Friday, March 7, 2008

I guess that makes ND students racists

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Via Phi Beta Cons comes this article about an IUPUI janitor getting in trouble with the Office of Affirmative Action for a racist act. His crime? Reading Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan. Apparently merely holding a book about the KKK is a race crime -- never mind that the book is about ND putting a stop to racism.

If mentioning the KKK is enough to provoke censorship, then I guess that those ND kids who spent days with the KKK (fighting them) would be kicked right out of IUPUI.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Watch Out for Falling Bureaucracy

The drive out of Boston along any of the major arteries can be fairly unpleasant. At worst, one faces super-aggressive drivers locked in a cutthroat competition to save time; at best it is drab and lifeless, as is the case with any major highway. One of the few human touches is the abundance of flags and "welcome home" signs draped along overpasses, placed there by families expecting the return of their son or daughter from Iraq or Afghanistan. Whenever I drive by these homemade tributes, I am moved by the image of a fighter's feelings when he returns home from fighting halfway across the world to a true soldier's welcome.

Most likely, readers from every state are familiar with these displays and are accustomed to seeing them around. Those of us in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, however, can bid highway tributes goodbye: the state has decided that they have to go.

After a lengthy review, Masshighway has decided that homemade signs on overpasses constitute a safety threat -- signs affixed by the public could become loose and fall off. Apparently it takes years of experience and a kind of know-how possessed only by state workers to securely fasten a sign to an overpass. As a result, all homemade signs are out, and bland, generic, state-approved signs are in.



Since December, the Highway Department has been staving off complaints from Operation Troop Support and other veterans' groups, but now it looks like they are going to go through with it. What these veterans' groups fail to realize is that Masshighway has a long history of identifying safety hazards along the highways, and that nothing insecurely fastened ever slips by their defenses.

Nothing, that is, except for the roof of the Ted Williams Tunnel -- the crown jewel of the Big Dig, which is the greatest celebration of bureaucracy's ineptitude in history.

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In 2006, the roof of the newly minted tunnel collapsed, killing one woman and bringing traffic to a standstill. At a cost of about $14.6 billion, and under the supervision of a host of bureaucracies -- including Masshighway -- the Big Dig should have been perfect. But the accident led to a probe that discovered structural weakness all around the tunnel. Apparently the experts who were paid a king's ransom to make sure the ceiling was secure were either less than capable or less than honest. Either way, repairs are still ongoing while one of the biggest legal battles in Boston's history shines light on the Mass. Turnpike Authority's negligence.

So yes, corrupt firms raking in obscene sums can attach whatever they want to Mass. highways, even though lawyers are saying that the State knew all along. But if family members working out of love and for free think they are going to put up heartwarming signs -- and even if no sign has ever killed anyone -- they have got another thing coming. Clearly, these signs pose an immediate threat to life and limb, quite unlike the 237 leaks still menacing Big Dig tunnels.

No, the danger is not with loving families posting signs along highways. The danger is with government run amok and with bureaucracy.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Traveling South

To all of our readers, I wish a happy spring break from the greatest, and warmest, state in the Union, Florida. I am currently enjoying the beaches of my fair state, the sunshine, and the highs in the seventies and eighties. I hope that everyone's breaks are equally as pleasant.

One interesting item of note would be the presence of Stations of the Cross even in the Midway Airport in Chicago. I was traveling on my way back and while taking of my shoes at security heard an announcement of 3 o'clock stations in the airport chapel. I went there and was pleasantly surprised not only of the overall attendance of around 10; but of the fact that half were fellow Notre Dame students. It's nice to see our University, especially the Greatest Catholic University in America, participating in such a nice Catholic tradition. Also, the opportunity for travelers was a nice reminder of God in an otherwise hectic day of travel.

Once again, have a nice and warm break!