligated to buy any pictures, but the hospital still needs to take one. Here's a form that I need for you to fill out and sign."
Me: "That's interesting that there's a place for my signature. You made it sound like I don't have any choice."
Picture Lady: "We like to have the parents' consent, but we take the pictures without their consent if we need to."
Me: "So you come into the room and physically yank the infant out of his mother's arms even if she doesn't want you to?"
Picture Lady: "Well no, we don't do that. If a parent is absolutely opposed we won't take the picture, but (ominous tone) we make a note in your file that you refused the picture."
The file. This must be that Permanent Record my fourth grade teacher warned us about. You know all those guys in bright orange vests that you sometimes see gathered around a sewer hole? Bad Permanent Records.
Well, I certainly wasn't going to let my son begin life on the wrong foot, so I let the Nazi take the picture. She came back with twenty shots of Eli with his face squished up and his eyes squeezed shut, and asked us to choose which one would go into the file.
Wife (choosing randomly): "Um, that one."
Picture Lady: "Oh yes, that's a nice one."
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