May 2014

May 2014

Ah, the snickering side of globalism. Kinki University, named after its region in Japan, is large and well-respected at age 65. But its name draws chuckles at meetings in Western countries where it means “perverted.” Now it’s changing its name to Kindai, a kind of made-up moniker meaning “university that used to be called Kinki.” But not until 2016.

Wntd: rl est brkr. Englsh dgree a must. Homes listed in 52 metro areas priced at $1 million or higher sold three days faster (and often for more than the list price) than houses in ads with grammar or punctuation errors.

“Hello and hi, we are your banker. May we kindly have all your passwords, please?”Crime rates are declining across the civilized world. But hold on, says Anthony Stansfield, the former police commissioner of the Thames Valley (home of Oxford University, the Rainham torso murders, and TV’s Inspector Morse). Mr. Stansfield believes the thugs and footpads of the past have simply moved onto the Internet. The risk is lower; the yield is higher. He says he can’t be sure about the shift, however: it’s known that relatively few victims seem to summon the police for online crimes.

Sing to the…wait, no, that won’t work here. What we might call organized irreligion is developing a funny bone, or at least a risible bone. A recent tongue-in-cheek competition produced hymns titled “What a Friend We Have in Darwin,” a song suitable for sentimental scientific gatherings and capsized cruises to the Galapagos Islands. There is also “Guide Us Not, Pray Don’t Redeem Us” for godless Welsh soccer fans.

Hey, here’s one of a svelte Ozzy Osbourne. The magic discs known as CDs sometimes lose all their content after 10 years. Fenella France, chief of preservation research at the Library of Congress, wondered why. So the library asked for volunteers to contribute CDs; an avalanche ensued, and the world suddenly had fewer coasters.

“Crapshoot” used to be a term of art for Exam Week. Stanford University accepted five out of every 100 applicants this year. A dozen schools have similar acceptance rates of one in 10 or lower. (Or is that higher? Whichever.) As for the process that leads to these rates, it’s “almost random,” admissions counselors say. So random, according to The Atlantic, that the super-elite schools might as well start a lottery, and “embrace the crapshoot.”

Freedom isn’t free. Neither is justice. The list of mandatory fees charged within the judicial system is growing. Hundreds of dollars a month for a parole officer or an ankle monitor, payable by the probably hard-pressed ex-con. Even a mere arrest without a guilty verdict can run $60 in room and board for a night in jail. Meanwhile, we spend $20,000 to $30,000 a year to house each adult prisoner (a phenomenal $90,000 a year for juveniles) before they emerge on high-tech parole. How about high-tech at the start?

Quote to note: “Commencement speakers are always telling you to find your passion. This is the biggest load of crap old people have ever foisted on the young. No, you will not find your passion. Your passion will find you. Relax and wait for it.” – David Brooks, to The University of the South: Sewanee, 2013

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