Friday, December 22, 2006

The Lightning Round:
Returning The Gifts Of Freedom

We at The Lightning Round constantly monitor the shortsighted, gradual surrenders of liberty in the name of security. Another survey gives us reason for concern.

USE THEM OR LOSE THEM. USA Today reports wilting support for the First Amendment among youth, according to a study funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation:
The new survey finds that 45% of students, up from 35%, believe the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. Yet questions about specific freedoms show that support for some speech and press freedoms is essentially unchanged or up slightly:

• 30% (down from 32%) say the press has too much freedom.

• 69% (down from 70%) say musicians should be allowed to sing songs with lyrics that may be offensive to others.

• 54% (up from 51%) say newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval.

• 64% (up from 58%) say high school student newspapers should be allowed to report controversial subjects without the approval of authorities.
The numbers appear to be moving in the right direction, but 54% is much too low for our patriotic persuasions.

Perhaps an educational experiment is in order, in the spirit of the landmark classroom test devised by elementary-school teacher Jane Elliott to teach students about the stigma racism. Perhaps if we took away MTV, banned iPods, MySpace, and blogs for a few days, and installed filters on all classroom computers to limit students' surfing to a few government-approved websites, maybe we'd see a few more minds change.

The Lightning Round honestly believes experience is the best teacher, especially when it comes to our heritage and the rights that evolved from it.

OFF KILTER. Thousands of Scottish troops are sharing kilts because of a shortage of the ceremonial tartans. The problem isn't in the material, it's in the bureaucracy.

From the AP:
New kilts are needed for all Scottish soldiers following the August 2006 merger of centuries-old regiments into a single Royal Regiment of Scotland.

"A planned deployment of kilts will be agreed with the Royal Regiment of Scotland on a roll-out basis with ... the full program being completed by January 2008," a Ministry of Defense spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.
And a proper Scottish kilt isn't stamped out in seconds.
The 320 kilts provided so far have been supplied by Argyll Bagpipes and Kilts on a trial basis. The full contract is worth up to $1.95 million, taking two years to complete and will involve 15,000 yards of fabric.
Why not just order something from Sport Kilt?

TOO MUCH A MAN. Indian runner Shanti Sounderajan has lost her silver medal from the Asian Games because she failed a gender test.

From the AP:
There are no compulsory gender tests during events sanctioned by track and field's international ruling body, but athletes may be asked to take a gender test. The medical evaluation panel usually includes a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist and internal medicine specialist.

An Indian athletics official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media said Sounderajan almost certainly never had sex-change surgery.

Instead, the official said Sounderajan appeared to have "abnormal chromosomes." The official also said the test revealed more Y chromosomes than allowed.
Obviously peeking under her shorts wasn't conclusive enough.

IN THEIR RIGHT MINDS. UPS has a driving tip designed to speed up deliveries in the hectic holiday season: no left turns. The idea is you waste precious seconds sitting around for cross traffic to clear, rather than going with the flow -- even if you have to loop around a block to get where you're going.

That's a rule many Tucsonans have learned already, especially on Grant Road.

THE HEAVE-HO. You can look like Santa. You can dress like Santa. You can even wear Santa's red-and-white cap. Just don't tell kids at Walt Disney World you're Santa, or Magic Kingdom management will treat you like J.D. Worley.

From WKMG-TV in Orlando, FL:
"Kids wanted to hug me and that was great," Worley said. "It felt good."

However, someone complained to Disney officials that some man in a red shirt was pretending to be Santa Claus on park property, reporter Craig Patrick said.

"Her statement was to me was that I either needed to alter my appearance, the way I look, or leave the park because I was impersonating Santa Claus," Worley said.

Worley said he removed his hat but still drew attention.

"I look this way 24/7, 365 days a year," Worley said. "This is me."

A Disney spokesman said Worley did not just look like Santa but when he was asked, he said he was Santa and that is why he got in trouble, the [WKMG] report said.
We at The Lightning Round aren't sure if Mickey and pals will be getting the coal, but Disney's official response -- that they were just trying to protect the magic of the holiday -- hits us a bit odd.

Our patent-pending Corporate Spin Stabilizer translated the above comment as follows: "We have a monopoly on magic in the Magic Kingdom. Please respect our turf."

KING OF THE LAWN. Finally, snow castles shouldn't be a problem in the Midwest for the annual Christmas Vacation backyard battle. The rest of us -- especially here in our home state of Arizona -- are going to need some help.

Mr. McGroovy's happily provides it with instructions for building a castle out of cardboard boxes -- and where to get free boxes too!

Merry Christmas from The Lightning Round!

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