Friday, June 22, 2007

The Human Touch

A poster from our youth said, "Hugs, not drugs." Another poster said, "Keep hands, feet, and objects to yourself." Like two trains sharing the same track, these divergent directives were bound to collide.

HANDS OFF. Kilmer Middle School in Vienna, Virginia has a strict no-touching policy: no slaps or punches, but also no patting, no handshakes, no high-fives, and absolutely positively no hugging. That last one got student Hal Beaulieu sent to the principal's office after some inappropriate contact with his girlfriend.

From the Washington Post:
School officials say the rule helps keep crowded hallways and lunchrooms safe and orderly, and ensures that all students are comfortable. But Hal, 13, and his parents think the school's hands-off approach goes too far, and they are lobbying for a change.

"I think hugging is a good thing," said Hal, a seventh-grader, a few days before the end of the school year. "I put my arm around her. It was like for 15 seconds. I didn't think it would be a big deal."
The school defends the policy on the basis of overcrowding:
Deborah Hernandez, Kilmer's principal, said the rule makes sense in a school that was built for 850 students but houses 1,100. She said that students should have their personal space protected and that many lack the maturity to understand what is acceptable or welcome.

"You get into shades of gray," Hernandez said. "The kids say, 'If he can high-five, then I can do this.' "
Is this not a school? Shouldn't the faculty educate students on what is and is not appropriate contact instead of writing a blanket policy that ducks the question? And if the school is crowded, people are going to be touching anyway -- hopefully not up to the ceiling, but touching nonetheless.

But if students can't hug or offer a hearty handshake in greeting, maybe they should bow and curtsy. This is Virginia, after all, still awash in colonial heritage.

ONWARD CHRISTIAN DRIVERS. The Vatican has issued 10 commandments for good drivers.

As quoted in The Guardian:
1. You shall not kill.
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
7. Support the families of accident victims.
8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
10. Feel responsible toward others.
A lot of people are having trouble with Number 5.

Praying while driving? We gather it's permissible, as long as you keep your eyes on the road.

We at your Lightning Round felt the need to add a few more commandments, phrased in commandmentese.

* Thou shalt learn thy difference between straight and angled parking and orient thy vehicle accordingly.
* Thou shalt leave sufficient distance between thy right door and thy drivers-side door of thy neighbor.
* Thou shalt not leave heap-a-junk cars to collect in thy front yard like a plague of rust upon thy land.
* Thou shalt not crank thy sound system, particularly thy sub woofer, to a level inducing of earthquake in small European nations.
* Thou shalt realize air freshener trees are no substitute for thy good shampooing.
* Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors spinners, paint job, tricked-up suspension or anything that makes thy neighbors' ride hype.
* Thou shalt honor thy back seats as a place for sitting. Enough said.

IF I DOWNLOADED IT. Legal action is pending against celebrity gossip site for briefly offering the full text of O.J. Simpson's canceled crime hypothetical If I Did It. The Goldman family wants to publish it as Simpson's confession, thus keeping the profits and getting something from their long-standing, yet-to-be-fulfilled $30 million judgment from a wrongful-death suit. says it didn't do anything wrong, even though it did pull the book off the site... but not before it got into the hands of the BitTorrent community, which continues to pass it around.

Somewhere, O.J. is smiling.

THE GREEN SCARE. If a polar ice cap melted, and nobody saw it, did it really melt? That's what Czech president Vaclav Klaus is suggesting.

His response to a reader question on
Do you really “see” any damage caused by current warming? I do not. I would prefer more snow for skiing during this winter but we are – in Central Europe – enjoying warm evenings this May and June, which is very pleasant. Do you see meltdown of glaciers and icebergs? You may see some retreating of continental glaciers, but they represent only 0.6 per cent of the planet’s ice. There is no meltdown either in Greenland or the Antarctic just now.
Klaus also suggests forms of environmental activism are the new socialist threat.

Using Klaus' own comparisons, we'll believe it when we see them hoisting a green flag with a hammer and sickle.

THANKS FOR NOTHING. A man in Jacksonville, Florida heard his neighbor screaming and ran to the victim with shotgun in hand. He treated her bleeding leg and likely saved her life. His neighbor was also his boss, and she expressed her gratitude by firing him.

From the Jacksonville Times-Union:
[Colin] Bruley, a leasing agent at the Oaks at Mill Creek, said he lost his job after being told that brandishing the weapon was a workplace violation, as was failing to notify supervisors after the incident occurred.
We point out Bruley never fired his gun, and he was a little shaken to be following some bureaucratic protocol.

Our beleaguered hero, however, seems to be taking things in stride:
Bruley said he is considering contacting a lawyer about his dismissal, but will first look for another job and possibly another home. He promises he won't shy away from aiding others in need.

"If I'd lose my job again for helping some girl's life ... I'd do it over and over," Bruley said.
Surely somebody out there has an opening for a hero. We hope. Just don't take a job at Home Depot.

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